NOLA Stations Prep for New 'Times'

Cleaning up from Isaac, New Orleans likely will not have a daily newspaper the next time a hurricane hits

Hurricane Isaac's arrival in Louisiana last
week was a reminder of how significant a role
the Times-Picayune plays in the market. But
the paper’s stature will change when it decreases its
print schedule in the coming weeks, and TV stations
in DMA No. 52 are proactive about connecting with a
new batch of news consumers, as well as advertisers.

WVUE’s promo doesn’t call out the paper by name, but the imagery
clearly borrows from the print world. “The global economy depends on
local consumers. This fall, the way to reach those consumers is changing,”
booms the baritone. “Fox 8 delivers your advertising message to your
customers seven days a week, rain or shine, morning, noon or night.”

The promo debuted not long after the Times-Picayune announced it will
print just three days a week beginning this fall. “The message is, we publish
24/7,” says Joe Cook, WVUE president and general manager. “We still believe
television, if crafted properly, is a great way to get your message out.”

This historic shift in the media landscape is already in the works. David
Hammer, Brendan McCarthy and Mike Perlstein, who joined WWL’s
investigative team from the Times-Picayune in recent weeks, contributed
to the station’s Isaac coverage. “We’re increasing our investigative
staff and enterprise reporting,” says Tod Smith, WWL president/GM.
“With the opportunity to work with so much talent and ability, we
looked to bring them on board.”

Louisiana Media Co.’s WVUE gets
on-air commentary from former Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose, who it
snagged a few years back during staff
reductions at the paper. The station recently
inked a deal with the paper to
share sports reportage. (That was in the
works prior to the paper’s printing cutback announcement, Cook says.)

Investigative reporters are busy folks in New Orleans, where corruption
is almost as emblematic of the town as beads and beignets. While some
are concerned that a lessened Times-Picayune will hinder the beleaguered
city, station chiefs don’t envision a hit to the news coverage. The stations’
hurricane reporting last week was tenacious, and their digital platforms
were at times vital amidst widespread power outages. “All of the broadcasters
are doing more and more news, and we have mobile and apps,”
Smith said before the storm. “There won’t be a void in the marketplace.”

Time will tell if the stations gain revenue. Local media buyers say
the windfall will be modest. “It will probably go more to digital and to
local radio,” says Denise Roberts, partner and regional broadcast manager
at GroupM. “That seems to be where it goes from newspapers.”

Among the digital outlets that stand to see a revenue influx is the
Times-Picayune’s own Residents have had a special bond
with the site since Hurricane Katrina, when it was a primary news
source. “I think, from a revenue standpoint, it will shift to,”
says Joann Habisreitinger, media director at New Orleans agency
Zehnder. “The whole state reads”

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