Four leading reporters and editors from The Times-Picayune, including Pulitzer Prize winners who covered Hurricane Katrina, signed up to work for The Advocate Wednesday, a week after businessman John Georges bought the daily newspaper and promised to beef up its operations in New Orleans.
Martha Carr, a Louisiana native and 16-year veteran of The Times-Picayune, will be Managing Editor for the New Orleans Advocate. She will supervise an expanding bureau that will cover the metro area. Carr worked as a reporter covering suburban and city politics until the fall of 2005, when she was promoted to an editor’s post on the paper’s City Desk. She also served as the newspaper’s first online news editor.
Gordon Russell will be Managing Editor for Investigations. Russell, a 14-year Times-Picayune veteran, and was the newspaper’s leading investigative reporter. He authored an explosive series of stories on discrepancies in property tax assessments and was the first journalist to raise questions about Mayor Ray Nagin’s involvement with a granite countertop business that secured business referrals from a retailer seeking city concessions. He also served as city editor of the newspaper.
Sara Pagones will be bureau chief for St. Tammany Parish. She was a writer and editor with The Times-Picayune and started up the Advocate’s bureau in New Orleans over the summer. With a small staff, she grew the newspaper’s circulation to about 20,000 copies a day, twice what the Advocate expected when it launched its New Orleans edition in October.
Carr, Russell and Pagones were part of a team that received two Pulitzer Prizes for its work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Also joining The Advocate are reporters Claire Galofaro and Andrew Vanacore.
Galofaro has covered courts in St. Tammany Parish and New Orleans for the Picayune, as well as City Hall. She also followed the trail of the band of outlaws accused of shooting four St. John Parish sheriff’s deputies, discovering a series of frightening brushes with the law from Nebraska to Tennessee to Louisiana.
Vanacore covered the New Orleans charter school movement, landmark elections for the state school board in 2011, and the contentious education reform proposals that Gov. Bobby Jindal championed at the state Legislature last year. His reporting led the state school board to end its contract with one New Orleans charter school accused of various improprieties, including an alleged attempt to bribe a state official investigating the campus.
“We are committed to improving the quality of the New Orleans Advocate. These new hires represent the best and the brightest of local talent and allow us to meet the demands of our growing local subscriber base. The Advocate will continue to invest in news and give New Orleanians what they want – a truly local, 7-day home delivery newspaper,” said Georges.
“It’s a privilege to welcome these great journalists to The Advocate,” said Peter Kovacs, the newspaper’s new editor. “They are coming because they share our belief that a great city like New Orleans deserves a daily, home delivered newspaper.”