Today's blog is personal. A few weeks ago, David passed on something he'd heard on the radio -- that the Times Picayune had announced that in order to try to avoid being forced to shut down completely, it would be publishing newspapers only three times a week. The news filled me with such sadness I couldn't work the rest of the day.
The strange thing is, I no longer live in New Orleans, and - as much as it disappoints my mom - I have never been a newspaper reader. I've always had the vague idea it was a kind of backlash of almost growing up in the newspaper business, or it could be that I was just the 'first wave' of new times. The bottom line was a newspaper company two-thousand miles away 'down-sizing' had no real effect on me.
This morning, David forwarded the article that announced that thirty-two percent of their current employees are to be laid off as of September 30th, 2012. Half of the newsroom staff had received layoffs, while remaining newsroom employees received offered to move to Nola Media Group - a new company formed to operate the newspaper using a 'digital strategy'.
I am sitting at my computer fighting back tears. Three generations of my family worked at the Times Picayune. My uncle managed the advertising department, my father's first job after getting out of the army following World War II was there, and a number of years later, he met my mother there.
While I didn't run wild in the place, I grew up there. I can remember the smell of the ink, the noise of the presses, and the hot lead type coming out backwards. It was a fascinating place, bustling with activity--with life. And now it's dying.
The Times Picayune was founded in 1837, making it one-hundred and seventy-five years old, this year. It is a historic institution. It is one of the oldest papers in the country. But soon it will only publish on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. And even then, they make no promises about how long that will keep them operating in print.
The fate of newspapers (as well as traditional publishing houses) has been on the horizon as far back as the seventies. As with so many other things in our world, computers changed everything. I took fewer people to actual run the presses. Paper costs sky-rocketed. However, the coup de grace came with the new millennium and tablets, smart phones and apps.
Now, I'm about to have my first book 'e-published' next week, so how can feel like this? I can't give the answer. I only know I feel as though the last tiger is dying.