My drive to work this morning took me from one end of Johnston Street to the other. It’s usually about a 15-minute drive, and I like that it gives me a snapshot of Lafayette each day.
I live in a neighborhood behind Acadiana Mall, where a new owner has recently cast doubts on the shopping center’s future.
I pass Moncus Park at the former Horse Farm and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where my eldest son is a student (on hiatus, but he swears he’ll finish).
My office is on Johnston, just past Borden’s ice cream shop, across from Artmosphere and within walking distance of Pop’s Poboys and Keller’s Bakery.
This new office is a change of scenery for me. For the past eight years, I have led the newsroom at The Daily Advertiser. I worked with some amazing journalists during those years. I also saw many top-notch people leave journalism as Gannett, The Advertiser’s giant corporate owner, disinvested in local coverage and spread its national network of news sites ever thinner.
Sometimes a change of scenery is a good thing.
Starting last week, I’m leading a team of experienced, committed journalists in a much bigger Acadiana Advocate newsroom. Some of them were already covering Acadiana for The Advocate; others made the move with me from The Advertiser. But we all have one thing in common: We believe Lafayette and Acadiana deserve a local newspaper that cares about the same things they do.
The Advocate is owned by Dathel and John Georges, who are from Louisiana and own several other businesses. With newspapers in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Acadiana, they are invested in south Louisiana. And the folks in this newsroom are invested in Acadiana — from Lafayette to Youngsville to Carencro.
We live here and shop here. Our kids attend schools here. We bounce along the same potholed roads that you do. We pull for the Cajuns and dance at Downtown Alive! We vote in local elections.
We question public officials because it’s our tax dollars they are spending. We care about quality of life here because it’s our quality of life, too.
Two veteran media executives with deep ties to Lafayette will be joining The Acadiana Advocate, and the news organization has doubled the size…
I’m so excited The Advocate is investing in local journalists. You’re going to be seeing more of us — at public meetings, community events and in your neighborhoods. We look forward to hearing your concerns, asking the tough questions and telling your stories.
Meanwhile, let us know what you’d like to see in your hometown newspaper. I can be reached at (337) 349-1145. Stop by for a cup of coffee. I can’t promise beignets, but Borden’s makes a killer hot fudge sundae.
Kristin Askelson is managing editor of The Acadiana Advocate. Along with her two sons, she has called Lafayette home for the past eight years.