This is what we’ve come here for: The Louisiana Newspaper War

Via Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon:

Former New Orleans Times-Picayune managing editors Dan Shea and Peter Kovacs will serve as General Manager and Editor, respectively, of the Baton Rouge Advocate, which announced it had been purchased by New Orleans businessman John Georges Tuesday night. Current Advocate Executive Editor Carl Redman will remain as senior editor, The Advocate’s announcement says.

The news would seem to signal a newspaper war in Louisiana.

So, yes, I’m borrowing the phrase for my header here. But he’s right: There’s war fomenting in Louisiana, and the Baton Rouge Advocate is setting up some some pretty hefty bulwarks. The Times-Picayune, meanwhile, is doing weird things.

Shea sent a message to Beaujon, detailing the undercurrents of this move in Baton Rouge. He makes damn fine points: “This was too good a prospect to pass up: we’re preserving local ownership of great newspaper, showing how the trend to digital is not incompatible with seven-day print, and bringing our enthusiasm and experience to a great staff.”

It’ll be interesting to watch things play out down there. It will also be prudent to steer our gazes northward, where similarly antagonistic market forces may bring newspapers wars into the 21st century. Competition is good and healthy, and that notion’s been in flux since the advent of digital media.

Of course, competition ABOUNDS online in markets like New Orleans and Cleveland. There’s never been a more competitive time to practice journalism. But to have two behemoths engage each other? It’s a throwback to more prosperous, profitable years. It’s also a chance to apply a referendum on the “Print is dead” theory.

More to come…

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