Final Report: The Times-Picayune Before and After Digital Decision 2012 By: Vicki Mayer and her

Media Analysis Class T!lane "ni#ersity $e% &rleans Fall 201'

Research Rationale: (n the fall of 2012 the local daily ne%spaper The New Orleans Times-Picayune decided to end daily print distri)!tion in fa#or of a series of digital for*ats on the %orld %ide %e) ta)lets and *o)ile de#ices+ The change precipitated a large restr!ct!ring of reso!rces and e*ployees incl!ding firing longti*e staff in the co*pany %hich is o%ned )y Ad#ance $e%spapers a di#ision of $e%ho!se+ This research ai*ed to see ho% the )oth the ,!antity and ,!ality of ne%s co#erage %as i*pacted )y this sea of transitions+ Research Questions: 1+ -o% did the digital decision in 2012 i*pact the ,!antity of original ne%s stories across ne%s )eats in the different for*ats .print/%e)/ta)let/phone01 2+ -o% did it i*pact the %ork p!t into reporting as *eas!red )y the n!*)er of h!*an so!rces in these stories1 '+ -o% did the digital decision in 2012 i*pact the ,!ality of original ne%s stories in ter*s of hard and soft ne%s across different for*ats .print/%e)/ta)let/phone01 Research Scope and Methods: The class chose to co*pare one *onth of ne%s co#erage ' days a %eek for fo!r consec!ti#e %eeks in &cto)er 2011 and 201'+ These dates appro2i*ate the ti*e one year )efore and one year after the date %hen daily paper distri)!tion stopped+ The three days selected %o!ld capt!re the ne% paper sched!le of 3!nday 4ednesday Friday+ 4e decided to catalog!e all stories that had a staff %riter in the $e% &rleans )!rea! on pages A1 and B1 since these are generally considered the *ost prestigio!s place*ents for local ne%s+ 4e e2cl!ded %ire stories and stories that only appeared in parish editions of the paper+ 4e also e2cl!ded i*ages %itho!t acco*panying stories+ The gro!p decided to foc!s stories on follo%ing for*ats: 5 5 5 6rint editions in 2011 as collected fro* $e%s)ank a s!)scription data)ase that reprod!ces all stories printed in the paper %ith page n!*)ers+ 6rint editions in 201' as collected fro* a hard copy of the ne%spaper in the *orning+ The ho*epage of the $ola+co* %e)site as it appears )et%een *idnight the night )efore and 10 a* the day of data collection in 201'+ &n the ho*e page %e incl!ded the large )anner for the top story and the follo%ing )o2es )elo% %ith any%here fro* '510 stories

per collection day+ These screenshots %ere kept in a digital repository for coding+ The changing stories in the 7ne%s ri#er8 %ere e2cl!ded as they changed irreg!larly and lacked c!ration+ 5 The 7ne%s ri#er8 %as capt!red #ia the ho*epage of the *o)ile app in 201'+ 3tories %ere collected )et%een *idnight the night )efore and 10 a* the day of data collection+ These screenshots %ere kept in a digital repository for coding+ The ho*epage of (6ad digital app as it appears )et%een *idnight the night )efore and 10 a* the day of data collection in 201'+ These screenshots %ere kept in a digital repository for coding+


Coding %as cond!cted )y indi#id!al st!dents and then co*pared d!ring class ti*e to ens!re coder relia)ility+ The 2011 data %as coded )y gro!ps of ' st!dents per day+ The 201' data %as di#ided a*ong the st!dents )y for*at and day+ A ser#ice learning assistant and ( assisted in resol#ing any discrepancies and keeping the screenshots for gro!p disc!ssions+ The coding categories are descri)ed in the appendi2+ Research Findings: 1+ (n ra% n!*)ers print and digital for*ats in 201' had *ore ne%s stories than the 2011 printed edition .129/1'9/1:; to <90+ (n ,!antitati#e ter*s this is to )e e2pected in the print editions as there %ere fe%er days to fit )acklogged stories in 201'+ A*a=ingly the (6ad tended to ha#e the sa*e ho*epage stories for *!ltiple days incl!ding cele)rity )irthdays for the %eek tho!gh these %ere not co!nted as original stories for o!r content analysis+ 2+ -o%e#er the distri)!tion of the ,!antity of stories in ne%s )eats ske%ed hea#ily according to for*at+ &#er half of the 2011 print stories %ere in the follo%ing areas: politics ed!cation )!siness and en#iron*ent+ These )eats collecti#ely fell to a)o!t one5third of the stories in print and *o)ile phone editions in 201'+ &nly one in fi#e stories on the %e) ho*epage and one in ten on the (6ad fit these i*portant ne%s )eats+ Con#ersely the proportion of cri*e stories nearly do!)led on the phone app and the %e)site fro* 1<> of print stories to '0/''> respecti#ely+ A %hopping <'> of (6ad ho*epage stories %ere foc!sed on either sports or entertain*ent+ '+ The falling n!*)er of so!rces fro* 2011 .?'0 to 201' .?1 or 20 across platfor*s s!ggests as %ell that the stories %ere p!t together *ore ,!ickly in 201' %ith less reporting %ork p!t into each one+ The rising ,!antity of stories then has )een *atched %ith the n!*)er of short )rief5type stories %ith no reporting as added #al!e+ These stories incl!de n!*ero!s calendar )riefs for local e#ents on the (6ad %eather !pdates on the phone and concert re#ie%s or sports statistics on the %e)site+ :+ The rise of soft ne%s as a do*inant filler of the ne%s space in digital editions %as also note%orthy+ <0 percent of (6ad stories :0 percent of %e)page stories and 20 percent of *o)ile phone stories %ere co*prised of soft ne%s+ These stories co!ld )e

