Times-Picayune on “60 Minutes” and Monday morning quarterbacking

The long-awaited “60 Minutes” report about the radical changes at The Times-Picayune finally aired Sunday night. To watch it, please click here.60MinutesMorley

Gambit Editor Kevin Allman provided a quick analysis of the segment last night, and non-profit media organization Poynter this morning also offered a report about it and NOLA Media Group Vice President and Editor Jim AmossSaturday commentary.

“60 Minutes” “Web Extras” also include outtakes of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu reminiscing about his early days as a Times-Picayune newspaper carrier and Amoss dismissing fears that reporters’ future compensation will be based, at least in part, on clicks their reports elicit on NOLA.com as “a somewhat cartoonish view,” although he didn’t deny the concern.

The Huffington Post also weighed in Monday with a report that basically summarized the “60 Minutes” segment and Amoss’ Saturday commentary.

“60 Minutes” to air report about death of the daily Times-Picayune Sunday, Jan. 6

UPDATE, 1/3/2013, 3:33 PM CST: Catch a video preview of the segment, featuring an interview with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, by clicking here.

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The long-awaited “60 Minutes” segment about the death of the daily Times-Picayune will air during the show’s Sunday, Jan. 6 broadcast, the show’s communic60Minutesations director confirmed today.

Jim Romenesko broke the news this morning, noting that correspondent Morley Safer in September interviewed the newspaper’s Editor Jim Amoss and former T-P columnist Lolis Eric Elie, now a writer with the HBO show “Treme.” Also interviewed were New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond, and community philanthropist Anne Milling, the latter who led a high-level citizens’ group that unsuccessfully lobbied Times-Picayune owner Advance Publications to abandon its “sometimes daily” plans.

A blurb about the segment, supplied to dashTHIRTYdash by the show’s Communications Director Kevin Tedesco:

“It’s a sure sign of the digital times when the New Orleans Times-Picayune, published every day for 175 years, goes to a three-day-a-week publishing schedule. It’s a fate many more newspapers face as the Internet becomes the source of almost instantaneous news. Watch Morley Safer’s report on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT.”

Some supporters of the effort to save the daily newspaper have been concerned that the

"60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer interview New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

“60 Minutes” correspondent Morley Safer (left) interviewed New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in mid-September

“60 Minutes” report would focus too much on the generic “dying newspaper industry” narrative many media outlets have reported, and not enough on the unique characteristics of New Orleans and The Times-Picayune, and the ham-fisted and insensitive way Advance handled the changes. The blurb above seem to suggest those fears aren’t without merit.

“60 Minutes” airs in the New Orleans market on WWL-TV on Sundays at 6 p.m., Gambit‘s Kevin Allman noted in a post today to the alt-weekly’s blog.

Times-Picayune saga at top of many of NOLA “Major 2012 News Events” lists

If anyone had begun 2012 predicting the wrenching changes that would occur beginning in the spring at The Times-Picayune, no one, quite simply, would not have believed it. The year is now ending with the newspaper and its painful transformation making many of the region’s 2012 “major news events” lists.

WWL-TV, southern Louisiana’s longtime leading television station and recipient of two of the Picayune‘s early defectors, star investigative reporters David Hammer and Brendan McCarthy, ranked the story as the region’s fourth biggest news event in 2012.

Gambit, New Orleans’ alternative weekly, made The Times-Picayune the area’s fourth most-important news maker because of its decision to end daily publication and the way it bungled just about everything associated with it. “Despite protests and letter-writing campaigns, the T-P‘s fate was sealed and New Orleans became the largest American city without a daily newspaper,” noted Gambit Editor Kevin Allman, who has owned coverage of the painful episode. David Manship, publisher of The Advocate headquartered in Baton Rouge, was named 39th on Gambit‘s Top 50 list for his newspaper’s decision to fill the void created by The T-P by staffing (exclusively with laid-off Picayune journalists) and creating a New Orleans edition.

The Times-Picayune seemed to acknowledge the toll its purge took on its photo staff in the introduction to “Our Best Photos of 2012,” which was published Dec. 28: “Even as the newspaper industry shifted under their feet, our shooters continued to cover their communities with resourcefulness, creativity, empathy and professionalism, as evidenced by this gallery of unforgettable images from the past 12 months.”

Sixteen of the 41 photos featured in the roundup – or almost 40% – were shot by photographers who were axed amid the newspaper’s transformation to a “digital first” strategy. These talented photojournalists included: Susan Poag, John McCusker, Rusty Costanza, Scott Threlkeld, Matthew Hinton, Ellis Lucia and Eliot Kamenitz.

