Advocate publisher John Georges on Thursday told the New Orleans City Council that the newspaper is adding 500 new subscribers each week, a sign that residents want a seven-day, home delivered paper. He also assured the council that improvements to the publication will be forthcoming.
“The Advocate feels very loved right now,” said Georges, who appeared at the request of Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.
The Advocate, based in Baton Rouge, launched a daily New Orleans edition last year amid outcry about The Times-Picayune’s decision to reduce its daily publication to three days a week as it focused more on its digital products.
“It is now so exciting we’ll have a full-time newspaper again,” Hedge-Morrell said of The Advocate’s entry into the local market.
Council President Jackie Clarkson added: “We can’t lose the journalism in order to keep up with the state-of-the-art technology.”
Referring to some complaints that the Advocate has had more of a focus on the Capital City rather than the Crescent City, Georges said the addition of veteran Times-Picayune reporters, New Orleans area obituaries and other changes will give The Advocate a more local flavor.
“We really need those obits in the community,” said former WWL-TV news anchor Angela Hill, who appeared before the council to receive a proclamation recognizing her work at the station.
“We will add as we go along,” Georges said. “You cannot build Rome in one day.”
Recently The Advocate announced it had formed a community advisory board of local civic leaders to help guide the paper’s future.
Council members said they were happy to once again have a daily printed newspaper, and to have another media outlet from which to get their news.
“Often what happens in our media is we let one voice control it. … We need multiple voices,” said Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer. “It’s been amazing to me to have The Advocate everyday and still get The Times-Picayune and see the contrast.”
While most of the council members said they understand the need to report negative news stories but would like to see more positive news, Georges said that the editorial direction will be left to the reporters and editors.
“I personally thrive in the good news department, but I’m not in charge of the content of the paper,” Georges said.