DayeTime: About local newspapers

While in New Orleans on the last weekend of June, I saw a headline that was both amusing and concerning.

It was on the front page of the Times-Picayune. I didn’t write it down, but the gist was that Picayune readers would once again soon be getting their newspaper delivered to them seven days a week.

The T-P had gone to three-days-a-week publication several years ago.

The flip side of that coin was that the state’s oldest newspaper (established in 1837) was being absorbed by the New Orleans Advocate -- the N.O. version of the Baton Rouge Advocate, that began when the Picayune ceased daily publication.

I was amused because it was a classic example of putting a positive spin on a negative situation.

An accurate and direct headline would have been: Bye-Bye T-P with a second line explaining subscribers would receive the combined Advocate/Picayune publication.

So why would I be concerned about something happening in “Sin City” so far from Avoyelles Parish?

Well, I have been a journalist in one way or another since I started my high school’s first newspaper in 1974.

I decided to become a journalist because I was concerned with the liberal slant evident in national and even major local news coverage. I believed then, and still do, that one can either sit on the couch and complain about a situation or get involved and try to do something about it.

Well, I haven’t been able to do anything about the liberal slant of most of the national news media coverage, but I have strived to present local news as straight-forward and unbiased as possible.

The fate of the T-P is concerning to community journalists because it is one more example to support the belief that newspapers are an endangered species.

I don’t believe that. However, the rising body count of publications in this state and nation indicates I should be on the look out for crocodiles because I am obviously in “da Nile.”

Avoyelles Parish has three newspapers. The Marksville Weekly News traces its lineage back to the Villager established in 1843. The Bunkie Record dates back to The Blade, which began in 1888. The Avoyelles Sunday Journal began as a free paper thrown to most homes in the parish in 1978.

All three are owned by Avoyelles Publishing Co. All three are committed to providing community news and features.

The Weekly News is the state’s oldest weekly newspaper. The Advocate claims an 1842 start date, but some believe that lineage actually ended when its sister publication State-Times closed in 1991. If that’s the case and we consider the T-P to be extinct and not part of the Advocate, that would leave the Weekly News as the oldest newspaper in the state.

You won’t read the latest world, national, state or regional news in the three local newspapers. That is not our purpose. However, you will read about the actions of your local municipal and parish elected officials and you will read features about interesting people, places and events in Avoyelles Parish.

Perhaps they should make me pharaoh and be done with it, but I still believe community newspapers are important and relevant, even in this age of online news sources and “non-readers.”

Just as I’ve always said the state’s unofficial motto should be “Thank God for Mississippi” -- which always kept us from being at the bottom of the list of 50 states -- I have also said thanks for lawyers and politicians, who always kept journalists off the bottom of public opinion polls.

Like most lawyers and politicians, most journalists try to do what is right for their clients, customers and constituencies.

When you are operating in the public arena, you will certainly upset somebody with almost every action you take. You almost have to.

You can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Be assured your community newspaper -- whether you subscribe to the Weekly News or Bunkie Record or receive a Journal in your driveway (or drainage ditch, sorry. Mine, too, sometimes) -- will continue to do its best to present the local news and features to you. We have no plans to stop doing that.

We try to put the “N” in news -- informative, interesting, entertaining, enlightening, inspiring -- and sometimes, but hopefully not often, enraging. Let us know how we are doing and how we can do it better.

If you have a news tip or feature suggestion, call us at 253-5413 or email to news@avoyelles.com.

AVOYELLES JOURNAL
BUNKIE RECORD
MARKSVILLE WEEKLY

105 N Main St
Marksville, LA 71351
(318) 253-9247