The Times-Picayune

Monday, May 7, 2018

Keith Olbermann vs. Doug MacCash and most of NOLA Twitter

Posted By on Mon, May 7, 2018 at 10:07 AM

CREATIVE COMMONS/CLYDE ROBINSON
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/CLYDE ROBINSON

Last anyone checked on Keith Olbermann, the former sportscaster turned TV news personality was making a lot of grim faces and pretending to lead "The Resistance," but that persona of the serially employed man seems to be gone — and he's now coming for NOLA.com's official Boyfriend correspondent Doug MacCash:

It's a joke, son. And you didn't get it. But as sure as the sun comes up over the West Bank, New Orleans Twitter got in dudgeon and draggin' mode:

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Tim Williamson out as president of NOLA Media Group

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 12:38 PM

Tim Williamson stepped down as president of NOLA Media Group this morning, according to an unsigned artcile on NOLA.com. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Tim Williamson stepped down as president of NOLA Media Group this morning, according to an unsigned artcile on NOLA.com.

Tim Williamson, the co-founder of Idea Village who took over as president of NOLA Media Group (NMG) in 2016, left the company today, according to an unsigned article on NOLA.com.

"Having accomplished so much together, and having created so much positive momentum ... I have decided this is the right moment for me to step down," Williamson was quoted as saying.

Williamson had replaced Ricky Mathews, who was brought in to oversee The Times-Picayune's "digital revolution" in 2012, a move which eventually involved the firing of hundreds of staffers, a three-day-a-week print schedule and a rebranding as NOLA Media Group. The staff cuts and reduced print schedule (the latter of which was finally reversed) were wildly unpopular in both the newsroom and the city, sparking protests against Advance Publications, which owns NMG, as well as against Mathews himself.

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Friday, January 5, 2018

Editorial: Derrick Shepherd and 'second chances'

Posted By on Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 2:13 PM

Former state Sen. Derrick Shepherd, in an image from his "2nd Chance NOLA" commercial.
  • Former state Sen. Derrick Shepherd, in an image from his "2nd Chance NOLA" commercial.

Doesn’t every ex-offender deserve a second chance? That’s what former state Sen. Derrick Shepherd wants to know — especially as applied to himself. Shepherd was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison in 2010 for his role in a money-laundering scheme, and he recently launched “2nd Chance NOLA” with the stated goal of helping ex-offenders return to society. It’s a worthy goal, but Shepherd’s timing suggests it’s more about him getting a second chance in politics.

The backstory: The New Orleans Advocate reported that Shepherd attended a Dec. 18 meeting between New Orleans Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell and local legislators, most of whom were alarmed to see Shepherd there. At least one, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, walked out. The Cantrell campaign sent mixed messages until a spokesperson categorically denied Shepherd would have any role in her transition or administration. Gambit later reported that Shepherd also attended an Algiers luncheon where Cantrell was the featured speaker.
In his Gambit interview, Shepherd said he went to the Algiers meeting because he had ideas on how to improve the Sewerage & Water Board, and wanted to share them with Cantrell. Less than 48 hours later, however, a public records request by The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com found Shepherd had written a speech for Cantrell to deliver at the meeting — though both Shepherd and the Cantrell campaign say it was unsolicited.

Criticism of Cantrell’s apparent association with the disgraced former lawmaker led to Shepherd cutting what looked a lot like a campaign ad earlier this week. Standing in front of a giant American flag, he complained that “fake local news began to attack me.” He did not refute any of The Advocate or Gambit’s reporting, however. “Why can’t someone like me contribute to the growth of our city?” Shepherd asked.

A fair question, and we have an answer: Shepherd is absolutely free to contribute to society, but his violation of the public trust by committing a federal felony — and a crime of egregious dishonesty at that — should preclude him from appointed or elected public office.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Despite move to smaller space, NOLA Media Group president Tim Williamson says 'no plans at this point' for further layoffs or buyouts

Posted By on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 2:11 PM

NOLA Media Group, which has occupied upper floors at One Canal Place (pictured) since late 2012, will move into a ground-level Warehouse District office in April 2018, according to an announcement by president Tim Williamson. - CREATIVE COMMONS/PRAYITNO
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/PRAYITNO
  • NOLA Media Group, which has occupied upper floors at One Canal Place (pictured) since late 2012, will move into a ground-level Warehouse District office in April 2018, according to an announcement by president Tim Williamson.

NOLA Media Group (NMG), parent company of The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com, will be moving out of its home at the top of One Canal Place and into its own street-level building in the Warehouse District. Management notified employees of the move Tuesday morning, and the newspaper published a story about the move that afternoon. 

