The Times-Picayune

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The Times-Picayune
Times-Picayune Masthead.svg
The front page of The Times-Picayune
from September 2, 2005.
Type Daily
Format Broadsheet
Owner(s) Advance Publications
Publisher Ricky Mathews
Editor Jim Amoss
Founded January 25, 1837
Headquarters 3800 Howard Avenue
New Orleans, Louisiana 70125
United States
ISSN 1055-3053

The Times-Picayune is an American newspaper published in New Orleans, Louisiana, since January 25, 1837. The current publication is the result of the 1914 merger of The Picayune with the Times-Democrat; and was printed on a daily basis until September of 2012, when it went to a Wednesday/Friday/Sunday schedule.

Since June 2013, the paper is printed as a broadsheet on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays and in a tabloid format on Monday, Tuesdays, and Thursday. The latter is branded as The Times-Picayune Street or TP Street and is sold only through newsstands and retail locations. The paper, together with the website, comprise the NOLA Media Group division of Advance Publications.

The paper was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2006 for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Four of The Times-Picayune’s staff reporters also received Pulitzers for breaking news reporting for their coverage of the storm. The paper funds the Poe Award for journalistic excellence, which is presented annually by the White House Correspondents' Association.


The New Orleans Item newsroom at work, circa 1900

Established as The Picayune in 1837 by Francis Lumsden and George Wilkins Kendall, the paper's initial price was one picayune, a Spanish coin equivalent to 6¼¢ (or precisely one sixteenth of a dollar).[1] Under Eliza Jane Nicholson, who inherited the struggling paper when her husband died in 1876, the Picayune introduced innovations such as society reporting (known as the "Society Bee" columns), children's pages, and the first women's advice column, which was written by Dorothy Dix. Between 1880 and 1890, the paper more than tripled its circulation.[2]

The paper became The Times-Picayune after merging in 1914 with its rival, the New Orleans Times-Democrat.[3] In 1962, Samuel Irving Newhouse, Sr., bought the morning daily The Times-Picayune and the other remaining New Orleans daily, the afternoon States-Item. The papers were later merged in 1980[4] and were known as The Times-Picayune/The States-Item until 1986.[5]

In addition to the flagship paper, specific community editions of the newspaper are also circulated and retain the Picayune name, including the Gretna Picayune for nearby Gretna.

The paper is a part of Advance Publications, which is owned by the Newhouse family, and is operated through Advance's NOLA Media Group unit along with its sister website,

In the vernacular of its circulation area, the newspaper is often called the TP.

Hurricane Katrina[edit]

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 the paper's affiliated website,, posted continual updates on the internet all the way 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, 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.

The August 30, 2005 edition of the paper.

After deciding to evacuate on 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 editions were not printed, but were available online, as was the paper's breaking news blog:

Hurricane Katrina struck metropolitan New Orleans on Monday with a staggering blow, far surpassing Hurricane Betsy, the landmark disaster of an earlier generation. The storm flooded huge swaths of the city, as well as Slidell on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, in a process that appeared to be spreading even as night fell.[6]

—Bruce Nolan, August 31, 2005 for the Times-Picayune

After three days of online-only publication, the paper began printing again. The paper was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2006 for its coverage of the storm and four of its staff reporters also received the award for breaking news reporting for their coverage of Hurricane Katrina, marking the first time a Pulitzer had been awarded for online journalism.

In a January 14, 2006, address to the American Bar Association 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:

For us, Katrina is and will be a defining moment of our lives, a story we'll be telling till the day we die. Being a part of the plot is both riveting and deeply unsettling. We don't yet know the end of this story ... It's the story of our lives, and we must both live and chronicle it.[7]

Jim AmossJanuary 14, 2006 at the American Bar Association Communications Lawyers Forum

Limited publication dates[edit]

Allen Toussaint playing at one of the (ultimately unsuccessful) rallies to "Save the Picayune" as a daily newspaper

