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New Orleans Advocate purchases Times-Picayune, nola.com

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Moderator1, May 2, 2019.

  1. tapintoamerica

    tapintoamerica Well-Known Member

    The AJC does not travel with the Hawks? How about with Team White Flight?
  2. Mr. X

    Mr. X Member

  3. Tarheel316

    Tarheel316 Well-Known Member

    This is horrible. Ranks right up there with what Paxton did in Durham, just more devious. Paxton’s suits were just plain thugs.
  4. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Well-Known Member

    Worse than Durham. Paxton had to hold onto staffers to get out a product. The Times-Picayune staff is an even more comprehensive housecleaning than Durham was ... which is saying something considering how poorly Paxton handled the situation in Durham.
  5. LanceyHoward

    LanceyHoward Well-Known Member

    I agree Paxson is a poor comparison. Paxson brutally downsized a staff but the Durham paper still served the same circulation area. I think a better example is what McClatchy did when they bought Durham from Raleigh. They left about four reporters to cover Durham and produce essentially the same editorial content in both markets, though they maintain separate mastheads. The Advocate is taking it a step further,as did the St. Petersburg paper when they acquired the Tampa Tribune, and merge the mastheads.

    MBA students were taught that when demand for a product declines the industry shrinks by merging. This is an example. I predict there will be many more.

    Not many papers still print in a stand alone plant. Are virtually every paper in the country has seen its ability to produce local content reduced because of staff cutbacks. So if a paper is already being produced at a centralized plant and there are not enough reporters left to produce a locally tailored paper it makes economic sense to go ahead and consolidate into a regional paper.
  6. Joe Schiefelbein

    Joe Schiefelbein New Member

    OK, so I'm late here, but I can offer some insight. … I'll have several posts in order to break up topics that are raised.
  7. Joe Schiefelbein

    Joe Schiefelbein New Member

    FIRST POST: How The Advocate is/was staffed (in terms of writers).

    LSU/general columnist: Scott Rabalais (been with Advocate for about 30 years/LSU grad)
    LSU men's basketball/track/gymnastics: Sheldon Mickles (40-plus year veteran/LSU grad)
    LSU football: Brooks Kubena, hired start of August (won two APSE Top 10s, including one for beat writer)
    LSU baseball/football: Wilson Alexander (started in February)
    Preps: Robin Fambrough (just named to Louisiana High School Athletic Association HOF, been with Advocate for about 30 years)

    Southern: No longer a full-time beat writer

    The Advocate uses stringers to cover Southern and Southeastern Louisiana (Hammond) and, of course, supplant prep coverage. Until the past two years, The Advocate always had a full-time, year-round Southern beat writer. … Joe Macaluso, the long-time Outdoors writer, retired a couple years ago, but still is the main freelancer providing content.

    Saints: Rod Walker (one of Louisiana's top sportswriters, been with The Advocate since the early days of New Orleans expansion under John Georges)
    Saints: TBA
    General/Saints/Pelicans: Nathan Brown (started in November)

    Pelicans: Scott Kushner
    Tulane: Guerry Smith

    Heading into last season, there were two full-time beat writers: Nick Underhill and Joel Erickson. … Joel took the Colts beat for the Indianapolis Star in October. Nick took the Patriots job at The Athletic, starting there in late March. … Rod was promoted, taking Joel's spot. The Advocate was in the process of hiring a replacement for Nick's spot when the purchase of the T-P went down.

    UNO, local colleges, boxing, Baby Cakes (triple-A baseball), Fair Grounds (horse racing), etc., are covered through freelancers. Some of these are former T-P staffers, like Darrell Williams and Mike Strom.

    Under the Manship family, when The Advocate published a New Orleans edition (starting October 2012), there was only one full-time sportswriter: Ted Lewis, a former T-P staffer. Then again, the New Orleans staff had just five writers, a photographer and a sales manager.

    After Georges bought The Advocate, the New Orleans expansion greatly increased. The New Orleans Advocate was launched in September 2013. … At its height, there were four full-time sportswriters: two on the Saints, one for preps (Rod Walker) and one for GA (Ted Lewis). … When Ted retired in March 2016, Rod Walker took over the GA work in addition to the preps.

