From USA Today

The pirate flag hanging in the New Orleans Advocate’s office in downtown is something of an inside joke – a hammy reminder of the startup paper’s unlikely insurgency against its entrenched competitor, The Times-Picayune.

Other symbols of the year-old paper’s inchoate status are of the more banal variety – the unkempt entrance, desks crammed into an office no bigger than a McMansion living room, one unisex restroom serving the entire staff.

Seven blocks away, the Picayune’s new headquarters boasts the aesthetics of a well-funded dotcom. The loft-style newsroom occupies the penthouse floor of a commercial high-rise with a ground-level mall. With large windows encircling the office, the staff has a gorgeous view of the Mississippi River.

“We wanted to create a new culture and environment, and we wanted a physical space to facilitate the changes,” says Ricky Mathews, president of NOLA Media Group, which publishes the Picayune.

Despite the Picayune’s avowed campaign of rebirth, competition and lingering market forces here continue to tug at its once inexorable march toward an unencumbered digital future. There is an old-fashioned newspaper war here, an improbable and unusual development in the digital era.

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