The recovery of the Times Picayune

The revitalization of the Times Picayune post-Katrina is an amazing story. (via Sans Serif)
Editor Jim Amoss:

We’re a relatively healthy business again in contrast to most newspapers in the country right now. It’s counterintuitive. I figured within two or three months the adrenaline would be gone and we’d collapse from exhaustion. I am amazed to say this has not happened.

A privately held company, Newhouse doesn’t release financial figures, but Newsweek reports that circulation is healthy and the community has rallied around the paper that has rallied around them.

In being loyal to its readers, the readers have apparently returned the favor. “You always see people with this paper,� says Editor & Publisher’s Fitzgerald, who was amazed by the extent to which he witnessed people reading it on a recent visit to the city. “That’s not a phenomenon you see in Chicago,� where he’s from.

One of the drivers of readership, according to the Readership Institute, is that readers want a paper that “looks out for my interests.”

Notice that the Times Picayune didn’t need to add FTEs to improve its coverage. It just needed the vigor of a motivated staff, spurred on by better hires for the positions it did replace post Katrina. And it made local coverage its focus. Invest in your readers and they will invest in you.

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  • http://www.ryansholin.com Ryan Sholin

    It’s hard to leave out of the equation the fact that this paper was the key — sometimes the only — source of local news for folks in New Orleans in the days after Katrina.

    That’s how you build loyalty to a brand – you do your job any way you can when your readers — your community — need you the most.

    I’m sure the then-NBC TV affiliate in Miami during Hurricane Andrew in August 1992 got a great bump in local news viewers after weatherman Bryan Norcross stayed on the radio all night as the storm hit.

    Cut to: What’s your newspaper’s plan (online and off) for the day a major disaster hits?