'Times-Pic' pulls out of La. Press Association, associate publisher resigns from LPA board
The Times-Picayune/NOLA.com has pulled out of the Louisiana Press Association, and David Francis, associate publisher of The Times-Picayune/NOLA Media Group, has resigned his position from the LPA board of directors. The newspaper notified the LPA of its decision in a brief letter dated Wednesday, July 2, that does not offer an explanation. Francis declines to comment on the situation. But LPA board members say they assume the move has its roots, at least in part, in the controversy that took place earlier this year when The Advocate successfully lobbied the Legislature to change state law so that it could compete to publish lucrative classified legal ads and public notices in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. The Times-Picayune/NOLA.com fought the change. The LPA board met in February before the session and voted 6-5 to oppose the legislation. By the next day, the LPA board reversed its decision and, on another 6-5 vote, decided to remain neutral on the issue during the session. "I can only assume they would have liked us to take a position," says Norris Babin, immediate past president of the LPA. "But [for us] it was not a winnable situation. It was a lose-lose. Advance Media [which owns The Times-Picayune/NOLA.com] and The Advocate are our two largest members." As a practical matter, The Times-Picayune's action will not have any material effect on the publication's operations. But the newspaper's resignation from the 130-year-old trade association shows how fierce the competition between The Times-Picayune/NOLA.com and The Advocate—which now publishes in New Orleans seven days a week—has become. "The Times-Picayune is trying to defend New Orleans, and they've got an aggressive attempt to move in on them," says Tom Shearman, who took over as LPA president last month. "That seems to be the biggest problem." Shearman says The Times-Picayune has agreed to meet with LPA representatives to discuss the issue. "But they've told us their decision is final," he says. —Stephanie Riegel
Editor's note: This story has been changed since its original publication to clarify that the LPA board initially voted before the Legislature convened to oppose legislation affecting the publication of legal advertisements and then voted to remain neutral on the issue.
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