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Future of newspapers in New Orleans takes another turn

John Georges, who bought The Advocate in 2013, now has bought its biggest competitor – NOLA.com and the Times-Picayune.

NEW ORLEANS — It was an ink-stained fight between David and Goliath when The Advocate opened its New Orleans office in 2012. The New York-based Newhouse family, which bought The Picayune in 1962, banked big on Nola.com and cut daily circulation of the paper.

New Orleanians were outraged, and Baton Rouge's Manship family began to print a daily New Orleans edition of The Advocate. A year later, John and Dathel Georges made headlines when they bought the paper and poached many Picayune veterans.

The newspaper war was on.

Thursday night, there was a ceasefire after the Georges announced they'd bought Nola.com and The Times-Picayune.

“We're going to spend the next 30 days transitioning, transferring and all that, but we hope to be ready sometime in June to be ready with a combined newspaper,” said Georges.

That means that in the coming weeks, your morning paper probably will be called The New Orleans Advocate and Times-Picayune. Online, Advocate reporters' bylines will soon appear on Nola.com.

As for what readers will notice?

“We're going to try to expand our suburban coverage, we're going to try to expand our sports coverage,” said New Orleans Advocate Editor Peter Kovacs. “You can't cover the Saints enough.”

Story continues under video of reporter Danny Monteverde talking about the changes and some of the history of the Times-Picayune

While there was excitement at the Advocate offices, just down the street at the Times Picayune there was a different tone.

Asked about the future of Nola.com employees, Georges said, “I can’t speak for Advance Local, but I can tell you we’re looking to add to our editorial team. We’ll be adding jobs and we’ll be looking for people to handle the increased business and the coverage we’re going to need.”

Advocate Publisher Dan Shea says the goal is to try to bring back what he says was lost when the newspaper war launched in 2012.

“That’s what we’re going to try to recreate the Times-Picayune when it was at its peak,” he said.

Georges would not say how much he paid for the Picayune and Nola.com.

The purchase is just the most recent newspaper he bought. He also owns Gambit and the St. Tammany Farmer, a weekly newspaper.

Editor’s note: Danny Monteverde was among the 200 people laid off by the Times-Picayune in 2012 and he worked as a reporter for The New Orleans Advocate, before joining WWL-TV.

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