John Georges acquired the failed Times-Picayune. The entrepreneur who owns The New Orleans Advocate dominated, then swallowed up his competition. Tom Benson offered to buy the struggling paper back in 2012. The owners arrogantly dismissed the idea. Now, less than a decade later, Georges likely paid a small sum compared to what Benson would have had to pay out.
A century ago newspaper wars were common. A winner usually emerged and ended up buying the loser.
People want to know what’s next with the new ownership. Change should come in content. Admittedly, the web news has a few good reporters. But Georges should note the media outlet’s failure resides not just in the decision to sometimes print, but significantly in its coverage. The Times-Picayune intentionally took positions that alienated its subscribing audience.
The comment section below the article announcing the acquisition is rife with calls to fire Jarvis DeBerry. That may not be an easy decision. Not because DeBerry writes quality work, he does not. The difficulty lies in the unfortunate truth that the race-baiting hack likely has the consistently highest clicks among individual reporters, which translates to money. Georges doesn’t make many stupid business decisions. But DeBerry aggressively antagonized and insulted so many people in the Greater New Orleans area, the call to fire him should be weighed strongly.
The failed Times-Picayune has long taken positions widely unpopular among natives. The New York ownership was distant both mentally and physically from the city of New Orleans. The content staff, editors and writers, are almost entirely transplants in a peculiar, nativist town. Its coverage was out of touch and unabashedly one-sided.
This generalized content sums up what a browser can find any week on NOLA.com: Crime, white people are evil racists, Who Dat!, Trump bad, blame whitey, ignore [insert Democratic politician’s name]’s absurd actions, Saints, link to other reporters’ news, murders, Trump stupid, editorialized “article,” tourist killed, black and gold, police bad, we love Mitch, negative news about some Republican, Trump mean, Zulu is racist, opinion posted as news, defend liberal politicians.
Actually sad is the list of concerns the one time iconic paper ignores: the homeless problem, no news about drug crackdown and gang arrests or lack of both, graffiti, Landrieu Concrete, the development of the Landrieu lots, the celebration of a new airport more than a year premature, the locally embedded domestic terror group, the city that care forgot going even more lawless.
As a major news agency, the failed Times-Picayune did a disservice to the people of New Orleans for nearly a decade. Jarvis DeBerry should be first on the chopping block. The transplanted writer antagonized white New Orleans and writes down to that audience and he alienated black New Orleans in calling for change to the Krewe of Zulu. With The Advocate behind a paywall, Jarvis’ click bait would not be as widely accessible to incite controversy.
The Advocate hinted as much with a shot across its Jarvis and Tim Morris’ bow. The Advocate posted an article about what to expect with the change. Item number six included: “…and also improve its opinion page.”
Georges purchased it from the New York-based owner that had been manipulating New Orleans for decades, like the carpetbaggers of old. The paper has been more radicalized in recent years, as obviously displayed in their calls to rewrite and destroy the history of a 300 year old city, whether that is removing and hiding monuments to historic figures or advocating for change to a century old tradition in Zulu. Local ownership should be an instant improvement. It should be liberating to native Orleanians of all colors and backgrounds.
As to the future of the news presented to New Orleans, Georges should recognize the void of news coverage and opinions that appeals to an audience ignored by most mainstream media outlets. The anti-conservative news mindset is why CNN and MSNBC and Times-Picayune are starving, and Fox News thrives. Any business savvy owner will see opportunity. No matter how much the media wants to, they are not brainwashing America into socialism. The mainstream media is not trusted and that approach is proving to be slow suicide. The silent majority in America believes in traditional American values, they mostly do it quietly. Georges’ media conglomerate should produce content that appeals to a wider audience.