The respondents to Martha, especially Cazz, are on target. The Picayune is a revered cultural institution, readership has not declined, and the reasons for the decline in advertising are indeed the decline of other community commercial institutions, plus the lure of on-line ads which may not cost less, but are likely to involve less expense to the absentee owners, who appear to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. I grew up with the Picayune and continue to read it regularly on my trips to Louisiana each year. Its quality--the writing, the range of subjects, its comparatively cosmopolitan soul--all far exceed the Charlotte Observer (current subscription, soul-less). They used to surpass most other southern newspapers as well. Cheers for the Advocate for hiring the jettisoned talent, but they cannot take the place of a New Orleans institution. The Newhouses will continue to hollow the T-P out in good colonialist, extractive fashion until it exists only in the ether, if there. They might not even notice its obituary, obsessed as they are with counting their money. These people have values Willard Romney would be proud of. One can always expect the shameful from the shameless.
I will miss the Times-Picayune, which I read as a kid and a graduate student. More recently, I have greatly enjoyed during my two to three yearly visits to Louisiana. As for the detractors above, I will only say that the T-P is markedly superior in content & interest to the Charlotte Observer, which we have been getting for some years now. I suspect that some of the detractors would prefer something like Lafayette's Daily Advertiser for its unabashedly right-wing tone. However, I daresay that no dispassionate analyst would rank the Picayune below the Advertiser or a whole host of other papers on any other count. In any event, the T-P's decline mirrors that of New Orleans, and the growing celebration of ignorance (and ignoramuses) in our country.
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