As expected, the move by the New Orleans Times-Picayune to a less frequent publication schedule has been followed by deep cuts to the newspaper’s work force. On Tuesday, the publisher announced that the newspaper will cut 201 employees, or 32% of its total work force, including 84 out of 173 newsroom staff -- almost half the editorial team.
The cuts will take effect Sept. 30, according to the Times-Picayune, which reported the news.
In addition, all the newspapers’ other employees will be required to take new jobs at the newly created Nola Media Group -- in some cases with different responsibilities, less pay or fewer benefits. Some columnists are being asked to contribute on a freelance basis.
Altogether, the Nola Media Group will have 275 employees, including 193 hired from the Times-Picayune’s existing staff. On the production side, some employees are being shifted to another new company, Advance Central Services Louisiana, which will publish and distribute the newspaper.
The decision by Advance Publications to slash the newspaper’s publication schedule has not been without controversy.
Last week saw the formation of a “Times-Picayune Citizens’ Group,” whose mission is to “ensure the continuation of the delivery of a high-quality, seven-day-a-week newspaper, with access to the entire community.”
“The group will open discussions with the current owners, as well as other interested parties to achieve its purpose,” according to an official statement from the group, whose membership includes Scott Cowen, president of Tulane University; Gregory M. Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans; political power couple James Carville and Mary Matalin; and writer Walter Isaacson.
Advance Publications also said it is slashing the publication schedule for three Alabama newspapers: The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and The Mobile Press-Register.