Sep 9, 201309:09 AM
The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

The Times-Picayune Fiasco: The New Orleans Advocate's Big Play

That goal-line stand at the end of the game was one of many big plays in yesterday’s Saints game, but one of the biggest, at least from a business perspective, took place on the back of fans' seats and involved Steve Gleason’s historic blocked punt eight years earlier.

Sunday was the beginning of The New Orleans Advocate’s big offense to try to goose up circulation. Earlier in the week, the company had announced a partnership with both the Saints and the (this is still taking some getting used to) “Pelicans” basketball team. The agreement does not give any extra privileges as far as news coverage, but does give the daily newspaper exclusive advertising access within the Dome and, for basketball, inside the arena. Special Advocate sports sections, which were placed on each of the 80,000 seats, relived that emotional Monday night game when the Saints returned to the Dome after Katrina and Gleason flew into an Atlanta punter to block a punt which became instead a Saints touchdown. Now suffering from ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease), Gleason has become a cause. The Advocate's handout promised a $7 contribution to Gleason’s Team Gleason charity for each new subscription. (The Advocate plans a similar promotion at Pelicans games with funds donated to wetland preservation.)

Sunday’s effort was just the beginning. A barrage of television commercials and print ads will soon be showing various notables around town, including Archie Manning, Irma Thomas and Angela Hill, home delivering The Advocate while urging folks to subscribe.

Over the last few months The Advocate has greatly enhanced its product bringing in a boatload of talent, largely from The Times-Picayune. The paper has also been redesigned and its contents juggled to better fit the New Orleans audience. What has emerged is a good newspaper that is waiting for more people to discover it.

Dan Shea, the newspaper’s general manager and COO (and another T-P veteran), says that the readership, counting subscriptions and newsstand, is somewhere between 18,000 and 20,000. The goal for now is 40,000. That’s a point that should make the paper even more comfortable to advertisers at a workable rate.

“People in New Orleans have said they want a daily newspaper,” Shea says. “Now they have to show it.”

What is showing is the community’s anger about the Newhouses’ thrice-weekly concept. Those who will be appearing in the commercials and billboards, according to Shea, did so for free.

Steve Newhouse has proved himself to be an unpopular out-of-town owner. John Georges is absorbing the world of being a publisher. With his ownership, The Advocate is trying to sell local pride, a theme that is popular with Tom Benson, the ultimate local guy, who owns the city’s two major league teams.

On their side, the Newhouses’ have brand familiarity in a town that is often slow to react to change; the Advocate side has fire in its belly and the desire to block any punts that come its way.

                              -30-


BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), is due to be released in late September. It is now available for pre-order at Amazon.com.

WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS  AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 P.M. WYES-TV, CH. 12.

Reader Comments:
Sep 9, 2013 10:12 am
 Posted by  grisgras

The Advocate could increase its circulation immediately if it would offer more extensive home delivery on the Northshore. From anecdotal evidence, there seems to be a high demand. Whenever I can get hold of an Advocate, it has been a totally satisfying paper for me to read, and I could be happy reading it every day IF I COULD GET IT. I live north of Covington and still have home delivery of the T-P by an extremely dependable paperwoman. She still does it for three issues now, and she had it when the T-P was daily. I can't even buy the Advocate at Covington newsstands. Seems you only deliver to newsstands hovering around the lakefront on our side of the lake. Wake up. Whether the southshore likes it or not, the northshore is growing, has a highly literate and affluent population and should not be ignored by the Advocate if it wants to be anything other than a neighborhood New Orleans paper with limited area of influence.

Oh one other T-P broken promise to our area. I went this morning to get my Monday after the Saints game home delivery edition like they said they were going to publish when they went to three a week editions. Guess what? Nothing there. I guess the Newhouses figured we were so expendable in their scheme of things they could break that promise as well. The one thing they really forgot was this is New Orleans and we thrive on remembering. I wonder how valuable in a business sense the T-P franchise is today versus last year.

Sep 9, 2013 10:31 am
 Posted by  irish1

Steve Gleason and Sean Payton did the most satisfying WHO DAT that will ever begin a Saints game. The Saints followed up with a great game with a terrific ending to beat Atlanta. I woke up this morning to pick up the paper on my doorstep to read about it -- not in the Times Picayune -- but in the Advocate. There is such a great feeling to see that paper waiting to be read after a Saints win. Sorry Times Picayune! Remember, no matter how much advertising you throw on television, YOU deserted us.

Sep 9, 2013 05:34 pm
 Posted by  HulkFist99

Errol - keep up the good fight!

I canceled my long-standing someTimes-Picayune two weeks ago when the Advocate became the "New Orleans Advocate". I must say that for the most part, the New Orleans Advocate has been a FAR superior product (beyond the fact that it is a DAILY paper). The Beaucoup and Eat Play Live sections are not quite as good as the T-P Living sections...yet...but they just signed Ian McNulty from the Gambit and the former Offbeat editor Alex Rawls to beef up those sections. Should be good - I am excited!!!

Sep 10, 2013 10:11 am
 Posted by  Lakeview Joe

The promised Monday TP after Saints games is no longer delivered as part
of subscription, but available as extra purchase "street edition" only. When I went out to get what I thought was the TP was instead a complimentary Advocate!! Called TP and they
informed me of the Saints edition change. Does the term "adding insult to injury" describe
TP's actions? Of course these changes were not mentioned when I renewed my
subscription a few weeks ago. I don't want their paper anymore and refuse to go
to NOLA.com !!!!

Sep 10, 2013 12:27 pm
 Posted by  frankiecatpdx

It will be fascinating to watch the home delivery landscape unfold in Portland, OR where Advance Publication's newspaper The Oregonian is poised to launch the 4-day model on October 1, 2013. At the moment it appears unlikely an alternative like The New Orleans Advocate will emerge. While a thriving community newspaper alternative already exists for Portlanders with the community newspapers operated by Pamplin Media Group, and several alt weeklies continue to do well, I don't see a new 7-day print vehicle in the mix.

I am guessing The Oregonian will apply its own secret regional sauce to their Pacific Northwest venture, which differs on many levels from the New Orleans print media environment. We are seeing good old-fashioned newspaper wars out here, and the battles are being fought with branded zoned print editions and online...

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The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

about

Errol LabordeErrol Laborde holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of New Orleans and is the editor-in-chief of Renaissance Publishing. In that capacity he serves as editor/associate publisher of New Orleans Magazine and editor/publisher of Louisiana Life magazine.

Errol is also a producer and a regular panelist on Informed Sources, a weekly news discussion program broadcast on public television station WYES-TV, Channel 12. Errol is a three-time winner of the Alex Waller Award, the highest award given in print journalism by the Press Club of New Orleans. He also received the National and City Regional Magazine Association Award for Best Column for his New Orleans Magazine column, beating out 76 city magazines across the country. In 2013, Errol received the award for the "Best News Affiliated Blog," awarded by the Press Club of New Orleans.

Errol’s most recent books are Krewe: The Early Carnival from Comus to Zulu and Marched the Day God: A History of the Rex Organization. In his free time he enjoys playing tennis and traveling with his wife, Peggy, to anywhere they can get away to, but some of his favorite spots are the Caribbean and historic locations around Louisiana. You can reach Errol at (504) 830-7235 or errol@myneworleans.com.

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