by Kevin Allman
As management at the NOLA Media Group — the new company that will oversee NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune — continues to struggle to report the news of its own transition, more confusion arose tonight over the fate of the paper's award-winning dining coverage.
Despite the firing of longtime and well-respected restaurant critic Brett Anderson, editor Jim Amoss told The New York Times on Thursday, "[W]e will have substantial coverage of the New Orleans restaurant and food scene, with two full-time writers devoted exclusively to it. Our coverage will include restaurant reviews.”
That role would seem to have fallen to the paper's restaurant writer Susan Langenhennig, who took to Twitter on Thursday to say "No one can replace @BrettAndersonTP. I will do restaurant features/news at first and reviews eventually" and "It will be awhile before we start reviews."
Reached tonight by Gambit as to her role as restaurant reviewer/critic, Langenhennig refused comment, other than saying that though she may be providing restaurant reviews in the future, her title would not be that of "dining critic." Asked if she had signed the newspaper's offer of a new job with the NOLA Media Group, she had no comment.
Langenhennig has served in a variety of positions at the paper, most recently that of fashion editor. Several months ago, the role of restaurant columnist was added to her job. She joined the paper's freelance food and drinks writer, Todd A. Price (a former Gambit columnist), who, reached by phone tonight, expressed general support for Langenhennig, adding that the uncertainty regarding the transition has been "difficult, because Brett is my best friend at the paper."
The state of the paper's dining coverage is just one more wrinkle in the confusion that has ensued since word leaked out that The Times-Picayune, under the banner of the new NOLA Media Group, would be going to thrice-weekly publication this fall. That news — which first appeared in The New York Times, catching The Times-Picayune's employees by shock — has left many of them unsure about their roles in the new company, even after a day that saw 200 people fired and others offered letters of new employment that raised more questions than answers.
As to the question of the content, quality, or general makeup of the new enterprise's dining coverage, that has still not been addressed in the pages of The Times-Picayune, on the digital platform of NOLA.com, or with the readers and advertisers themselves — only with The New York Times.