considered 7infotain*ent8 and generally *ark the decline of ne%s co#erage that %o!ld i*portant for the local p!)lic sphere+ -ardly any of the hard ne%s stories that %ere incl!ded in these for*ats co!ld )e considered enterprise or analysis stories signaling that readers of these for*ats *erely recei#ed instit!tionally or traditionally foc!sed stories %ith little inno#ation historical )ackgro!nd or social conte2t for the ne%s they recei#ed+ ;+ Both the print editions in 2011 and 201' had appro2i*ately @ hard ne%s stories for e#ery 1 story+ The print edition in 201' also resisted the te*ptation to pro*ote opinion col!*ns or reader response stories as front page ne%s s!ggesting that perhaps the print editionAs selection criteria for ne%s has re*ained sta)le after the digital decision+ B+ Finally the dearth of analysis stories and lo% n!*)ers of enterprise stories in the 2011 and 201' print editions s!ggest that this trend re*ains sta)le or has at least not )een i*pacted )y the digital decision+ (t co!ld )e that there %ere *ore of these stories in the past )!t %e %o!ld need a longer ti*e fra*e to see any fl!ct!ations in relation to political econo*ic changes in the organi=ation+ Appendix 1: Coding Categories 1+ $C43 BCAT These are the standard )eats that ro!tini=e ne%s reporting na*ely: politics cri*e ed!cation )!siness sports en#iron*ent religion and entertain*ent+ Cach story %as fit to one )eat only+ There %as an &T-CR category %hen none of these fit+ (n these cases %e identified the s!)Dect *atter of the story+ 2+ 3&"RCC3 (n each story h!*an so!rces for inter#ie% infor*ation %ere listed as an aggregate n!*)er+ A single na*e %as co!nted as 1 so!rce regardless of ho% *any ,!otes the so!rce has in the sa*e article+ 3tories %itho!t inter#ie% so!rces %ere listed as 0+ Anony*o!s so!rces %ere co!nted if they %ere attri)!ted as s!ch .7According to one #ie%erE80 )!t facts alone %ere not s!fficient to co!nt as so!rces+ 3o!rces clearly taken fro* other stories .i+e+ ,!otes fro* 6resident &)a*a0 %ere also not co!nted+ '+ $C43 F"AG(TH These categories disting!ished )et%een hard and soft ne%s as %ell as types of hard and soft ne%s that *ay )e *ore or less pre#alent across print and digital for*ats+ This %as the *ost s!)Decti#e of the categories and s!)Dect to *any disc!ssions+ -ard ne%s stories %ere defined as those that pertained to a ne%s e#ent+ They typically %ere %ritten in a pyra*id for*at and related to local e#ents and citi=ens+ Beyond si*ple co#erage enterprise stories sho%ed the reporterAs initiati#e in de#eloping the story+ (n these the lede %as not likely to )e deri#ed fro* an instit!tional report or press release+ These stories can ill!strate the creati#ity of the reporter in de#eloping a story+ Analysis stories ga#e additional historical

and social conte2t to a ne%s story+ These stories can ill!strate the depth of kno%ledge and research that a reporter !sed in de#eloping a story+ 3oft ne%s stories %ere defined as stories that %ere tri#ial generally foc!sed on entertain*ent and sports+ (n addition %e looked at the e*ergence of opinion col!*ns and reader5response stories as t%o genres that ha#e arisen on the ho*epages of digital for*ats+ These pieces co!ld )e considered soft ne%s follo%ing Ia*es Fallo%sA criti,!e of opinion5)ased stories as easier and *ore spec!lati#e rather than reporting5dri#en stories+

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