The September 2, 2005 front page of
|Publisher||Ashton Phelps Jr.|
|Founded||January 25, 1837|
|Headquarters||3800 Howard Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70125
The Times-Picayune is a daily newspaper published in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Its name, which is widely recognized among journalists nationwide, is an icon of life in New Orleans and its environs.
Established as The Picayune in 1837, the paper's initial price was one picayune—a Spanish coin equivalent to 6¼¢ (1/16 $US). It became The Times-Picayune after merging with its rival paper, the New Orleans Times, in 1914. S.I. Newhouse bought The Times-Picayune and the other remaining New Orleans daily, the States-Item, in 1962, and merged the papers in 1980. The merged paper was called The Times-Picayune/The States-Item from 1980 to 1986. Specific community editions of the newspaper are also circulated and retain the Picayune name (e.g., Gretna Picayune for nearby Gretna). The paper is owned by Advance Publications, owned by the Newhouse family. In the vernacular of its circulation area the newspaper is often called the TP.
The paper was awarded a 1997 Pulitzer Prize for a series analyzing the threatened global fish supply; that same year staff cartoonist Walt Handelsman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. For its coverage of Hurricane Katrina, the paper received the 2005 George Polk Award for Metropolitan Reporting, as well as a pair of 2006 Pulitzer Prizes. The Times-Picayune is the journalistic home of British-American satiric columnist James Gill. The Times-Picayune has primary publishing rights for James Gill's columns.
The paper's editorial stance is moderate to conservative, depending on the subject. It generally endorses Republicans in state and federal elections. It endorsed George W. Bush for president in 2000, but endorsed no presidential candidate in 2004. In 2008, the paper endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president . In gubernatorial contests it endorsed Mike Foster and later Bobby Jindal. In the mayoral race of 2006, The Times-Picayune endorsed right-leaning Democrat Ron Forman in the primary election and Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu in the general election, usually referred to as a runoff.
The Times-Picayune is a predictable opponent of the State of Louisiana's high homestead exemption, which is phenomenally popular in suburban Jefferson Parish where it was championed by longtime assessor Lawrence Chehardy and his family and their political friends. In those areas an endorsement by the Picayune can have the effect of the "kiss of death" but does nothing to blunt the newspaper's circulation in the political mix of Louisiana. Through careful business practices, focused editions for certain suburban and outlying Louisiana parishes, ability to attract advertising, frugality, excellent writers and photographers such as Ted Jackson, and other attributes The Times-Picayune has enjoyed a virtual monopoly on daily print journalism in New Orleans since 1962, long before the merger of other U.S. metropolitan dailies elsewhere.
Hurricane Katrina became a significant part of the history of The Times-Picayune not only during the storm and its immediate aftermath but for years afterward in repercussions and editorials.
As Hurricane Katrina approached on Sunday, August 28, 2005 dozens of the newspaper's staffers who opted not to evacuate rode out the storm in the center of the building housing the newspaper, sleeping in sleeping bags and on air mattresses. Holed up in a small, sweltering back room called the "Hurricane Bunker," the newspaper staffers and staffers from affiliated web site NOLA.com posted continual updates on the internet up until the time the building was evacuated on August 30. With the presses out of commission in the rising storm, newspaper and web staffers produced a "newspaper" in electronic format.
On NOLA.com, meanwhile, tens of thousands of evacuated New Orleans and Gulf Coast residents began using the site's forums and blogs, posting pleas for help, offering aid, and directing rescuers. NOLA's nurturing of so-called citizen journalism on a massive scale was hailed by many journalism experts as a watershed, while a number of agencies credited the site with leading to life-saving rescues and reunions of scattered victims in the days and months after the storm.
After deciding to evacuate Tuesday, August 30, because of rising floodwaters and possible security threats, the newspaper and web staff set up operations in Baton Rouge, on the Louisiana State University campus. A small team of reporters and photographers volunteered to stay behind in New Orleans to report from the inside on the city's struggle, looting, and desperation. They armed themselves for security and worked out of a private residence.
The August 30, August 31, and September 1, 2005 editions were not printed, but were available as PDFs online, as was the paper's breaking news weblog. A weblog entry for August 30 written by Bruce Nolan gave a summary of the disaster:
After three days of online-only publication, the paper began printing again.
In a January 14, 2006 address to the American Bar Association's Communications Lawyers Forum, Times-Picayune editor Jim Amoss commented on perhaps the greatest challenge that the staff faced then, and continued to face as the future of New Orleans is contemplated:
The paper shared the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for public service with The Sun Herald in similarly affected Biloxi, Mississippi. In addition, the paper's staff was awarded a Pulitzer for breaking news reporting, and former Times-Picayune editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich won the Pulitzer for his cartoons in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, some of which were also featured in New Orleans Magazine.
As soon as The Times-Picayune was able to restart publication after Katrina, the newspaper printed a strongly-worded open letter to President George W. Bush in its September 4, 2005 edition, criticizing him for the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina and calling for the firing of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) chief Michael D. Brown. Brown tendered his resignation eight days later.
The post-Katrina experience affected the paper's staff. On August 8, 2006 staff photographer John McCusker was arrested and hospitalized after he led police on a high-speed chase and then used his vehicle as a weapon apparently hoping that they would kill him. McCusker was released from the hospital by mid-August, saying he could not recall the incident, which was apparently sparked by the failure to receive an insurance settlement for his damaged house. He will still face criminal charges. The episode led to the establishment of a support fund for McCusker and for other Times-Picayune staff, which collected some $200,000 in just a few days. In October, columnist Chris Rose admitted to seeking treatment for clinical depression after a year of "crying jags" and other emotionally isolating behavior.
The Times-Picayune long continued to editorialize on FEMA. A searing editorial on April 18, 2009 lambasted FEMA and labeled "insulting" the alleged "attitude" of its spokesman Andrew Thomas toward people who were cash-strapped after the evacuation" from Hurricane Gustav, which in the meantime had become part of the melange of problems associated with hurricanes and governmental agencies; a second editorial on the same day blasted the State of Louisiana's Road Home program and its contractor ICF.