New Orleans’ Times-Picayune garnered scrutiny last fall when its took the nation’s largest digital gamble, becoming the first major metro daily to scale back print to three days a week. So did it work?
The Advance Publications-owned paper’s publisher and editor made a positive — if ambiguous — case for its progress on Tuesday at the Key Executives MegaConference, a joint meeting of the Local Media Association, Inland Press Association and the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association.
“This is a 50 chapter book,” said Ricky Matthews, president of NOLA Media Group, which publishes the site. “We’re just in chapter two — so far, so good.”
The “good” Matthews pointed to was defined mainly in engineering a cultural shift away from print at the paper, where a move to more tech-friendly downtown offices and a constant emphasis on multimedia and digital thinking has taken hold.
But Matthews also offered a limited glimpse to the company’s numbers. Unique visitors to NOLA.com have increased 25% between 2011 and 2012, he said. Average daily circulation for the paper’s Wednesday and Friday editions climbed 1% from third quarter to fourth quarter 2012, while Sunday circulation was flat.
The paper has an average 616,000 weekly readers and 69% market coverage, Matthews said, noting that it was expanding more deeply into the neighboring Baton Rouge market.