The Times-Picayune’s front-page press release

Advance Publication's Alabama papers take even worse hits than New Orleans

You know the backlash is serious when the Times-Picayune wraps itself in Katrina and puts a press release/editorial by the editor on page one of the paper:

Great journalism not bound by medium

Katrina shows promise of digital age in New Orleans

The headline and deck are bad enough, but the text is worse (emphasis mine):

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we proved that great, essential journalism does not require newsprint and a printing press. What it does require is great journalists, people who know our city and have a sense of mission about keeping readers informed and engaged, no matter the obstacles. Our commitment to that mission is undiminished.

… says the guy who just laid off half his newsroom.

And that’s not the only corporate Newspeak on page one:

This week, we announced that we will reduce the size of our staff through layoffs that will cause us to lose many talented colleagues. It was a deeply painful decision. But we made it in order to preserve and grow the journalism we and our community value

So, the paper gutted its newsroom to grow its journalism? Isn’t that sort of like destroying the village to save it?

Do take some time to read the comments on this one. Readers aren’t fooled.

Unfortunately, the Times-Pic isn’t the only news organization caught up in this. The newsroom cuts at the Newhouses’ Alabama papers are even worse than in New Orleans, as Poynter’s Steve Myers reports in an very good piece:

First, the numbers: The news staff in Birmingham has been cut from 102 to 41. In Mobile’s newsroom, about 20 of 70 or so are left, according to a source there. (The original version of this story estimated it at about 16.) And in Huntsville, 15 people remain out of 53 in the newsroom, a 72 percent reduction. Overall in Huntsville, 102 of 149 people lost their jobs. Those cuts at the papers come after two rounds of buyouts already had thinned staff.

Like in New Orleans, Advance/Newhouse will presumably add some cheap labor to spin the Hamster Wheel, but for all intents and purposes, the main newsgathering operations in these cities are gone.

And, at least at one of the Alabama papers, so is the ad staff. Myers writes that the sales team at his old paper, the Mobile Press-Register, was axed. I’ll give him the last word:

Advance seems to think a local newspaper is three things: a small group of reporters, advertisers who need your paper whether it’s published three days or seven, and some readers. Fewer, every day.

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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 Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,