analysis

Jeff Bezos offers a reality check

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In an interview with a reporter at The Washington Post, the newspaper he recently agreed to buy for $250 million, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos observes,

No business can continue to shrink. That can only go on for so long before irrelevancy sets in.

Bezos continues,

The Post will have “readers at its centerpiece. I’m skeptical of any mission that has advertisers at its centerpiece.

Compare and contrast: NOLA Media Group vs. The New Orleans Advocate.


Meanwhile,

Catching up on a few other items,

Tag teams fail to impress

In late June, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune announced that it was enlarging a previously established partnership with WVUE-TV to provide collaborative reporting that would be featured in both outlets.

Just a few days later, The Advocate and WWL-TV announced a similar linkup.

The partnerships bragged that their deals would result in “greatly enriched … content on all of our combined platforms” (Picayune/WVUE) and “excellent coverage of important issues to viewers and readers throughout the region” (Advocate/WWL).

But the results have been infrequent and less than dazzling, amounting mainly to the outlets giving credit to their partners when delivering a collaborative report, in a format that is otherwise indistinguishable from what they were doing before.

So far, it’s a big “so what”.

Nell Nolan tells the Picayune to shove it

Nell Nolan’s “Goodbye” column in the Picayune contained a subtly delivered message to her long-time employer, which can be summed up as “Thanks for nothing”.

With a gracious nod to her young successor, Nolan summarized her accomplishments:

Dear readers,

This is my last column for the Social Scene, a column that I have loved writing for 34 years. I wish Sue Strachan all the best as the next columnist.

My innovations within the approximately 10,000 columns I scripted were accompanying photos, diverse groups, increased color pages, new fundraisers, and celebrities, such as U.S. presidents, British royalty, international dignitaries, cultural and sports icons, and movie stars.

I attended thousands of your events, spoke about my column and the newspaper to dozens of social and community groups, and made a host of friends. After all, this is your column, but in many ways, it became my life.

What Nolan didn’t write about, but that insiders knew, is how shabbily she had been treated by the NOLA Media Group. As reported by Dash30Dash, despite all those achievements they fired her in last summer’s purge, hired her back as a much lower paid contractor, and then refused to allow her to work out of the paper’s offices.

In the understated style that is her trademark, Nolan ended her goodbye with two sentences that stuck the knife in and gave it a good twist. The expert on the social graces pointedly omitted any thank-you to her soon-to-be former employer, while inviting her readers to dump the Picayune and join her at The Advocate, which had announced just a week earlier that her column would soon find new life in that publication:

And so, farewell with thanks for your support, readership and friendship. May our paths cross again.

Nicely done, Nell!

Steven Newhouse says everything is hunky-dory

Stephanie Riegel wrote in the Baton Rouge Business Report earlier this month that

Steven Newhouse—chairman of Advance Media, which publishes The Times-Picayune and Nola.com—tells Daily Report he is “absolutely pleased” with the success The Times-Picayune has had since reducing its print circulation to three days a week.

“We are committed and have no intention of doing anything other than stay the course and continue to work hard to earn the patronage of our readers,” Newhouse said in a telephone interview.

You do that, Steve, but don’t look over your shoulder, because The New Orleans Advocate is gaining on you.


TPStreet engages in delusional editing

When the editors of today’s TPStreet printed an Associated Press story, they removed any hint that another newspaper might be encroaching on their turf.

With a few name changes, the headline and lede as originally published by the AP could have been written about what’s going on in New Orleans:

California city becomes rarity: a 2 newspaper town

The latest experiment in American journalism is a throwback: a new daily newspaper to compete against an established one in a big city.

The front page of Monday’s debut edition of the Long Beach Register featured stories under the headlines “Welcome to your new local paper” and “A glimpse into Long Beach’s future.”

With the newspaper, the ambitious owners of the Orange County Register are expanding their bet that consumers will reward an investment in news inked on paper and delivered to their doorsteps — that their newspaper will be a big part of Long Beach’s future.

The competition is the Long Beach Press-Telegram, founded more than a century ago.

Sound familiar?

