Seven former T-P employees laid off in “digital first” sue newspaper, parent company

age_discrimination_cartoonSeven former T-P employees who were among the more than 200 who lost their jobs in 2012 because of the radical “digital first” restructuring Advance Publications undertook at the newspaper and more than a dozen others it owns across the country, filed suit this week against the companies. The suits allege age discrimination and illegal employment practices. They were filed in Orleans Parish District Court.NOLADefender_Logo

You may read my story about the suit, published by NOLA Defender, at this link.

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.

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.

Via Poynter, my take on post-daily newspaper mediascape in NOLA, Alabama

I freelanced a lengthy (for the Web, but nothing after writing a book) take on the fractured media landscapes at The Times-Picayune and the three Advance Publications’ newspapers in Alabama.

You may read the report by clicking here.

“Digital First” has been very good to Advance Publications’ Donald Newhouse

Donald Newhouse in 2005 in the newsroom of the Newark Star-Ledger, Advance Publications’ largest newspaper. (Image via NJ.com)

As I note in the Epilogue of Hell and High Water, information surfaced shortly after I began writing the book that Advance Publications’ “digital first” initiative appears to have  beenvery good to Advance exec Donald Newhouse. Between September 2012—when the carnage began at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and three Newhouse-owned newspapers in Alabama—and March 2013, the value of Donald Newhouse’s and his brother’s fortunes grew an estimated $1.4 billion, to $15.4 billion, Forbes magazine reported. The Newhouse fortune has continued to climb, according to Forbes‘ latest list of the 400 Richest Americans: it now stands at an estimated $17.1 billion, $8.9 billion belonging to Si Newhouse, and $8.2 billion credited to Donald. (Poynter.org’s Andrew Beaujon reported the new rankings.)

Although I calculated that digital first has been responsible for the loss at least 1,600 full-time jobs to-date at Newhouse newspapers nationwide (and countless part-time, freelance and contractor positions), the initiative has been very good to the Brothers Newhouse.