Families of Benson, Georges come together to power New Orleans’ only daily newspaper
“When you have like-minded people that understand how businesses can work together, you have the makings of a partnership that benefits ... the greater good.” TOM BENSON, owner and chairman of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans
The partnership between The Advocate and The New Orleans Saints that kicks off today is more than just a win for subscribers looking for beefed-up coverage of their beloved football team.
It is also intended to send a signal to the city and the region from two local families with deep roots in the community and a strong friendship.
The partnership makes The Advocate the official newspaper of the Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans and allows the newspaper to promote itself at home games of the two teams. today’s special commemorative edition was made possible by the alliance.
“The fans love to know what’s happening with their favorite teams, and they want to be in the know each and every day,” said Tom Benson, owner and chairman of the Saints and Pelicans.
“The Advocate gives them that thorough professional coverage and a hard-working news-gathering team with talented journalists.”
“New Orleans is a great city that demands a seven-day newspaper, and The Advocate is listening to the citizens and giving the people what they want,” Saints and Pelicans Vice Chairman Rita Benson LeBlanc said. “Just as we strive to respond to the passion and loyalty of our Saints and Pelicans fans, we know this partnership will reflect our mutual commitment to New Orleans and seeing it flourish as a world class city.”
“As two local families, it was just a natural for us,” said John Georges, the owner of The Advocate.
Georges said his friendship with Benson laid the foundation for the partnership, though he credited LeBlanc with the idea to make it official and create the gameday edition focusing on former Saints special teams ace Steve Gleason, whose battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease has inspired the city.
“There’s no greater symbol of New Orleans than the Saints,” Georges said, noting the central role the team played in the city’s recovery after Hurricane Katrina.
Georges said his friendship with the Bensons goes back a decade, but he’s been supporting the Saints even longer.
“For New Orleans to have an NFL and NBA team is very special, so we have to do everything we can to make them successful,” he said.
Georges and his wife, Dathel, bought The Advocate earlier this year and immediately set to work pouring resources into the company to create distinct newspapers for Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
The New Orleans Advocate now has an editorial staff of about two-dozen and has prep sports, dining and society coverage.
Georges said he is happy to provide Saints fans in New Orleans with a home-delivered newspaper every Monday morning. The Baton Rouge newsroom is about five times as large and handles some duties for both editions, such as covering the state Capitol, writing headlines and laying out pages.
“This is just part of a complete civic effort,” Georges said. “And I don’t think anyone questions what we’re doing.
“We’re stepping up for our city.”
Georges said Benson was one of the few close friends who encouraged him to buy The Advocate. He said Benson mailed him a copy of The Advocate the day after he bought the paper with the word “Congratulations” handwritten in marker across the front page.
“I can’t think of a better partner for The Advocate than Tom Benson, Rita Benson, The Saints and The Pelicans,” he said.
Georges said there are parallels between the business decisions he and Benson have made, with Benson stepping up and buying the Saints when John Mecom Jr. wanted to sell, and himself creating The New Orleans Advocate.
“When you have like-minded people that understand how businesses can work together, you have the makings of a partnership that benefits not just the business partners, but it serves the greater good, which is exactly what I anticipate happening here,” Benson said.
“It’s really a collision of the Saints nation and The Advocate nation,” Georges said, noting much of the team’s fanbase is covered by the footprint of The Advocate and The New Orleans Advocate — the Interstate 10 and Interstate 12 corridors from Lafayette to Slidell.