Sale of Advocate: Capital Follows Population

Sale of Advocate: Capital Follows Population

As Population, Outlook For Orleans Declines, Capital Seeks Markets With Brighter Prospects

BATON ROUGE — The headline in Wednesday’s Advocate was remarkable: “Georges Buys Advocate”.  Now, after more than 100 years, the most important medium in the capital city of Louisiana is under new ownership.

People are wondering, “Who is John Georges?” and what will his ownership of the Advocate mean to our city?

Long-time employees of the Advocate are wondering what the future holds for them?  Will they be packing up and leaving soon?

Everyone knows that John Georges is a successful businessman.  Everyone knows that he ran for governor and mayor of New Orleans.  Perhaps because he ran for political office, some question his motives in buying the Advocate.

Is the Advocate intended to be a stepping stone for him to run for high office?

Frankly, that’s ridiculous.  John Georges is a businessman, and you can be confident that he will make decisions in a business-like manner when it comes to the Advocate.

While he will certainly hope to influence things, you can be sure that he didn’t buy the Advocate in order to run for something.

As publisher of the Advocate, he will have far more influence over the direction Louisiana takes than he could in any public office.

Time will reveal a lot, and a year from now we will all know a lot more about how this drama will play out and how it will affect our state and our community.

But one thing is being completely ignored in regards to the sale of the Advocate.

It is simply this: Capital follows population.

New Orleans has been dying for the past 50 years.  Katrina was simply the coup de grace.

Consider the Times-Picayune.  Do you really think the Picayune went to three papers a week because of competition from the Internet?  That too is ridiculous.

The Picayune went to three days a week because its advertising base has collapsed.   There are not as many people in the New Orleans area and not as much retail spending as there was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, even 50 years ago.

Going three times a week was a cost-cutting measure, pure and simple.

Publicly, it was promoted as a way to put the Picayune at the forefront of the digital world.  We’re leading the pack.  We recognize that newspapers are dying, etc.

But newspapers aren’t dying.

Hardly any have closed their doors and turned off their lights, which is something that cannot be said for most businesses in this depressed economy.

Newspapers have a great future, IF they serve their communities and do what they do best — cover the people and events in their own hometown.

Look at what Mr. Georges has done.  He took Imperial Foods far beyond the New Orleans market.  It now operates in a dozen states.

He has Harrison Foods, a “super regional” food distributor in Bossier City.  Far beyond New Orleans.

He bought Galatoire’s Restaurant, a New Orleans legend, and brought it to… Baton Rouge!

Look at what he has.  Imperial Foods, 98 years old.  Harrison Company, 91 years old.  Galatoire’s, 108 years old.  The Advocate, 171 years old.

Mr. Georges wants quality companies, which have been around forever.  And it is absolutely certain that New Orleans will not be an anchor around his neck.

Instead of thinking about the purchase of the Advocate as a political event, although it partly is, think of it for what it primarily is — an economic event of some significance.

The capital region is attracting capital because our population is growing.  Now, we have to be sure that WE don’t become another New Orleans!

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