On May 24, 2012, the paper's owner, Advance Publications, announced that the print edition of the Times-Picayune would be published three days a week (Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) beginning that fall.[8] A new company, NOLA Media Group, was created to oversee both the paper and its website, Along with the change in its printing schedule, Advance also announced that significant cuts would be coming to the newsroom and staff of the Picayune.[9]

The decision to stop daily circulation led to protests to continue publication for the common good with fifty local businesses writing an open letter to the Newhouse family to sell the paper instead, since they had stated it was still profitable. An ad hoc group of community institutions and civic leaders, The Times-Picayune Citizens Group, was formed to seek alternatives for the continued daily publication of the newspaper.[10]

The limited publication of the paper, for a short time, made New Orleans the largest American city not to have a daily newspaper,[11] until The Advocate of Baton Rouge began publishing a New Orleans edition each day to fill the perceived gap. On June 12, Advance followed through with its layoff plans, as about 200 Times-Picayune employees (including almost half of the newsroom staff) were notified that they would lose their jobs.[12]

Beginning with its "early" Sunday edition on Saturday, September 29, 2012, The Times-Picayune began publishing its broadsheet paper on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Along with the change, the paper began publishing a special tabloid-sized edition following Sunday and Monday New Orleans Saints football games.

Resumption of daily publication[edit]

On April 30, 2013, the paper's publisher announced plans to print a tabloid version of the Times-Picayune, called Times-Picayune Street, on Mondays, Tuesday, and Thursdays, returning the paper to a daily printing schedule (including the "early" Sunday edition printed on Saturdays).[13] The TP Street edition first went on sale on Monday, June 24, 2013.[14]

The new edition removed from New Orleans the designation as the largest city in the United States without its own daily newspaper; with both editions of The Times-Picayune along with the New Orleans edition of The Advocate, the city now has two.

Notable people[edit]

The writers William Faulkner and O. Henry worked for the paper. The Louisiana historian Sue Eakin was formerly a Times-Picayune columnist.[15] A weekly political column is penned by Robert "Bob" Mann, a Democrat who holds the Douglas Manship Chair of Journalism at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.[16]

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,[17] as well as a pair of 2006 Pulitzer Prizes. The Times-Picayune was also the longtime journalistic home of British-American satiric columnist James Gill, although he moved to The Advocate in 2013, along with many former Picayune editorial staffers. For more than a decade, The Times-Picayune was also the newspaper home of Lolis Eric Elie who wrote a thrice weekly metro column., before he went on to write for television, most notably HBO's Treme and AMC's Hell on Wheels.

Already widely known, the journalist and television commentator Iris Kelso joined The Times-Picayune in 1979. She had been particularly known for her coverage of the civil rights movement.[18]

William Hawthorn Lynch was an investigative journalist with the Times-Picayune's Baton Rouge bureau from 1979 until 1988, when he was named as the state's first ever inspector general, an office which investigates corruption, misuse of state equipment, and governmental inefficiencies.[19]Lynch's colleague, Jack Wardlaw, another investigating journalist, was the Baton Rouge bureau chief from 1980 until his retirement in 2002.

Editorial stance[edit]

The paper's editorial stance is moderate to conservative, depending on the subject. It generally endorses Republicans in state and federal elections.[20] 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.[21] 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 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,[22] 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.

Pulitzer Prizes[edit]

The paper shared the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for public service with The Sun Herald in similarly-affected Biloxi, Mississippi. In addition, staff reporters Doug MacCash, Manuel Torres, Trymaine Lee, and Mark Schleifstein were awarded a Pulitzer for breaking news reporting.[23] This award marked the first Pulitzer given for exclusively-online journalism.[24] 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. Walt Handelsman won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for his cartoons.