    UL (University of Louisiana at Lafayette): Kevin Foote
    Preps: James Bewers

    So, about a week after I was fired, The Advocate went back once again into Acadiana territory (Lafayette). ... The Advocate moved into Lafayette, to compete substantially with The Daily Advertiser, for two previous years, with one sportswriter handling everything in Luke Johnson, but then pulled away for the past two years. … The initial thought -- the only conversation I had with management -- was to hire one person to cover the Cajuns and not cover the preps at all, but somewhere that thinking changed. … So, for now at least, there are two full-timers in Lafayette and three (if the TBA on the Saints is filled) for New Orleans.
  8. Joe Schiefelbein

    Joe Schiefelbein New Member

    SECOND POST: Pelicans coverage

    The New Orleans Advocate has never had a full-time Pelicans beat writer. … How this may change is something to watch. Maybe there's a new, larger emphasis, given that The New Orleans Advocate may see a need to have a bigger responsibility, bigger voice. Maybe there's a new, larger emphasis, given that the No. 1 pick has landed in NOLA and the post-AD decline isn't a given.

    I know this: (Executive) editor Peter Kovacs has never, never, never, never, never, never, never viewed the Pels as being worthy of full-time staffing, either as a paid staff member or even the travel. This was made clear on our first meeting in May 2013 and many, many times over the years. … Also, what Peter wants, Peter gets.

    One time, we came awfully, awfully, scarily close to hiring someone for a Pels beat. Then, poof, at the finish line, I was told to not hire the position, that maybe they'd consider it sometime later.

    All that being said, we've been creative and done an amazing job. I would have liked to have a full-time writer for some general reasons and to take the stress off the wonderful freelancers we've had -- for their own financial well-being and heath. … We did the damndest best we could with what we were allowed to have.

    Travel for the Pels?
    The New Orleans Advocate did not regularly travel during the regular season. But The Advocate did send a writer and a columnist (and sometimes both) for the playoffs, to Portland and Golden State last year. And we supplemented that coverage, when needed, with freelancer help. Of course, the Pels didn't make many playoffs.

    There have been other times when there was a writer on the road: games in Memphis or Houston or a Christmas game in Miami come to mind. I want to say we went on another road swing for some reason as well. … And not that it's great shakes, but we sent someone to Mobile for a Boogie Cousins feature. … Had there been a pivotal road game down the stretch in order to make the playoffs, we could consider this. … Scott Kushner has gone to the All-Star Game the past two seasons, and I believe Brett Dawson went before him. (Also, twice in my seven years, the ASG was in NOLA, so, we have been all over the ASG, especially with Anthony Davis. … I know we didn't go to the ASG in New York, but we had a really good freelancer do a great job.)

    Road/Western Conference
    Some of the difficulty covering on the road is being in the Western Conference. The 8 PM and 9:30 PM starts are difficult to justify the expense, given that there isn't a lot of late online traffic, and with a 10 PM deadline for NOLA, we were left with quoteless gamers. … We've tried different combinations of notebooks, including sending freelancers to shootarounds to punch out early stories. … Then, one of the issues that arose with that is, under the Alvin Gentry regime, the Pels backed off on a lot of shootarounds. ... We have several regular freelancers within the division and other locations, and then game time determined how we might approach coverage of other games.

    Having been a beat writer, I understand the value of being around a team all the time -- not to mention you never know when some mess is going to break out. But management never bought in.

    I remember when we first went to NOLA and just had the one GA writer in Ted Lewis, that the T-P had at least two full-time writers and maybe a third, and they did pregame vlogs and postgame vlogs and wall-to-wall stuff.

    The golden age of football/changing consumer media landscape
    Keep in mind that the Pelicans, who spent two years in OKC after Katrina and flirted with leaving several times and have had Baron Davis and Chris Paul and now AD spurn the city, have never had sustained success since arriving in NOLA. Meanwhile, this has been an absolutely incredible run of football for the Saints and LSU. These years, starting with LSU winning the national title in 2003 and continuing to be on the national stage ever since and continuing with the Saints under Brees and Payton, would have been absolutely unthinkable in the 1990s. So, against that backdrop, the Pels are trying to set a foothold. There is tremendous economic development in the area around the arena as well, so the Pels may end up being a success story and become a fixture in the media consumer's eye.

