Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The carnage continues at the Times-Picayune

Blood flowed through the presses in New Orleans yesterday as Newhouse fired, oops, I meant laid off, retired, whatever cute corporate buzzword you want to use, over 200 employees yesteday. Some of the cuts just plain make no sense whatsoever. Peter Finney. PETER FINNEY!!! One of the premier sports columnists in the country and the patron saint of well, the Saints. Then there is Brett Anderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic. Yup, he's gone. Why a newspaper would want a food critic for a city such as New Orleans is beyond me but hey, that just me. Mafiosos and politicians in the crescent city will rejoice as the newsroom was literally cut in half but the ritalin generation need not worry- the features and sports sections were spared the worst damage.

The Gambit Weekly provides the details on the massacre:

"He was just one of more than 200 Times-Picayune employees who were told today that their services would no longer be required as of Sept. 30. Eighty-four of the cuts came from the newsroom staff, which numbered 169 — a 49 percent cut.

Besides the newsroom slashing, the paper's entire marketing department was fired save one person. All special sections employees, the library staff and human resources employees were also presented with severance papers.

Naturally the corporate cowards were nowhere to be found as the perfumed princes left it to the local editors to deliver the news:

"No one from Advance Publications or Newhouse, the parent companies of The Times-Picayune, was on hand to deliver the news — leaving the job to the paper's editors in brief individual meetings with those whom they supervised. The paper's new publisher, Ricky Mathews, was not seen in the building..."

Leslie Hurst would be proud. Then to add insult to injury, those given reprieves, well, there are a few conditions to staying on at the new

"Those who were invited to stay with the newly christened NOLA Media Group, which will oversee and the thrice-weekly Times-Picayune, now have two weeks to decide whether to accept the "conditional offer" (which includes a background check and drug testing) or opt for severance. Several of those who spoke to Gambit tonight said the offer didn't include even the most basic details of the new jobs, down to whom they would be reporting or what their specific duties would be under the NOLA Media Group..."

Yup. Work there ten years, a body of work to examine, and its not good enough. Pee in the cup and let us check your credit, work history be damned. Then there is the way they "retired" Peter Finney:

"Among the most serious botches:'s original story about the firings said, "Among the more notable names leaving the paper are award-winning restaurant critic Brett Anderson and longtime sports columnist Peter Finney." This came as news to Finney's family, as Finney had not yet had his meeting with sports editor Doug Tatum — and was said to be at home composing his latest column when news of his firing appeared.

It was later clarified that Finney would indeed be retiring, but contributing a column on a freelance basis — as would longtime society columnist Nell Nolan, whose alliterative prose and copious Living section real estate had been sacrosanct under former publisher Ashton Phelps Jr. Parents of debutantes and other social notables, it was said, would be encouraged to submit their own fete photos for online publication

Peter, don't give the pricks the satisfaction of publishing your work. I'm sure The Advocate, Gambit, or another publication would be happy to pay you for your services if you are forced to free-lance and would probably show you more appreciation. If this is the future of news, heaven help us. Here is the rest of the article, its well worth reading.


Anonymous said...

So what would you do?
Display advertising is dead.
The 17-45 age group doesn't subscribe to newspapers.
So you keep paying money you don't have to columnists nobody reads?

Anonymous said...

There is still plenty of display ad dollars available because it remains the most effective method to advertise. It's just not enough to maintain the 20-plus percent profit margins that newspaper corporations experienced in their heyday and continue to expect.

Anonymous said...

Same thing happened to the Birmingham, Huntsville, and Mobile newspapers yesterday owned by the same company as the TP. I'm pretty sure I read 400 people lost their jobs in Alabama. The question is where in the world will all these people find another job? The answer is 99.9% won't.

Kingfish said...

65% or so of the population took the TP. Had a very high penetration rate.

Shadowfax said...

Not to worry. I heard Obama just yesterday saying there is plenty of federal money for retraining.

Anonymous said...

It is SO classy to announce you are firing /retiring someone in the press before you tell the person.
I found out something similar in an email to everyone I worked with....and then afterwards was told it wouldn't effect my job. Needless I told them in a VERY direct manner that their methods were quite unprofessional.

Anonymous said...

They fired PETER FINNEY ???

The TP melt down is much more than I originally thought.

I hope he goes up I-55, takes a right turn on 98 @ McComb and settles at the Tylertown Times.

After getting the "Sandusky" in NOLA , I would rather see Finny cover Dexter & Bogalusa Women's Softball.

Jim Craig said...

Isn't this an example of the Romneynomics of "creative destruction"? Would that the many, many folks who are upset about Newhouse's decision could see the link between their "free-market" ideology and the facts of their daily life.

Anonymous said...

So what about this would make Leslie Hurst proud exactly? Your editorializing seems petty in light of such a monumental story. Neither she nor any other publisher or manager in the publishing world wants to see people lose their jobs. Jeeze dude. It's TRAGIC what is happening in the newspaper world. It's beyond tragic.

I know it's news, but you're sitting on top on the lampost like a damn vulture. The industry has cancer. Big news. Oh wait, they deserve it right?

How about rallying for them? How about actually hoping that they can survive? How about it?

Shadowfax said...

The vulture-lampost analogy boils down to 'why are we angry'? What is it that newspapers, over time, have done to piss us off to the point where we actually grin as they march off the end of the high-dive into an empty pool? Would we feel differently had most of them not turned into liberal rags that ignore all of us who are not so inclined? I don't know the answer to that. I do know (perhaps sadly) that 'we' sort of enjoy seeing a pissant get his/her/their comeuppance. It's simply human nature. Isn't it?

Anonymous said...

from 12:36 here -

I suppose. The nature of humans is often disappointing. I think what we have to remember here is that regardless of what it is or has become, what it remains is an employer of our citizens. Albeit fewer of them - but still many. I for one cannot sit back and "hope" for the demise of even more jobs putting even more families in crisis. The guy killing himself on the loading dock in 100 degree weather has nothinig to do with the "liberal" nature of anything but is simply trying to keep food on the table for his family and keep his rent paid.

But you actually make a good point in that people somehow find pleasure in the suffering. In my opinion, it says more about them than the actually industry itself.

Shadowfax said...

But, each is a link in the chain of satisfaction. Had the industry not become what it has, I for one would not enjoy its demise nearly as much, if at all. Humanity aside, a principle of business is that it should never remain alive simply as a conduit to providing food for families. I know of no economic principle that suggests that. Should we still have an industry producing Polaroid film or fiberglass football cleats simply because families were employed there?

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