'Heartbreak,' 'disappointment' in B.R. over 'Times-Picayune' cuts

'Heartbreak,' 'disappointment' in B.R. over 'Times-Picayune' cuts

Louisiana Budget Project Director Jan Moller—who left The Times-Picayune's reporting staff in October to take his current job with LBP—says he was "heartbroken" to learn this morning about his former employer's plans to cut its daily publication to three days a week this fall and trim its reporting staff.

"My initial reaction is just to bleed for all of my colleagues who are going to have their lives upended by this," says Moller, who joined The Times-Picayune staff in March 2003. "I'm surprised it happened in New Orleans, because we were always told we had the highest market penetration in the country—and you didn't have to go far to believe it, because everywhere you went you'd see people reading the newspaper. It's a newspaper city."

Bob Mann, LSU journalism professor, says he was "disappointed, but not surprised" by today's news. That's because he was at the newspaper's office a few weeks back visiting a friend who's on staff and "there were definitely storm clouds on the horizon," he says, adding the production and staff cuts "were probably more than most people thought they'd be."

Mann believes the decision to reduce the newspaper's publications schedule to three days a week is a sign of even more reductions—and possibly the end of a print publication altogether.

"It's hard to imagine that's not what's going to happen," he says of the possibility of the paper going entirely to an online format. "That's probably where they're headed, and this could be more of an effort to soften the blow than anything."

Mann says the changes at The Times-Picayune could very well change the entire media landscape in New Orleans, and could even have a ripple effect across the entire state.

In a memo to The Advocate staff members posted on the Baton Rouge daily's website today, publisher David Manship writes: "Our long-term goal is to continue to print and deliver this award-winning newspaper seven days a week, as well as continue to improve our online presence. … At the same time, we will look for ways to increase our presence in the New Orleans area and be ready to take advantage of any opportunities that might come along."

Get full details on The Times-Picayune's plans as announced today in the full story from The Associated Press here.

Also, the Gambit has an article on the shock Times-Picayune employees are expressing today as they ponder the paper's future here.

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