Friday, September 20, 2013

Politicos peddling the paper — the latest wrinkle in New Orleans' newspaper wars

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 11:38 AM

In this screenshot of the new television ad campaign for The New Orleans Advocate, Jefferson Parish President John Young delivers a copy of the paper to a resident. Young is only one of several politicians who appear in the newspaper's TV campaign.
  • In this screenshot of the new television ad campaign for The New Orleans Advocate, Jefferson Parish President John Young delivers a copy of the paper to a resident. Young is only one of several politicians who appear in the newspaper's TV campaign.

If you haven’t seen The New Orleans Advocate’s new television campaign, you probably will soon. The brisk, clever ads emphasize the paper’s daily delivery schedule and feature local personalities — Archie Manning, Irma Thomas, Rita Benson LeBlanc, Andrea Apuzzo, the 610 Stompers — ringing a doorbell and handing copies of 
The New Orleans Advocate to a surprised homeowner. It’s all set to a jazzy soundtrack and the familiar Yat growl of Ronnie Virgets: “New Orleans is at ya do’ — seven days a week.”

But it’s not all chefs, musicians and sports figures. Among the familiar faces ringing the doorbell are several elected officials: Jefferson Parish President John Young and Sheriff Newell Normand; St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister; and New Orleans City Council Vice President Stacy Head.

“Business is good in Jefferson Parish!” Young says, handing the homeowner a newspaper, while Head announces, “Here’s the latest from the City Council!”

Most newspapers’ marketing departments — including that of The New Orleans Advocate — are completely separate from their newsroom operations. Nonetheless, using elected officials in ads for a newspaper is a new one on Kelly McBride, the house ethics expert at the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit school for journalism in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Advocate obviously has a competitive relationship with The Times-Picayune,” McBride told Gambit. “If the politicians join The Advocate in sharing that message, what does that say about The Advocate’s ability to critically examine those politicians?”

Not surprisingly, Advocate owner and publisher John Georges — who ran for governor in 2007 and mayor of New Orleans in 2010 — disagrees. At last weekend’s Rising Tide conference at Xavier University, where he was introducing keynote speaker Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, Georges told Gambit, “That ad is filled with New Orleans newsmakers, and that’s what the people in the ad are appearing as — they’re newsmakers.”

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Advocate becomes the official newspaper of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans

Posted By on Wed, Sep 4, 2013 at 9:48 PM

The New Orleans Advocate, which expanded from Baton Rouge into the New Orleans market 11 months ago, is now the official newspaper of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, Advocate owner John Georges announced tonight at a reception at the Superdome, along with Tom Benson, owner of the Saints and Pelicans, and Saints co-owner Rita Benson LeBlanc.

The deal does not extend to naming rights to the New Orleans Arena, though Georges said there would be plenty of Advocate signage in the city's Superdome/Arena sports complex.

The partnership between two of New Orleans' wealthiest and most influential families drew a crowd of several hundred business leaders and politicos to the Bienville Club Lounge on the third floor of the Superdome, including most of the New Orleans City Council and Jefferson Parish President John Young, as well as Benson's wife Gayle and Georges' wife Dathel.

Most of The Advocate's New Orleans editorial staff was on hand as well, though editor Peter Kovacs said the newspaper and sports teams' partnership would not extend to editorial in any way, but simply be a marketing and promotional tool for both entities.

(Editorial will be involved in one immediate way; The Advocate plans to print a commemorative broadsheet edition this Sunday to mark the Saints' season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, and the paper's New Orleans staff has been told to show up at the Dome Saturday night so they can personally tuck 70,000 copies of the paper in the seats.)

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Y@ Speak: seasoning

Posted By on Mon, Aug 12, 2013 at 12:50 PM

"Area Man Wakes From Post-Football Slumber, Wears Dress, Runs"

What season is this? Football has seemingly replaced our collective brain matter, already. Schools are coming back to life. Barbie conventions are a thing. Big butts can kill you. Meanwhile, air conditioning units file for OT as fat chunks of rain "cool down" our heat-ravaged minds and bodies. Driven by madness, New Orleans takes to the streets in its last-ditch "festival" effort, wearing red.

As we melt away into whatever "season" appears between now and fall, let us reflect on a week of our city's insanity.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Crawfish in the Lower East Side

Posted By on Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 6:10 PM

The regional differences throughout the U.S. include "crawdad" and "mudbug." The Associated Press handbook entry has it as "crawfish," then specifically says "not crayfish."

"Crayfish" is what you can get, by the pound, at $13 a pound, according to The New York Post, at The Boil, a Louisiana-style seafood joint in New York City. The restaurant's menu, however, correctly calls it crawfish. It even says "crawfish" on the front door.

Nevertheless, The Post took a look at the crayfish restaurant, which recreates for New York diners a picnic-table-style seafood boil with Abita beer on tap — and where diners order from iPhones or iPads while wearing blue gloves.

The gloves have, in fact, turned out to be one of the restaurant’s most popular features for urbanites who want to keep their manicures clean while they munch.

It's also cash only, so if they're going for authentic New Orleans they've nailed the bill portion of the meal.

The Boil's Yelp! reviews sound good — though one disgruntled rEaL nEw OrLeAnS person who has never been to the restaurant gave it one star because of what they read in The Post — the nation's saving grace of journalism, The New York Post — and called the diners a "bunch of pussies."

