Magazine work adds nice addition to River Parishes

Published 8:46 am Saturday, March 7, 2015

One of the best parts of working for a newspaper is just seeing the finished product.

I’ve been lucky enough to work at newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and North Carolina, and no matter where you are, it is always exciting to see a new edition running through the press, and better yet, to grab a copy of something so fresh the ink isn’t completely dried.

Although it lacks the same “fresh off the press” appeal, I have become equally as enamored with our industry’s magazine products.

We don’t print them in house, but when that first shipment of new magazine editions arrive on site, there is certainly a thrill associated with looking over the fresh copies.

We at L’OBSERVATUER experienced this recently with the publication of “Roads, Roots and River: Celebrating Our Community,” which was included as part of the Feb. 28 newspaper.

The publication was the first in a yearly profile series on the River Parishes.

Volume 1 appeared last month, and subsequent editions will arrive around the same time next year and in years to come.

We initially commissioned six journalists to cultivate the long-form, feature stories, ultimately ending up with more stories than we could fit into the inaugural profile publication.

We ended with three stories that could not fit into “Roads, Roots and River” which will, in turn, be published this month as Lifestyle front page features, spotlighting our newspaper’s B Section.

Those stories include a piece by Lori Lyons, who examined the unique sports rivalry that exists between Hahnville High School and Destrehan High School, which came to an exciting clash this school year in the football playoffs.

K. Wesley White Sr. put together a story for readers about a freshly minted historical marker on St. James Parish’s West Bank that acknowledges a community founded by former slaves.

The marker is the culmination of a five-year research effort conducted by Shandria Smith.

Finally, Cypress Grove High School graduate and veteran media member Truman Jacques wrote a wonder tribute to the now defunct Cypress Grove, which had a brief but meaningful existence.

As a high school, founded by Mrs. B.E. Winbush, it lasted from 1947 to 1969 when it ceased being an African-American high school due to the changes brought about by racial integration.

When these stories are finished publishing this month in L’OBSERVATEUR, we will say goodbye to our “Roads, Roots and River” effort and move onto our C’EST LA VIE magazine, an all-glossy page publication, which comes out four times a year.

Our spring C’EST LA VIE edition is scheduled for inclusion in the March 28 newspaper, and we have quite a few special pieces planned for readers.

Our personality profile spotlights Eliza Eugene, a mainstay in the River Parishes known for her non-profit Blessed to be a Blessing, which helps others succeed beyond expectations.

Individual interviews are planned with St. Charles Catholic High School sophomore Christopher Bergeron Jr. — who recently scored a 30 on the ACT — and Chermaine Roybiskie — president of the West Bank Civic Association.

A recipe for an delicious and beautiful Easter cake, a photo collage from the River Region Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Annual Banquet and Officer Installation and a breakdown from one of the region’s best softball players about how to dominate on the field of play are other features we have planned.

As a dyed-in-the-wool newspaper man, I’ve recently become a magazine fan because of the story and picture presentation that can’t be duplicated.

Magazines simply allow for a sweet story to be told at the right pace, and the next C’EST LA VIE won’t disappoint as we report the story of 13-year-old Donta Martin, who received the greatest gift of all from his aunt Tasha: a new kidney, and along with it, a far improved quality of life.

We hope you have as much fun reading these stories as we had putting them together and we can’t wait to share them with you this month. Publication is only three weeks away.

Stephen Hemelt is general manager and editor of L’OBSERVATEUR. He can be reached at 985-652-9545 or