NEW ORLEANS — When The Times-Picayune decided to print three days a week, a nearby publication saw a chance to expand in the newspaper's back yard and fill a void that for some in the New Orleans area is as much a part of the morning routine as beignets and French coffee.
The Advocate of Baton Rouge, a family-owned daily published 70 miles north, will begin a daily New Orleans edition Monday, setting up an old-fashioned newspaper war. The battle for print readers comes even as more people get their news online and from cellphones and more news media share stories to save money.
The experiment will be closely watched by an industry that has struggled in recent years as print advertising declined during the recession.
Locally, readers will decide whether they still want The Times-Picayune, a Pulitzer-winning, 175-year-old New Orleans icon that will print every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
The Picayune has had a stranglehold on print news for decades, consolidating other dailies under its banner. Its coverage of hurricanes such as Betsy and Katrina, the New Orleans Saints, the entertainment, political corruption and ties to the Mississippi River all forged tight bonds with readers.
The Advocate's challenge entering the city is the first by a major daily newspaper in New Orleans in more than 50 years.
Edward Atorino, a media industry analyst at Benchmark Co., said other newspapers in major metropolitan markets will closely watch The Times-Picayune's experiment.
"The day of the seven-day newspaper is fading," he said. "This has been a long, deteriorating situation. It's not a shock, and we're going to see more of it."