What happened to The Town Talk this year? No awards


 In the following list, you will notice that The Town Talk, Central Louisiana’s largest daily newspaper is not named? I wonder if it has something to do with the many layoffs, budget cuts and furloughs that the publication has endured over the last year.

The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), The Courier (Houma), Jennings Daily News, TheNews (Bogalusa), the Tri-Parish Times & BusinessNews (Houma), The Plaquemines Gazette (Belle Chasse), and The Bunkie Record earned Newspaper of the Year honors in theirdivisions at the 129th Annual Louisiana Press Association Convention in Baton Rouge. 

As I read a bit further, I discovered that couldn’t be the answer since The Monroe News Star, which is also owned by Gannett, won one of the Louisiana Press Association’s top awards. I’m not sure what happened, but The Town Talk appears to not have won one single award. To be fair to my former employer and colleagues, the newsroom may not have even entered the competition this year. It does take time and people to prepare the clips to send down to Baton Rouge for judging. I know that I used to hate the task.

The designation for the Newspaper of the Year is based on the number of points earned in the Better Newspaper Editorial Competition and the Better Newspaper Advertising Competition for 2008 with awards being given in individual contests for first, second, third places and honorable mention. The editorial contests range from news story writing to graphic design while the advertising entries were judged based on design, creativity and effectiveness. The Kansas Press Association judged both competitions this winter.

Seventy-nine newspapers, publications, and college/university student newspapers submitted 3,812 entries.

Earning sweepstakes awards in the editorial competition were The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), The Courier (Houma), Jennings Daily News, The Daily News (Bogalusa), the Tri- Parish Times & BusinessNews (Houma), The Plaquemines Gazette (Belle Chasse) and The Bunkie Record.


Earning sweepstakes awards in the advertising competition were The Advocate (Baton Rouge), The Courier (Houma), The Ruston Daily Leader, The Daily News (Bogalusa), the St. Charles Herald-Guide (Boutte), the Rayne Acadian-Tribune and The Bunkie Record.

 When the daughter of a Monroe City School Board member appeared to receive special treatment upon applying for teaching positions, The News-Star (Monroe) demanded open records to shed light on the events. Met with denials and delays, the newspaper filed suit and ran a string of stories raising questions about the actions of the school superintendent, the daughter’s fitness for the jobs and the veracity of statements by public officials. The News-Star fought tenaciously for the public’s right to know about an important issue, and the effort clearly had an impact.

Reporter Barbara Leader and the newspaper’s management, led by Managing Editor Ken Stickney, deserve credit for spotting a significant problem in local government and following up with the coverage and resources to pursue it over several months. For this, The News-Star is the deserving winner of this year’s Freedom of Information award.

Domestic violence victim in Alexandria to tell her tragic story

Yvette Cade

Yvette Cade, a woman of  immense courage whose tragic story of survival has stirred the hearts of millions, will tell her story Thursday, April 30 at the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center.

NextSTEP of Central Louisiana is presenting Cade and a two-act musical drama, “Shelter From My Storm,” which is the story of the desperate journey of a woman and her children from the oppression of an abusive relationship into a life of independence and fulfillment.

Cade will also share her story of Oct. 10, 2005, when her estranged husband arrived at her worksite, doused her with gasoline, and set her on fire. She suffered third-degree burns over 60 percent of her body. In the years that followed, she has endured multiple surgeries, and will continue to require more in order to cope with the physical consequences of this horrific crime.

She has become a powerful symbol of survival and a vocal advocate for victims of domestic violence. She offers hope to battered women who are struggling to leave vilent relationships; she offers advice and guidance on how to stay safe during and after leaving these relatinships; and she offers herself as a survivor and positive example of someone who is making a difference.

The event will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Alexandria native Nic Harris drafted to play with Buffalo Bills


Nic Harris and Dr. Jeffrey Garrison

Nic Harris with the Young Intellectuals and Pastor Clarence Dupar Jr. 
Nic Harris with Rev. Clarence Dupar


Alexandria native Nic Harris, a graduate of  Alexandria Senior High School, in the fifth round of the NFL draft on Monday was chosen to head to New York to play for the Buffalo Bills.

Before that day, he spent the weekend in his hometown spending time in the community as a way to give back and to ease his anxiousness. During the weekend, he spoke to youth and signed autographs in the Alexandria Mall.

Sherri L. Jackson’s trip to the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Fla.

Please enjoy these photos from my trip to the Holy Land Experience in Orlanda, Fla. I had a great time with my friend Carla Joseph.

Leonard Ford: Blacks must focus on the negatives to turn them into positives


For those who keep up with my columns, I know you’ve asked yourself more than once the following questions: “Why does Leonard always seem to write about the negative things that black people do, and why does he find it necessary to do so?” Hey, it’s a legitimate question? I have been asked the questions a few times by some of my readers.

Here’s my answer. I do it to point out the many problems that we black Americans face, both here in Alexandria and around the country. I do it because these are the things that I believe require our attention. There’s nothing wrong with focusing our attention on the positive, but doing so only serves to take our eyes away from our real problems such as black men being absent fathers, black men being in prison, young black men killing one another, black-on-black crime, black female teens having babies, and blacks living in poverty.

How will we ever attack these problems if we don’t turn our attention on them? For these things to get better, don’t you think we need to talk about them ? YES, we do. We have to bring our problems to the forefront. To do that, we have to talk among ourselves and to community leaders, and those local, state, and federal agencies that can address the issues that are plaguing us. We just can’t turn a blind eye to those negative issues and hope that they just disappear.

The positives of our community are more or less where we want them to be because we have put our energy and sweat into getting them that way. Shouldn’t that same energy and sweat be used to turn the negative into positives? YES, it should. That’s why I talk and write, and will continue to talk and write about the problems facing blacks even if I’m constantly being told that I need to stop with the negativity.

We may not solve all the problems that we are facing, but at least we’re thinking about them when we talk about them, which I think is a step in the right direction. I may not, or we together may not solve all the problems that are affecting us in our communities, but at least talking about them is a step in the right direction.

By the way, the next time read a column of mine that you deem a negative portrayal of the black community, you’ll know why I do what I do.

On a positive note, I want to thank Willie Spears, Rosa Fields, the Rev. Joe Green, the Rev. Willie Dunkley, Martin Johnson, Sibal Holt, and Felica and Kelvin Coney for being members of the Advisory Council for the Boys & Girls Club of Central Louisiana. I want to thank them for giving their time, energy, encouragement, and expertise to an organization that has the wellbeing of our young boys and girls at heart. Thanks also goes to Mayor Jacques Roy and Mayor Clarence Fields for their part in assisting with keeping the club open in their respective cities. Each of these individuals have shown that a negative situation can be turned around and resolved when people get together in a positive way to talk about issues that affect our black communities.

See. I can write about positive things the community is doing.

The Light, April 15: Cenla’s two newest doctors round out an all-female staff

Page 1 coverHere are the pages: Pages 1-4, Pages 5-8, Pages 9-12, Pages 13-16

The Light, April 1 issue

April 1 cover of The LightRead the Apri 1 issue of The Light: Pages 1-4, Pages 5-8, Pages-9-12, Pages 13-16