—Can we agree at this point that Advance Publications’s attempt to sell its plans for dramatic newsroom cuts and ramped up online news production at the Times-Picayune as a bold leap into the future—in effect, putting digital lipstick on a hamster—is not going over so well down in the Crescent City?


First, there was the generalized uproar. Then, the likes of Archie Manning, Wynton Marsalis, and other notables demand the owning Newhouse family change its plan or sell the paper. Then, the City Council sticks its nose in. Now, David Vitter, Senator Very Serious Sin himself, fires off a letter demanding a sale, while—literally—insulting Advance’s dreary Website, NOLA.com.

The money graf is here, via The Gambit:


Second, you have a terribly inadequate digital platform which has actually gotten worse since your announcement. The new format has been universally panned (and I agree). And this is reflected in the numbers. As a single member of our Congressional delegation, I actually have far more Facebook followers than your whole enterprise.

And I have more Facebook friends than you. Boom!

What the uproar shows, if nothing else, is that the plan is so unpopular that pols now feel they can score points off the newspaper chain by opposing it. But the opposition also reflects, I think, the public’s growing sense that change, while inevitable, doesn’t necessarily have to take this particular shape, a point reinforced by the growing que of potential buyers for the paper—now suddenly including the owner of the New Orleans Saints a
and Hornets
.

Stay tuned. The Advance plan may not be as inevitable or necessary as some would have you believe.


—Kudos to the Chicago Tribune staffers who signed an letter to management expressing concern about the company’s continued relationship with Journatic, the troubled news outsourcing concern found to have been involved in false bylines and datelines and plagiarism:

As employees concerned about both the reputation of the Tribune and its future, we have been disturbed not just by the relationship with Journatic but also a lack of detail about how this relationship came about. We also want to know what form, if any, it will take going forward.

The whole letter is on Romenesko:


—Tongues are still wagging and heads are still spinning over Sandy Weill’s Nixon-to-China moment yesterday, when he, more or less out of nowhere, explicitly called for breaking up the big banks. From the architect of the financial supermarket and the self-described “Shatterer off Glass-Steagall,” this was the stunner that everyone says it was and deserved paged one treatment.

Now, the search is on for ulterior motives, everything from carrying on a feud with the protégée he fired, Jamie Dimon, to trying to boost the value of bank shares.


But circling back to the original broadcast, on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” hosts Becky Quick and Andrew Ross Sorkin deserve some credit for the way they handled this news bomb. It’s clear they were as stunned as anyone, but they kept their wits about them.

Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014).

Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.