Thanks for the memories….

Here we are winding down the last few days of the Times Picayune as a stand alone media outlet and the post I’ve avoided writing since the news broke.

I’m going to miss the story comment section at NOLA.com as there was a critical mass of commenters that often added to the story, sometimes too much. I’m going to miss Tim Morris’ punditry and Drew Broach’s musings on Jefferson Parish politics. For local power news consumers there will be lots to miss.

I remember Mark Lorando as the T.V. beat writer back in the late 1980s writing glowing reviews about Max Headroom and after watching wondering what the heck Lorando saw in the show. Today he is the outgoing editor of NOLA.com and he summed up what everyone will be missing in just a few days:

“Here’s the great irony of our decision to reduce home delivery to three days and focus on digital: The end result was more and better journalism for New Orleans, not less,” Lorando wrote. “I’m proud of the groundbreaking work this newsroom has produced, and respect The Advocate’s. This was a never a newspaper war. It’s a war to preserve local journalism in New Orleans. It’s just heartbreaking to see so many having to leave New Orleans, or leave journalism altogether in the end.”

Advocate Owner John Georges is not as visionary as it may seem today though you gotta give the man props for the plan execution. Consolidation or transformation are the only viable strategies in industries that are in secular decline but in journalism that carries a price too. Soon enough everyone will get to see what’s in store on the other side of the transaction including whether Georges’ investment objective toward his properties change, now that he has the print monopoly in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

As always we’ll be watching to see how that story unfolds.

More folks enter the Newhouse family Chop Shop

This time the grim reaper came for veteran journalists such as Paul Purpura whose salaries were most likely spiked compared to the newer hires that are on a different salary scale at Advance Publications.

Times-Picayune lays off 37 journalists in latest shakeup; New Orleans Advocate says it’s expanding its staff ~ Richard Thompson

Three Two years into Advance’s brave new world experiment of eliminating daily editions of the local paper in favor of an enhanced presence on the internet, the financial metrics are evidently still not working out well enough for them where they have competition like New Orleans. It appears Advance just got their digital butts kicked out of Baton Rouge as well.

Attention Attention: Advance Publications aka NOLA.com aka the Times Picayune

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Fred Heebe Fred Heebe Fred Heebe Fred Heebe Fred Heebe Fred Heebe Fred Heebe Continue reading “Attention Attention: Advance Publications aka NOLA.com aka the Times Picayune”

Nagin……

The comments I’m receiving via email about Ray Nagin’s lawyer Robert Jenkins entering Federal court to try a major criminal case tomorrow are pretty amusing, especially since Jenkins, when he isn’t doing the legal pundit thing for WDSU is known mainly for his practice in New Orleans state courts. The consensus of the emails is the guy is in over his head but that Judge Berrigan will cut him some slack to compensate.

It is against that backdrop of private thoughts being shared with Slabbed about tomorrow’s criminal trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin that I viewed the media stories building up to the trial. One, by NOLA.com’s Rich Rainey and Juliet Linderman relied on interviews with ol’ reliables like the BGR’s Janet Howard along with legal pundits Dane Ciolino and Grey Sexton, who both ran on at the mouth spouting tired legal cliches that bore absolutely no resemblance to what the highly accomplished, successful lawyers that I speak with were sharing with me.

Meantime over at the Advocate Gordon Russell, who covered and helped expose major facets of the public corruption at the heart of the Nagin Indictment, wrote a great piece on the topic. Gordon didn’t have to rely on any interviews since he literally lived the events from a front row seat so there are no interviews or tired cliches in his piece no sir, just Joe Friday which is exactly how old school guys like me appreciate it.

All that said there is something tangentially related to the two stories that I was immediately drawn to in the number of people commenting to each. As I write this Gordon’s piece, at the Facebook only Advocate, has one Facebook comment while Rainey and Linderman’s piece has sixty, including mainstays like Muspench and company who are folks that I term ‘high quality’ commenters. This situation is part traffic but is is also undeniably part commenting platform. Large swaths of the media runs in herds folks which is why business statisticians have the bottom 2 quartiles (or 3 quintiles) when quantifying business sector financial analysis. The following video explains:

In any event like everyone else we’ll be following the Nagin trial. Besides Gordon I’ll be looking to Jason over at AZ for context. This week ought to fun for the muckraking community down here.

Louisiana Miscellany: Money talks…….

Forbes: Newhouses’ fortune increases ~ Andrew Beaujon

For those that missed it I highly recommend as a companion to the above last night’s episode of Errol and the Noisemakers as Errol and his crack panel of seasoned journalistic professionalsTM were on fire last night.

