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Sunday, May 5, 2019

Grim Newspaper News

The Newhouse family sold the 182-year-old daily The Times-Picayune and its website,, to a scrappy New Orleans competitor, and the entire staff is being laid off. That has stirred worries across the other papers in the family’s Advance Publications empire.
A total of 161 staff members are being laid off, according to a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) notice filed with the Louisiana Workforce Commission, which listed 65 reporter and editor jobs in the bloodbath.
John and Dathel Georges, the husband-and-wife team that owns the rival New Orleans Advocate, are buying The Times-Picayune from Newhouse’s Advance Local, which has owned it since 1962.
The Advocate plans to publish a seven-days-a-week paper using both brands on the masthead starting in early June and will merge both websites under
“Could this happen to the Staten Island Advance, Jersey Journal or Star-Ledger?” asked one worried source, referring to metropolitan newspapers owned by the family that also owns the glitzy but struggling Condé Nast.

Keach Hagey, Lukas I. Alpert and Yaryna Serkez at WSJ:
After suffering a historic meltdown a decade ago in the financial crisis, American newspapers began racing to transform into digital businesses, hoping that strategy would save them from the accelerating decline of print.

The results are in: A stark divide has emerged between a handful of national players that have managed to stabilize their businesses and local outlets for which time is running out, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of circulation, advertising, financial and employment data.

Local papers have suffered sharper declines in circulation than national outlets and greater incursions into their online advertising businesses from tech giants such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. The data also shows that they are having a much more difficult time converting readers into paying digital customers.

The result has been a parade of newspaper closures and large-scale layoffs. Nearly 1,800 newspapers closed between 2004 and 2018, leaving 200 counties with no newspaper and roughly half the counties in the country with only one, according to a University of North Carolina study.

Meanwhile, about 400 online-only local news sites have sprung up to fill the void, disproportionately clustered in big cities and affluent areas, the UNC study found.

The shrinking of the local news landscape is leaving Americans with less information about what's happening close to them, a fact Facebook recently acknowledged as it struggled to expand its local-news product but couldn’t find enough stories. Local TV news is still a major, if declining, source of news for Americans, but local newspapers are vanishing.

“It’s hard to see a future where newspapers persist,” said Nicco Mele, director of the Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, who predicts that half of the surviving newspapers will be gone by 2021.