Monday, May 28, 2012

Walking The Walk

A few days ago, Politico's Patrick Gavin reported

Washington has a strong contingency of New Orleanians frequently rooting for their hometown. And, when news broke Thursday that the local newspaper, the Times-Picayune, would shrink its publication schedule and face cuts, those politicos were taken aback.

“When a friend from Baton Rouge emailed me today with the news, I confess I was dumbfounded,” said the National Journal’s Charlie Cook. “It sounded like a bad April Fool’s joke about seven weeks late. Part of it though is the metropolitan area has shrunk so much so quickly after Katrina that I am sure the economics of a legacy newspaper radically changed. I remember well in 1973-75 when I was an intern in a Louisiana Senate office. Part of my job was to hand deliver press releases over to the Louisiana reporters in press galleries and to clip the papers when they came in the mail every day."

“The TimesPic is a staple of the city,” said Betsy Fischer, executive producer of NBC’s ”Meet the Press.” Growing up, the paper was the centerpiece of the breakfast table - its sections divvied up like servings of food. The front page, with its bold headlines, always focused on the three main topics of any New Orleans conversation: The Saints, Politics or Scandal. The inside - full of what we call ” lagniappe” - the extra good stuff. And the journalism - top notch. Knowing the folks in New Orleans and what this paper means to the community, there is not a chance they will allow this to happen..."

The Democratic National Committee’s Donna Brazile, a Louisiana native said: “Many of us natives grew up on coffee with chicory and a copy of The New Orleans Times Picayune. I cannot imagine what this will mean to the psyche of a city still in an era of renewal.”

Cook, Fischer, Brazile have one thing in common:  they don't live in New Orleans.   Or anywhere in Louisiana.    They all chose to leave the area, presumably to advance professionally.    This is no crime but does get a little tedious- elites, in media, or otherwise, waxing nostalgic about their ol' hometown (or one of its institutions) from the comfort of considerable distance.

Credit, therefore, goes to James Carville/Mary Matalin, the latter of whom said the Times-Picayune "drives the agenda and conversation" and "is indispensable to the cultural and entrepreneurial capitol New Orleans is."    They at least understand the current situation or, in modern lingo, are experiencing it "in real time."     Matalin and Carville in 2008 moved to New Orleans, a city troubled even before Hurricane Katrina hit and an uncommon destination for a well-situated couple.       Carville does teach at Tulane University but evidently made a conscious decision to leave the Beltway, the center of political power and high-profile parties, to return to the backwater of Louisiana and the virtually unparalleled humidity of New Orleans.

The Carville and Matalin act, jointly or even individually, has grown tiresome.     But they did move to southern Louisiana, from which James Carville hails and to an old East Coast city, with all the complications that entails.     Now, perhaps, they can tell us why any newspaper would ever have wanted to be thought of as "picayune."

                                          "HAPPY' MEMORIAL DAY

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