Ryan Chittum, deputy editor of Columbia Journalism Review‘s “The Audit,” also selected one of his Times-Picayune reports as “The Best of 2012″: “New Orleans meets the Hamster Wheel — The fall of the Times-Picayune.” “The gutting of New Orleans beloved Times-Picayune and Advance Publications’ plan to turn it into a sort of major market AnnArbor.com looks set to bring journalism built on ‘motion for motion’s sake… volume without thought’ to a city built on doing the opposite,” Chittum wrote.

Beyond The Times-Picayune, the Poynter Institute noted in a Dec. 30 tweet that at least 2,000 journalists had lost their jobs in 2012. Of those 2,000, at least 1,336 – or almost 67% of the country’s total – were laid off from Advance Publications newspapers, spanning from Syracuse, New York, to Mobile, Ala.

Poynter2000Jobs2012Dec30

As of this writing, The Times-Picayune had not published its own list of top stories in 2012. Given that the newspaper will not publish another edition until Wednesday, which is Jan. 2, it seems unlikely that it will offer its round-up of this tumultuous year in its history – unless it does so only digitally, on NOLA.com. If that occurs later today, this post will be updated to reflect it.

Real-life Trolley Problem, Advance Publications-style: Sacrificing some to save others

Note: This post has been corrected, as indicated by underline and strike-through below.

The guild representing newsroom employees of Times-Picayune sister paper, pd_thumbThe Plain Dealer of Cleveland, is living a real-life Trolley Problem, Advance Publications-style.

In a meeting in a cafeteria dining room at the newspaper this afternoon, the bargaining unit of Local 1 of the Newspaper Guild apparently laid out a tough proposal to their members: accept 60 layoffs in exchange for a guarantee of no more large-scale cuts through 2019. Or, fight on, and 80 or more newsroom employees will lose their jobs when the current contract expires Jan. 31, 2013.

With a total of 168 newsroom jobs, the guild must either accept a reduction in newsroom ranks by nearly 36%, or endure a 48% or greater reduction if it fights on past the Jan. 31, 2013 expiration of its current contract, which prohibits layoffs.

“The loss of any of The Plain Dealer‘s journalists – whether it’s one-third or one-half the staff – will be a severe blow to the community,” read a post added late Thursday afternoon to the “Save The Plain Dealer” Facebook page.

Backed organizationally and financially by its local and a grant from the Communications Workers of America, Plain Dealer employees several weeks ago unleashed an advertising and PR campaign aimed at dissuading newspaper owner Advance Publications from making the same draconian changes there that it has at 13 of its 34 newspapers across the country.

“Launche03dealer-blog480d with a full-page ad in the Sunday, Nov. 12 paper and media stories on NPR, WKYC, and other outlets, the committee’s Don Quixote effort has also plastered the city with ads and produced a television commercial,” alternative weekly Cleveland Scene‘s Vince Grzegorek reported in a Dec. 5 cover story  titled “Can The Plain Dealer Be Saved?” “Its Facebook page has over 3,900 likes; the petition at Change.org has over 5,900 signatures. ‘Hot in Cleveland’ star Valerie Bertinelli lent her star power to the cause, and local leaders like Councilman Joe Cimperman have taken up the flag as well. Events have sprung up, like a “Save the Plain Dealer” party at Market Garden Brewery and Distillery this week, all aimed at getting Advance to respond to public pressure.” (Any of this sound familiar?)

But as dashTHIRTYdash founder Rebecca Theim expressed to Grzegorek, “You hope and wish that it’s different in Cleveland, but history has shown that if the Newhouses have made up their mind, that’s what’s going to happen.”

The post on the Save The Plain Dealer Facebook page Thursday asserted that the campaign has minimized the severity of the cuts. “While the forced departure of one-third of our journalists will cause deep, lasting harm to the work of news-gathering, we believe your outpouring of support for the Save The Plain Dealer campaign has helped dissuade the company from making even deeper cuts, and causing even greater community harm, as has happened at the other Advance newspapers,” the post read.

Cuts at Advance Publications Papers = At Least 1,336 Jobs

The Times-Picayune‘s newsroom was cut by 49% effective Oct. 1, although some new employees have been hired since then. (At least 14 employees originally asked to stay when the newspaper announced details about the layoffs in mid-June chose instead to leave, prompting the newspaper to “unfire” about 10 employees it originally had laid off.) About 30% of the newspaper’s total workforce was eliminated, including all of the Marketing Department except for one person, all Special Sections employees, all of the Library staff except for one employee, and the entire Human Resources staff, New Orleans’ alternative weekly Gambit reported.

Advance eliminated the jobs of 550 of its 1,100 employees in Michigan, but has said that more than half of those jobs have been offset by new hires, The Wall Street Journal reported in August.

Another 600 jobs were eliminated Sept. 30 at three Alabama newspapers Advance owns: The Huntsville Times, the Birmingham News and the Press-Register of Mobile, including 55% of the newsroom at the Birmingham paper, Alabama’s largest news organization.

