Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

The decline of ‘The Times’—a wakeup call?

29th May 2012   ·   0 Comments

Last week the Times-Picayune announced it would end its role as the city’s only daily print newspaper. After 175 years of publication the paper will start publishing three days per week—Wed­nesday, Friday and Sunday. The paper will continue to publish information daily in it’s online format One hundred people will lose their jobs.

The decision makes New Orleans one of a growing number of cities in the United States to not have a daily—one of the earmarks of a modern metropolitan area. While many in the Black community have complained about the paper’s treatment of our community and our concerns, the paper is still a major source of information about what was happening in the city, especially those who no longer live in the city as a result of Hurricane Katrina or other reasons.

The reason given for the change was declining revenues because of internet access to the news. But the story goes deeper than that. One of the major reasons given for the paper’s loss of income is that much of the local population did not come back after Katrina.

But wait a minute! Hasn’t that been the plan? Has not every effort been made to prevent the Black and low-income population from returning to the city? Are there not still homeowners who can’t get their properties restored because of federal red-tape and local political shenanigans? Did not the powers-that-be eliminate low-income housing and virtually promise a “new” New Orleans?

Did it only take seven years for the chickens of greed, racism, and opportunism to come home to roost in the Crescent City?

Newhouse owns papers and media outlets across the globe. It would not have hurt them to allocate resources to find creative ways to make the Picayune more profitable. But Newhouse has no commitment to New Orleans, even though a greater percentage of the population reads the Times-Picayune than other major metro areas. Their commitment is to the bottom line, profits. That is the way it works when outside interests take over a local enterprise.

Could it be they have watched us and see that we are a do-nothing people? We do not vote; we do not demand accountability; we do not demand excellence from our elected officials. Could it be they ob­served what we allowed to happen in our schools, hospitals, and housing and figured we were an expendable market they serve?

One thinks about the schools in Orleans Parish, most of which have been given over to private interests who are more committed to financial gain than to educating children. Corners get cut to increase profits. The needs of students go ignored. Race and class discrimination become nearly overt policies in the treatment of students. Education becomes a creepy, Darwinian endeavor where survival of the fittest is the rule as these schools find ways to weed out those students who would do detriment to their bottom line.

When you turn your systems over to people who do not care, you have to expect to lose something in the process. And sometimes “something” means “everything.”

While this crisis certainly presents an opportunity for the Black community to step in and generate a daily that will give fair representation to the area, it should also sound the alarm that the decline of the Times-Picayune is more than a single business decision.

It’s a warning and a reflection on the soul of this city.

If not heeded, it’s a definite sign of things to come.

This article was originally published in the May 28, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

Readers Comments (0)

You must be logged in to post a comment.