JournalistI’m an editor-in-chief in one of the great news towns in America, New Orleans, and I’m on the front lines of the battle to preserve local journalism in the digital age. AMA!
May 22nd 2017 by MarkLorando • 21 Questions • 72 Points
I’m Mark Lorando, editor of The Times-Picayune and V.P. of Content of NOLA.com. We’re the oldest (180 years) and largest (more than 100 full-time journalists) news organization in New Orleans. We reach more people, engage them more deeply and tell stories in more ways than we ever have before. But the digital revolution has disrupted our business model, and everybody else's. What is the future of local news media? Nobody knows for sure. But we’ve got some ideas. Let’s discuss.
EDIT (4:12 p.m.): Loving this but I'm late for weekly editorial board meeting. Will jump back in after 5 and answer as many more of your questions as I can before I leave. Thanks everyone for an awesome conversation! Back in a bit.
EDIT (5:41 p.m.): Back from my meeting and back in the comments for another hour, or until I lose the feeling in my fingers, whichever comes first.
EDIT (7:16 p.m.): Calling it a day. I'll jump back in Tuesday morning for one last ride through the comments. Thanks everybody for the great questions.
THE END (Tue 8:45 a.m.): That's a wrap for me, folks. Enjoyed the exchange immensely, and answered as many (and as honestly) as I could. Feel free to email follow-ups to [email protected]; I try to answer all civil inquiries, eventually. And follow my profile page (linked above) if you want to join the ongoing conversation about local journalism. Excited to join the Reddit community. Thanks for having me. M.
The next time a car flips.
It what ways have you had to adapt in local news reporting where everyone with a smartphone can "break" a story?
Has the new landscape forced to to do more investigative long-form pieces, quicker digest pieces or hasn't changed?
You've identified two of our biggest challenges: verification of social media reports, and mounting enterprise projects with fewer journalists juggling more assignments and reporting/interacting in real time. We have a four-person social media team who bring significant expertise and help the entire newsroom vet social media content. And we stress constantly that while our goal is to be first and right, it's far more important to be right. The biggest change on the enterprise side is our pursuit of partnerships. All local news organizations are facing the same the same challenge we are. It makes sense to combine journalism resources in the pursuit of more ambitious investigative projects. Our first such partnership -- an examination of campaign finance fraud, "Louisiana Purchased," with FOX-8 in New Orleans -- won a Peabody Award in 2014. We've been all in on partnerships since.
What is your professional opinion of when the owner of your newspaper decided to forgo seven days a week publishing and allowed the Advocate to hire over half of your staff (either laid off or quit)? I used to be a subscriber before that happened and now I'm a daily subscriber to the Advocate because of their policy of publishing the paper every day of the week and delivering it, notably from writers I was used to at Times Pic.
History will show that the decision to reduce the number of home delivery days was the right one. Two Gannett newspapers in Louisiana made the same decision this year (Shreveport and Opelousas) and others around the country will eventually follow, or cease publishing altogether. At some point all legacy newspapers have to decide whether to spend their money on printing and delivering a newspaper, or journalists to report the news. We chose to cut expenses on the production and distribution side, and invest those resources where more and more of our readers and advertisers were going, which is to digital.
I'm in my early 30s and know very few people my age and under that read the newspaper in any form, what efforts is your newspaper doing to get folks ages 18 to 39 to read your newspaper in any form?
Our focus is not in trying to convert young people to newspaper readers, but to inform readers on their own terms, whether they prefer print, desktop, mobile, tablet, social, video or all of the above. It's a multi-platform world, and if you're a one-dimensional media company, you're dead. And just so we're clear: I'm not one of those people who thinks newspapers will ever go away completely. I think they'll outlive me. There's a place for a permanent, curated record of recent events. The question is how many days of home delivery will the business ultimately support. The old business model for seven-day home delivery is dead, and has been for years. Most newspapers haven't fully come to grips with that fact yet, but they will.
Enjoy the paper! Not being a local, it's a nice link to the city.
1) How has the paper and the way you distribute news changed since scaling back physical circulation from every day to 3 days a week
2) Do you see climate change as a significant threat to the city, and if so, in what ways?
Short answer: We've changed EVERYTHING about the way we work. And climate change, coupled with the man-made environmental catastrophe along the Louisiana coast, is the most important story this news organization will cover for the foreseeable future. Longer answers: