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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chris Rose: "We're treated as heroes...we're the most relevant local paper in the country"

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2008 at 2:40 AM

Chris Rose of the Times-Picayune is up in Vermont, speaking at Johnson State College, and he's given an interview to Ken Picard of the local alt-weekly, Seven Days.

it is a remarkable interview in many ways, well worth reading in its entirety -- an interview likely to earn a raised eyebrow or two among readers, among Rose's many fans, among Rose's coworkers (their screaming will begin in paragraph 4), and in the mahogany-lined executive suites at 3800 Howard.

With that, I'll turn it over to Mr. Picard, and to you, readers...

SEVEN DAYS: How was the Times-Picayune perceived before Hurricane Katrina?

CHRIS ROSE: We’ve always been a very vital and vigorous part of the community here . . . What did not happen before the storm that happens now is that, when you get introduced as being from the Times-Picayune at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, people stand up and clap for you. We’re treated as heroes....

The storm brought down a quintessential dichotomy in the community: There were those who cut and run, and there were those who stepped up, at great sacrifice. There’s no question, no question, the Times-Picayune stepped up. And in the vacuum of political and corporate leadership, we carried the f**king day in this town.

SD: Did the voice of other reporters at the paper change as well?

CR: There’s no question that from the day it came down, the notion of objective journalism was washed away with everything else in this town. I don’t think the paper has ever pretended to be objective since. We write with a really interesting edge and a real gripping tone, which is why I think we’re the most relevant local paper in the country.

SD: How’d it happen?

CR: Let’s put it this way: The writers and the photographers were in the city and management was relocated to Baton Rouge by virtue of our building flooding. You take management and move them 70 miles away from staff, and we win two Pulitzer prizes. You think that’s a coincidence? That’s not only a paradigm shift to follow in journalism, but in any corporate structure.

...All I'll say is that I imagine some of the T-P's many excellent reporters -- including Gordon Russell, Cindy Chang, Katy Reckdahl, and the other toilers -- must be mighty surprised to hear that their stories are anything less than objective.

Rapturous receptions at Chamber of Commerce luncheons? Really?

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