The Times-Picayune

The Times-Picayune
The Times-Picayune
The September 2, 2005 front page of
The Times-Picayune
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner Advance Publications
Publisher Ashton Phelps Jr.
Editor Jim Amoss
Founded January 25, 1837
Headquarters 3800 Howard Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70125
United States
ISSN 1055-3053
Official website

The Times-Picayune is a daily newspaper published in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.



Established as The Picayune in 1837 by Francis Lumsden and George Wilkins Kendall, the paper's initial price was one picayune—a Spanish coin equivalent to 6¼¢ (1/16 $US).[1] Under Eliza Jane Nicholson, who inherited the struggling paper when her husband died in 1876, the Picayune introduced innovations such as society reporting (the "Society Bee" columns), children's pages and the first women's advice column, written by Dorothy Dix. Between 1880 and 1890, the paper more than tripled its circulation.[2] It became The Times-Picayune after merging in 1914 with its rival paper, the New Orleans Times-Democrat.[3] S.I. Newhouse bought the morning daily The Times-Picayune and the other remaining New Orleans daily, the afternoon States-Item, in 1962, and merged the papers in 1980. The merged paper was called The Times-Picayune/The States-Item from 1980 to 1986.[4] Specific community editions of the newspaper are also circulated and retain the Picayune name (e.g., Gretna Picayune for nearby Gretna). The paper is owned by Advance Publications, owned by the Newhouse family. In the vernacular of its circulation area the newspaper is often called the TP.

The Times-Picayune funds the Edgar A. Poe Award for journalistic excellence, presented annually by the White House Correspondents' Association. The award is named for the newspaper's distinguished long-time national correspondent, Edgar Allan Poe.

Famous people

Throughout its history, writers like William Faulkner and O. Henry have worked for the paper. The Louisiana historian Sue Eakin was formerly a Times-Picayune columnist.[5]

The paper was awarded a 1997 Pulitzer Prize for a series analyzing the threatened global fish supply; that same year staff cartoonist Walt Handelsman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. For its coverage of Hurricane Katrina, the paper received the 2005 George Polk Award for Metropolitan Reporting,[6] as well as a pair of 2006 Pulitzer Prizes. The Times-Picayune is also the journalistic home of British-American satiric columnist James Gill. The Times-Picayune has primary publishing rights for James Gill's columns.

Editorial stance

The paper's editorial stance is moderate to conservative, depending on the subject. It generally endorses Republicans in state and federal elections.[7] It endorsed George W. Bush for president in 2000, but endorsed no presidential candidate in 2004. In 2008, the paper endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president.[8] In gubernatorial contests it endorsed Mike Foster and later Bobby Jindal. In the mayoral race of 2006, The Times-Picayune endorsed right-leaning Democrat Ron Forman in the primary election and Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu in the runoff.

The Times-Picayune is a predictable opponent of the State of Louisiana's high homestead exemption, which is phenomenally popular in suburban Jefferson Parish where it was championed by longtime assessor Lawrence Chehardy and his family and their political friends. In those areas an endorsement by the Picayune can have the effect of the "kiss of death" but does nothing to blunt the newspaper's circulation in the political mix of Louisiana. Through careful business practices, focused editions for certain suburban and outlying Louisiana parishes, ability to attract advertising, frugality, excellent writers and photographers such as Ted Jackson,[9] and other attributes The Times-Picayune has enjoyed a virtual monopoly on daily print journalism in New Orleans since 1962, long before the merger of other U.S. metropolitan dailies elsewhere.

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina became a significant part of the history of The Times-Picayune not only during the storm and its immediate aftermath but for years afterward in repercussions and editorials.

Storm damage

As Hurricane Katrina approached on Sunday, August 28, 2005 dozens of the newspaper's staffers who opted not to evacuate rode out the storm in the center of the building housing the newspaper, sleeping in sleeping bags and on air mattresses. Holed up in a small, sweltering back room called the "Hurricane Bunker," the newspaper staffers and staffers from affiliated web site "" posted continual updates on the internet all the way up until the time the building was evacuated on August 30. With the presses out of commission in the rising storm, newspaper and web staffers produced a "newspaper" in electronic format.

On, meanwhile, tens of thousands of evacuated New Orleans and Gulf Coast residents began using the site's forums and blogs, posting pleas for help, offering aid, and directing rescuers. NOLA's nurturing of so-called citizen journalism on a massive scale was hailed by many journalism experts as a watershed, while a number of agencies credited the site with leading to life-saving rescues and reunions of scattered victims in the days and months after the storm.

August 30, 2005 edition

After deciding to evacuate Tuesday, August 30, because of rising floodwaters and possible security threats, the newspaper and web staff set up operations in Baton Rouge, on the Louisiana State University campus. A small team of reporters and photographers volunteered to stay behind in New Orleans to report from the inside on the city's struggle, looting, and desperation. They armed themselves for security and worked out of a private residence.

