Despite an onslaught of Internet advertising competition along with their specialized market audiences, newspaper classifieds are not going away, says The Advocate’s new classified ad manager.

“I think there’s always going to be classifieds,” said Art de la Torre, whose title not only takes in classified ad manager but also “business development,” which basically means coming up with new classified advertising features and products. “The question is: ?What is it going to look like?’ “ he said.

De la Torre - whose first day at The Advocate was Monday - comes from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where he led the classified advertising department. He takes the place of Mike Nola, who spent the past 41 years at The Advocate and has retired.

“I had just a wonderful career,” Nola said. “I’ve been real fortunate to work for the (Manship) family for all these years. They’ve just been really wonderful to work for. I’ve enjoyed my career. It’s been very rewarding. Through the newspaper, I’ve met a lot of people in the community,” he said.

And he admits, “I’ve watched the business change so much.”

No one can deny the effects of classified sites such as, or perhaps the most daunting classified site newspapers have had to contend with: Craigslist.

“I think we’ll be competing against websites,” de le Torre said.

“One thing that we have that they don’t is we have a printed product. And if we bundle printed and online together that sets us apart,” he added, noting it is possible that the printed classified section could continue to shrink given the growing popularity of smartphones and other news delivery devices. “So we have to remember that. They don’t have a printed product. We do. But we just have to use it wisely,” he said.

Nola agrees, saying, “I think the unique advantage we have is we have print and online. I think the future is bright.”

New ideas that worked at larger papers are what The Advocate was looking for when it hired de la Torre, said David Manship, The Advocate’s publisher.

“You know times are changing,” Manship said. “And Art comes from a bigger market where they probably have done things that we have not attempted yet. And I think that’s one of the things that we’re looking for when Mike announced his retirement.

“He’s seen some things that we haven’t seen,” Manship added, referring to de la Torre. “He’s dealt with bigger problems than we’re dealing with. He’ll have some fresh ideas, and it’ll be refreshing to see what path he takes us down. And we look forward to continued success in the classified areas.”

De la Torre, 44, has an advertising degree from the University of Texas. He’s lived most of his life in Texas. He has a wife and two children.

For Nola, The Advocate had become a place of fond attachment, and he says it’s a place he’ll miss. “I can’t think of any one day I came to work where I really hated what I was doing. I just enjoyed it every day,” he said. “I really hated to leave. I put it off as long as I could. I felt like I needed to move on.”

Nola plans to spend his retirement doing volunteer work and spending time with his family.

The Nolas recently lost a son, Jeff, to cancer.

“Right now, we’re in a healing process,” Nola said.