Friday, June 21, 2013

Oregonian Owner Advance Publications Reversing Move to Digital in New Orleans

Advance Publications, Inc., owns Newhouse Newspapers which owns the Oregonian and the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

A little more than a year ago, in May of 2012, the Times-Picayune announced it would be going to a mostly digital format with print publication three days a week.
The article quoted Ricky Mathews, the president of NOLA Media group, as saying, “Our best path to success lies in a digitally focused organization that combines the award-winning journalism of The Times-Picayune and the strength of”
But, the outcome has not been so good for the Times-Picayune.  In fact, the newspaper is retreating back to a print version (TP Street) for the days the Times-Picayune is not available.  Kevin Allman reports:
After going to thrice-weekly publication last fall as part of its move to a "digital newsroom" . . . , [the] NOLA Media Group announced in April it would return to printing a news product on the days that The Times-Picayune was not printed.

That tabloid print product, which was named "TP Street," was largely greeted with dismay in the newsroom and confusion and derision elsewhere . . . when it was clear that the move was a retreat to daily printing.

Adding to the confusion was NOLA Media Group's statement that TP Street was a response to subscribers' demand for a paper — but TP Street would not be delivered to subscribers, but available only on news racks for an additional price."
Further complicating matters for Advance Publications and NOLA was the fact that the print newspaper vacuum created by the Times-Picayune cutting to a three day a week print publication schedule drew in a new print newspaper competitor, The Advocate New Orleans Edition. Allman continues:
That non-delivery plan, Gambit learned several weeks ago, has also been reconsidered as NOLA Media Group pondered the possibility of returning to daily delivery of a daily print product with the name Times-Picayune, effectively positioning the physical paper where it was a year ago before the "digital transition" — albeit a physical paper with a severely damaged brand and new competition in the form of The Advocate's New Orleans edition.
Apparently, Advance Publications/Newhouse Newspapers has learned that digital switching and three day a week print publishing isn't all pony rides in May even if you do get rid of a lot of staff.

Thus, the Times-Picayune is heading back towards where the Oregonian is going: a print edition every day, but no home delivery for three days.

Advance Publications is trying to find a workable middle term between going digital and maintaining print, but seems to have focused more on defending turf rather than innovating.  The Oregonian venture of four print days for delivery, but seven print days on newstands, and trying to ramp up digital appears to be a falling between two stools. Not one thing or the other and not a likely plan for success.


MAX Redline said...

It must be an exciting time to be a morning delivery driver for The Oregonian - going from seven days a week to three. Perhaps Advance plans to continue to pay them at the 7-day rate, as they seem like a generous bunch.

T. D. said...

I was wondering about that myself, Max. They still have to keep the entire delivery system in place with just as many delivery people and vehicles. It's just that it will cut to a bit more than half as often per week (if the "bonus" Saturday paper is delivered on Saturday). One assumes the delivery rates per delivery will have to go up. Or maybe they'll go back to delivery by paperboys and girls via bicycle. :-)

It should be entertaining to watch this all play out. Another "get out the popcorn" saga.