Longtime newspaper delivery man reflects on loss of daily paper

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 24, 2012 at 10:26 PM

Updated Thursday, May 24 at 10:42 PM

Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

NEW ORLEANS - Wayne Schexnayder has delivered newspapers every day for the last 35 years.

"It's in the blood, it's a part of my life," said the Westwego resident.

It's a family tradition, started by Schexnayder's grandfather in the 1940s that, by the fall, will come to an end. That's when New Orleans will become the first major city in America without a daily newspaper.

The Times-Picayune announced Thursday it will be printed only three days a week and ramp up its digital presence instead.

The paper will become part of a new company, the NOLA Media Group.

"A lot of us that's been around for a long time have seen the writing on the wall," said Schexnayder. "The paper has gotten smaller. The advertisers have quit advertising."

But there's a movement to save the paper. A Facebook page, www.savethepicayune.com, had over 350 "likes" by 9:45 p.m. Thursday.

Anne Milling is an activist in the cause, and has been one of the paper's community advisers for 25 years.

"I'm going to keep pushing to have a daily newspaper in my city, and maybe it'll result in us meeting with Mr. Newhouse in New York, who knows? But I think he should hear folks here."

For 175 years, the daily paper has been known as the first draft of history. Many New Orleanians, like Schexnayder, have saved issues to mark key moments in history, like the Saints Super Bowl win.

"For years, the Times-Picayune proudly proclaimed they had the most penetration in the market of any paper in the country. So if a daily newspaper like that can't survive as a daily, what does that say about others?" said Clancy DuBos, Eyewitness News political analyst and co-owner of Gambit Weekly.

DuBos started his journalism career at The Times-Picayune at age 18. He fears downsizing the paper, and its staff, could decrease the quality of information it delivers.

"It's bad for democracy when a daily newspaper ceases publication in a major American city," said DuBos.

The Times-Picayune has said the quality of its journalism will not be compromised.

Meanwhile, Wayne delivers papers to pay for his kids' Catholic school education. Still, he said, he's looking forward to a break from delivering papers seven days a week.

And so, the basic link between readers and their daily local paper will no longer be people like Wayne. It will be the Internet marking the end of an era. And the beginning of a new one.

Downsizing the paper will mean cuts in its workforce, though The Times-Picayune has not said how many people that could affect.

Come fall, the paper says it will only publish on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

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