Jun 30, 201410:31 AM
The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

It's Official: 'The Advocate' Got the Business

Last week the Advocate was awarded the official journal business for Jefferson Parish, a privilege that had previously belonged to The T-P.

For the Newhouses the transactions may have meant little more than a dent in their tip jar, but for the stability of New Orleans journalism it was a major development. Last week The New Orleans Advocate was awarded the official journal business for Jefferson Parish, a privilege that had previously belonged to The Times-Picayune. On the same day the independently run Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office also gave the official designation to the Advocate instead of renewing with New Orleans City Business.
 
For the Advocate the new contracts added to their stable that now also includes the journal business for Kenner, Gretna, Harahan, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority-East and the world’s most tediously named agency, the (hang on) Non-Flood Protection Asset Management Authority.
 
By being an official journal a publication prints minutes from meetings and various legal notices for the government agency. When you see pages with small type in the back of a publication, that’s the legal notices.
 
Awarding of the contracts is based on competitive bids. According to the Advocate, its bid for the parish council’s business was about 17 percent lower than The Times-Picayune's and about 74 percent lower than City Business’. The Advocate explained that the value of the business will be determined by the amount of government announcements that are published over the next year.
 
Still being sought after is the business for the city of New Orleans, the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, courts in Jefferson and Orleans and the Port of New Orleans. Among other local communities, the T-P has been chosen as the official journal of Westwego.
 
Though the bid selection process is supposed to be non-political, getting there required at least some calls to legislators. When the T-P moved from daily to thrice weekly, legislation was needed from the state to change the eligibility requirements for journals accordingly. That was done last year in The Times-Picayune’s favor. During the recent session of the legislative session the law governing journals was amended, by unanimous vote, to lessen the time that a publications has to be in a community before being eligible for journal status. That was done in the Advocate’s favor.
 
Likely helping the Advocate's cause is that it is locally owned while the New York based Newhouses have alienated the community. Unlike other towns where they gutted their newspaper, New Orleans did not roll over.
 
Awarding of the officials journals designation underscores a fundamental point about the responsibility that newspaper publishers have to a community. When the Newhouses first announced their plans to downsize the newspaper there were some who argued that they are a business and, like all businesses, have a right to make reductions to meet economic needs. The counter-argument is that there are some businesses, daily newspapers and hospitals among them, that have an obligation beyond everyday business to the community that they serve. Thorough the decades the Newhouses have made plenty money by, in effect, being partially subsidized by local governments. They owed the community more respect.
 
Meanwhile the editorial staff of The Times-Picayune keeps doing a good job despite it all. Recently the T-P shared, with WVUE- TV Ch. 8, prestigious Peabody, Headliner and Edward R. Murrow awards for “Louisiana Purchased” their investigative series on government spending.
 
For the Advocate the latest victory was on the income side of the ledger. When you’re running second, that’s where you need to be.
   
                            -30-
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, Ch. 12. 
 

 

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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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