By Catherine Threlkeld | LSU Student
Over the weekend, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans moved to publishing a print edition to only three days a week on Sunday as The Advocate of Baton Rouge launched a home-delivered edition to New Orleanians.
It seemed appropriate, therefore, that a hodge-podge of Louisiana media leaders gathered at Historic New Orleans Collection Williams Research Center this past weekend for Oxford American's two-panel symposium on the changing landscape of media in southeastern Louisiana.
Carl Redmann, Advocate executive editor, said his new daily New Orleans edition is not arriving to replace the Times-Picayune but rather as a daily, comprehensive provider of the most important news of the day..
As if to underscore that, Redman said his Advocate bureau in New Orleans will have a staff of eight replacing the Times-Picayune's 170-newsroom complement before layoffs. He told the assembled group The Advocate had around 4,600 New Orleans subscribers, predicting 10,000 by the end of this week.
"We are starting small, but we're very encouraged," Redman said. "Initially, we're going to be covering the major stories of the day. If you give us 30 days, you're going to like what you see."
The panels lamented about the Times-Picayune's layoffs and updated website, NOLA.com. Alex Rawls, editor of MySpiltMilk.com, a New Orleans-based news and commentary site, said Nola.com currently is not doing "good digital journalism." Reading a story should be a more involved experience, he noted, adding that NOLA.com does not embed links to other websites besides its own stories.
"The more I link around, the more people become aware that I'm out there," Rawls said. "I am a point of view, and I want people to read it but I also want people to read other points of view."
Andrew Nelson, a visiting professor at Loyola University, asked members of the audience if they had looked at any of the other newspaper websites owned by Advance Publications, the company that owns the Times-Picayune.
"(They look) all the same," Nelson said. "It becomes an egg McMuffin. New Orleans is not an egg McMuffin."
Author Nathaniel Rich said he hopes New Orleans will have several forms of robust digital journalism in the next five years, but that might come in the form of non-profit media groups like TheLensNola.org.
"Serious journalism costs money, a lot of money," Rich said. "It's going to become increasingly seen as a public service."