Separation, or divorce? (Chapter 2)

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Two years ago, I asked whether the Picayune editorial staff’s move to a new location away from its traditional Howard Avenue home was “a strategic move to allow the digital side of the house to easily separate itself from the print side in case of a future divorce”. We now have a partial answer.

NOLA Media Group announced today that it will close down its Howard Avenue printing plant and move print production to a more modern facility in Mobile, Alabama.

According to the announcement, over 100 people will lose their jobs in New Orleans as a result of the move, which is being done to “reduce print-related costs, improve efficiencies and allow for greater use of color in the pages of The Times-Picayune.”

The announcement also says that “the Howard Avenue property may be donated to a nonprofit institution in the community”.

Print? Who needs it?

Laid-off T-P employees file suits

According to a message posted today in a private Facebook group, at least seven former Times-Picayune employees have filed “unlawful employment practices” lawsuits against the paper. Abstracts of all the suits are identical except for gender, job description, and the number of years of employment. An example reads as follows:

[Name] v.
The Times Picayune LLC; Advance Publications Inc.
12/11/2013 [Docket] (New Orleans)

Unlawful employment practices action. Despite defendants’ purported “Newhouse Job Security Pledge,” which was supposed to guarantee that plaintiff, a reporter at the Times Picayune for 26 years, would not be laid off because of economic circumstances or technological changes, plaintiff was laid off. Before she lost her job, plaintiff realized it had been posted to be filled, but plaintiff was not given the opportunity to reapply. A younger, lesser paid employee was hired to take her spot.

It had been rumored for some time that a group of laid-off employees were contemplating some sort of age discrimination action against the paper, and it looks like that action has now been taken.

Stay tuned …

“This is a book with attitude.”

That’s the way LSU’s Charles P. Manship Professor of History Andrew Burstein describes Hell and High Water: The Battle to Save the Daily New Orleans Times-Picayune, a new book by former T-P reporter Rebecca Theim that is being released by Pelican Publishing this month.

Hell and High WaterTheim was living and working in Las Vegas when word broke on the decision to cut publication of the Picayune to three days a week and lay off hundreds of reporters, photographers, and other employees.

Her first response was to form Dash Thirty Dash, The Times-Picayune Employee Assistance Fund, to help cushion the financial blow about to befall those who were coming under the axe, many of whom were personal friends and former coworkers. Through that organization, Theim launched a fundraising effort that was supported by hundreds of people who wanted to help while mourning the losses.

But Theim didn’t stop there. She believed that documenting the tragedy in book form would establish an important historical record, and rather than leave the task to someone else she decided to do it herself.

The result is Hell and High Water, which has received high marks in pre-publication reviews.

An excerpt appears in the October issue of New Orleans Magazine, and a read-through will definitely whet your appetite for the full release, which is being celebrated at Rock ‘n’ Bowl from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Friday, October 18.

In the meantime, locals can pre-order the book at Octavia Books, which is hosting Theim’s first book-signing on Thursday, October 17, beginning at 6:00 p.m.

For those not able to buy local, the book is also available at

However you do it, be sure to get your hands on a copy. It’s a book you will want to keep in your collection as the definitive documentary and analysis of the Newhousing of New Orleans.