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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 11:25 AM ET, 05/24/2012

Times-Picayune publisher spews standard workforce-reduction garbage

The media news coming out of New Orleans is confirmed. The Times-Picayune is moving from a daily newspaper to a three-times-per-week publication — Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Those days, says the paper’s management, “have proved to be the most valuable days for the newspaper’s advertisers.”

The paper will issue an “enhanced” product on its reduced-pub days, featuring “a richer and deeper news, sports and entertainment report, as well as a full week’s worth of features such as society coverage, puzzles and comics.” There’s even some mention of “plans” to beef up food and dining coverage. A quote from Publisher Ashton Phelps Jr. puts a smiley spin on things: “I have run The Times-Picayune for over 32 years. I believe moving to a stronger digital focus positions the new company to continue to serve the needs of our various communities.”

Highly defensible stuff, in other words. The idea, as the Times-Picayune leaders are articulating it, is to save the journalism, not necessarily the medium. We’ll see how it shakes out.

Yet newspaper reductionism always includes a moment where the spin overreaches, and that invariably comes in the discussion of staff cuts. Here’s a sentence from the memo sent out this morning by Phelps. via Romenesko:

Many current employees of The Times-Picayune and will have the opportunity to grow with the new organizations, but the need to reallocate resources to accelerate the digital growth of NOLA Media Group will necessitate a reduction in the size of the workforce.

Bolded text added to highlight Latin-rooted corporate nonsense. Strikes me that if you reallocate to accelerate, you necessitate more people, not fewer people. The memo rhetoric is just another variation on the we’re-going-to-do-more-with-less cant that fools no one and insults everyone, every time.

By  |  11:25 AM ET, 05/24/2012

Tags:  new orleans times-picayune, staff cuts, ashton phelps jr. three-days-per-week, print reduction

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