Tuesday, 12 June 2012 12:56

Bloody Tuesday: New Orleans and Times Picayune Staff Learn Their Fates

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new-orleansWho would have thunk it?

An award-winning prized journalist, Mark Schleifstein who has served the community and his colleagues with absolute distinction would ask this today on social media about a decision that is so personal:

"Mark Schleifstein

A quick update. I've been offered a position with the new entity. Still would like someone to explain what that entity will be and what our duties will entail. This is a very difficult day for many of my friends who have not been offered lifelines, and equally difficult for those of us who have.

via (15) Facebook."

This is journalism in New Orleans at its worse and at its finest.

Its worse because it is an absolute shame that the City's finest writers must learn their fates and those of their loved ones on the Times Picayune hatchet day or "Bloody Tuesday".  Some such as Schleifstein can decide after speaking to the public for weigh-in.  Others will not have the same opportunity to join the new Advanced NOLA whatever they call themselves--newspaper lite. 

Ultimately, the remnants of the old Times Picayune will put a team of journalists together to man the New Orleans storms of nature and of changing times.

To me, however, the main question,  is whether the business and community leaders decide to stick with the paper that is or pursue a new media vehicle that could be?

Yes, could be.

I do not blame Times Picayune-NOLA for seeing the future faster than most media in America and knowing that it must conform to digital, better and faster than their local and national (and even international) competitors.  The New Era is here and any media would be making an old error not to ultimately divest itself of paper and move substantially to electronics.

I do, however, fault them for this bloody mess, what appears to be a shell game of sorts with the lives of our felllow journalists and in part, with the city's future.  This ordeal is not just about  the future of the TP.  It is about the subliminal message being sent out to the rest of the world--that despite the overwhelming effort made by so many in this community, despite the incredible gains being made in the rebuild, New Orleans is a third rank city with a three-day per week paper.

So, I personally would not blame the city leaders if as a group, they decide to look for competitors to the TP so they (and we) can negotiate out of strength rather than weakness.  The bottom line is this--as a community, we are all in this paper-digital transition together.  

Whether New Orleans can survive the onslaught of change will depend upon how we embrace the future while respecting the past.  In many ways, the same goes for the Times Picayune as it sheds off its old skin, hopefully with much better respect than it has shown so far, while hoping to get new skin in this old game called the news.  

 Talk about this issue below--how has the TP handled this change?

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