The New Orleans newspaper scene has been an interesting one, as I've written here a few times.
Two weeks ago, The Times-Picayune, which cut its print editions to three times a week a year ago, announced it was introducing a new three times a week print tabloid called TPStreet, which would be sold at retail only, with no home delivery.
Now its going back to a daily print edition. Reporting on it in his New York Times column, David Carr quoted an ad exec at the Times-Picayune: "We are very excited about this opportunity to extend our reach in print." Carr's sarcastic line following the quote, "You don't say," is right on target, I think.
The Times-Picayune's online edition, it seems, just wasn't getting the traffic and the ads. And the Nolo.com website, which was to have replaced the daily print edition of the paper, is reported to be a bit of a mess and hard to navigate. But according to Carr's story, there's more to it. Other papers in the area, notably The Advocate in Baton Rouge, have been working to fill the gap and what had been a one-newspaper town forever dominated by the Times-Picayune is now becoming a competitive newspaper market. The Advocate now publishes a New Orleans edition, called the New Orleans Advocate, which has already drawn some 20,000 subscribers. Not big, but it's growing and maybe it won't be so easy for the T-P to roar back.
The newspaper business will be keeping a close watch on New Orleans. There may be some lessons publishers can learn.