Last year’s restructure of the Times Picayune along with the advent of the Lucky Coin Today has resulted in the Balkanization of the local media congroovancy (to borrow a term from Editilla). Worth noting is Tom Benson cuddled up with the Newhouse clan while the folks at Team Georges are nestled in with Belo soon to be Gannett’s Channel 4 WWL TeeVee. The term Balkanized is appropriate here because of the twisted sub alliances with certain new media/alternative media outlets. Why anyone else would allow themselves to be Balkanized by the likes of Tom Benson and John Georges is completely beyond me but I do find it is eerily reminiscent of the following:

Slabbed will remain like Switzerland and continue on as before.  Now for some other links:

Kenner hired private investigator to track city employee ~  Adriane Quinlan

Jefferson Parish Council defines why it hired lowest-ranked law firm with highest-contributions, to complaints from citizen group ~ Adriane Quinlan

Follow the money to Cossich, Sumich, Parsiola & Taylor and the reason Burglass & Tankersley got this work comes far clearer focus according to talk amongst the Winos and Gutter Punks at Lafreniere Park.

Judge mulling key pretrial decisions in Katrina flooding lawsuit in Jefferson Parish ~ Paul Purpura

It appears we are to the cut on this suit as it involves the continued participation of former Goatherder in Chief Aaron Broussard in this litigation. Mount Hermon indeed. Continue reading “Louisiana Miscellany: Money talks…….”

History will record Advocate Owner John Georges as either a Media Visionary or Complete Buffoon

I’m intrigued by John George’s business plan of going head to head with the Times Picayune in New Orleans, a business strategy that literally bucks 30 years of industry consolidation trends. The talent Georges has poached from NOLA Media Group to beef up the New Orleans edition of the Advocate did not come on the cheap. Since the Newhouse pay scale is reputed to be the industry’s most generous, even in these austere days for the print media business, the employee morale impacts of that fact regarding the newbies in NOLA on the staff in Baton Rouge is undeniable as journalists are only human too:

Baton Rouge Advocate to reduce workforce through buyouts of veteran employees ~ AP Story via NOLA Media Group

Maybe we’re the Buffoons here at Slabbed for failing to see the wisdom of making a major investment in a declining industry in a declining advertising market.  In the construction market, when this type of thing happens it is usually a strategic play where one of the two competitors ends up buying the other out.  History tells us that the Newhouse clan will not sell the Times Picayune.

The winner is usually the one with the most net worth to throw away in the competition. Using that metric alone indicates Georges is pissing in the wind since assets in a declining industry can usually be bought on the super cheap via auction.  We’ll see.

Like little lambies to the slaughter

My only words of wisdom would be to bring your A game everyday, watch your back and resist the temptation to sell your soul.

2 Jefferson Parish reporters join NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune staff ~ Drew Broach

Drew and Manuel Torres are both moving back up the ladder to editing roles now known as managing producers in Newhouseville.

See y’all soon.  😉

Dominicales Omnibus: Altis tenuibusque conciliat!

Indeed it does does folks because the news gods favor Slabbed New Media this morning.  First up because you heard it here first:

Catching up with South Mississippi’s Gene Taylor and Trent Lott ~ Da Noose and Nelson

(Gene) saved the county up to $45,000 in labor.

Does he consider getting back into politics?

“Sometimes I do,” he said. “Like when I see this mess with the National Flood Insurance (Program) — Congress holding a gun to people’s heads and the best they’re offering is a year extension.”

It’s frustrating, he said, the inflated premiums, “which will adversely effect so many people down here and knowing that I know there’s a better solution.”

Indeed there is a better way. Michael and Karen’s piece also solved a mystery as the Dunbar Pier is close by. Altis Tenuibusque comes at a price thus my surprise at seeing the public pier fixed a few weeks back and not knowing it was a community production. And yeah Gene, please run because this area needs you in Washington!

That said the advantages of Altis Tenuibusque are also very clear as today’s missive will illustrate but first we have major news from the New Orleans Media Congroovancy as Ace Investigative Reporter Nell Nolan leaves the House of News to join the Lucky Coin Today. A fair read of these pages well illustrates why Slabbed New Media has come to conclude that Nolan was Ashton Phelps best hire bar none during his tenure as publisher of the T-P and Nell goes back farther than that to the old States Item, which I well remember because we used to get it in Waveland back in the olden days. Plus if Nell ever decides to leave the news biz a very lucrative career pumping the pinks awaits. Either way I’m a fan for life.

