A year after “digital first” in NOLA and Alabama, deciphering Advance’s circulation figures

NOTE: Corrections below in underline and strike-through, making the distinction between digital non-replicas (smart phone and tablet apps) and digital replicas (PDFs).

The semi-annual figures compiled by industry group Alliance for Audited Media (previously the Audit Bureau of Circulations) were released today, for the six months ending Sept. 30, 2013, representing average circulation numbers. This represents the first full year of comparative numbers since “digital first” was implemented Oct. 1, 2012 at The Times-Picayune and Advance Publications’ Alabama newspapers – and the first full year of numbers since The Advocate launched its New Orleans edition.

As newspaper analyst Alan Mutter reported on his blog earlier this evening, the way newspapers now report their numbers (changes the AAM has sanctioned) make it nearly impossible to make historical, across-the-board comparisons. But some can be accurately made, and the way the numbers are now reported are insightful in their own way.

For example, the Picayune‘s Sunday print circulation has fallen another 10% year over year (from 145,608 in September 2012 to 130,881 in September 2013), but the newspaper is claiming a total average circulation that’s up about 12% – to 163,530 They accomplish this by counting smart phone and tablet apps PDF versions of the newspaper (referred to as “digital replicas” or “digital non-replicas” in industry parlance), which are available for free via the newspaper’s website (although that free availability is not widely promoted). The AAM report, however, doesn’t note that last year’s figure (listed on the Sept. 30, 2013 report for comparison purposes) is print-only, without any digital editions included.

Meanwhile, The Advocate reports flat to slightly increasing print circulation figures year-over-year (depending on the day of the week), but more substantive increases when “digital non-replica” circulation is included.

NOLA’s PBS affiliate’s “Informed Sources” takes up my book

"Informed Sources" co-hosts Larry Lorenz (left) and Errol Laborde (right) and I discuss my book.

“Informed Sources” co-hosts Larry Lorenz (left) and Errol Laborde (right) and I discuss my book.

I recorded an appearance on Friday, Oct. 18, immediately before the book’s launch party, on “Informed Sources,” the media and public affairs show produced by New Orleans PBS affiliate WYES-TV.1CanalPlaceShirt The episode aired later that evening.

I sported my custom shirt on the show (image at right) and discussed its origins, a topic also touched on in the book.

You may view the episode by clicking this link. My portion begins at 10:20.

Lagniappe, Mobile’s alt-weekly, excerpts the book

The Press-Register of Mobile, Alabama, was one of three Advance Publications newspapers in that state that were subjected to “digital first” on the same day as The Times-Picayune. (The other two were The Huntsville Times and The Birmingham News.) More than 400 Advance employees and contractors Lagniappe-Mobile_Logoin Alabama lost their jobs as a result.

Lagniappe, Mobile’s alternative weekly, and co-managing editor Rob Holbert play a fairly significant role in the book, and the publication excerpted it, with Holbert arranging a presentation and signing for me in Mobile.

You may read the Lagniappe excerpt by clicking here.

NOLA’s NPR affiliate talks to me on “The Reading Life” and “My Spilt Milk” excerpts the book

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Susan Larson, host of WWNO’s “The Reading Life”

Susan Larson, host of WWNO’s “The Reading Life” and former longtime Times-Picayune books editor (she and I worked together at the paper, but she left in one of the first rounds of buyouts, several years before last year’s saga unfolded), invited me for a chat on the show. You can listen to our conversation at this link (my portion begins at 13:27.) And also check out her revised and updated version of A Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans, released just last month.myspiltmilk

In addition, New Orleans culture and music website My Spilt Milk today published an excerpt from the book, followed by an interview with me. You may read the excerpt here, and the interview here.

NOLA alt-weekly Gambit reviews Hell and High Water

Kevin Allman, editor of New Orleans’ respected alternative weekly Gambit, drove coverage of The Times-Picayune saga, trailing New York TimesGambitLOGO media reporter David Carr by only a few hours in confirming the grim coming changes, in May 2012.

He recently offered his assessment of my book. My favorite quote from his review? “If newspapers are black and white and dead all over, in New Orleans they’re the walking dead, and Theim’s tale of how print still lives will be of interest to New Orleanians and the newspaper industry at large.”

You may read his review by clicking here.

New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde weighs in again on the book

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New Orleans Magazine Associate Publisher and Editor Errol Laborde

New Orleans Magazine Associate Publisher and Editor Errol Laborde has been generous with his time (while I was writing the book), valuable real estate (in the pages of the magazine) and with his praise (first, a few weeks ago, on “Informed Sources,” the public television show he produces on New Orleans’ WYES-TV, and now on the magazine’s blog).

Sometimes a person is just having a routine day at the office, going through the usual motions, perhaps thinking of what to get for supper, and then BAM! something happens that suddenly bounces a life in a new direction.

That happened last year to Rebecca Theim a former reporter for The Times-Picayune (1988- ’94) who has most recently been living and working in Las Vegas. When she heard about The T-P being reduced to thrice weekly and about the accompanying layoffs, she was outraged. Being separated by distance she could have easily been justified for doing nothing, instead she got into action. She founded a group that raised money to divide among the terminated employees. She also uncorked her reporting skills and began following the story as a journalist.

One day when media historians study what the Newhouses did to journalism, Theim (pronounced “theme”) will be an important source, perhaps the most important. Now we are seeing the results of her work … The publication is an excellent, at times riveting, bit of reporting put together in an amazingly short time.

– Errol Laborde’s Oct. 7 column on MyNewOrleans.com, the blog of New Orleans Magazine

You may read the rest of Errol’s column by clicking here.

First review of the book, in Louisiana’s The Advocate

The Advocate, the former Baton Rouge newspaper acquired by New Orleans billionaire AdvocateAppIconJohn Georges, who has continued its fledgling expansion into New Orleans in a big way, is a supporting character in my book, and by anyone’s admission, far from an objective observer in the New Orleans media landscape. That’s no doubt why the daily newspaper went to Andrew Burstein, LSU’s Charles B. Manship Professor of History, and commissioned him to review my book.

Burstein, a noted Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson scholar, tells me in an email that, “My main attachment to Louisiana politics and culture is of the era when Thomas Jefferson was weighing the strategic significance of the Mississippi River. I could read your book with objectivity because I had no idea who any of the players were, many of whom now work at the Advocate.”

“Rebecca Theim, who worked for the paper from 1988 to 1994 and now lives in Las Vegas, narrates the story of the paper’s demise with clear compassion and in journalistic detail — while wielding a pen as mighty as any sword … This is a book with attitude.”

LSU historian Andrew Burstein’s review of
Hell and High Water

You may read the remainder of the review by clicking here.