Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Save the Picayune" protest set for June 4

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 5:33 PM

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Supporters of The Times-Picayune and its employees will gather in the parking lot at Rock 'n' Bowl in Mid-City Monday, June 4 at 5:30 p.m. "to send a message," according to organizer Anne Rolfes. "It is a gathering to deliver the news to [parent company] Newhouse that we want our paper every day."

The event, which Rolfes says will be a tailgate with live music, is to be held the day that T-P employees will begin to find out whether they will lose or keep their jobs as the paper prepares to move to what owners Advance Publications is saying is a digital future — with news updates around the clock at nola.com (as they are now) and newspapers published Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

"People from all walks of life are upset about it," says Rolfes.

The announcement of the rally said a coordinated cancellation plan — of both newspaper subscriptions and advertising — will be discussed as a possible way to get the attention of Advance Publications.

The protest comes on the heels of Advance signaling that it's heard some of the most vociferous complaints made by the paper's local readership. The garish new "yellow journalism" color scheme of nola.com disappeared early this morning and was replaced by a more sedate blue and gray. Advance also made the color switch at al.com, the web portal for its Alabama newspaper group (The Birmingham News, the Press-Register of Mobile and The Huntsville Times), where layoffs are also expected to begin next week. The renamed Alabama Media Group will be publishing its papers three times weekly as well.

This morning, editor Jim Amoss delivered a memo to The Times-Picayune newsroom staff, reiterating the three-day-a-week printing schedule, but adding, "I want to dispel some rumors: There could be some salary adjustments, depending on changes in job descriptions. But most people will make what they make today, if not more." [Full memo after the jump.]

New T-P publisher Ricky Mathews was back in town this week, once again meeting with newspaper executives and others at the Windsor Court Hotel. Among the meetings, Gambit has learned, was one with Anne Milling, a member of the paper's board of directors and one of the main figures behind Save the Picayune (a Facebook campaign unrelated to next Monday's protest). Amoss was also present.

Reached by phone this afternoon, Milling would not comment on that meeting, but she talked about her passion for the daily newspaper. "From birth till now, I’ve always had a Times-Picayune," Milling said. "Even when my family moved to Monroe, we'd get the paper sent up on the Greyhound bus to Monroe. It has always been a party of our family."

Milling credited the newspaper with "so much of the rebuilding; it really shepherded us through those dark days post-[Hurricane] Katrina and created a serious civic dialogue. I give them full credit. Think of the reforms we have made. It’s just been awesome. And at this particular juncture of our history, it kills me to think we would lose that voice."

From: Jim Amoss
Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2012 7:18 AM
To: Newsroom Staff
Subject: some facts

Dear colleagues,

In our meetings at Howard Avenue and the East Jefferson bureau you
said that you wanted to be told the facts as clearly as they can be told at
present. I'd like to do that here:

After the changes we announced take effect in the fall, we will have
a smaller staff. However, our reporting arm will be at least comparable to what
it is now.

We will continue to be probing and ambitious in our coverage.

Concerning pay in the new companies, I want to dispel some rumors:
There could be some salary adjustments, depending on changes in job descriptions.
But most people will make what they make today, if not more.

I love printed newspapers and want to be proud of the ones we produce
when we go to three editions a week. At the same time, we need to focus on the
growth of New Orleans' digital audience. It's a vital part of our future. We
can't hesitate to embrace it.

Both our digital and our print content will be distinguished by the
high quality of journalism our readers have come to expect.

I know that the days since our announcement last week have been
enormously stressful to all and wish I could ease the pain. Jim.

Jim Amoss, editor
The Times-Picayune
3800 Howard Ave.
New Orleans LA 70125

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