In case you missed it — Brett Anderson, the restaurant critic for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, had quite a week. First he got laid off, reportedly on the rationale that he was taking a Nieman Fellowship; then he got wooed to come back. After the twists, Anderson appears to be noncommittal about the prospect of returning, saying that he doesn’t have to make that call till his fellowship winds down.
More on that topic: Ricky Mathews, president of the NOLA Media Group, speaks of the changes at the Times-Picayune:
This is a fact: We can’t be great and continue to provide the coverage that you, our readers, are telling us you demand if we continue to print seven days a week. It’s not possible. Going forward, we plan to give our print readers three excellent newspapers every week while strengthening an improved NOLA.com as the preeminent source of news and information in our region of the country. The printed newspapers will be heavy with the stories and features our readers have come to expect. If we are to thrive and grow, as we intend to do, we must continue to print great newspapers and connect our advertisers with their customers. And we must do this while embracing the immediacy of the Web.
● Was it a “heckle” or just, perhaps, an ill-timed question. The controversy over the Daily Caller’s Neil Munro and his behavior during last Friday’s announcement on immigration.
● Australia’s Fairfax Media, publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, among other titles, is doing some stuff to deal with these times. From paidContent:
Metered digital payments for SMH and The Age from Q1 2013 across all platforms (prices announced at end of 2012).
Two printing presses mothballed by June 2014. “Both sites were commissioned when almost all of Metro Media’s content was delivered through the printed newspaper.”
“Digital-first” editorial integration of print, digital and mobile production.
Smaller, “compact” format for broadsheet SMH and The Age.
● New York Times takes a close look at The Buffalo News, a Warren Buffett paper that could perhaps yield some clues as to how Buffett will operate all the other newspapers that he has acquired of late.
Interviews with more than a dozen current and former editors paint a picture of a profitable paper that is run with little involvement from its owner. Some journalists say that the owner will hold out as long as possible to buy the latest printing presses and that they wish the paper dedicated more resources to the highly ambitious journalism that wins the biggest awards.
But many workers agree that the owner does not skimp on sending reporters to town meetings or on enterprising local journalism, which is in line with Mr. Buffett’s belief in an intense local focus for papers.
● David Carr writes of the velocity at which digital media is taking over. That is, breakneck:
I’ve written before that The Huffington Post may be one of the fastest build-outs of an editorial brand in history, all the while complaining that it derived a lot of value from digitally kidnapping the work of others.
But I’ve come to understand that it doesn’t matter what I think is right and wrong, or what I think constitutes appropriate aggregation or great journalism. The market is as the market does.
● Jack Shafer of Reuters looks back in an effort to pinpoint just when newspapers lost their viability, or at least took a big turn in that direction. He has fun playing around with the ’90s, when newspapers were still changing hands for big money.
The New York Times Co bought the Boston Globe for $1.1 billion in 1993. In 1997, McClatchy acquired the corporation that owned the Minneapolis Star Tribune for $1.4 billion and Knight-Ridder purchased the Kansas City Star and Fort Worth Star-Telegram (and two other smaller papers) for $1.65 billion. On the sidelines, newspaper consultant John Morton crunched the numbers and expressed the market consensus about these transactions in the headline for his January/February 1998 American Journalism Review column: “Expensive, Yes, But Well Worth It.”
● If you trust Emily Nussbaum of the New Yorker, you won’t be budgeting too much time to watch HBO’s “The Newsroom,” a creation of Aaron Sorkin:
The pilot of “The Newsroom” is full of yelling and self-righteousness, but it’s got energy, just like “The West Wing,” Sorkin’s “Sports Night,” and his hit movie “The Social Network.” The second episode is more obviously stuffed with piety and syrup, although there’s one amusing segment, when [Will] McAvoy [played by Jeff Daniels] mocks some right-wing idiots. After that, “The Newsroom” gets so bad so quickly that I found my jaw dropping. The third episode is lousy (and devolves into lectures that are chopped into montages). The fourth episode is the worst. There are six to go.
● A key to understanding Wendi Murdoch: She doesn’t want to be a News Corp. player, according to Amy Chozick’s profile in the New York Times. “ ‘I’d say she actively does not want a role in the company,’ said Mr. [David] Geffen, a longtime friend. ‘Nor does she have an ambition to have her kids involved in the company.’ ” Fun fact about Wendi Murdoch: She refers to her daughters, 10-year-old Grace and 8-year-old Chloe, as “ ‘Grace Chloe’ in her still-heavily accented English...”