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Competition lives in New Orleans

New Orleans is shaping up to be a battleground for news organizations. All it took was for the Times-Picayune to reduce its print frequency to three times a week for the competition to move in.

When Advance Publications announced that it would be cutting the paper’s print edition earlier this year, it didn’t take long for the heads over at The Advocate in Baton Rouge to decide they would fill that news hole. On the day the Times-Picayune ceased printing on a daily basis, The Advocate began circulating its very own daily New Orleans edition.

News organizations reported that readers claimed to be dropping subscriptions left and right in favor of The Advocate. Early last month, Poynter.org reported that The Advocate had grown to 10,000 subscribers in a matter of days. (A request to The Advocate for updated subscriber numbers went unanswered.)

Meanwhile, even Times-Picayune journalists have defected. In the last month former Times-Picayune community news editor Annette Sisco joined The Advocate’s New Orleans bureau in the same role. Allen Powell, a crime and local government reporter, also left the former daily to join The Advocate’s new edition as its crime and courts reporter.

The Advocate isn’t the only news organization to move in on perceived gaps in coverage. However, where The Advocate appeals to readers attached to a print product, The Lens merely provides an alternative source of online news. According to Editor & Publisher, the nonprofit site, The Lens, will build and expand on its reporting role in the New Orleans community in conjunction with WWNO-FM. WWNO general manager Paul Maassen told Editor & Publisher that the project had been set into place to provide more in-depth journalism to the area. Given that the Times-Picayune cut 100 staffers when they switched from a print to digital focus, a short in enterprise reporting is a very potential reality.

But the Times-Picayune isn’t backing down and promised to ramp up its coverage recently, namely its outdoor coverage. Veteran editor of the Louisiana Sportsman magazine, Todd Masson, recently joined the paper. His presence at the paper means his blog, Laspecks.com’s five-day-a-week 4 O’Clock Forecast complete with the MASS Index—which predicts the next day’s fishing action—will be published Tuesday through Saturday on Nola.com.

Despite the demise of the Times-Picayune’s daily print edition, New Orleans has the potential to actually be wealthier in news. As former federal judge for the United States District Court Harold H. Greene said: “With competition, everyone has to try harder.”

–Katrina M. Mendolera

 

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