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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Times-Picayune: Mathews speaks!, new jobs posted ... and a jazz funeral for the print edition

Posted By on Sun, Jun 17, 2012 at 12:53 PM

The front page of todays Times-Picayune.
  • The front page of today's Times-Picayune.
One day after Times-Picayune employees held a jazz funeral for the paper, new Times-Picayune publisher/NOLA Media Group president Ricky Mathews published a front-page, above-the-fold editorial introducing himself to New Orleanians. Though he was nowhere in the newsroom Tuesday when more than 200 people were fired — and has still not addressed the paper's staff directly — Mathews attempted to establish his New Orleans bona fides; "Katrina" was mentioned five times, and the city was once again reminded Mathews enjoys hunting, fishing and attending New Orleans Saints games.

"We are determined to move boldly into journalistic leadership worthy of The Times-Picayune's traditions and the city's ambitions in the new era," Mathews promised, on a front page where the rest of the content was provided by fired staffers: reporters Bruce Nolan and Benjamin Alexander-Bloch and photographer John McCusker.

(In his essay, Mathews gave glancing mention to "working with my team in Alabama in the aftermath of the BP oil spill." In 2010, while publisher of the of the Mobile Press-Register and president of Advance Alabama/Mississippi, Mathews had been appointed by then-Gov. Bob Riley to oversee the Coastal Recovery Commission of Alabama, a state agency funded by BP to come up with “a roadmap to resilience” after the BP disaster. An story in which Mathews touted the safety of the state's beaches and seafood is still touted on BP's Facebook page.)

It was the second front-page editorial in a week attempting to explain Advance Publications' decision to fire much of its newsroom, hire new digital reporters and move the print edition to three times a week; on Thursday, editor Jim Amoss printed his own essay explaining the rationale behind the changes.

Meanwhile, some of the promised new jobs with the NOLA Media Group have been posted. Some of them went up Saturday. This morning, Amoss sent an internal memo to his staff:


Many of you have asked me when job openings in the new company would be posted. I wanted to let you know that applications and job descriptions for several positions in news, sports and entertainment are now online. Additional jobs will be posted in the coming days and weeks. To read them, go to and type "Nola Media Group" in the search field. The application may be completed online.

Any employee, whether you received a severance letter or an offer for a job in the new company, is free to apply for one of these positions. Both internal and external candidates will be evaluated for them.

Employees who received offers will receive job descriptions sometime Monday. I apologize for the delay. Jim.

Among the 29 new jobs available: A Saints beat reporter (which requires "the ability to leverage relationships with sources to deliver content that differentiates the organization from competitors") a general news reporter ("The Reporter will report and produce news stories for various platforms, and act as a statewide expert and discussion leader on high-value topics") and an entertainment reporter ("The Reporter, Entertainment – Music and Nightlife is the front line of the digital content generation," who will also "act as an expert and discussion leader on high-value topics").

No one was leveraging relationships or talking "high value topics" last night, when about 100 past and present T-P employees gathered at McCusker's home to hold a jazz funeral for the paper. Crawfish boiled in a pot on the driveway. Inside, a table was laid with covered dishes. Some guests dressed in black; others in bright colors. A few people wore designer Mignon Faget's "Save the Picayune" souvenir pins. A sheet cake laid out on a coffee table had the phrase " -30- " on top — the traditional reporters' typographic note to mark the end of a story.

Midway through the event, the Pinstripe Brass Band walked slowly up the street (which was still pockmarked with empty lots following the federal flood), playing "Nearer My God To Thee" and led by a woman in a sash made from shredded newspapers. Guests gathered under a carport, and McCusker made a brief speech that brought many of his colleagues to tears, before the band struck up "Little Liza Jane." And then they danced.

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