    Meanwhile, of course, the way the media consumer has changed since 2003, as we all know, has changed dramatically. So, our business as a whole is changing.

    Two fantastic freelancers
    The New Orleans Advocate has also had the benefit of two fantastic freelancers: Brett Dawson and Scott Kushner.

    Brett had the smarts to constantly ask me about getting hired, because his dream was to cover an NBA team, and, although I didn't have a full-time opening, I suggested that he come down here, and I'd try to pay him as much as I could. And Brett worked as hard as he could and did as much as he could. He even figured out how to pay for some of his own travel (he had friends in airlines and friends in cities). … We did some creative things, and he wrote some great stories. … When The Oklahoman had an opening, I shouted as hard as I could, and Brett eventually landed that full-time, dream gig (obviously, more on his merits than my shouting). … Now Brett covers the Thunder for the Oklahoman.

    Scott Kushner, who has a full-time job and now a growing family, had helped with Brett and had helped The New Orleans Advocate with Tulane coverage as well. Then, when Brett left, Scott jumped in. A little too hard his first year, especially with the playoffs run coming on the heels of the new baby, so we cut back his workload this past season. … He's got a great feel for writing to the New Orleans reader and has great insight into the Pels front office.

    I can't stress enough that The New Orleans Advocate has been completely spoiled/lucky by having two amazing freelancers able to jump in like this. … Brett won an APSE Top 10 in beat writing at The Oklahoman, and Scott is good enough to be a full-time writer -- if his day job didn't pay him so well. … In fact, when Scott had the Alvin Gentry hiring before/or at the same time ESPN did (ESPN did post before we could finish editing -- so that's on our editing staff/CMS), I told him it was a shame, because now management can sit back and not realize the need (why pay a full-time staffer when a freelancer can break the big news). … Maybe upper management never thinks so, but I very much considered/consider Scott part of The Advocate family.

    The future
    We'll all have to wait to see how The New Orleans Advocate will approach the Pels once the old T-P is no more. I won't have a say in it.
  9. Joe Schiefelbein

    Joe Schiefelbein New Member

    THIRD POST: Quality/which one is bigger

    I'll let you all make your own decisions about what the T-P was as a sports section -- historically, recently or in comparison -- and what their parental organization's vision became.

    There are a lot of people from the T-P who reached out to me when I was fired, and I, in turn have reached out to many of them. We're Sports folks in this forum and in our profession, and we know how to compete with one another and not get personal. Certainly, there are exceptions across our industry, but that's never been my deal.

    There are going to be a lot of wonderful people without jobs, once again in our industry, and you'll never see me spiking a football about that.

    I can tell you what I did, after becoming executive sports editor in April 2012.

    As one prominent ex-APSE president told me, "you took a section that was sleepy at best and made it an industry standard."

    From 2013-18, The Advocate and the New Orleans Advocate won 37 APSE honors (31 Top 10)/with first Grand Slam (2018) and Triple Crown (2017) in history. ... PRINT: 11 Top 10s. ... WRITING: 14 Top 10s (with 5 No. 1s + 3 No. 2s (11 Top 10s in past 3 years). ... WEBSITE: 6 Top 10s.

    Compare that with, from 1990-2012, The Advocate had three Top 10s, and never in daily. We had four Top 10s and two HMs in the past six years.

    There are only two Grand Slam winners this past year: The New York Times in Class A, and The Advocate in Class B.

    Daily has been Top 10 four times among 6 straight years of honors. … Website has been Top 10 or honorable mention each of past 6 years. … Beat writing Top 10 each of past 3 years (No. 1 in '17). … At least one No. 1 in writing each of past 3 years (five No. 1s and two No. 2s).

