John Georges, publisher of The New Orleans Advocate, with Sonya Duhe, director of the Loyola University School of Mass Communication. Georges spoke on "Media Wars" in a talk at the university last night.
Eighteen months after buying The Advocate
and expanding the paper’s reach in New Orleans, publisher John Georges addressed a crowd of about 200 people at Loyola University’s School of Mass Communication last night. The talk was titled “Media Wars,” and Georges took more than a few swipes at his daily news competitor, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, but much of his speech was about how having a newspaper owner with no newspaper experience was a net asset rather than a debit.
“It’s good to have outsiders,” Georges said, calling himself a “disruptor” of the traditional newspaper game. Georges pointed out that the people who created the now-defunct Palm Pilot personal digital assistant didn’t understand Steve Jobs’ concept for the iPhone and dismissed it out of hand, adding quickly, “I’m not saying I’m at his level.” The publisher also compared himself to Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer: “I’m really good at convincing other people to get on board and do their thing.” (It was an imperfect analogy; Tom, of course, convinced his friends to do his own work for him.)
Georges was dismissive of the T-P
’s recently announced plan
to print the paper in Mobile, Alabama and truck it in to the city every day, mentioning that The Advocate
had some of the newest presses in the newspaper industry — located in Louisiana. Asked if he ever saw a future where the two papers might collaborate, he cracked that it already was happening: “They quote us in every one of their stories.”
It was a friendly audience with more-than-friendly moderators — Georges was introduced as a "multidimensional rock star in the business community," and no tough questions were posed about The New Orleans Advocate
’s circulation numbers, nor its initial widely reported problems with home delivery. But Georges got the biggest laugh of the night when asked about his political plans (he has run both for New Orleans mayor and Louisiana governor). “I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “I haven’t served in it. But I’ve enjoyed it.”
Where does the paper stand now? "We've cleared the beaches at Normandy," Georges analogized, "but we still have to fight the Battle of the Bulge. We're in the first quarter of a football game."