Editorial: Confessions of a newspaper super-fan

Lisa Yates

Maybe it's because I'm a newspaper editor, but everyone's been asking me the same question lately: What do you think about The Times-Picayune cutting back its daily?

As you know The Times-Picayune, the state's largest newspaper, announced in May it will soon become a three-day-a-week printed publication rather than daily as it moves much of its content online.

In conversation, my answer sounds rather flippant. I usually say something like “I'm not surprised. Our industry is rapidly changing and many newspapers are responding by putting resources towards developing online content.”

While that is true, it doesn't tell the whole story. At least not from my point of view.

I confess: I'm a newspaper super-fan.

In fact, if Katie Couric asked me (and not Sarah Palin) which newspapers I read, I would tell her The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, the list goes on and on.

I even had the Sunday edition of The New York Times delivered to my home before I moving here. Each week, I divided the paper into my favorite sections to read first. I loved the arts, the magazine and the book reviews, so those were first. I eventually read it all - even the ads! It often took me a week to get through the whole thing.

My sports editor John Dupont is a Sunday New York Times subscriber. Knowing my love for the paper, he recycled one of his editions my way. I really enjoyed reading that printed edition. The online paper is great, but the Sunday edition has to be experienced in the original printed form.

I'm just as crazy about local newspapers.

For example, every Saturday morning in Shreveport, the first thing I read was Tim Greening's column in our local paper: The Times. Imagine Dave Barry, but even more funny.

I met Tim for the first time when I interned as a reporter for The Times. He sent me a funny e-mail commenting about something I wrote in my very first column.

At work I kept my cool, but at home, I bragged to everyone: “Tim Greening sent ME an e-mail!” As an obsessed fan, it was like getting an e-mail from Mick Jagger or one of The Beatles.

Eventually The Times hired me as a paid employee. Imagine my excitement to find I'd be seated next to Tim!

It took me a while, but I did confess my Saturday column-reading ritual to Tim.  As a quiet and humble guy, he just smiled. Fortunately, he didn't apply for a restraining order.

I urged Tim to publish his columns in a book. He said it was a long process. Corporate would have to okay the project, etc. Maybe one day he would do it.

Sadly, Tim died of a heart attack before publishing a book. He was a young man, so it was a big shock to everyone.

I heard the news while I working as an editor at another publication. It still makes me sad to know Tim is gone.

He would have some funny take on The Times-Picayune situation to make a valid point.

Perhaps he would compare it to television executives replacing professional actors with reality stars.

I imagine Tim saying something like:

“The executives at The Times-Picayune read a recent Carnegie Corporation report about young people's changing habits of news consumption. Therefore, they are replacing several veteran journalists with Perez Hilton. Perez is going to blog about all things Kardashian.”

Don't' laugh. Something like that could happen. His blog gets an average of 750,000 hits per day with his strongest demographic being females between the ages of 18 and 24.

Note: Lisa Yates is the editor of Gonzales Weekly Citizen. Follow her on Twitter @Lisa__editor