For decades, the Newhouse chain of papers, which includes The Times-Picayune, was famous in newspaper circles for its “pledge,” as it was known to employees. The pledge stated, “No full-time, non-represented, regular employee will ever be laid off because of economic conditions or because of the introduction of new technology.” The pledge was rescinded in February 2010.
The fear in the T-P newsroom this week has been that the paper would follow “the Michigan model.” In Michigan, Newhouse cut the print frequency of several state papers, wrapping them into “MLive.com” — the website that serves as the papers’ online partners, much as NOLA.com is the online partner of The Times-Picayune.
It was MLive.com that first rolled out the internally despised “yellow journalism” design that was recently rolled out with great fanfare by NOLA.com. Slammed by readers, the “yellow journalism” template has also been unpopular with the reporters whose work appears there.
Most alarming, according to newsroom sources, is the fact that Newhouse’s revamp of MLive.com also brought the destruction of the print version of the Ann Arbor [Mich.] News, a 174-year-old paper that served a metro area of about 350,000 people. Four months after the announcement of the paper’s shuttering, Newhouse rolled out AnnArbor.com, leaving the city with only a web version of its familiar newspaper.
Look, right now very, very few newspaper “company” executives have any idea what the fuck they’re doing, and instead of letting newspapers do what they’re good at and break even or make small profits, they’re determined to flail around and blither about “new technologies and changing tastes” and make excuses for killing off their product. I do not get it anymore. I used to think this was just about money, and while newspapers make money they don’t make ENOUGH money, but what’s happening to the Times-Pic is destroying something that made unexpected amounts of money last year, so someone please explain to me why you’d want to mess with that.
I work on the Internet. I like the Internet. I think the Internet has been awesome for journalism. But that doesn’t mean the Internet has to be the only thing we do. If people like a paper and read a paper, buy a paper, and if people advertise in a paper, why not have a fucking paper?
– The Times-Picayune remains profitable. As recently as the beginning of this year, the paper was paying bonuses. Staffers got bonuses at the end of 2010 and 2011 as the result of unexpected profitability.
For God’s sake, do you know how many people would kill to be making a profit AT ALL right now? And you’re destroying the thing that is making you money. When customers and staffers return your contempt in kind, don’t you dare be surprised.