In this day and age, it is no surprise that another rich guy is buying out a family-owned community paper.
It was announced a few days ago that John Georges will be acquiring The Advocate, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana based newspaper.
Now this can go two ways and can either be a good thing or a bad thing. From what I’ve read, the newspaper has been doing quite well over the years and is the leading daily newspaper of the south-east Louisiana area, which also includes the greater New Orleans area.
Keeping in mind that the buyer already owns food services and a restaurant in New Orleans, makes me wonder, why on earth is he buying out a newspaper? I understand that it is doing surprisingly well when compared to other dailies in other cities, that have either died out or turned into weeklies.
But The Advocate is very established! It has the Monday-Friday Advocate; the weekend editions, Saturday and Sunday Advocate; a New Orleans edition; and a Monday-Saturday edition for the Lafayette and Acadiana areas. I like to call this a newspaper whose audience has not drifted away into the hype of the new internet phase.
So back to my original question…
Why buy a newspaper, when it seems obvious that you have no experience in running a paper? I personally think that he is buying it because of its popularity and the return investment will be golden for him.
However, I do kind of feel sorry for the paper in general. As I said before, it can go down two ways.
Way one: He can buy the paper and turn it into a public relations haven, like others have done. It could turn into a paper that is filled with more advertisements than stories. It can become a paper filled with feature stories rather than hard news stories or stories affecting the area. For all I know, he can turn the paper into a magazine.
Way two: He can turn the paper around for the better. He can do a 360 and be an owner who actually cares about the paper and not primary about the money. He could potentially expand the paper to other areas, which will increase the need of journalists in terms of jobs. He could even go as far as expanding the paper to the point where The Advocate might look for other mediums to acquire like a radio station. Who knows?
All we can do is hope that it is for the better and never for the worse.