Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A mighty news outlet hits bottom - updated

The New Orleans times-Picayune had a wondrous and honorable history. Started in 1837, the newspaper flourished and was my first taste of being a news junkie in 1954. That’s when I started reading it on a daily basis. The Wikipedia entry provides a good summary of the T-P’s storied history.

According to that entry, Samuel Newhouse, Jr., bought the T-P  in 1962, but an article on NOLA.com reported that Ashton Phelps, Jr., a scion of the T-P's ower family for many decades, retired in 2012. With the local publisher out of the way, the Newhouse family’s Advance Publications installed its own hitman and thus began Advance's gutting of the newsroom and much of the rest of the newspaper’s operation.


The city rallied behind the T-P and its staffers, with almost every prominent New Orleanian begging the Newhouse mob to sell the T-P back to local owners. The arrogant Newhouse clan refused. New Orleans, once again, became a two-newspaper town when the Baton Rouge-based Advocate launched its New Orleans edition, hiring on many of the former T-P staffers.

This background will help readers understand how far the Times-Picayune has fallen when its website uses a story from the rival Advocate.

Is this relevant to Amarillo?

Yep. Because, if one looks carefully at what’s happening over on Harrison Street, Morris Communications has mimicked Advance Publications’ game plan. By the way, those who would ask Morris to sell the Amarillo Globe-News back to local owners don’t understand the likelihood of that happening is low — it’s too profitable.

But there are also differences. Amarillo has no fall back newspaper to do what the Advocate did. The Lubbock paper is also a Morris property and no other city with the media horsepower is close enough to pull off a similar coup.

The warning flags were on the horizon in 2006.

“The madman shouted in the marketplace and no-one stopped to answer him. Thus it was confirmed that his thesis was incontrovertible,” Dag Hammarskj√∂ld.

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