Next time I'm in New York, I will happily don the blue gloves and dive into a bucket of crayfish.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Y@ Speak: expectations

Posted By on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 11:51 AM

First it giveth, then it taketh away. Newspapers are dead and buried then return to a daily schedule. New Orleans Pelicans come and go within minutes. Prison donuts are a thing and likely will not be anymore. The right and left react to landmark decisions in Texas and D.C. A $100 brunch institution shuffles off this mortal coil. Service industry employees slumber in unusual ways. Governors — do they poop?

In this week's delayed edition of Y@ Speak (not what you expected, right?), New Orleans examines what is real, or really real, and whether they're, you know, cool about it. If not, one can always seek refuge in Target on the West Bank, where the celebrities go.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Y@ Speak: new beginnings

Posted By on Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Alter egos, doomed films, firings, deaths, zombies, new friends and friendly strangers, new publications, and moments of discovery — and disappointments (Mannie Fresh, hang in there. Vine gets better). This week's Y@ Speak is about our new leases on life, whether admitting you have a gutter punk problem or realizing you have paid too much for a pretty regular burger experience.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Times-Picayune to launch its tabloid product, TP Street, on Monday

Posted By on Wed, Jun 19, 2013 at 9:06 PM

The Times-Picayune will launch its new tabloid print edition, TP Street, next Monday, according to a memo this evening from NOLA Media Group Vice President of Content Jim Amoss.

After going to thrice-weekly publication last fall as part of its move to a "digital newsroom" (and later adding a Monday sports tabloid during New Orleans Saints football season and a early-Sunday "bulldog" edition in the subsequent months), NOLA Media Group announced in April it would return to printing a news product on the days that The Times-Picayune was not printed.

That tabloid print product, which was named "TP Street," was largely greeted with dismay in the newsroom and confusion and derision elsewhere, due in part to publisher Ricky Mathews' spin on the tabloid. Mathews had called TP Street "the latest milestone in our evolution as a multimedia news organization," when it was clear that the move was a retreat to daily printing.

Adding to the confusion was NOLA Media Group's statement that TP Street was a response to subscribers' demand for a paper — but TP Street would not be delivered to subscribers, but available only on news racks for an additional price. (The final version of TP Street will carry The Times-Picayune's familiar "flag," or front-page logo.)

That non-delivery plan, Gambit learned several weeks ago, has also been reconsidered as NOLA Media Group pondered the possibility of returning to daily delivery of a daily print product with the name Times-Picayune, effectively positioning the physical paper where it was a year ago before the "digital transition" — albeit a physical paper with a severely damaged brand and new competition in the form of The Advocate's New Orleans edition.

Amoss' memo to his staff below the jump.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

A note to readers regarding "Blake Pontchartrain"

Posted By on Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Over the weekend, a Gambit reader noticed that some recent Blake Pontchartrain columns contained passages that hewed closely to materials that were published elsewhere. In some cases, passages in the Blake columns were identical, or nearly identical, to the work of others.

After analyzing those examples and doing our own preliminary research, we’ve determined that the problem is not an isolated one, nor were the identical passages inserted at some point during the editing process.

“Blake Pontchartrain” is a composite column that has been written by several contributors over the years. These examples can all be attributed to a single writer, who will no longer be working for Gambit.

While we look at more of this writer’s columns and try to determine the depth of the problem, we’ve decided the safest course of action is to remove the Blake Pontchartrain archive from our website. We’ll keep readers apprised of our findings.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Gambit names Jeanne Foster associate publisher

Posted By on Fri, Jun 14, 2013 at 3:22 PM

Jeanne Exnicios Foster
  • Jeanne Exnicios Foster
Gambit publisher Margo DuBos has named Jeanne Exnicios Foster the paper's associate publisher.

A New Orleans native, Foster studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and began her publishing career as an intern at Time Out New York. Foster has been an employee of Gambit since 2001, serving in various capacities including advertising coordinator and assistant advertising director. She has been the paper’s marketing director since 2008.

Foster has served as project manager for many digital projects for Gambit, including client-designed mobile sites and multiple redesigns of Gambit’s website, She also has headed development for online and print promotions and served as project manager for the company’s special events, including the Gambit Food Revue. In the most recent Media Audit survey (Nov. 2012-Jan. 2013), Gambit’s readership was up 37 percent from the previous year.

“Jeanne just gets it,” DuBos said. “She has done an outstanding job on print, digital and event projects that keep Gambit Communications current and relevant. This promotion is a tribute to her keen ability and success at advancing the Gambit brand in today’s media marketplace.”

“We have a really creative and innovative team right now,” Foster said, “and I am so excited to help continue to build the Gambit brand in the community and deliver what our loyal and growing readership wants via the print product, and Gambit Events.”

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Judge approves OPP consent decree

Posted By on Thu, Jun 6, 2013 at 3:45 PM

5 p.m. Thursday, June 6 update: The New Orleans Inspector General's office issued a report saying the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office (OPSO) is "adequately funded" and recommends that the city "not appropriate funds for the jail unless OPSO provides it with a detailed, functional budget that identifies the specific jail expenditures the revenues support." Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux said in a statement, "The root cause is a dysfunctional structure that gives OPSO a blank check that the City must sign, and ensures that neither the City nor OPSO can be held wholly accountable for conditions in the Jail. The Jail will remain as it is until that structure is changed.”

U.S. District Judge Lance Africk approved a federal consent decree this afternoon between the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Department of Justice to address the controversial conditions at Orleans Parish Prison.

The consent decree, to be assessed and overseen by an independent monitor, is welcomed by Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, though he has repeatedly stressed that his office and the jail are run constitutionally. Gusman instead has claimed that the jail's conditions are due to a lack of funding and leadership from Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the city. Landrieu's office has objected to the consent decree, which his office argues will cost the city $110 million over five years.

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