'Advocate' plans to move into New Orleans called 'a bold move'
After The Advocate publisher David Manship coyly told Business Report in June that the family newspaper is "not very adventurous" and would take a wait-and-see approach to entering the New Orleans market, The Advocate this morning laid out an ambiguous plan for moving into the Crescent City this fall with no mention of specifics or how many reporters it may staff there.
Nonetheless, observer Bob Mann, a mass communications professor at LSU, calls it a "bold move."
Since The Advocate pulled away its single correspondent in New Orleans in 2009 due to market conditions, Mann says it would be surprising if the newspaper tries to staff a new bureau with more than two or three reporters.
"There's a lot of Associated Press wire copy that's already coming out of New Orleans," Mann says, and the newspaper could use that to beef up its New Orleans-centric front page.
A front page reworked for New Orleans, Mann says, wouldn't be unique: many large newspapers do it for other markets and it's actually "a pretty smart thing to do."
Mann doesn't expect The Advocate to immediately push into home delivery in Orleans Parish, but will more likely approach the city with a slow invasion in outlier areas. The Advocate's printing facility, Mann points out, is an hour away. That could pose problems when the paper is covering the New Orleans Saints on a late Sunday night—The Times-Picayune will publish Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays as of this fall—and tries to get papers on front doors in the city by 5 a.m. Monday.
Even if The Advocate just delivers to newsstands and circulation boxes in the city, missing out on sports coverage and box scores could hurt its credibility among readers, Mann says.
Meanwhile, Gambit editor Margo DuBos questions how The Advocate can make much a difference when The Times-Picayune will still have about 80 reporters—more than the three local TV news stations combined.
"What is The Advocate going to cover seven days a week?" DuBos says.
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