Print All Inc., the company that operates the Plaquemines Gazette paper’s base of operations, looks like an old printing shop. This is because it really is a printshop. Located on Belle Chasse Highway just before the Taco Bell in Belle Chasse, you’ll find Print All Inc.
As the name of the business suggests, they can print it all at the store: political banners, resumes, screen printing and embroidery… you name it. In a separate building, next to the industrial printers, is the Plaquemines Gazette newsroom.
It’s a small weekly newspaper with a small staff. There are five full-time employees but they’re not just working for the Gazette. The five employees work for both the St. Bernard Voice and St. Bernard Voice Weekly, which is a sister newspaper that focuses its reporting on St. Bernard Parish. Norris Babin serves as the Gazette’s publisher and editor. He says money is not them main motivation for the newspaper’s staff. He told the story of a recent conversation with a friend, who asked how his newspaper was doing.
“He said Norris, if you don’t mind sharing with me how was your year last year? I replied that we had a good year. He asked, “Really?” And I said yeah, it’s the best year we had in a while, we broke even. I started laughing and I said that’s what I call a pretty good year and I was honest about that,” Babin told me.
According to the 2022 study of the Medill School of Journalism of Northwestern University, two newspapers are lost each week in the U.S.
In the three years (2019-2022), there were 360 newspaper closures. The shift in news consumption to mobile devices and smartphones instead of traditional media is destroying the newspaper industry, which was already experiencing a decline of advertising revenue and workforce. According to the study when communities lose their local newspaper, a digital or a print replacement is rarely available to fill the void. That can lead to an “information desert” where people in that particular town, city or parish are not getting news relevant to them.
In spite of the many challenges faced by the newspaper industry, both the St. Bernard Voice (print edition) and the Plaquemines Gazette (digital edition) have continued to produce their publications. That takes a lot of commitment and creativity as I learned when I visited the Gazette’s office in Belle Chasse. How does a small paper keep its doors open today? Listen to my conversation with the Gazette’s staff here.