Take part in ‘I Read Louisiana’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 12, 2010

If you are reading this column, then you are one of many out there who prove what they say about newspapers isn’t true.

Newspapers are not a dying breed.

In Louisiana, the newspaper industry is strong. Readership is growing, both in print and online. Communities continue to rely heavily on the newspaper as the No. 1 source of local coverage on a regular basis.

In fact, a recent survey by the Newton Research found 81 percent of Louisiana adults read their local newspaper and, on average, each copy reaches more than one reader. The average readership of one newspaper, varies. Some surveys say its 2.2 readers; some show as many as four.

The Louisiana Press Association, the organization representing the state’s newspapers, has developed a multi-faceted media campaign to reinforce the strength of the state’s newspaper industry.

It launched recently, and L’Observateur will introduce it Wednesday.

Called “I Read Louisiana,” the campaign’s objective is to create enthusiasm among newspaper readers and non-newspaper readers by opening a platform of discussion as to why people read the newspaper.

LPA worked hand in hand with Peter Mayer Ad Agency in New Orleans and Gatorworks in Baton Rouge to develop a strategy encompassing a number of media vehicles, including a website, iReadlouisiana.com, which is the center of the campaign. Print ads and online ads have been developed for member newspapers, and the ads promulgate compelling reasons why people read the newspaper. The ad then asks, “Why do you Read?” And you can tell us at iReadlousiana.com.

We encourage our readers to join the newspaper crusade. There is a prize involved, and that in itself is enough to look further. New Orleans Hotel Collection is our iRead sponsor, and the hotel is donating a number of two-night stay prize packages to the best responses on the website.

You can also send your reasons for reading here to us at L’Observateur. Later this summer we will feature local readers in a followup campaign.

We are trying different things at L’Observateur to get our readers involved. Our website poll, for instance, has become a big success. And our weekly Dining & Entertainment drawings are also extremely popular.

One thing is for sure: L’Observateur is your newspaper. We want your comments — good and bad. We want your stories, and we want your photos.

I’ve heard several times since I got here something similar to: “I took photos by the office, but they never ran.”

The best I heard was not too long ago when Dave Vitrano said an interview subject was surprised we wanted to do a story, because previously she’d been told we weren’t interested.

I am here to tell you one thing: If it involves our community, we are interested. Club news, church news, community news, school news, whatever news is out there that affects the people of the River Parishes we want to know about.

Have you taken a photograph recently of something local, such as scenery, a beautiful sunset over the lake or local festivities? If you think it’s good, then bring it by and let us take a look, and we may publish it for you.

At a previous newspaper I worked at we published guest photos on the front page each week. It gave the amateur photographer a chance to show off his or her work, and it gave us good artwork for our newspaper. It truly was a win-win situation.

If you have a story idea, give us a call. If you have an event you’d like us to cover, give us a call. We may not be able to cover everything, but we can certainly make arrangements to get information into the newspaper.

Our phone number is 985-652-9545. If you prefer email, just send me a note and we’ll get back in touch. My email address is listed below.

Sandy Cunningham is publisher of L’Observateur. She can be reached at sandy.cunningham@ wickcommunications.com