Feb 10, 201402:15 AM
The Editor's Room
Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde
Advocate vs. The T-P: Armies Marching to Different Beats
A USA Today article sheds new light on New Orleans' competing newspapers.
John Georges, the owner/publisher of the Advocate newspapers, says of his New Orleans edition that circulation will reach 30,000 to 35,0000 within the year. His goal is 50,000. According to the latest audit, he says, the circulation is nearing 25,000.
Those figures came from a Q & A interview with Georges that was part of a longer story that appeared Jan. 29 in USA Today entitled "Battle of the Brands: A newspaper war in New Orleans." Speaking of the rival Times-Picayune, Georges said, “There will be a day when we beat their number just here in New Orleans.”
He might be right because if what is going on between The Times-Picayune and the Advocate is a war, it is a war of armies with different philosophies marching in different directions.
As Roger Yu, the USA Today article’s author, wrote:
The papers' head-to-head battle symbolizes two sharply different approaches to newspaper survival, an upstart's bet on a traditional print-focused approach vs. a corporate incumbent's fervent pursuit of an uncertain but potentially rewarding digital future. It has morphed into a test of newspaper brand loyalty as well as a referendum on the merits of slow-cooked stories developed for the next morning's paper in an age of instant gratification in a 24/7 news environment.
As though to underscore the point, Yu quoted T-P Publisher Ricky Mathews:
The Picayune's decision was based on the inevitable decline of print newspapers, Mathews says. "It's not to replace all lost print revenue, but to incrementally replace it with digital," Mathews says. "Death by 1,000 cuts wasn't going to be our approach."
Georges tangles with the future of print too, but has a more upbeat perspective:
There are over 100 newspapers in Louisiana. So there will be consolidation. The paper is coming to your home for under $20 a month. It may become a luxury item. Newspaper print readers, I believe, will pay $10 or $15 more than what they pay now. If I had (no) advertising revenue, the paper would be $2 an issue. It's less than a cup of coffee.
Georges said that he has plowed all the income from the Advocate into further developing the newspaper. Significant hiring has made the Advocate a good newspaper, far superior from when it first entered the market. Plus there is a real esprit among its staff members. Keeping up with the newspaper battles over that cup of coffee is going to be stimulating. You won't even need chicory.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), has been released. It is now available at local bookstores and online.
WATCH "INFORMED SOURCES," FRIDAYS AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 P.M. WYES-TV, CH. 12.