Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Plain Dealer Newsroom Anxious After Drastic Changes At New Orleans Paper (Updated)

Posted By on Tue, Aug 28, 2012 at 3:49 PM

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Update: The Plain Dealer's parent company will also cut two of its other papers down to the 3-day publishing model. Tick, tick, tick... (NY Times) Grzegorek

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Today the media world is churning itself into an anxious mess over the fate of the New Orleans daily newspaper, The Times-Picayune. One of the oldest and most storied dailies in the game, the paper has more than a few Pulitzers under it's belt, including accolades earned as Katrina was pulling the Big Easy to pieces. But what wind and rain couldn't slow, the realities of the print business have: as first reported in the New York Times, the publication will now only print three times a week. The new emphasis is on the web. Considerable staff cuts are expected.

But besides a hit for journalism, the news out of New Orleans has a possible impact here in Northeast Ohio: Advance Publications, the same parent company putting the Times-Picayune under the knife, owns the Plain Dealer.

Sources inside the Plain Dealer told us today staffers were called in for meetings. Managing Editor Thom Fladung was circling between the departments trying to ease anxiety. The message from the top is that the paper will not be cutting its days and that business would continue as usual. The PD business model is different from the Times-Picayune, the line went. Our sources says everyone assumes there's a unsaid ellipses hanging off the assurances: for now.

Part of that unease about the future comes from the fact that Advance seems to be implementing a cookie-cutter approach to their pub re-organization. The NOLA moves mirror changes that happened earlier at the Ann Arbor News. As with that change, the Lousisana shuffle will ripple out to other neighboring Advance dailies: The Mobile Press-Register, The Huntsville Times, and the Birmingham News, according to the NYTimes. In addition to the PD and Times-Picayune, Advance owns Newark's The Star-Ledger and The Oregonian.

Tough news today for everybody in the business. Hopefully, the PD will duck this kind of drastic corporate butcher job.

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