The Advocate is laying the groundwork to reach into the New Orleans market as that city’s Times-Picayune scales back its daily print newspaper coverage to three days a week.
The Advocate’s front page will be reworked for a New Orleans edition that reflects more of the city’s news, said Richard Manship, president and CEO of Capital City Press.
“This has to have significant news in it,” he continued. “This is not just an attempt to sell more papers. We will be trying to cover the news in New Orleans.”
The Advocate will add staff to supply this added coverage, Manship said without providing specific numbers.
It would be a return to a New Orleans presence for The Advocate, which had a correspondent there until 2009.
“From the moment that they announced that they were going to a three-day-a-week newspaper, we thought there would be tremendous opportunities for The Advocate to fill a void they’re creating,” Manship said.
The Times-Picayune, which is owned by Advance Publications Inc., a Newhouse family company, announced plans in mid-June to convert the 175-year-old New Orleans daily into a 24-hour digital news source with a print edition occurring only on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
A new company, the NOLA Media Group, is being formed to oversee The Times-Picayune and its affiliated website, NOLA.com.
The move to a three-day-a-week print version has generated swarms of opposition across all ranks of New Orleans residents, ranging from cab drivers to university presidents.
In addition to its print cut-backs, the Picayune said it is laying off about 200 employees, 84 of them from the newsroom, according to Associated Press reports in June.
In May 2009, The Advocate shuttered its own New Orleans bureau when it laid off 49 employees as the newspaper slogged through the recession.
“We plan on hiring a staff,” Manship said, though he did not say how large the staff would be initially. “Now, we can’t staff a ton of people down there because the economics aren’t going to work. We actually have to make money doing this. And so, we’ll start out with what we think can get the job done.”
There was no mention of how the paper will be circulated in New Orleans.
The Advocate’s plans will coincide with the Times-Picayune’s transition to a three-day-a-week printed publication, Manship said.
“We are looking at the day that they cease to be a seven-day newspaper and I think that’s around the first of October,” he explained.