Times-Picayune editor Jim Amoss appeared on PBS' "NewsHour" Thursday night and spoke out about the major staff cuts that hit the New Orleans paper earlier this week.
Layoffs began at the T-P on Tuesday, when the paper reported that it was cutting a third of its staff, a total of 202 employees. The news came weeks after the paper's parent company, Advance Publications, announced that the daily paper would cut back to printing only three editions per week in the fall, sending a shockwave throughout the news operation.
The paper and its parent company have said that both decisions were made in a greater effort to push the paper towards its digital future, by investing more in its website and lowering its commitment to the daily print edition. Amoss wrote an essay that ran on the T-P's front page on Thursday, further stressing the need for the news operation to "adapt" to the digital world.
In a discussion with Amoss and the New York Times' David Carr, "NewsHour" host Judy Woodruff asked the editor if it was possible to report the same quality of news with roughly half the people.
"Oh, that's a misleading figure," Amoss said. "We had severances, layoffs yesterday. And we are losing somewhere in the 40 percent-plus realm, but we also will be rehiring. So that when all is said and done, we will have a news operation that overall is about 14 percent to 15 percent smaller than now."
Amoss added that the T-P will continue its strong commitment to reporting strength in the field and investigative journalism, which he referred to as the paper's hallmark.
Though Amoss stressed that the news operation would only be a fraction smaller after its reorganization, Carr spoke about what he called the institutional memory loss the paper faces with such dramatic cuts.
"[Amoss is] losing a lot of institutional memory, a lot of reporters who have relationships out into the community," Carr told Woodruff. "It's not print that is disappearing. It's expertise."
Carr complimented Amoss' strength in publishing and circulating a daily paper, but said that the T-P has digital drawbacks. "I and others find their website a lot less impressive," Carr said. "And maybe some of these hires are going to help him turn it around, but it isn't really what they're good at. And so I — not in economic terms, but in terms of their skills — I think they're pivoting from their strength to their weakness."
Amoss assured Woodruff and Carr that the T-P will continue to thrive in its digital future. "We will continue to have by for the most complete and most formidable news gathering muscle in this community, and readers will just have to hold us accountable to that promise that I'm making."