John Georges’ “serious interest” in purchasing The Advocate, the state’s largest circulation newspaper with regional editions in several media markets around the state, would be a big win for New Orleans. Georges is the kind of savvy businessman whose mind is always at work thinking about different opportunities that interest him or might be helpful in assisting him to reach goals that would be good for him and the community he cares about.
We think that Georges learned a lot about the media in his last two losing election campaigns and is now interested in purchasing The Advocate to have a clear statewide voice that would help him create positive policies, promote business growth and economic development, and serve up even more of the state’s arts, food, music and culture.
The Advocate has always been a conservative paper and really not a fan of New Orleans — until they started printing a New Orleans edition of course, which many of us are now very grateful to read each day. And many of the legislators outside metro New Orleans area also have an anti-New Orleans bias. More positive stories about New Orleans could definitely benefit the City’s legislative agenda long term and promote regional unity.
Newspapers and magazines used to be pretty good business investments. But with a changing environment for people to get their news, it’s hard to believe an astute businessman like John Georges wouldn’t consider his purchase of The Advocate or other media properties to be financially beneficial investments in both the short and long haul.
Surely there will be new opportunities as the online and video side of the business overtakes the print editions, and Georges could be right there on the cutting edge of the future. If he decides to go for it, Georges might have consolidate his holdings by purchasing other major newspapers in the state in Lafayette, Shreveport and Alexandria, for example, and a couple of TV stations too. His voice would be heard loud and clear regionally, statewide and perhaps even nationally.
In our thinking about Georges, we go back to his teenage years. His father, a Greek military veteran, came to America as an immigrant after fighting in the Greek Civil War and the Korean War. He became the son-in-law of a New Orleans businessman who had begun Imperial Trading Company, a wholesaler that serviced many bars, restaurants and groceries in the region.
John Georges’ father had a very old-fashioned attitude about work. When John was a teenager, he assigned John the job of sweeping and cleaning the Imperial Trading warehouse. John jumped at the chance. He swept and cleaned with tornado-like energy. The Georges’ warehouse was soon the cleanest warehouse in the metro region. Although he was only a teen, John began making deliveries in the Imperial Trading truck. He was soon the company’s best delivery driver. All of his life since then, John Georges has demonstrated a love of work, an eagerness to learn and a personal requirement for excellence in everything he touches. John started out as a middle-class businessman. He became a billionaire because he is incredibly smart and has an aptitude for hard work.
John Georges would bring a tremendous work ethic, endless energy and smarts to the media business. As he has with every other business he has touched, Georges would certainly try to maximize the profitability of any media company that he owns. Will he ever be elected to public office? We don’t know, although we think the same qualities that have made him so successful in business would serve him and the public well if he held an office. But we are absolutely certain that if Georges owns a newspaper, he’ll be an assertive, optimistic publisher with a positive vision for the region that his newspaper serves.
Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City Councilwoman Stacy Head, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and council candidate Dana Kaplan.