In Syracuse, and in most of its former Booth Newspapers markets in Michigan where Advance has gone to the three-day model, it still prints on the other four days, even if those papers are skimpy newsstand-only affairs.

And when I say skimpy, I’m being generous.

Take Monday’s Syracuse Post-Standard. It clocked in at 16 pages and had no original content on page one. At the top of the newshole on the left side of page one is an AP story the paper headlines “President jokes about aging and cute bangs.” On the right is an AP brief on a stabbing in Albuquerque, 2000 miles away, in which no one was killed.

Sandwiched in the middle, with dominant art and an awkward headline: a story on New York pensions that the AP put out early on Saturday. The entire paper had about 2,300 words of original content, including briefs. It had zero ads—literally none, besides classifieds and a couple of obits. It ran more editorial copy (ADDING: to clarify, on the editorial page) from The Oklahoman (320 words), of all papers, than it did from Syracuse (0 words).

Even by the immiserated standards of Monday newspapers, that’s pathetic.

Then again, barely anyone’s reading it. The Post-Standard’s publisher said a couple of months ago that its four non-delivery days a week would have a 12,000-copy press run—about one-sixth of its former daily circulation.

If TPStreet resembles the Post-Standard’s off-day output, it will be a serious disappointment.

NOLA’s hamhanded PR not going to win back the trust of Picayune readers who have been so badly burned in the last year. The company controls one of the great brand names in American journalism in the Times-Picayune, and it goes and names something TPStreet.

I’m not sure to attribute this quote from the NOLA Media Group press release to chutzpah or to a painful lack of self-awareness:

“We are excited about this opportunity to extend our daily reach in print,” said Vice President of Advertising Kelly Rose.

And the paper’s publisher couldn’t quite get his story straight with The Wall Street Journal:

Ricky Mathews, president of NOLA, said TPStreet wasn’t an attempt to backtrack on last year’s cutback. “Seven days a week wasn’t viable long-term,” he said, but added “we see this as recognizing that we didn’t have all the answers” last year.

One thing you don’t see anywhere in the Nola.com/NOLA Media Group/Times-Picayune/TPStreet press release: Any word on whether it will hire more journalists to put the thing out.

Georges’ hiring of Shea and Kovacs signals that The Advocate’s going to be putting up some want ads in New Orleans.

Further reading:

The battle of New Orleans. Is Advance Publications securing the future of local news—or needlessly sacrificing it?

The Louisiana newspaper war. The Advocate picks up 23,500 readers in less than three months in New Orleans

 

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.