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8/31/2005
03:10 PM
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New Orleans Paper Shifts To Web Only

For the second day, the Times-Picayune, New Orleans' daily paper, published a Web-only edition, as like other businesses and the city's residents, it has had to abandon the city and deal with dislocation.

For the second day, the Times-Picayune, New Orleans' daily paper, published a Web-only edition, as like other businesses and the city's residents, it has had to abandon the city and deal with dislocation.

The paper's staff left its New Orleans offices early Tuesday and relocated to Baton Rouge, 75 miles north, and Houma, 60 miles to the west, where reporters and editors took up places offered by those cities' "Advocate" and "Courier," respectively.

Tuesday's 26-page "hurricane" edition was published only on the Web, both in HTML and PDF format, the latter available for downloading and printing in a more traditional newspaper-style layout. The front page headline Tuesday of "Catastrophic" said it all.

Wednesday, the paper again published a Web-only edition, this one a 13-page paper with a massive headline of "Underwater." Again, PDF formatted pages were available for downloading.

The Times-Picayune staff was unavailable by phone, and e-mails went unreturned. Calls to the Baton Rouge Advocate, from whose offices some of the Times-Picayune reporters and editors are working, also went unreturned.

Normally, the Times-Picayune has a circulation of about 270,000, but it's now putting nothing on newsprint. Instead, the paper is posting stories, including breaking pieces as they're written, to the nola.com Web site. According to the Newhouse chain, which owns the Times-Picayune, the site is run from servers in a New Jersey data center.

Taking a cue from the blogosphere, the Times-Picayune began posting breaking news stories to a blog-like section, where reporters continued to detail developments, such as Wednesday's planned move of 23,000 New Orleans evacuees from the threatened Superdome to Houston, Texas, where they will be put up at that city's Astrodome.

The blog also was the first place where other major stories broke, such as one yesterday outlining how some police officers and firefighters joined looters in stripping clean a Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street.

"The police got all the best stuff. They're crookeder than us," one eyewitness told reporters.

The Tuesday edition had only three advertisements, all from insurance companies listing their toll-free numbers, while the Wednesday paper was ad-free.

Other papers in hard-hit Gulf cities to the east have also had to drastically alter the way they distribute the news. The Sun Herald of Biloxi, Miss., for example, has managed to keep printing editions only through an arrangement with a sister paper, the Columbus, Ga.-based Ledger-Enquirer. Both papers are owned by the Knight-Ridder chain.

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