Thursday, May 24, 2012

Times-Picayune: Ashton Phelps memo to staff

Posted By on Thu, May 24, 2012 at 10:01 AM

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Managers at The Times-Picayune are currently in meetings to discuss Advance Publications' new plans for the paper, which include reducing the print product to three days per week (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday) and firing employees.

The new plan, which will be executed under the name "NOLA Media Group," will leave New Orleans without a daily newspaper. The original Picayune originally published in 1837.

A memo under the name of outgoing publisher Ashton Phelps went out to staff this morning stating "Many current employees of The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com will have the opportunity to grow with the new organizations, but the need to reallocate resources to accelerate the digital growth of NOLA Media Group will necessitate a reduction in the size of the workforce."

The result, according to the memo, will be "a more robust newspaper." (Insert hollow laugh here.)

Phelps, whose family has steered the T-P for five generations, is being replaced by Ricky Mathews, publisher of the Mobile Press-Register and president of Advance Alabama/Mississippi.

Announcement

Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2012 8:21 AM

To all employees:

We wanted to make you aware of a news story that will be posted on NOLA.com regarding the future of the company, and to alert you that we will be scheduling meetings to discuss it with groups of employees today.

The story, which can be accessed through this link, details the formation of NOLA Media Group, a digitally focused company that will launch this fall and that will develop new and innovative ways to deliver news and information to the company's online and mobile readers. NOLA Media Group will be led by Ricky Mathews. Also this fall, The Times-Picayune will begin publishing a more robust newspaper on a reduced schedule of Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays only.

We will also be forming a new company, Advance Central Services Louisiana , which will be led by Ray Massett. ACS will produce and distribute the newspaper as well as provide critical support functions for the NOLA Media Group.

Many current employees of The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com will have the opportunity to grow with the new organizations, but the need to reallocate resources to accelerate the digital growth of NOLA Media Group will necessitate a reduction in the size of the workforce.

Press reports have necessitated our giving you this news now. We realize it will make people anxious, but we do not know enough today to be able to announce how the changes will affect individual employees. We will move as quickly as possible in the coming weeks to make that determination and to inform each of you personally.

We will meet with department heads at 9 a.m. today in the 2nd-floor conference room . Staff meetings will be scheduled during the day. We will not be able to answer all of the questions you have, but will address as many as possible.

Ashton Phelps, Jr.
Publisher

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