By: Greg Mitchell
Jim Amoss, editor of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, is Editor & Publisher’s 2006 Editor of Year.
In an unprecedented 10-page profile for the February 2006 issue, E&P’s Mark Fitzgerald reveals that Amoss is being honored for directing his newsroom in its remarkable coverage “before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina hit” the editor’s hometown of New Orleans last August.
The story recalls the newspaper’s extensive past reporting on the city’s vulnerability, especially the “Washing Away” series by reporters John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein that predicted with eerie accuracy the horrific consequences of poor emergency preparedness planning by local, state, and federal governments. It also notes that the Times-Picayune reported on levee failures right after Katrina struck — at a time all other news organizations were saying New Orleans had “dodged a bullet.”
Times-Picayune journalists accomplished all this, E&P notes, despite being forced to evacuate their newsroom and produce a paper on the fly with help from two other Louisiana dailies, The Courier in Houma and The Advocate in Baton Rouge.
Amoss, 58, is credited with setting the tone of the Times-Picayune?s aggressive post-Katrina reporting and commentary that makes the newspaper a must reading for residents who have returned, and those still scattered throughout the country.
He spoke extensively with Fitzgerald and showed him some of the devastation last month when E&P’s editor-at-large visited the city. Amoss explained: “In the post-Katrina era, we are a lot less timid about what we have to say. We don’t dance around anything or anyone. If we see a politician not doing the right thing, we stomp on them.”
E&P observes that high readership is not a recent phenomenon at the newspaper, where Amoss has spent his entire journalism career, the last 16 years as editor. In 2004, the Times-Picayune’s household penetration was the highest of all newspapers in the top 50 metropolitan markets.
Amoss, E&P writes, “has presided over the final burial of a reputation for mediocrity that dogged the paper for so long.”
The 6,000-word cover story on Amoss and his news team is available to E&P subscribers. To subscribe to E&P in print and online, click here.