Handelsman agreed to join The Advocate over the weekend, after attending Sunday’s New Orleans Saints game with the newspaper’s owners, John and Dathel Georges, General Manager Dan Shea and Editor Peter Kovacs.
“A few years ago at a Tulane art fair, I purchased a brass skeleton key on a chain created by talented local artist and close family friend, Juliet Meeks*,” Handelsman said. “I’m not much of a jewelry-wearing guy, but I’ve worn that key under my shirt every single day as a personal reminder to someday unlock the door and get back home.”
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.)
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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