We believe these sessions will be invaluable to our work. We expect to gain insights we otherwise might not have. We expect to be prodded and, sometimes, chided. We expect input from Roundtable members to point us to compelling stories and inspire us to write editorials. And we expect our readers to benefit from the collective wisdom of this group.
At long last representatives of Entergy, Audubon, Touro, Tulane, Charter schools, and the Chambers of Commerce for Jefferson and Orleans Parish will have a real voice around here. We look forward to benefiting from their wisdom.
On the one hand we could say that at least they're being transparent. It's always been a matter of course that the T-P's natural disposition is to serve as an establishment mouthpiece. But there are degrees of brown nosing and, from the looks of things, NOLA Media's Ricky Mathews is a Class A talent there. Back in May, as news of the changes at the TP was still breaking, Gambit's Kevin Allman wrote,
Across town, Mayor Mitch Landrieu released a general statement of support for the paper, noting he had been a T-P paper boy in his youth and saying, "I look forward to talking with new management and others who have a stake in the future of The Times-Picayune to discuss how we can help the newspaper grow and not diminish."I get that there's some value to cultivating access to influential sources, but Matthews strikes me as someone who very badly wants to be in the club, so to speak, and will do anything to please the gatekeepers of club membership. Maybe he should by them each their own Loving Cup coffee mugs to use when they sit together at the Roundtable.
That probably sounds like music to the ears of Mathews, who is said to be a guy who courts those in power — a stark contrast to Phelps, who avoided public relationships that might become conflicts for his newspaper. In Alabama, Mathews was the head of the Coastal Recovery Commission (CRC), created in 2010 after the BP oil disaster. The commission, a project of then-Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, was funded entirely with BP funds. Mathews used AL.com to promote both the CRC and its subsequent nonprofit arm, the Coastal Alabama Leadership Council, in chatty stories under his own byline. Some Picayune employees worry that Mathews will not hesitate to become involved in Louisiana politics in ways that Phelps shunned, at least publicly.
Update: I guess not everybody knows the song in the title here. Hard to find a good version on YouTube. This will have to do.