The August 30, August 31, and September 1, 2005 editions were not printed, but were available as PDFs online, as was the paper's breaking news weblog. A weblog entry for August 30 written by Bruce Nolan gave a summary of the disaster:

Hurricane Katrina struck metropolitan New Orleans on Monday with a staggering blow, far surpassing Hurricane Betsy, the landmark disaster of an earlier generation. The storm flooded huge swaths of the city, as well as Slidell on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, in a process that appeared to be spreading even as night fell.[10]

After three days of online-only publication, the paper began printing again.

In a January 14, 2006 address to the American Bar Association's Communications Lawyers Forum, Times-Picayune editor Jim Amoss commented on perhaps the greatest challenge that the staff faced then, and continued to face as the future of New Orleans is contemplated:

For us, Katrina is and will be a defining moment of our lives, a story we'll be telling till the day we die. Being a part of the plot is both riveting and deeply unsettling. We don't yet know the end of this story ... It's the story of our lives, and we must both live and chronicle it.[11]

The paper shared the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for public service with The Sun Herald in similarly affected Biloxi, Mississippi. In addition, the paper's staff was awarded a Pulitzer for breaking news reporting, and former Times-Picayune editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich won the Pulitzer for his cartoons in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, some of which were also featured in New Orleans Magazine.

Ongoing saga, criticism of FEMA

As soon as possible after The Times-Picayune was able to restart publication after Katrina, the newspaper printed a strongly worded open letter to President George W. Bush in its September 4, 2005 edition, criticizing him for the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina and calling for the firing of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) chief Michael D. Brown. Brown tendered his resignation eight days later.

The post-Katrina experience affected the paper's staff. On August 8, 2006 staff photographer John McCusker was arrested and hospitalized after he led police on a high-speed chase and then used his vehicle as a weapon apparently hoping that they would kill him.[12] McCusker was released from the hospital by mid-August, saying he could not recall the incident at all, which was apparently sparked by the failure to receive an insurance settlement for his damaged house. He will still face criminal charges. The episode led to the establishment of a support fund for McCusker and for other Times-Picayune staff, which collected some $200,000 in just a few days.[13] In October, columnist Chris Rose admitted to seeking treatment for clinical depression after a year of "crying jags" and other emotionally isolating behavior.[14]

The Times-Picayune long continued to editorialize on FEMA.[15] A searing editorial on April 18, 2009 lambasted FEMA and labeled "insulting" the alleged "attitude" of its spokesman Andrew Thomas[16] toward people who were cash-strapped after the evacuation" from Hurricane Gustav, which in the meantime had become part of the melange of problems associated with hurricanes and governmental agencies; a second editorial on the same day blasted the State of Louisiana's Road Home program and its contractor ICF.[17]


  1. ^ McLeary, Paul (2005-09-12). "The Times-Picayune: How They Did It.". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 2008-05-27 
  2. ^ "Louisiana Leaders: Notable Women in History: Eliza Nicholson (Pearl Rivers)". Louisiana State University. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  3. ^ "Old Newspapers to Merge," NY Times, April 3, 1914.
  4. ^ "Times-Picayune" (search listing). Library of Congress Online Catalog.,10&Search%5FArg=Times%2DPicayune&Search%5FCode=TALL&CNT=25&PID=22795&SEQ=20060503035925&SID=1. Retrieved 2006-05-03. 
  5. ^ "Obituary of Sue Lyles Eakin". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, September 19, 2009. Retrieved September 21, 2009. 
  6. ^ "George Polk Awards for Journalism press release". Long Island University. Retrieved November 15, 2006. 
  7. ^ A legendary story is that Democrat Earl K. Long, when he was governor, was presented one morning the editorial from The Times-Picayune and told the aide who brought it in that it was wonderful. The surprised aide said, "But governor, it's all negative"--to which Uncle Earl responded (approximately), "I don't care what they write about me so long as they write something!"
  8. ^ "Barack Obama for president". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  9. ^ Jackson bio in Digital Journalist, 2005 December (retrieved 2009 June 13).
  10. ^ Nolan, Bruce (2005-08-31). "The overview: 'Look, look man: It’s gone'". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2006-05-03. 
  11. ^ Deutsch, Linda (2006-01-16). "New Orleans 'Times-Picayune' Trying to Report, Survive". Editor & Publisher. Retrieved 2006-05-03. 
  12. ^ Daryl Lang (2006-08-09). "Suicidal New Orleans Times-Picayune Photographer Arrested". Photo District News. Retrieved 2006-10-22. 
  13. ^ Daryl Lang (2006-08-17). "Times-Picayune Photographer John McCusker Out Of Hospital". Photo District News. Retrieved 2006-10-22. 
  14. ^ "Hell and Back". New Orleans Times-Picayune. 2006-10-22. Retrieved 2006-10-22. 
  15. ^ A new start at FEMA, Times-Picayune, 2009 April 14, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B4.
  16. ^ FEMA unlikely to pay for hotels during Gustav on
  17. ^ Let them eat MREs and The other Road Home mess, Times-Picayune, 2009 April 18, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B4 (editorials).

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