Later, the story continues (with emphasis added),

Media business analyst Rick Edmonds said the last time he can recall a major U.S. city adding a new daily paper was around World War II, when Chicago got the Sun-Times and New York got Newsday. There have been scattered other instances in smaller cities, but since newspapers entered their recent troubles, the creation of a new rivalry is itself news. A brewing newspaper war in New Orleans between that city’s Times-Picayune and a challenger based about 80 miles away in Baton Rouge, La., is the closest to what’s unfolding in Long Beach.

But here’s how that paragraph reads on page A20 of the August 19, 2013, TPStreet:

Media business analyst Rick Edmonds said the last time he can recall a major U.S. city adding a new daily paper was around World War II, when Chicago got the Sun-Times and New York got Newsday. There have been scattered other instances in smaller cities, but since newspapers entered their recent troubles, the creation of a new rivalry is itself news.

I mean, who do they think they’re fooling?

For the record, the AP story is here, and the TPStreet version is shown below.

Thanks to former Picayune columnist Chris Rose for the tip.

TPStreet, Monday, August 19, 2013, Page A20

TPStreet, Monday, August 19, 2013, Page A20


The New Orleans Advocate launches new website

The New Orleans Advocate has launched a new, NOLA-centric website to complement the newly renamed and redesigned print edition of the newspaper.

According to an article by Stephanie Riegel in the Baton Rouge Business Report, TheNewOrleansAdvocate.com will be officially unveiled later this week, but it’s up and running now. Riegel writes,

Later this week, it will launch a New Orleans Advocate website that is expected to serve as the prototype for a redesigned online edition in Baton Rouge that will debut later this fall, says general manager and chief operating officer Dan Shea.

“By mid-week, the New Orleans website will be fully active and it will allow The Advocate.com website to be more Baton Rouge-centric,” Shea says. “But the design you see will be the design we will turn to in Baton Rouge later this fall. … There were no expectations in New Orleans for what The Advocate website should look like … so everything we have done (differently) we have done first in New Orleans because they don’t have any expectations and they are used to something different.”

Those who have been critical of the design of the Times-Picayune’s NOLA.com website will be delighted by what they see at TheNewOrleansAdvocate.com. Instead of a putridly colored “river of news” and a cluttered navigation system, the New Orleans Advocate site has a clean, nicely illustrated design that appeals to the eye and is well organized.

It looks like the Georges machine is operating on all cylinders. Full speed ahead!


It’s official: The New Orleans Advocate makes its debut

Update: Renowned designer Charles Apple gives a thumbs-up to The New Orleans Advocate’s new look and makes some suggestions to make a great design even better.

The New Orleans Advocate Inaugural Edition, Sunday, August 18, 2013

The New Orleans Advocate Inaugural Edition, Sunday, August 18, 2013

With a new name, a new look, and a flag that says it all (“Seven Days • Home Delivered • Louisiana Owned”), The Advocate rolled out an edition fully dedicated to the New Orleans market today.

The impressive new publication includes everything a New Orleanian could want, including:

  • Reports by Pulitzer Prize winning writers with deep knowledge of area institutions and events
  • A Metro section with local and regional news and obituaries
  • A new EatPlayLive section that covers exactly what its name implies, all delivered from a New Orleans perspective
  • And, on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, the return of society page doyenne Nell Nolan

Turning the pages, readers might think they’re looking at the Times-Picayune of bygone days, since they’ll see familiar bylines of former Picayune reporters; a Party Central page that is a direct clone of the Picayune’s Big Easy page, including as it does images by former Big Easy page photographer Steven Forster; and a two-page travel layout that includes a Way To Go section showing Advocate readers smiling in far-away places (cf. the Picayune’s Papertrails).

In something sure to attract and please the literati, EatPlayLive includes a real, live book section, something that has been missing from the Picayune since last year, as well as a fine arts page.

All of this in addition to the new society column by Nolan, more humor by political satirist James Gill, and in-depth sports and business sections.

John Georges and his crew have delivered what they promised, and they beat their self-imposed deadline. Check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

(The paper’s announcement of what it’s all about is here.)