The tale of the fierce grassroots effort to save New Orleans' beloved, Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, and the changes that continue to roil it and other Advance Publications properties from Portland to Mobile
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.
Coinciding with the first anniversary of the “digital first” changes in New Orleans and Alabama, New Orleans Magazine and Birmingham, Alabama’s alternative weekly, Weld for Birmingham, publish excerpts from the book.
Read the New Orleans Magazine excerpt by clicking here.
Read the Weld for Birmingham excerpt (which is different from the one published by NOM) by clicking here.
Birmingham media consultant Wade Kwon emailed me this evening to inform me that I provided an outdated title for him, and erroneously used “of” instead of “for” in a reference to Weld for Birmingham. Thanks for pointing out the errors, Wade, and I’ll make sure they’re corrected in any subsequent editions
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.
Thanks so much to Errol Laborde, producer of New Orleans PBS affiliate WYES-TV’s “Informed Sources,” for his complimentary call-out Friday of Hell and High Water and noting it will be available near the first anniversary of the changes at The Times-Picayune, Oct. 1, 2013. (Errol’s kind words begin at 26:10 in the show’s replay available at this link.)