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Taking its cue from a report on the future of media which envisioned a world devoid of printed daily newspapers within the next five years, New Orleans’ newspaper, The Times-Picayune announced on June 12th that it will make the move from being a daily to a thrice-weekly printed newspaper and enact fierce lay-offs of over 200 personnel, despite the fact that the paper is still turning a profit. This makes New Orleans the largest city in the entirety of the United States lacking a daily newspaper.
This decision comes from The Times-Picayune’s parent company, Advanced Publications, who is authoring similar cut-backs with two of their newspapers in Alabama. Though the Times will still be updated daily online, response to the decision has been overwhelmingly negative from virtually every sector. The audience of The Times complains that the paper is moving to web-based content when only one-third of New Orleans’ population has access to internet.
Over 300 New Orleans natives participated in a protest against the changes at The Times-Picayune and spearheaded an open letter signed by the cultural and economic leaders of the city, voicing concerns that the end of the newspaper could be the end of a cohesive cultural community in New Orleans. Employees, both current and former have been very vocal about their dissatisfaction, posting emotional pleas for explanations on message boards throughout the web, but the presidents of Advanced Publications have stayed mum and continue to stick by their decision.
Most everyone is afraid that the quality of The Times will suffer, especially as the current website for the Times-Picayune is disorganized, a constantly scrolling a list of randomly arranged headlines in a blog format. The website is set up to get as many clicks from readers as possible, not to disseminate the news, and a newspaper which received two Pulitzer Prizes in 2006 for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina in the categories of public service and breaking news reporting could easily have its investigative reporting vying for attention amongst e-blasts about vacation tips and celebrity gossip in the current web format. So the question now becomes if a newspaper of this caliber can thrive online and if so, at what cost?
 University of Southern California Center for the Digital Future Special Report: America at the Digital Turning Point, January, 2012.