Robichaux: Moving to a digital world

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 27, 2020

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I knew it would happen eventually. COVID-19 just sped up the process.

Late last month, L’OBSERVATEUR moved to one printed edition each Wednesday. The Saturday paper is still produced in our office, but instead of going to the printer in Bogalusa on Friday afternoon, it is uploaded online in an e-edition format accessible at

Community members have called in to vocalize their thoughts about this change. I have thoughts about it, too, and I think it’s best we focus on the positives.

  • Journalism is not dead

Like a chameleon, journalism adapts to its environment. It’s the ink on your printed newspaper, the reports you watch on television, the interviews you hear on the radio, and the links you click online.

People say they get their news from Facebook, but that news has to come from somewhere. A journalist has to conduct interviews, generate that content and publish it for it to be shared on social media. There will ALWAYS be a need for journalists to keep people informed.

  • We are very fortunate

More than 30 small, local newsrooms like ours have closed across the country as a direct result of coronavirus impact, according to a report by Poynter that was updated May 22. Many more have merged, shifted to online only or furloughed employees.

Thankfully, L’OBSERVATEUR has not laid off or furloughed any employees. We are part of a larger company called Boone Newspapers, accounting for 83 community newspapers. The decision was made higher up to survive these difficult times by cutting back on printing, not just in St. John the Baptist, but in Boone newsrooms across the country.

If journalism isn’t dead, why is this happening? Here’s why: When the coronavirus struck in early March, it completely changed our advertising outlook. The costs of printing have risen significantly, even since I arrived here in September 2017, and we rely on advertising to offset those costs. Watching ads get pulled as events were cancelled and businesses shut their doors was difficult, but we are adapting and doing what it takes to survive.

  • Our daily operations have not decreased

Cutting out one printed edition does not mean we are doing half the work. We have a very small but functional team. If you are reading this in print, the three names you see at the bottom of this page comprise our entire staff.

Like before, our production/deadline days are Tuesday and Friday. We often come in early and work late Monday and Thursday to make this happen. We follow a blueprint called a “dummy” to see how many pages the paper will be and where all of the stories and ads will go. After the stories are written and ads are created, both the printed and digital papers are put into a newspaper format using a computer program called Adobe InDesign. They are created the same way, with the same amount of time and effort. This is why the e-edition looks just like the newspaper.

  • Our printed paper is actually bigger now

Since this change was made, you might find the paper in your hands is a little thicker. Since we now have obituaries and some ads running both Saturday and Wednesday, we have added more pages and more content in each edition.

  • The e-edition has some helpful tools

The e-edition is separate from our online stories that are shared to Facebook. All of our stories are published in multiple formats, but the e-edition has more similarities to the printed newspaper. It can be accessed by visiting and clicking “E-Edition” on the black bar at the top.

The e-edition does not have pop up ads or surveys. You can use arrows to flip the pages like you would flip the pages of a newspaper held in your hands. You can use the search tool to find a story about a topic or a particular person within seconds. You might lose a physical paper, but you can’t lose the e-edition; it stores previous editions in one convenient location, accessible at any time.

You can save clippings and leave bookmarks on pages. If you want to print and save a story about yourself or a loved one, the e-edition print will never turn yellow like a traditional newspaper. It will always look brand new.

  • But I don’t use the Internet…

This is the part that’s hard to swallow. Using the Internet has never been an issue for me because I was born around the time it started appearing in homes. I grew up with rapid advancements in technology. However, I sympathize for those who call into the office and say they now can’t access half of the content they have loyally subscribed to for decades.

If your loved one has a computer or tablet, ask for their help. Our local library has a variety of helpful services, including Internet access, and we plan on hosting free e-edition classes there as soon as social distancing guidelines are relaxed.

If you need help, call us at 985-652-9545, and we’ll do our best to assist you. If using the Internet is completely out of the question, you can refer to our “e-edition round-ups” printed in the paper each Wednesday to summarize what you missed on Saturday.

Brooke Robichaux is news editor for L’OBSERVATEUR. She can be reached at 985-652-9545