For roughly two decades, the state of the newspaper industry has been facing a steady decline.A dramatic drop in readership, loss of ad revenue and the emergence of other forms of media have posed major challenges for many legacy print media publications.Recently, another disrupter began entering small-town newsrooms – financial firms.
This Sunday on 60 Minutes, correspondent Jon Wertheim reports on the financial firms crippling daily journals and weekly tribunes across the country.
It’s not the first time 60 Minutes has reported on the problems that have hampered local newsrooms in the 21st century.In 2013, correspondent Morley Safer reported from New Orleans on the challenges faced by the beloved paper The Times-Picayune.
“When you take away a venerable institution like The Times-Picayune you really kind of take away a piece of the soul of a city,” Mitch Landrieu, the mayor of New Orleans at the time, said to 60 Minutes.
Created in 1837 and named for the one Spanish coin it cost at its inception, The Times-Picayune employed classic American writers O.Henry and William Faulkner over the course of its history.
In 2006 it won a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on Hurricane Katrina.Though its impact on New Orleans was profound, Advance Publications, owner of the Times-Picayune, had more than just the paper’s reporting to consider.
“Delivering a newspaper, like, making it thump on your doorstep, it’s a really hard business.
It’s an expensive business,” said David Carr, acclaimed columnist for the New York Times and champion of media across the country.
“What the Newhouses did is said, ‘You know what? This only really works three days a week.So, let’s cut to those three days.’ That’s when it pays,” Carr said.
Because of the evolution of touchless technology and the unignorable costs of printing and delivering daily newspapers, the new economic model no longer favored a daily printed paper.Steve Newhouse, chairman of Advance Publications’ digital sector, announced a massive restructuring in which the print edition would be published on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, while the digital site would be the new home of the daily paper.
In 2013, the focus of the Times-Picayune shifted, and roughly 200 people lost their jobs.But it didn’t stop there.
In 2019, Advance Publications sold the paper to Georges Media, owner of the New Orleans Advocate.The two papers were then combined, and more job cuts and corporate restructuring took place.
“The great steel presses of The Times-Picayune are mostly silent now, reduced to working less than half the time,” 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer said at the end of his report.
“The question is: Will it become less than half of what it once was?”
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