John Georges, The Advocate’s New Owner, To Beef Up New Orleans Edition

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The new owner of Baton Rouge’s daily newspaper, The Advocate, is vowing to keep publishing daily and to beef up coverage in New Orleans — escalating competition with The Times-Picayune, which angered some readers last fall when it pared print editions to three days a week.

John Georges held a news conference in Baton Rouge on Wednesday with former Advocate publisher David Manship, whose family was the paper’s longtime owner.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu also attended.

Georges introduced two former Times-Picayune managing editors as top executives for The Advocate.

On Tuesday, The Times-Picayune announced plans to return to seven-day-a-week publishing with a tabloid edition to be available at stores and newsstands on days when the full paper isn’t published.

Baton Rouge’s new power broker: John Georges

In 1999, John Georges went into the tugboat business. It was unchartered territory for him. Though he had a successful wholesale distribution company and a thriving video poker business, offshore maritime was a totally new ballgame.

But Georges is not one to shy from a challenge and, besides, maritime seemed like an appropriate industry for a successful Greek businessman to tackle.

“All Greeks are in the shipping business,” New Orleans consultant and Georges family friend Danae Columbus recalls him saying at the time.

John Georges, New Owner of The Advocate: ‘New Orleans Wants a Daily Paper’

The Advocate is Louisiana’s largest daily print newspaper, based in Baton Rouge. As of last week, it has a new owner.

New Orleans businessman John Georges bought the paper from the Manship family, the paper’s owners for over a century. The Advocate is growing circulation, including a New Orleans edition added last year when the Times-Picayune cut back printing to three days a week. Georges plans to grow the New Orleans readership for The Advocate, while maintaining its Baton Rouge presence. The T-P has since announced a tabloid edition that would bring back a daily paper-and-ink version of its publication.

But, overall, the fact remains that the newspaper business, at least the paper part of it, is shrinking around the country.

WWNO’s Paul Maassen sat down to talk with John Georges about going into the print business during a tough time for the industry.

John Georges talks about his purchase of The Advocate

The Advocate, which moved into the New Orleans market from Baton Rouge earlier this year in response to The Times-Picayune going to a three-day-per-week production schedule, has been sold to New Orleans businessman and sometime-political candidate John Georges. The announcement of the “Georges Media Group” and its buy will be announced officially on Wednesday at a 10 a.m. press conference at The Advocate’s Bluebonnet Road offices, which will be attended by Gov. Bobby Jindal and various politicos and dignitaries.

In an interview tonight, Georges said he would be getting his first look at the physical paper when he walks through the newsroom and plant tomorrow. “I’ve wanted to buy The Advocate for two years now,” he said, adding that the deal was finalized just today.

Georges had signed a letter of intent in March to buy the paper from the Manship family, which had owned it for 100 years. Publisher David Manship, who had been publicly ambivalent about the family’s sale, sent an email to employees tonight saying, “I can tell you personally I am happy that such a passionate and reputable Louisiana family is taking the helm.”