The Post-Standard of Syracuse, N.Y. will shed 115 jobs Jan. 31, out of a total of 386 full-time and 26 part-time employees. The newsroom there will shrink from about 115 to 75, a 40% reduction. At the Patriot News in Harrisburg Pa., 70 of about 285 full-time employees also will be axed Jan. 31, or about 25% of the staff.

Both of those papers will move to a three-day-a-week publishing schedule, like The Times-Picayune and the Alabama papers, Feb. 1.

All told, at least 1,336 jobs have been eliminated at Advance Publication newspapers since this “digital-first” strategy began in 2009 in Michigan Feb. 2 (not including expected Plain Dealer layoffs), according to a compilation of the figures published in news reports about the layoffs. Several of the newspapers, including The Times-Picayune, have hired an undisclosed number of generally younger, less experienced and presumably less expensive employees since then. A June analysis by Poynter news analyst Rick Edmonds showed that the only way The Times-Picayune changes made financial sense was through the purging of experienced, higher-paid employees and replacing them with “young people, more tech-dextrous and a lot cheaper.”

Gambit awards dashTHIRTYdash another “bouquet”

Gambit, New Orleans’ alternative news weekly, awarded dashTHIRTYdash another “bouquet” in its weekly “Bouquets + Brickbats” feature, this time in the Oct. 30 edition, for the nonprofit’s work in providing grants to 75 laid-off Times-Picayune employees and contractors who applied for financial assistance.

Check out the “bouquet” in the digital edition of the issue by clicking here, or see it below:

Thanks, Gambit!

Checks, BTW, should be going out to recipients next week, via dashTHIRTYdash’s fiscal agent, the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans.

Gambit first awarded dashTHIRTYdash a bouquet June 26 in connection with one of the first benefits for the organization. Read that one by clicking here.

Proper, grand, bittersweet send-off to the daily Times-Picayune

What an amazing weekend!

It was a whirlwind and I’ll try to provide a proper post as soon as possible, but for the time being, here are some links:

  • Times-Picayune staffers moving out, on (Baton Rouge Advocate. This story is my favorite so far, and written by Kari Dequine Harden, a laid-off Times-Picayune reporter who’s been hired by the Advocate for its new daily New Orleans edition, which began home delivery today in response to the T-P’s retrenchment.)

 And from earlier:

Thanks again … updates on money raised and photos of the amazing, bittersweet weekend ASAP.

Times-Picayune newsroom “in triage, in mourning” Gambit editor tells “Informed Sources”

Kevin Allman, editor of New Orleans’ Gambit alternative weekly, who has exhaustively and compellingly covered the changes at The Times-Picayune, appeared last night (July 20) on New Orleans’ public television station WYES-TV’s “Informed Sources” to talk about the latest developments. (Watch the entire episode by clicking here.)

Some of what he had to say:

On Thursday’s largest mass departure from the newsroom, which included veteran City Hall reporter Frank Donze, fellow City Hall reporter Michelle Krupa, and health care and state politics reporter Bill Barrow. (Friday’s night’s going-away party at the Ugly Dog Saloon also feted soon-to-depart crime reporter and Pulitzer finalist Brendan McCarthy, business reporter Jaquetta White, St. Bernard community news editor Kim Gritter, special projects reporter Cindy Chang, Kenner reporter Mary Swerczek Sparacello and managing editor Peter Kovacs.): “What they’re losing right now is a lot of institutional memory. The whole list of people going down the line that are leaving, I don’t think they (newspaper management) expected to leave.”

State of the newsroom:The newsroom is in triage, the newsroom is in mourning. They’re afraid they’re going to be missing stories in the next couple of months, both because the man and woman power isn’t there, and because there’s no one really in charge, they don’t see where they’re going, they still have not been addressed by this new publisher.” Incoming publisher Ricky Mathews has editorialized on the front page of newspaper and met with fellow executives and major advertisers, but has not yet spoken to the rank-and-file.

Shifting control of the backstory? “The NOLA Media Group feels like it’s getting control of what they call the narrative again,” boosted this week by the high-profile hiring of Larry Holder from CBSSports.com to cover the New Orleans Saints. “Some changes may be coming to NOLA.com, which I don’t think anybody likes very much. So I think they think they’ve got a long-range plan that come October, they might be in pretty good shape.”

Exodus has begun: Gambit reports on veteran T-P staffers declining offers to stay

In a post late tonight, Gambit, New Orleans’ alternative weekly, reports that at least four veteran Times-Picayune reporters and columnists are rejecting offers to remain with NOLA Media Group when the company abandons daily print publication beginning Oct. 1.

You can read the story here.