A few interesting news items:
Last week I wrote a little bit about the Vera Pretrial Services budget controversy, specifically critics' comparison of the program to the Philadelphia Pretrial Services Division. Independent journalist Zoe Sullivan has since done an interview with Orleans Parish First Assistant District Attorney Graymond Martin, who speaks at length about pretrial services. Martin, who used to represent the commercial bail industry, responds to that industry's criticism of the program.
Also, The Lens' Tyler Bridges has a story on the Jindal administration's use of the "deliberative process privilege" to shield public records. Bridges interviews a few state legislators who suggest the privilege may face a challenge during next year's legislative session.
Finally, the Times-Picayune has been doing fantastic work following up on allegations that Grand Isle Shipyard, which employed some of the people aboard the Black Elk energy platform that caught fire last week, has been mistreating workers brought here from the Philippines.
Yesterday, the T-P posted a story in which Grand Isle president Mark Pregeant gives Richard Thompson a tour of the company's Galliano bunkhouse.
Pregeant's court statement on the bunkhouse, filed in federal court last July.
Statements from the plaintiff workers, filed in response to Pregeant's statement
Five minutes later ...
Gregory Rusovich, chair-elect of Greater New Orleans Inc., and Suzanne Mestayer, chair of the Business Council of New Orleans, were among the community leaders on hand to welcome the Baton Rouge paper into the market. "Economically, our region has the hot hand," Rusovich told the crowd, adding, "We deserve a daily paper, and thanks to The Advocate and the Manship family, we will have that daily newspaper."
Advocate publisher David Manship was there to introduce the staff of the New Orleans bureau, all of whom were former Times-Picayune staffers: bureau chief Sara Pagones; reporters Kari Dequine Harden, Danny Monteverde and Allen Powell; photographer John McCusker; sportswriter Ted Lewis; and Sara Barnard, head of sales for the New Orleans bureau. Carl Redman, executive editor for the Baton Rouge paper, was also on hand. In the back of the room were former T-P columnist Angus Lind and former City Hall reporter Frank Donze, both of whom had stopped by to check out the scene.
"It's exciting and nervewracking all at the same time," Monteverde said. "I think we'll do well, though it may take us a while to get our land legs."
In response to the cutbacks at The Times-Picayune, the Advocate of Baton Rouge has opened a bureau and will begin printing a New Orleans edition Monday. Now — en garde, y'all! — the T-P strikes back, announcing it will expand its Baton Rouge bureau and begin distributing a Red Stick version of the T-P, as well as create a Baton Rouge-focused landing page for NOLA.com:
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.
The Baton Rouge managing editor will be Carlos Sanchez, a veteran journalist who may be able to feel the pain of all the fired Times-Pic employees — he was laid off as editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald in Texas last year.
Advocate publisher David Manship is said to be in meetings right now; we'll update this post with his reaction.
UPDATE: Here's Manship's statement on the move:
"The Advocate will begin home delivery of its New Orleans edition throughout the metropolitan regional area on Oct. 1. We are excited to provide a printed, local daily newspaper to the New Orleans area — and the response we have received to date has been very strong.
NOLA Media Group announced today that they will open a Baton Rouge bureau to report on Baton Rouge news. We wish them well with their new venture in Baton Rouge as we begin providing New Orleans with a new daily printed newspaper."
"Easy Pay" (credit card and checking account autodebit) subscribers to The Times-Picayune got a letter today from director of circulation Philip H. Ehrhardt, explaining the paper's new price point when it goes to thrice-weekly publication starting Oct. 1. It's going from $18.95 per week to $16.95 for what's being called an "enhanced" paper. (The website Dump the Picayune has scanned a copy of the letter.)
Ehrhardt tells subscribers with questions to visit the NOLA Media Group's customer care page at www.nola.com/customercare ... which is where you'll find this:
On the T-P's subscription page, you can still subscribe to the 7-day edition, which is going away in two weeks, but there's still no 3-day option:
In other newspapering news, The Advocate — which begins distributing its new New Orleans edition Monday — is having a kickoff party Monday at 10:30 a.m. at Rock 'n' Bowl. Its subscription page seems to be working.
