TP Editor: Give new organization a chance

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 12, 2012 at 1:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 12 at 1:34 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS - It is "Black Tuesday" at the New Orleans Times Picayune as staffers, old and new, get the word they've been dreading for weeks now. The paper confirmed 200 staff members, and by some counts as much as half if its newsroom employees, will be let go.

As some reporters left the TP office in tears, Editor in Chief Jim Amoss was left to explain what he described as a very difficult day on Howard Avenue.

"It's very sad to say good-bye to good employees and that's what we're having to do today," Amoss said.

Employees are being offered a severance package if they remain with the paper through Sept. 30.

The Times-Picayune has announced that beginning this fall, the daily paper will drop down to three days a week - Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The paper also is shifting much of its news-gathering resources to its online edition, nola.com.

"Our readers and readers and users of nola.com should know that we are deeply committed to continuing the kind of journalism we're know for, that our readers expect from us, the investigative journalism, the enterprise journalism that have made this a great newspaper," Amoss said.

The proposed changes at the paper have been met with a mix of fear, sadness and skepticism by subscribers and advertisers. There is even talk of an all out boycott of the paper if the changes are made and the daily newspaper goes away.

"I understand what it means not to be holding that printed product in your hands on certain mornings," Amoss said. "I grew up as a print journalist. I began my career at this paper and my parents still read this paper, cover to cover."

As far as the public outcry so far, Amoss said people need to give the changes a chance.

"Our goal is not to disappoint them and in fact, to have them realize we are as strong as ever and prepared to live in an age that has undergone a profound media revolution," Amoss said.

Meanwhile, community groups have surfaced demanding that the Times-Picayune continue to publish a daily paper or sell to a new owner who will.

The Newhouse family media conglomerate, parent company of Advanced Publications, made it clear the paper is not for sale. While by most measures the paper is quite profitable in the New Orleans market, Amoss said the T-P is looking for a sustainable model for the future.

"We're a private company and I can't talk about our finances are, but I can tell you that the newspaper industry as a whole, and I think our readers sense this, has experienced declines in ad revenue and declines in circulation and we have not been immune from that," Amoss said.

He said now is the time to make the difficult changes.

"Operating from a position of strength to achieve the goals that we want to achieve to grow and to make this news operation even more successful than it has been," Amoss said.

While the cuts take hold Sept. 30, it is unclear if that's when the paper will go three days a week.

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