Now for the best political gossip from Jefferson Parish bar none because I have it.  I’m hearing from multiple sources it is likely that Parish Prez John Young will not seek re election. In the event that prediction comes to fruition here are the scenarios: Continue reading “Dominicales Omnibus: Altis tenuibusque conciliat!”

Chaos theoria adhiberetur: Vehuntur Ursus

“Primus homo per parietem semper est cruentatus … semper”

The above is a rough translation of the subject header on a congratulatory email I received on December 19, 2012 from a successful, highly respected trial lawyer. I think most everyone reading this recalls the events of that day. For the lawyer that wrote me, making US legal history prevailing in the first decision of its kind in the Nation was meaningful. The decision under the US Speech Act even made the news on several new media outlets in two countries along with a Canadian newspaper but nary was heard any word from the local main stream media.

But this trial lawyer was talking about more than just my court victory because the guy is a consummate thinker/technology visionary. By harnessing the power of this medium called the internet I’ve lost track of how many high achieving high quality individuals I’ve met, first on the Yahoo Fiance Boards and later through my 5 years plus doing Slabbed.  Occasionally, we’re even blessed such people stop in with us and comment, sharing their rich life experiences with the community.  There is a magic here that is undeniable, in large part due to a diverse community of sincere commenters that are mostly what Sly termed “everyday people” back in the day.  Somehow, in today’s day and age when media outlets are branded as conservative or liberal, Slabbed manages to attract (and occasionally piss off) both demographics but since we’re equal opportunity muckrakers no one seems to hold it against us for long.

I mention all this because my post yesterday discussing attribution got a response from Gordon Russell.  We agreed that it was worth sharing since some of ya’ll may make like The boy named Sue and come away with a different point of view since we were hard on NOLA Media Group yesterday.  It also gives me a chance to remind everyone commenting here that people are paying attention and by people I mean the high end demographic that forms the majority of the readership, along with various and sundry Goatherders.  As I told Nowdy back in 2007 the key to difference making wasn’t the quantity of readers, rather their quality. Yesterday’s email chat with Gordon, in light of a few links that were left on the post I did make it a good time to tackle the general subject of the secular change occurring in the media industry, which has been an occasional topic here since since the advent of the “Sometimes Picayune”.

Yesterday Steve and Whitmergate nailed it in comments and understood the connection I was making involving what most people would consider obscure applied mathematics. Let’s start with ‘Gate:

Power, sex, politics, money, corruption, death … fractals all– complex, universal and chaotic

And what do fractals have to do with Chaos Theory? The link ‘Gate left explains it far better than Wiki:

Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on. These phenomena are often described by fractal mathematics, which captures the infinite complexity of nature. Many natural objects exhibit fractal properties, including landscapes, clouds, trees, organs, rivers etc, and many of the systems in which we live exhibit complex, chaotic behavior. Recognizing the chaotic, fractal nature of our world can give us new insight, power, and wisdom. For example, by understanding the complex, chaotic dynamics of the atmosphere, a balloon pilot can “steer” a balloon to a desired location. By understanding that our ecosystems, our social systems, and our economic systems are interconnected, we can hope to avoid actions which may end up being detrimental to our long-term well-being.

Do these concepts apply to Slabbed? How about other blogs and forums? Do they apply to the media as a whole? Absolutely. In fact during our days covering the post Katrina wind-water insurance litigation we applied those and other concepts to organizations like insurance companies, which in turn attracted a group of high quality nationally known trial lawyers along with the creme of the local bar both here on the coast and Louisiana to this blog. There is a method to the madness publishing Slabbed. So with all this in mind here is the story behind the story: Continue reading “Chaos theoria adhiberetur: Vehuntur Ursus”

Blissfully disengaged…………:-)

I’ve taken a few days away from Slabbed but I noticed all hell has broken loose over with the good folks over at NOLA Media Group. The long and short of it is I received numerous inquiries yesterday if Slabbed had been subpoenaed by John Horns folks from Department of Justice. Those inquiries were prompted by this Gordon Russell story regarding the subpoena NOLA received requesting user and IP information on 11 alaises that commented on certain Times Picayune stories posted to NOLA.

Some of the commenters are defending themselves on Gordon’s story, which makes for an interesting read all on its own. My own instant reaction is that Horn has issued a very broad subpoena and the reason for that will be fun to figure out. It appears a legal fight is brewing between DoJ and Advance Publications.

In any event I’m tuning back out but am interested to hear View From Hell’s take on all this as I know View is a regular reader. Continue reading “Blissfully disengaged…………:-)”