Alton Broussard.jpg

Alton Broussard

Mary Perrin had her brush with 1960s journalism toiling as a teenager in her father’s enclosed garage on Duclos Street in Lafayette. There, she wrote headlines and called readers to promote the weekly community “alternative” newspaper that her father, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette professor, published with mostly family and a few students as his staff.

“He definitely covered things that the others didn’t,” she said of the efforts of her father, Alton Broussard, a veteran newsman and one-man journalism department at UL for 30 years. That included coverage of race relations and an emerging French language “renaissance” in Lafayette in the 1960s.

The two-plus years of his newspapers, The Guide, will be donated to the reading room and research area of the library at UL Lafayette in a 3 p.m. Nov. 21 ceremony on the library’s third floor. It will be followed by a panel discussion of 1960s journalism that will feature professor emeritus Barry Ancelet, Christian Maader of The Current and Skip Broussard, Alton Broussard’s son. There will be special emphasis on the nascent coverage of the French Renaissance movement in that decade, including Broussard’s work.

Perrin said her father closed his newspaper, which was distributed free to Lafayette households, because it was unable to generate enough paid advertising to support it. She said she and her siblings believe that the dominant news outlets in the city pressured advertisers to not do business with The Guide.

In the final edition of The Guide, published July 16, 1964, Broussard wrote that the newspaper was solvent but that an especially competitive market that included two TV stations, three radio stations, the daily newspaper, a Catholic newspaper and school newspapers prevented The Guide from flourishing financially. He wrote that The Guide entered the market because advertisers expressed an interest in another news outlet, but large-scale advertisers would only use it for free promotion.

Yet the publication had an impact, Perrin said. The newspaper, which printed its first edition on May 23, 1962, used “cold type” technology far in advance of many daily newspapers, enabling it to publish a “photo-offset lithographic newspaper” while most newspapers continued to use typesetters.

Perrin said her father, a St. Martinville native, graduated Lafayette High in the 1920s, where he established the first student newspaper. He edited and published several smaller newspapers and worked on the news staffs at newspapers in Lake Charles; Beaumont, Texas; and New Orleans and served as an information executive in the Office of War Information during World War II. He worked from 1947-1978 at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, later UL Lafayette, first in public relations and later teaching. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at LSU and did graduate study at Missouri.

She said although her father was Cajun, he did not speak French. Later in life, he took French lessons and took interest in the movement to teach French in the public schools and covered it for the local news media during the late 1960s.

Zachary Stein, head of special collections at UL Lafayette, said the panel discussion is open to the public. He said he expects the discussion to draw journalists and journalism students as well as people interested in local history.

He said the bound volumes donated by Broussard’s children will become part of the research collection. The Broussards will also donate some of Broussard’s personal papers.

“We frequently have people who like to reach out and donate to us certain artifacts or personal papers they find valuable,” he said. “If it is specifically related to the Acadiana region, we accept it.”

Email Ken Stickney at kstickney@theadvocate.com.