The company moved into the high-rise building amid much fanfare in December 2012 under the leadership of then-publisher Ricky Mathews, who had been chosen by Advance Media, owners of The Times-Picayune, to bring the paper into what was called the "digital transition." At the time, Mathews told The Wall Street Journal, "The owners wanted us to be in a space that could make a statement," and in a public meeting with New Orleans' tech community, he boasted the offices would have a "Google-Nike kind of vibe." (While NOLA.com employees enjoyed the prime view, some complained about the lack of mobility that came with the location, and cellphone service on the 32nd floor has been spotty at best since day one.)

"It's a beautiful space with the best views in the city," NMG president Tim Williamson told Gambit, "but I think that it was a little disconnected from the community. There's a better way to foster collaboration, and I really want to make a better opportunity to connect to the community. I think a media company should be connected at ground level."

The decampment erases what may be the last physical vestige of Mathews' leadership since he stepped down and was replaced by Williamson last year.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Longtime New Orleans journalist Dennis Persica dies at 67

Posted By on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 at 2:01 PM

Dennis Persica. - COURTESY STEPHANIE STOKES
  • COURTESY STEPHANIE STOKES
  • Dennis Persica.

Dennis Persica, a journalist who worked for The Times-Picayune, The Lens and was most recently a weekly columnist for The New Orleans Advocate, died this morning after what was described as a short battle with cancer, according to his brother Michael Persica and sister Anne Persica Morel. Persica was 67.

Persica worked for The Times-Picayune for 25 years as both a reporter and editor, and was laid off in the "digital transition" there along with some 200 other employees of the paper. He led the Charter School Reporting Corps for The Lens for much of 2013, and worked most recently as a freelancer with a weekly column in The New Orleans Advocate.

Persica also managed — and occasionally refereed — the Facebook group Friends of the Times-Picayune, where current and former staffers of the paper kept in touch.

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Friday, December 9, 2016

Jordan Flaherty on saviors, New Orleans, media and activism

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 11:59 AM

hi-res_cover.jpg
Jordan Flaherty's latest book, No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality, draws in part from his career as a reporter and TV producer — work that has taken him to sites of grassroots struggle around the world, but it's anchored in his home, New Orleans.

Mixed in with the movement for indigenous self-determination in Black Mesa and sex workers contesting the police state in Arizona are multiple local stories. Flaherty gives us a front-row seat for the cautionary tale of FBI snitch Brandon Darby, one of two white bros who came here from Austin and rose to power through Common Ground, living out the savior complex by launching a career at immense cost to the people he claimed to be rescuing and representing. On a more positive note, Flaherty also tells the story of the New Teachers' Roundtable, a New Orleans collective founded by three former Teach for America participants to push back against TFA and the charter school movement — educational "reforms" which function as a profitable large-scale weaponization of the savior complex.

The crux of this wide-ranging book is finding alternatives to activism's savior mentality, that hero model in which a person of privilege uses their genius or other exceptional qualities to "rescue" the less fortunate.


I came to Flaherty's book with wariness, braced for scolding — but instead found No More Heroes to be full of love and compassion, including towards those who fall into the traps of saviordom. 


At 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, the Community Book Center (2523 Bayou Road.) will host one of a series of book release events Flaherty has organized across the South, previewed here by Kat Stromquist.


Flaherty advocates going from "How can I be the single best white anti-racist activist with the sharpest critique / most specialized language / busiest schedule?" to "How can we find ways to bring more and more people into social justice work, from lots of entry points, to grow vibrant mass movements?" To clarify the answers, I sat down with Flaherty to discuss his book, journalism and activism.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Idea Village co-founder Tim Williamson to take over NOLA Media Group

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 12:27 PM

Idea Village CEO Tim Williamson will become the next president of NOLA Media Group. - CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER
  • Idea Village CEO Tim Williamson will become the next president of NOLA Media Group.

Tim Williamson, CEO and co-founder of the entrepreneur nonprofit The Idea Village, will become president of NOLA Media Group (NMG), the umbrella company that oversees NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, NMG announced today.

Williamson, a native of New Orleans, worked with Cox Interactive Media in Pittsburgh before returning home and launching the now-defunct website InsideNewOrleans.com in 1998. He will take over at NMG Aug. 15, according to a letter from The Idea Village's board of directors, while remaining on the Idea Village's board. Emily Madero, chief operating officer of The Idea Village, will become acting CEO Aug. 1.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Y@ Speak: #HereToStay

Posted By on Mon, Sep 21, 2015 at 12:09 PM

Resilience. Vibrancy. Content. Restructuring. Efficiences. "Content staffers."

New Orleans Twitter and anyone with eyes on New Orleans watched another huge blow to The Times-Picayune and the city last week.

Also in this week's edition: Gov. Bobby Jindal does the #GOPdebate, Saints do a Ditka and more hits from the #NOLAscanner.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

More layoffs at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Posted By on Thu, Sep 17, 2015 at 12:45 PM

In June 2012, newly minted Times-Picayune publisher Ricky Mathews announced the paper was here to stay.  The paper fired more than 200 employees that year. Today, managers at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune met with the remaining employees, firing 28 full-time and nine part-time "content staffers."
  • In June 2012, newly minted Times-Picayune publisher Ricky Mathews announced the paper was here to stay. The paper fired more than 200 employees that year. Today, managers at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune met with the remaining employees, firing 28 full-time and nine part-time "content staffers."


