Jim Amoss, the veteran journalist who steered the New Orleans Times-Picayune through its coverage of Hurricane Katrina and confronted a dramatic downturn in the newspaper industry, is stepping down from the editor’s job after 25 years.
He will be replaced by Mark Lorando, the state and metro editor of the Times-Picayune and its associated website, NOLA.com, according to the Times-Picayune. Amoss will become editor at large for Advance Digital.
NOLA Media Group president Ricky Mathews praised Amoss for decades of leadership amid the transition to digital journalism, per the Times-Picayune:
“Jim has been a great newsroom leader,” Mathews said. “When confronted with revolutionary changes in the way readers consume news and information, he led the multimedia transformation of the newsroom, and in the process, carried forward a tradition of journalistic excellence into the digital era. Mark is his ideal successor – creative, inspiring and deeply caring about our community. We’re lucky to have such homegrown talent on our team.”
Amoss’ tenure as editor of the Times-Picayune was marked by a run of remarkable journalism in the summer of 2005 as Hurricane Katrina swept ashore, flooding the city and scattering its residents. The newspaper’s journalists continued to report the news amid inclement conditions — at one point they distributed the newspaper themselves. The paper won two Pulitzers for its Katrina coverage for a total of four on Amoss’ watch.
But Amoss’ time at the helm was also marked by a controversial editorial and business strategy that has not been proven a resounding success. In 2012, the paper announced it was cutting its publication frequency and cutting staff in order to hone its focus on digital journalism. That news was greeted with dismay by many Times-Picayune readers who’d grown accustomed to their daily editions. A recent examination of that strategy by The Washington Post called it “a journalistic experiment with unclear results.”
Amoss’ departure comes amid a time of change for the Times-Picayune and Advance Local’s associated regional properties in the Southeast. Multiple outlets have reported that NOLA Media Group, the parent company of the Times-Picayune, is preparing to cut staff; an article from The Huffington Post quoted one staffer who said there “is a lot of fear” in the newsroom. Alabama Media Group, another Advance company in the Southeast, recently cut staff statewide in an attempt to consolidate coverage.
Advance, the privately-held media company built by the Newhouse family, has undertaken a digital transformation of several of its regional publications, including the Times-Picayune, the Portland Oregonian and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Some of those changes have been marked by the sale of those properties’ historic headquarters and a de-emphasis on printed newspapers.