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Today’s print version of the story about the T-P’s move into the Baton Rouge market that appeared on NOLA.com yesterday* rewords to sound better expands on the online version by adding:

Though the announcement follows one by The Advocate that the Baton Rouge paper plans to open a New Orleans office and provide home delivery in the city, [publisher Ricky] Mathews said NOLA Media Group’s move was not prompted by The Advocate entering the local market.

“Absolutely not. This has been part of the plan from day one,” Mathews said.

“To be honest, we’ve been negotiating for an office there for months. … The plan has been to bridge these two cities.”

I suspect that Mathews’s statements will evoke one or more of the following responses by those who read them:

  • If you can’t afford to print the paper seven days a week, how can you afford to expand into Baton Rouge?
  • Why would Baton Rouge readers trade their seven-day-a-week paper for a three-day-a-week one?
  • If this was the plan all along, why are we just hearing about it now?
  • What a crock!
  • (Add your own response by posting a comment below.)

At a minimum, this another example of how poorly NOLA Media Group has managed the publicity surrounding this entire process.


*For the record (and in case it changes), here is the text of the online version of the story as it appeared yesterday afternoon, followed by a scan of today’s print version:

NOLA Media Group will open Baton Rouge office, expand reporting and sales staffs

Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012, 3:03 PM
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012, 3:24 PM

By NOLA.com

Baton Rouge will have a new source for digital and print news this fall as NOLA Media Group will open a new bureau in downtown Baton Rouge, the company announced Thursday. With this move, NOLA Media Group seeks to expand and improve news, sports and entertainment coverage in the Baton Rouge area.

A customized Baton Rouge version of the NOLA.com website and a Baton Rouge edition of The Times-Picayune, as well as targeted home delivery in the Baton Rouge metro area will be in place by the end of the year, said Ricky Mathews, NOLA Media Group president. The company will also make available for purchase in Baton Rouge the new “Black and Gold Extra” publication to be printed after Saints games on days The Times-Picayune doesn’t publish a print edition. The Black and Gold Extra launches Oct. 1 with complete coverage of the Saints game against the Green Bay Packers and other NFL coverage.

“In areas of state politics and LSU sports, we have a long-established media presence in Baton Rouge,” Mathews said. “Many in Baton Rouge also follow our award-winning coverage of the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Hornets. And since Hurricane Katrina, the cultural and commercial connections between our sister cities have grown even stronger.”

“With this commitment, we are hiring Baton Rouge-based reporters in the areas of politics, entertainment, local news and high school and college sports,” said Times-Picayune Editor Jim Amoss. ” NOLA.com is the number one news site in Louisiana. We are determined to enhance our coverage for the benefit of Baton Rouge and New Orleans area readers, online and in print, and for many more digital readers around the state.”

Carlos Sanchez will head up the news team in Baton Rouge as managing editor. Sanchez is a 30-year veteran of newspaper and online journalism, including four years as political editor for the Austin American-Statesman, and 10 years as the executive editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald.

Andrew Perry will manage a new sales team in Baton Rouge. He previously served as online director for the Louisiana Press Association, the trade organization for the state’s newspapers and their companion web sites. Perry helped newspapers develop their digital presence, and handled marketing and branding strategies for member papers. He is a lifelong resident of Baton Rouge and a graduate of LSU.

“We know that Andrew has the sales experience, the in-depth knowledge of the Baton Rouge market and the vision to lead a successful sales effort in the market,” said Mark Rose, vice president of digital solutions for NOLA Media Group. “We look forward to working with Baton Rouge businesses to innovate their digital efforts, and target a local audience with their advertising messages.”

With this new long-term commitment, the NOLA Media Group will dedicate a substantial team to news and advertising sales in the Baton Rouge area, with 16 based in the downtown Baton Rouge office.

In addition, Baton Rouge readers will find a customized homepage and online experience at NOLA.com, with a home page branded for Baton Rouge and content tailored to the city and its interests. Baton Rouge businesses and advertisers also will have a new, targeted way to reach consumers online and in print.

“Baton Rouge is a significant market for us,” Mathews said. “Even as we redouble our commitment to be the most comprehensive, in-depth, real-time news operation in the greater New Orleans area, we are reaching out to improve our offerings in Baton Rouge and beyond. Increasing coverage of state government and our elected leaders as well as sports and entertainment demonstrates our passion for providing news and information in the areas that are integral to the lives of people in our state, no matter where they live.”

NOLA Media Group is a new company launching on Oct. 1, 2012, combining the reach and journalistic resources of The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com into a single digitally-focused media company.


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