An in-depth look at the newspaper shakeup in New Orleans, plus the San Francisco seizure and free iPads for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette subscribers

May 22, 2019

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May 22, 2019

Good morning. Today, Poynter’s Rick Edmonds reports from New Orleans about The Advocate, while I give you updates on the case of a San Francisco journalist whose home was raided by police, an out-of-the-box idea by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, another jailed journalist and Rahm Emanuel’s new journalism gig. Actually, make that gigs. Let’s start in New Orleans.

Don’t call it a ‘war’

Poynter’s media business analyst reveals 10 truths about the shifting power dynamic in the Big Easy’s newspaper … news.


In this 2012 file photo, free introductory copies of The Advocate’s New Orleans edition, right, are seen next to copies of The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Earlier this month, the newspaper world was rocked when the upstart New Orleans Advocate bought the assets of its competitor, The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com. But even before the purchase, The Advocate was pressing forward with expansion at a time when most newspapers are shrinking.

To get the lowdown on the purchase and The Advocate’s future, Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds traveled to Louisiana. He came back with not only The Advocate’s business plans but 10 reasons why it rose to power.

One of the major questions that came out of the blockbuster transaction: What is going to happen to all the staffers from the Times-Picayune? Edmonds learned that publisher Dan Shea and editor Pete Kovacs said that they would talk to anyone who applies but are still unsure how many of the 65 displaced NOLA.com staffers will be hired. But Shea added that no Advocate staffer would be moved out to make room for a NOLA.com journalist.

“Absolutely not,” Shea said. “They bet their careers on a very uncertain venture and that should equate to job security.”

Edmonds give us a fascinating and somewhat optimistic look at the new Advocate. He wrote:

“I went to New Orleans thinking that the confluence of circumstances that produced the drama and the result was highly unusual, not very likely to be duplicated elsewhere. And I came back still thinking that.

Even so, The Advocate crew has achieved extraordinary results — and fast. Let the naysayers know, yes, it can be done.”

Cops waylay, judge delays, journalist OK

We’ll have to wait a little longer on a hearing involving a San Francisco police raid on a journalist’s home.


First Amendment Coalition Executive Director David Snyder answers questions outside a courtroom in San Francisco concerning warrants used to raid the home of freelance journalist. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

We will have to wait a little longer to find out whether or not the San Francisco police had the legal right to raid a journalist and seize his materials. Earlier this month, police entered the home and office of freelance journalist Bryan Carmody, searching for a confidential report that contained the salacious details about the death of a public defender. Carmody sold the information to the media and later refused to give up his source.

Police obtained a search warrant, found the report and seized his equipment. Carmody’s equipment was returned to him on Tuesday, but a judge put off a hearing on whether police had the right to take his materials in the first place. That hearing is now scheduled for next month.

Carmody said he is afraid to use his equipment, tweeting that security experts have told him  “there’s concern about using the gear that has been out of our hands for so long.”

This ordeal has been at the center of controversy regarding California’s Shield Law, which blocks government access to notes, cameras, computer and work products. Free press advocates have criticized the San Francisco police, as well as the judges who signed off on the search warrants. At an event in New York City on Monday night, The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman told CNN’s Brian Stelter that the case was “chilling.”

In a recent column for her paper, San Francisco Chronicle editor-in-chief Audrey Cooper wrote, “If you side with those who believe this raid is justified, for whatever reason, you open the door to officials being allowed to decide what news they like and what they don’t, which journalists they like and which ones they do not. That will not end well for everyone.”

Free to a good home: one iPad

The publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has a radical plan to transform readership and avoid overhead.

Like most newspapers, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is struggling. So publisher Walter Hussman is thinking outside the box in hopes of bucking the downward trend. His radical plan? Print only on Sundays and then, on the other days of the week, subscribers can read the product on an iPad, which — get this — will be provided by the Democrat-Gazette. There is no timetable for when this will happen, but it appears soon in the plan laid out by Hussman in a letter to subscribers on Sunday. Hussman wrote:

“We determined that if 70% or more of our subscribers converted from the print edition to the iPad, we could eliminate considerable costs in production, newsprint and delivery expenses. We found that if subscribers paid the existing full subscription price, we could turn an unprofitable newspaper into a profitable one again. And we could do this without reducing any cost in our newsroom, allowing us to continue to offer complete coverage and deliver it throughout the state of Arkansas.”

