Times-Picayune Editor Jim Amoss Speaks About Layoffs

TimesPicayuneLogoOn Tuesday, New Orleans-based newspaper The Times-Picayune announced layoffs of 200 jobs which will impact 200 staffers this fall. Plus, after 175 years in print, the paper is reducing its printing to three days a week as it focuses more on online news.

Jim Amoss spoke to PBS about the change and indicated, “Many readers can’t imagine a morning without our newspaper in their hands. I understand that. I’m a print guy. I grew up in this business.”

Jim explained:

We had severances, layoffs yesterday. And we are losing somewhere in the 40 percent-plus realm, but we also will be rehiring, so that when all is said and done, we will have a news operation that overall is about 14 percent to 15 percent smaller than now.

That still has an impact, although we will be saving a lot in going from — on the production side, from seven days a week to three days a week. But we are very much focused on having reporting strength in the field. We think that that is that is what drives our readers and our audience to the website.

And that’s a commitment that, that and the commitment to serious journalism, to investigative journalism, which has been our hallmark, is something that will be undiminished.”

David Carr from The New York Times was also interviewed and told Judy Woodruff, “[Amoss is] losing a lot of institutional memory, a lot of reporters who have relationships out into the community. It’s not print that is disappearing. It’s expertise.”

As the interview continued, Carr pointed out many people in New Orleans don’t have Internet access. Plus, in the newsroom staff will help him with the focus on digital, Carr referenced their skills, “I think they’re pivoting from their strength to their weakness.”

Amoss responded to his comment: “So, I just don’t accept these – I mean, it fits into a nice storyline, a neat narrative about the sudden weakening. And the changes are indeed dramatic, but the overall intention — and we will follow through with it –  is that we will be a strong and accepted deep news report that has both immediacy and depth to it.”

Ultimately, despite the mass pink slip announcement, Amoss emphasized a commitment to being “the most formidable news-gathering muscle in this community.”