Times-Picayune sources: It's unclear whether revamped paper will print a Saints Monday edition



Copies of The Times-Picayunes biggest Monday editions, featuring the New Orleans Saints, are collectors items on sites like eBay.
  • Copies of The Times-Picayune's biggest Monday editions, featuring the New Orleans Saints, are collectors' items on sites like eBay.
According to sources within The Times-Picayune, the transition from a daily paper to a website with a three-day-a-week print component (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) is scheduled to take place in September — right around the kickoff of the 2012 New Orleans Saints season. The first game is September 9, when the Black and Gold will host the Washington Redskins in the Superdome, and there are three subsequent games that month.

What’s not clear is if The Times-Picayune will publish on the Mondays following the games.

At Thursday’s newsroom meeting, where editor Jim Amoss attempted to answer some questions about the transition, one person asked if the new schedule meant that there would be no Times-Picayune on the morning of Monday, February 4, the day after Super Bowl XLVII is played in the Superdome. Amoss did not have the answer, but said that the paper’s new schedule might allow for special editions.

Moreover, multiple sources within the paper’s sports department say that no word has come down to them as to whether they will be putting out a regular Monday print edition after Sunday Saints games. Sports editor Doug Tatum, who was included in the offsite meetings held last week where Advance Publications officials outlined the future of the company, has not returned Gambit’s call as of Saturday afternoon.

Monday newspapers usually have some of the lowest circulation of the week for dailies. One exception has been the Times-Picayune Monday Saints editions, which have gone all-in for the team, fronting headlines and game day photos along with extensive coverage in the sports section itself. Readers have responded strongly, turning the Monday paper into a sought-after edition and, in some cases, a collector’s item. During the Saints’ runup to the team’s Super Bowl victory, excited readers often lined up outside the newspaper’s offices to get their Monday editions. Sales were so strong that the paper sometimes went back to press to meet demand; on Jan. 25, 2010, when the Saints clinched a berth in the Super Bowl, The Times-Picayune doubled its print run. It wasn’t enough, and the presses rolled again. The iconic Feb. 8 edition, with the headline AMEN! over a photo of a jubilant Drew Brees, sold half a million copies and has become a collector’s item, with the paper’s front reproduced on T-shirts. Copies are currently sold on eBay for about $10.

For Advance Publications, the loss of a slim Monday paper may not mean much. For Saints-loving New Orleanians, the loss of a Monday Saints edition would be just another part of this city’s history ripped away before people are ready to say goodbye. A Monday Saints paper may well materialize, but it’s just another major question for an out-of-town company that has shown this week it doesn’t understand the market it promised to serve. We’ll see whether Advance Publications hasn’t thought that far down the road — or whether the company’s lack of attention to a Monday sporting edition symbolizes a fundamental disconnect between the company and what New Orleanians have come to expect from the people who bring them the news.

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