There are reports that the Democrat-Gazette would spend about $12 million in iPad purchases — a risky yet intriguing investment in an attempt to cut printing and delivery costs.

We want him freed

Advocates are calling for a jailed Venezuelan journalist to be released.


Venezuelan journalist Jesus Medina. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

This is a big week for journalist Jesus Medina. He is scheduled to appear before a judge in Venezuela on Thursday after being arrested for working on an investigative project about a Caracas hospital. He has been detained since last August and his preliminary hearing has been postponed eight times.

The Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch renewed their call Tuesday for him to be released.

“Venezuelan authorities should immediately drop the absurd charges against Jesus Medina and stop finding pretexts to prolong his pretrial detention,” said CPJ Central and South America Coordinator Natalie Southwick. “Jailing reporters and criminalizing journalism will not put an end to the profound crisis in Venezuela, nor hide it from the world.”

Medina has been charged with crimes including inciting hate, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Medina’s lawyer said there is nothing to substantiate the charges.

This isn’t the first time Medina has been a target because of his work. In 2017, while reporting at a prison in Venezuela, he was reported missing and then turned up two days later after being beaten by his abductors.

Sorry, you’re not on the list

A British TV station is banned from covering Brexit events after it investigated the finances of the party leader.


Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, center, shakes hands with his supporters during a Brexit Party rally in London. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Channel 4 News in Britain has been banned from Brexit Party events following its investigation into the finances of party leader Nigel Farage. Before the investigation, the station said it had full access to party events and Farage. Channel 4 editor Ben de Pear tweeted on Tuesday that the station hopes to “resolve our access ban from Brexit Party events ASAP.”

But Leave.EU communications director Andy Wigmore responded with an angry tweet that said:

“You reap what you sew  @bendepear you and your team have systematically tried to character assassinate @Arron_banks on 8 separate occasions getting increasingly hysterical and all based on your anti-brexit bias using stolen emails without ANY journalist integrity or facts. @Ofcom

Interesting note: Wigmore’s Twitter avatar is a photo of him standing with President Donald Trump, who has criticized The New York Times for looking into his finances.

Several journalists in Britain are calling on all news outlets to boycott Brexit events in a show of solidarity.

Changing his byline

Former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel gets involved in journalism in a big way just days after leaving office.


Outgoing Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife, Amy Rule. (AP Photo/Jim Young)

Former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has found two new jobs since leaving office just a few days ago. He has joined ABC News as a political analyst and will appear on such shows as “Good Morning America.” He also is joining The Atlantic as a contributing editor and already has published his first piece under his new title. In “It’s Time to Hold American Elites Accountable for Their Abuses,” Emanuel argues that simmering middle-class anger is the most important barrier standing between Democrats and the White House.

The Atlantic says Emanuel will contribute “frequent essays” to its Ideas section. Emanuel occasionally wrote for the The Atlantic while mayor of Chicago.

This is awesome, baby

Dick Vitale and others were honored during the annual Sports Emmys awards.


Dick Vitale stands with North Carolina fans in 2017. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

The Sports Emmys, recognizing the best in TV sports coverage, were handed out Monday night in New York City. Among the top winners were:

  • “Inside the NBA on TNT” (best weekly studio show)
  • ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” (best daily studio show)
  • HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” (outstanding sports journalism)
  • Fox’s World Series coverage (outstanding live sports special)
  • TNT’s Ernie Johnson (best studio host)
  • NBC hockey announcer Mike Emrick (best play-by-play)
  • ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit (best studio analyst)
  • CBS/TNT college basketball’s Bill Raftery (best game analyst)
  • NBC “Sunday Night Football”’s Michele Tafoya (top game reporter)
  • Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz (outstanding on-air talent in Spanish)
  • ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale was honored with a lifetime achievement award.

 

Hot type

A curated list of great journalism and intriguing media.

Bill Gates. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

  • Looking for books to read this summer? Bill Gates (yes, that Bill Gates) has some suggestions.
  • Esquire’s Michael Hainey interviews three movie giants: director Quentin Tarantino and actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt.
  • In his latest Try This! digital tools newsletter, Poynter’s Ren LaForme writes that the WhatsApp’s breach is proof that online privacy takes a little work.
  • And, finally, here’s an impressive piece of work from the Washington Post:  a documentary (“Pathways to Power”) on the reach and influence of the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo, who helped conservative nonprofits raise $250 million from mostly undisclosed donors to promote conservative judges and causes and, seemingly, shape the nation’s courts.

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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