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My advice to the Newhouse family

WWL TV: Tom Benson’s letter stating his interest in buying the Times-Picayune

The city of New Orleans is a city of immense culture, economic growth and host to millions of people annually; it is a nationally and internationally recognized city, it is a city deserving of a seven day a week newspaper.

Gambit: New Orleans City Council Resolution R-12-284

Urging the Times-Picayune to take any and all necessary actions, including sale of the newspaper, to ensure the uninterrupted continuation of seven-day-a-week print publication of its newspaper for the benefit of its loyal readers in New Orleans, the Gulf Coast region, and throughout the country.

Gambit: David Vitter’s letter urging the Newhouse family to sell

Maybe you truly believe that your new model for the Times-Picayune will serve the region well. I do not. More importantly, no citizen of the region whom I’ve spoken to about this does. And I literally mean no one. This includes everyone at the Times-Picayune itself that I’ve spoken to.

And don’t ever fucking make me agree with David Vitter again.

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Rolling the Dice at the Times-Picayune

The Nation: Rolling the Dice at the Times-Picayune:

“This is one of the dumbest decisions by any newspaper publisher ever,” states historian John Barry, a New Orleans resident, authority on the levee system and author of Rising Tide, an award-winning history of the 1927 Mississippi River flood. “The Nola.com website is one of the worst I’ve ever dealt with. By coincidence, for the last few years—because I have a personal interest in something that happens in Ann Arbor—I’ve been going to the website and it is exactly the same—awful. Frustrating, unnavigable, with a terrible search engine.”

Today, the layoffs begin at the T-P. It’s a sad day for those who appreciate honest journalism on the gulf coast, and the saddest day hasn’t even come yet.

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My personal redesign of nola.com

If you’re within digital earshot of me, you’ve probably heard about the corporate owners of New Orleans’ daily paper, the Times-Picayune, scaling back to only publishing 3 days a week and focusing on their online presence, nola.com. Without being unnecessarily rude, this is one of my least favorite sites that I spend any measurable amount of time on. Whereas in many cases I can avoid the worst-designed examples in any category, if I want news about New Orleans, I have a limited number of options. That’s why I was so glad to find the User CSS Safari Extension (similar plugins are available for other browsers). It lets you add your own stylesheets that can be applied to specific sites, meaning that I can turn the homepage of nola.com into something I don’t mind looking at. I started by removing everything on the page about which I did not give a damn:

I don’t run Ad Block or similar plugins, because I generally don’t mind web advertising and I understand people have got to pay the bills somehow. But nola.com has lost its license to advertise to me.

I think my favorite part of the redesign is eliminating the cheesy and pointless nola.com branding and focusing on the traditional, infinitely more elegant Times-Picayune nameplate (which, to Advance’s credit, they at least re-introduced in the new design). It may not be around much longer in print, but it will live on in my browser.

It’s still a work in progress, but already I’m able to enjoy reading the news in a way I haven’t in a long time. It’s not a solution for the technically non-inclined, but it’s definitely the solution for me.

UPDATE:A few folks mentioned they’d be interested in doing the same, since Advance’s other web properties like al.com and mlive.com have recently been beaten with the same ugly stick (and no doubt others like oregonlive.com and nj.com have it coming soon). This is extremely messy, even by my standards, but it’s a good place to start. If you improve upon this, I’d love to see what you make with it. Grab the CSS on Pastebin.

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