Managers at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune carried off an expected round of layoffs this morning, firing some of the paper's longest-serving reporters alongside more recent hires. In a statement released after the firings, NOLA Media Group President Ricky Mathews said the firings included "28 full time and nine part time content staffers," or "21 percent of the overall content operation's full-time employees."

James Varney, whose career spanned nearly 26 years at The Times-Picayune, was among those fired, as was Paul Purpura, who began at the paper in 1999 and worked a variety of beats in his 16-year tenure. John Pope, whose career began at the old States-Item in 1972, no longer will be a staff writer, but will continue to contribute to the paper.

Andy Grimm, who was hired away from the Chicago Tribune to cover federal courts, also was let go, as were reporter Ben Myers and graphics reporter/editor Dan Swenson. Benjamin Alexander Bloch, who covered coastal parishes and the Gulf of Mexico, was fired, as was Dinah Rogers, the paper's assistant photo editor and a 24-year employee.

Music writer Alison Fensterstock, a former Gambit music columnist, was let go, as well as Cate Root, who posted about events around town and covered the city's burgeoning comedy scene. David Lee Simmons, a former Gambit staffer who covered the entertainment scene, also was fired. 

Lyons Yellin of Gambit's TV partner WWL-TV reported that "almost all" the prep sports staff was let go.

Several sources said that the sackings were carried out in offices on a lower floor of One Canal Place, rather than in the newsroom. 

Mathews was quoted as saying:

"It's a difficult day for us and our colleagues who are losing their jobs. We wish them the very best. Aligning our costs with the business realities faced by media organizations around the country is a tough challenge. But it's also important for our readers to know that we remain the largest and most experienced news staff, and the most widely read newspaper and website in the area."

The cuts were not unexpected. In June, Advance Publications, which owns NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, indicated that NOLA Media Group would be merging with the company's Alabama Media Group to form a "Southeast Regional Media Group" (later renamed "Advance Media Southeast"). Two days later, managers met with employees to talk about the company's future. "They're being pretty upfront about the fact there will be layoffs," one reporter told Gambit at the time. A report from Alabama mentioned that the company would be finding "operational efficiencies" within the merged companies. ("Unlike the last major round of cuts," Gambit reported then, "sports, arts and feature reporters also are at risk in this round of cuts.")

Since then, reporter Adriane Quinlan left in July, moving to Atlanta, while Rebecca Catalanello — whose series on abuse and neglect at New Bethany Home for Girls received national praise — left the paper earlier this month, taking a job as Assistant Director of Publications and Communications at the University of New Orleans. Grace Wilson, the website's "Community Engagement Specialist for Entertainment," left in August. Earlier this month, longtime Times-Picayune editor Jim Amoss stepped down to take a role as editor-at-large for Advance Digital, the Internet arm of owner Advance Publications. The new editor is Mark Lorando, former state and metro editor of NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.

In 2012, the paper was thrown into tumult when The New York Times reported it soon would be going to a three-day-per-week production schedule, catching Times-Picayune employees by surprise. The company subsequently fired more than 200 people, 84 of whom worked in the newsroom, as it underwent what it called the "digital transition." At the time, Amoss promised, "We will continue to have by far the most complete and the most formidable news-gathering muscle in this community, and readers will just have to hold us accountable to that promise that I'm making."

This is a developing story.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

More staff cuts ahead for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2015 at 5:06 PM

Three years ago today, newly minted Times-Picayune publisher Ricky Mathews took the paper's front page to announce the paper was here to stay. This week, managers at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune are meeting with employees, warning of another round of layoffs to take place in the next six months.
  • Three years ago today, newly minted Times-Picayune publisher Ricky Mathews took the paper's front page to announce the paper was here to stay. This week, managers at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune are meeting with employees, warning of another round of layoffs to take place in the next six months.


Two days after executives at NOLA Media Group, publisher of NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, announced the company would be merging with the Alabama Media Group to form a new "Southeast Regional Media Group," managers at the media company's offices in One Canal Place met with reporters to announce the newsroom would shrink — again.

"They're being pretty upfront about the fact there will be layoffs," said one newsroom staffer. Another joked grimly that it may be "2012 redux" — referring to the firings of some 200 Times-Picayune employees in 2012, a move which riled the city for months and made national news, complete with a report on 60 Minutes.

Director of State and Metro Content Mark Lorando spent part of today and yesterday meeting with small groups within the paper, several people told Gambit. Lorando described layoffs as "deep" to one employee.

The restructuring is scheduled to take place in the latter half of 2015 and be complete by early 2016, said sources with knowledge of the plan.

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