The purchase of the Times-Picayune by the Georges family is an interesting case study that raises serious questions. Clearly traditional print media has been on the decline for a long time. The internet and the 24 hour news cycle saw to that. But in the extant case perhaps something else was at play.
Louisiana is a conservative state. The majority of the people, especially the people who buy newspapers and who patronize advertisers, are conservative. Yet for some time both of our daily south Louisiana news outlets have been dominated by left-wing thinking and editorial comment. Behind the thin veil of “freedom of the press” they supported left-wing politicians and left-wing policies, giving short shrift to conservative views.
My suspicion is that readers over the years have voted with their feet and stopped reading what they did not agree with, choosing instead to get their news from cable TV. While I concede that Fox News is loaded with right-wing talking points at least the people feel comfortable with a news outlet that they can align with.
So to me the end of the Times-Picayune was inevitable, brought on by absentee ownership who promoted left-wing drivel to an audience that just didn’t want to accept it.
But now we are left with only one news outlet, controlled by a powerful local businessman whose left-leaning beliefs are widely recognized.
Will the Georges recognize the danger that lies in a media outlet whose political leanings are so far from the mainstream of Louisiana political thought? If not how long will it take for the this new monopoly to suffer the fate of the Times-Picayune and become obsolete because of an out of tune editorial leadership that controls its reporting?
Further, will the Georges resist the temptation of using the only news outlet in our region to promote their own personal political views or support the candidates that benefit their well being?
I sincerely hope that they let the paper run as an independent outlet of news, one staffed by journalists who actually bring balance to its editorial work. I sincerely hope that the Georges remain at arm’s length from the operations of the paper so that the people will have faith in its validity as an institution.
Controlling a monopoly on public thought is a powerful tool, a tool that can be used for great good or great harm.