Ongoing criticism of FEMA[edit]

As soon as possible after 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.[25] McCusker was released from the hospital by mid-August, saying he could not recall the incident at all, 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.[26] In October, columnist Chris Rose admitted to seeking treatment for clinical depression after a year of "crying jags" and other emotionally isolating behavior.[27]

The Times-Picayune long continued to editorialize on FEMA.[28] A searing editorial on April 18, 2009, lambasted FEMA and labeled "insulting" the alleged "attitude" of its spokesman Andrew Thomas[29] 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.[30]


  1. ^ McLeary, Paul (September 12, 2005). "The Times-Picayune: How They Did It.". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved May 27, 2008. 
  2. ^ "Louisiana Leaders: Notable Women in History: Eliza Nicholson (Pearl Rivers)". Louisiana State University. Retrieved September 22, 2010. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Old Newspapers to Merge," NY Times, April 3, 1914.
  4. ^ 1980:New Orleans' two major newspapers merge
  5. ^ "Times-Picayune" (search listing). Library of Congress Online Catalog. Retrieved May 3, 2006. 
  6. ^ Nolan, Bruce (August 31, 2005). "The overview: 'Look, look man: It’s gone'". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved May 3, 2006. 
  7. ^ Deutsch, Linda (January 16, 2006). "New Orleans 'Times-Picayune' Trying to Report, Survive". Editor & Publisher. Retrieved May 3, 2006. [dead link]
  8. ^ Hagey, Keach (May 24, 2012). "Times-Picayune of New Orleans No Longer a Daily". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  9. ^ Mirkinson, Jack (May 24, 2012). "New Orleans Times-Picayune Faces Deep Cuts, Will End Daily Publication". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 24, 2012. 
  10. ^ Cameron McWhirter, "New Orleans Clamors for Its Paper: Civic Leaders Explore Media Alternatives, but Urge Publisher to Keep the Times-Picayune as a Daily", The Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2012.
  11. ^ Times-Picayune to reduce its print run - Al Jazeera Blogs
  12. ^ "Times-Picayune cuts half of newsroom staff; 3 Alabama newspapers announce 400 layoffs"[dead link], Associated Press at The Washington Post, June 12, 2012.
  13. ^ Andrew Beaujon (April 30, 2013). "Times-Picayune plans new ‘street’ tabloid for previous non-print days". The Poynter Institute. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  14. ^ Amoss, Jim (2013-06-24). "TP Street to land on newsstands Monday". The Times-Picayune. 
  15. ^ "Obituary of Sue Lyles Eakin". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, September 19, 2009. Retrieved September 21, 2009. 
  16. ^ "About Bob Mann". Retrieved October 18, 2013. 
  17. ^ "George Polk Awards for Journalism press release". Long Island University. Retrieved November 15, 2006. 
  18. ^ "Iris Turner Kelso: Introduction". Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  19. ^ Obituary of William Hawthorn Lynch, The Times-Picayune, February 16, 2004
  20. ^ A legendary story is that Democrat Earl K. Long, when he was governor, was presented one morning the editorial from The Times-Picayune and told the aide who brought it in that it was wonderful. The surprised aide said, "But governor, it's all negative"--to which Uncle Earl responded (approximately), "I don't care what they write about me so long as they write something!"
  21. ^ "Barack Obama for president". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  22. ^ Jackson bio in Digital Journalist, 2005 December (Retrieved June 13, 2009).
  23. ^ "The 2006 Pulitzer Prize Winners Breaking News Reporting". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  24. ^ Schute, Michael. "The eyes of a hurricane". Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  25. ^ Daryl Lang (August 9, 2006). "Suicidal New Orleans Times-Picayune Photographer Arrested". Photo District News. Retrieved October 22, 2006. [dead link]
  26. ^ Daryl Lang (August 17, 2006). "Times-Picayune Photographer John McCusker Out Of Hospital". Photo District News. Retrieved October 22, 2006. [dead link]
  27. ^ "Hell and Back". New Orleans Times-Picayune. October 22, 2006. Retrieved October 22, 2006. 
  28. ^ A new start at FEMA, Times-Picayune, April 14, 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B4.
  29. ^ FEMA unlikely to pay for hotels during Gustav on
  30. ^ Let them eat MREs and The other Road Home mess, Times-Picayune, 2009 April 18, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B4 (editorials).

External links[edit]