    Hired/developed: Ross Dellenger (national college football, Sports Illustrated), Nick Underhill (Patriots, The Athletic), Brett Dawson (Thunder, The Athletic), Chandler Rome (Astros, Houston Chronicle), Mike Petre (sports copy desk,
    The Washington Post), Luke Johnson (Saints, New Orleans Times-Picayune), Joel A. Erickson (Colts, Indianapolis Star)

    I was asked to increase our quality across the board. Sometimes, you get more ammo: It was wonderful to go from one full-time Saints beat writer to two. Sometimes, you get less: It was horrific to lose Ted Lewis at all, let alone not be able to replace him with a person, and all the burden put on Rod Walker at that point; losing an Outdoors writer, decreasing pages -- you all know the drill. Sometimes, you never get the ammo: not having a full-time Pelicans staffer or turf writer.

    There were great and wonderful people across the nation who gave me advice and support and love, and I am forever grateful. And I'm extremely fortunate to have had wonderful, talented go-getters on my staff. I love all of you.
  10. Joe Schiefelbein

    Joe Schiefelbein New Member

    FOURTH POST: Revenge is a business plan

    Some general thoughts.

    I was given a raise and a bonus in August, and then fired Jan. 29 after returning to Baton Rouge from my mom's brain surgery. … They never asked how my mom was doing. I was told to come back from Birmingham, then got escorted off the campus with a goon and a guy from HR.

    Oh, and the reasons they gave me for firing me hold no water. I wouldn't even sign the termination report in the end; it's too bogus. I can't even believe my "superiors" signed it. … Unfortunately, we have weak labor rights in Louisiana, and there is no union. So, I'm SOL after giving my absolute heart and soul to a company for 27-plus years (23-plus full time).

    A cautionary tale in our business like so many others. If you can accomplish what I've accomplished and work 12 of 13 days (and so many, many other hours; everybody knows the drill), you can still get stabbed in the back, hard.

    So, that's the backdrop.

    More backdrop: Yes, the nugget in the NY Times story is true. The key code for the parking garage is taken from numbers that translate into a company motto of sorts. The first two numbers are derived from "Fuck" and "U." The other numbers are from the name of the opposition.

    When Georges first bought the newspaper, they put up pirate flag banners all over the office. I know of at least one still hanging.

    Burying -- not just beating -- the T-P was always the goal. Georges brought over people from the T-P, who are very talented people but also people dead set on revenge against anyone and any institution that fired them. Burying the T-P was brought up in administrative meetings, in personnel decisions, any time, all the time.

    In taking the victory lap for winning this newspaper war, there's nary a mention of how thinned-out the Baton Rouge staff has become, either in the administrative offices or the printing press. Very nice: They built a three-story building a couple years ago. Not so nice (and not different from a lot of folks in the biz): One floor is now rented out, and as many folks as possible are squeezed into the third floor (which had seen increasingly vacant desks).

    Even if the key figures weren't petty and hellbent on revenge -- and, trust me, they are; that's what they do -- just from a staffing perspective, there aren't going to be many openings. There already was a fully functioning, successful newsroom and sales staff in place in NOLA.
  11. Joe Schiefelbein

    Joe Schiefelbein New Member

    As usual, and as you can see, I have nothing to hide, nothing to back away from.

    To that end, if anyone wants to chat with me further, reach out on email (schiefelbeinadvocate@gmail.com) or DM on Twitter (@SchiefAdvocate).
  12. Fredrick

    Fredrick Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the educational post. This is what gets me so upset about suits. All of a sudden they at the drop of the hat can become sub-human. I mean no job is worth being so rude to not even ask you how your mom was doing and have a goon escort you out of the building. This is sub-human behavior and any suit with self respect would not partake in something like this. At some point no job is worth losing your self respect. You kept yours, sir. On behalf of humanity, thank you. To the suits who treated such a hard worker so awful at the end, well F__K them!!!
    So glad you didn't sign the termination papers. Shame on those suits who signed them when they apparently were full of lies.
    I don't know you but I want to commend you. I know anybody at any time can get stabbed in the back. You are a smart person and obviously knew this before you got stabbed in the back. So we all know it can and will happen to all of us in this dregs of a business.
    I just say SHAME ON YOU suits who partake in this kind of stuff. I would rather be penniless than escort a former valued employee out the building as if that employee was now a common criminal and would rather be penniless than sign a termination document that was not true.
    Bless you sir!! Walk toward your next endeavor with your head held high. Thanks for sharing this!!!
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