Very sad news out of New Orleans, with the Times Picayune planning to stop being a daily newspaper, and to ramp up its digital presence.
The Cod and NOLA go way back, and this is sad news for obvous reasons, but also non-obvious reasons:
1) The threshold for reading the Times-Pic has gone up from pocket change to the price of a computer/tablet/smartphone + the cost of internet access. This move effectively disenfranchises a significant portion of the residents of the city the Times-Pic 2.0 purports to cover. What's more, paper has a promiscous, democratic social life. An e-reader does not. You might read your newspaper on a park bench when you're finished for someone else to read -- a Kindle, less so.
2) It's fantastic to be able to read whatever daily paper you choose on the internet, so that you can keep up with what's happening in the places you care about. However, there is no substitute for reading a local, daily newspaper. At my day job, I've been dismayed by the steady decline of our student newspaper. It strikes me that a significant part of the problem is that you have a group of kids trying to put out a newspaper who are not familiar with what newspapers are and what they do.
Without resorting to masturbatory Bissingeresque nostalgia for The Paper, I'd argue that it is useful, especially for young people, to have a distinct object in their home or school that reports the news. Reporting, editorial, and advertising are relatively easy to tell apart. If you are instead getting your news by osmosis from social media, the differences between public relations and journalism can be harder to spot. Until I moved to where there was no daily newspaper to speak of, I read one every day from my early teens to late thirties. I have been known to joke that I used to be compulsive about reading the paper, but now I get my news from ?uestlove's Twitter. Today, that does not seem very funny.
I am confident that TP2.0 will offer many opportunities for readers to submit pictures of their Saints tailgates; I am less confident they will get after stories about charter schools in Orleans Parish.