SocraticGadfly: Advance surrenders in NOLA

May 08, 2019

Advance surrenders in NOLA

It really should be no surprise.

The Baton Rouge Advocate, having started a New Orleans edition several years ago when Advance, owners of the venerable New Orleans Times-Picayune, made noises, then did it, about getting rid of a 7-day print product, or at least a 7-day print product for home delivery, has now bought the TP. (IF you're going to do something like this? Don't piss off subscribers. Instead, even though you're delivering in volume, whack everyday delivery to racks and retailers instead. Advertisers would probably prefer to reach dedicated customers, too.)

The takeover is brutal for NOLA staffers — all of them were sacked and will have to reapply. The Georges family would have come off better at saying "we'll look at staffing needs," and hired all op-ed staff immediately on a contract basis, along with section editors off the copy desk and selected top staffers otherwise, while saying "we'll get back to you" on the rest.

On the third hand, per the official announcement, the Advocate had its own, well-sized for today's newspaper world, staff.

But in terms of the big picture, the only question I have is — what took this so long? Did Advance not face reality? (As soon as the Advocate announced a New Orleans edition, it took off like white on rice in jambalaya.) The officially announcement said that NOLA was not for official sale but that Advance saw the handwriting on the wall.

For the Georges ownership, it makes great sense. They launched a paper in Lafayette a few years back and own an alt-weekly in NOLA. And, contra a NOLA TV station, the TP had ceased to be a gold standard at least since the 2012 circ decision. (Oh, pro tip to the TV interviewer? Turn your cellphone off before starting an interview. And, if the interview itself was done on cellphone video cam? Pro tip to station: stop being so fucking cheap.)

So, why isn't this happening elsewhere? Why doesn't the Akron Beacon Journal roll the dice on a Cleveland issue and see if Advance and the Plain Dealer will surrender? Ditto on whatever the paper is in Vancouver, Washington, (it's the Columbian) versus the Oregonian? Especially since Advance's company-wide transition to being allegedly digital-first has been as slow as hell.

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