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.

The venerable Times Picayune to undergo major staff reductions and publication cutbacks

Hat tip to an observant reader for the link to the New York Times Media Decoder Blog which has all the skinny.  It is no secret these are very hard times economically for old-fashioned print journalism and it appears just a few years after a major employee early retirement program new cuts at the T-P are in the offing.

Frankly, with nearly universal internet access cutting back the print editions makes a lot of sense to me. That said other newspapers have cut their news operations to disastrous results.  The public will pay for quality journalism and thus in my opinion it follows those areas are where the resources need to be concentrated.

Finally there has been a fair amount of chatter about the new design of NOLA.com, with most of those moved to comment expressing unhappiness with the new format.  I held my fire expressing an opinion but here is an opinion I take seriously since it does not come from a regular reader and is the first comment on the NYT Media Decoder Blog entry:

Just visited their website, http://www.nola.com/, which as mentioned in the comments thread, is so poorly designed it is effectively unreadable.

This isn’t a new media v old media thing in my mind so any constructive comments would likely be well received in Mediaville as the transition to fully leveraging new technologies means change in how news is disseminated is inevitable.

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Dean Starkman – SunHerald

Dean Starkman’s very fine writing about the insurance industry’s response to Hurricane Katrina, Insurance Transparency Project blog, continues to be an invaluable resource for SLABBED.  In fact, it was my search for something he’d written that led me to the Columbia Journalism Review where I found (much to my delight)  SunHerald’s Lee, Times-Pic’s Mowbray: Still on it

One of the true pleasures of reporting on the insurance industry’s response, or non-response, to Hurricane Katrina was meeting, and reading the reporting of, the principal Gulf-area papers’ reporters on the insurance angle, Rebecca Mowbray of the Times-Picayune and Anita Lee of the SunHerald of Gulfport and Biloxi, Miss.

It is heartwarming to see them still on the case, four years later. It is heartbreaking to read what they are reporting.

Mowbray: “Report dubs FEMA poor watchdog”

That one, from September 22, is about how the government fails to supervise the private insurers who administer the federal flood program under a “private-public partnership” (always a good idea to check your wallet when you read those words):

FireShot capture #104 - 'SunHerald's Lee, Times-Pic's Mowbray_ Still on it _ CJR' - www_cjr_org_the_audit_sunheralds_lee_timespics_mowbr_php

That’s for expenses, people. Insurers under this program bear no risk. What financial product comes with a 66% load? Continue reading “Dean Starkman – SunHerald”