Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The TP is dead....long live the TP

Back...(read the previous post before this one).

You see, it doesn't matter that the TP is still profitable.  It doesn't matter that it has some of the most talented people of any newspaper staff in the country.  It doesn't matter that the community is in revolt over its current demise.  It doesn't matter that local advertisers are in protest.

None of these things matter because the lawyers and accountants have already drawn the game plan and they are not going to stray from it.  To the lawyers it is absolutely necessary to terminate any contract which may still contain the "Newhouse pledge".  It already cost them a pretty penny in the Bronson v. Newhouse case and they would rather see the TP razed and new contracts signed than face another situation like they did in Alabama.  To the accountants this whole thing makes sense to the corporation as a whole.  It downsizes staff, overhead and probably cuts out some pensions and other things that used to be commonplace among industry when this country had strong unions.

 This descent to the The Some-Times-Picayune is certainly an economic decision but at its core I believe it's really a legal maneuver to eliminate liability.  Newhouse doesn't care as much about the damage they're doing to the Times-Picayune brand as they do eliminating contracts and potential legal threats.  They are willing to throw the legitimate baby out with the bathwater while keeping the bastard, ADHD child hoping they can just pump it full of Adderall and everyone will love it just the same.

It's called capitalism.  No local, socialist movement is going to stop it.  No local advertisers are going to stop it because they don't have enough financial prowess to make a difference to Newhouse on a national level.  I hate to sound fatalistic but this situation really is fatal.

Personally, I'm at peace with that.  I think Newhouse has sewn the seeds of their own destruction in the New Orleans market and it will just be a matter of time until something else, possibly better, fills the vacuum they have created.  Funny thing about capitalism is that striving for mediocrity never seems to work in the long run.

I'm now gazing forward to try and imagine what the palingenesis is going to look like.  This city has taken harder blows than this, fo' true.  Newhouse is burning the henhouse to kill the threat of the fox but there will still be some egglayers who escape the fire...I'm hoping someone else is building a better henhouse where they will come to roost.

Next post is what that henhouse may possibly look like.        


Sop81_1 said...

The intenet theorists that have Newhouse's ear bear the most blame for this disaster. The new website, which most everyone hates, exhibits the mindset behind yesterday's carnage.

A close read of the personel moves suggests the cuts were about more than simply reducing the ranks. Stephanie Grace was demoted and her position was filled by James Varney for example. We've gotten a rare glimpse inside a previously closed society.

I derive no joy from people losing their jobs but the Steve Newhouse simply accelerated the changes that are coming to all the print media. The rest of us are worse off as a result but I also think the coverage void will be filled.

Spot on post Jason.


Anonymous said...

I am not in the news or newspaper businesses (and it's obvious that there are significant differences between the two), but I am perplexed that so many really small communities can afford to have daily newspapers and ours can't. This conundrum (regarding the survival of the TP)is made irrelevant by the point made by the Zombie, but it certainly should provide an opening for a new daily to appear in this market. I want a goddamn daily newspaper!

jeffrey said...

The Varney over Grace thing caught my eye too. Can someone explain that?

Jason Brad Berry said...

I could hypothesize but I probably shouldn't. I have a bone to pick with Grace.

Anonymous said...

Varney is a much better writer than Grace, imo. Varney has been a foreign corespondent and a sports writer among other beats.

Anonymous said...

Grace is strictly a political writer and they are weeding the political writers/commentators out. Varney has a background in sports which generates more internet clicks than a political commentary.

Stephanie Grace will be headed elsewhere she won't say with the Pic.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Allman over Gambit reports that "Overall, those in the sports and features departments fared better than their co-workers on the news beats." Given that the newsroom staff was cut by 50% overall, who does that leave reporting news?

At this point, the remnants of the T-P are just a blocker to the next daily paper. I think we're probably better off without them at all.

Anonymous said...

The headline "How Bain Capital helped BP Blow Up the Deepwater Horizon" got my attention.

Greg Palast recently wrote a review of a book by Mike Magner, "Poisoned Legacy: The Human Cost of BP's Rise to Power."

Apparently, James Baker, a friend to big oil, so his advice was advice from a friend, and another oil company-friendly firm both told BP to fix their safety issues, but instead of listening to these oilmen, BP got advice from Bain Capital, who told them to fire people, cut costs, and run full steam ahead, fuck the safety concerns of the Elder Statesmen.

How did I miss that earlier? Oh, and Romney's firm sucks.

This was off topic, but Greg Palast's site is worth checking out. He has lots of BP related stories with fresh angles up on it.

He also is an example of an investigative journalist who combines work for a steady paycheck with freelance gigs, and who uses the internet to create his own brand.

He is telling his stories in print, online, in book form, and on TV, for a variety of different media outlets.