For this week’s cover story, “Paper Cuts,” I spoke to many people about The Times-Picayune’s upcoming transition to thrice-weekly publishing and a concentration on online news gathering.
One of the people to whom I spoke was David Carr, who writes about media, business and culture for The New York Times — and who originally broke the story about the New Orleans paper’s transition. Carr is a fun interview — he refers to newspapering as “putting the white paper out to get the green paper back” — and much of what he said didn’t make the final article. So here’s some extra Carr on the Picayune situation.
• On the prospect of The Times-Picayune going completely online and entirely paperless in a few years:
“You’re [New Orleans] not really ringed by a great retail gold mine that would make for a great Sunday product. I don’t think that Newhouse has committed to print. The whole industry is going to a paperless business. … I would not be surprised to see them eliminate the print product.”
• On NOLA.com becoming the primary mode of Advance's news distribution:
“If you look at their web product broadly — that turns out to be a significant error. When it comes to [newspaper/website] integration, which they’re putting on a forced march, they have a very long way to go, with a staff and a technology that is probably not on par with a lot of American newspapers in digital terms. They can talk all they want about the traffic on the New Orleans site. What does it mean if you can’t search what you have?”
In homegrown goods, designers Yvonne LaFleur and Tracy Thomson have donated to the cause, and there are Muses shoes galore. Perhaps coolest of all, though, is Times-Picayune food editor Judy Walker's handmade quilt (pictured) made of T-shirts, many of which feature the paper's most famous front pages.
Tickets to the Sept. 29 benefit, "Black, White and Red All Over," are $30. The night will feature entertainment by David Torkanowsky, Charmaine Neville, The Pfister Sisters and John Rankin, among others, and food will be provided by several area restaurants. There will also be a silent auction that night, but bidding is already open on the online auction.
In other news, it seems that 60 Minutes is going ahead with a segment about the paper's move to digital. Correspondent Morley Safer is in town this week, and he's interviewed Mayor Mitch Landrieu and T-P editor Jim Amoss, along with several community leaders. (Landrieu even tweeted a picture.) The segment is scheduled to air Sept. 30 — the last day for the fired employees.
"We definitely need more than 1,000," he told Gambit this morning. "I'd like to get 20,000. But we're looking at 5,000 to 10,000, and I think that’s easily obtainable based on the response we got yesterday."
The Advocate's push into the New Orleans market, of course, is in response to The Times-Picayune's scaling back to thrice-weekly publication as of Oct. 1, concentrating its news gathering online at NOLA.com under the name NOLA Media Group.
"We still believe in the printed newspaper every day," Manship said. "We don’t doubt the importance of digital — we have a website and an app; we even have an e-edition, so we feel like we are there. We just felt like the people of New Orleans were very strong toward their reading of the Picayune seven days a week. So we thought we’d step in and fill the void."
Under the cut: Manship discusses distribution, advertisers, and office space for The Advocate's new New Orleans bureau ...
Good Afternoon, as the Publisher of The Advocate in Baton Rouge, my family has been providing a daily newspaper to the citizens of Louisiana since the early 1900s. In fact, like the newspaper in New Orleans, The Advocate’s origins date back 170 years to 1842. And like New Orleanians, the citizens of Baton Rouge demand quality journalism and are accustomed to receiving it in the form of a daily newspaper. We are proud to meet that demand.
We recognize that the way people get their news is changing. And we will keep up with these changes by delivering news in all the different formats our subscribers use, including print. As trends evolve, The Advocate will continue to deliver a daily, printed newspaper to our subscribers.
Changes in the way The Times-Picayune gathers and reports news have revealed that there is a demand for a daily newspaper in New Orleans that will not be met by any New Orleans publications, beginning October 1, 2012. This would end a 175-year tradition of delivering a daily newspaper to New Orleanians and make New Orleans the largest city in the U.S. without a daily printed paper. At The Advocate, we think New Orleans and its citizens deserve a quality newspaper printed each and every day, and we intend to provide one.
God's speed, Rodrigue
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