Louisiana Press Association announces new president, board

David Specht elected to board for 3-year term

Sam Hanna Jr., president and publisher of The Ouachita Citizen (Monroe/West Monroe) was named president of the Louisiana Press Association (LPA) at its annual stockholders meeting June 22.

Hanna is the 115th president of the 140-year-old association, the official trade organization for Louisiana news publishers. His father, Sam Hanna Sr., was president of LPA in 1971-72, representing the Concordia Sentinel (Ferriday).

The meeting was conducted using video conferencing for the first time in the organization’s 140-year history, due to issues related to COVID-19,

Bossier Newspaper PUblishing Company, Inc., is a member of the Louisiana Press Association, a statewide organization representing more than 150 newspapers, news-related publications, news websites, magazines, and special market products.

Others taking office were: President-elect Mary Terry, general manager of the Southeast Region for Louisiana State Newspapers and publisher of the (St. Martinville) Teche News, (Franklin and St. Mary) Banner-Tribune, (Morgan City) Daily-Review, and (Pierre Part) Bayou Pioneer; and Secretary-Treasurer McHugh David, publisher and editor of the Livingston Parish News.

Elected to three-year board terms were Darrell Guillory, publisher of The Eunice News and CEO of Louisiana State Newspapers which publishes 21 other newspapers in Louisiana; Steve Colwell, general manager of the Natchitoches Times and Natchitoches Times Newspapers (NTN) which publishes nine newspapers and three specialty publications in Louisiana; and David Specht, president of Specht Newspapers publishing the Bossier Press Tribune, BIZ Magazine, and Minden Press Herald.

Continuing to serve on the board are Dan Shea, publisher of The Advocate (Baton Rouge), The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate, St. Tammany Farmer (Covington), St. Francisville Democrat and The Watchman (Clinton); Wilbur Reynaud, publisher of Lutcher-Vacherie News Examiner-Enterprise; Norris Babin, co-publisher and editor, Plaquemines Gazette and St. Bernard Voice; and Barbara Leader, editor of the (Monroe) News-Star, Shreveport Times and (Alexandria) Town Talk, as well as for the USA Today Network of Louisiana.

Renette Dejoie-Hall, president and publisher of the Louisiana Weekly in New Orleans, will serve as Past President.

Elected to fill open seats with unexpired terms on the board were Marc Richard, vice president/director of Newspaper Service Co. which publishes the Ruston Daily Leader and Jennings Daily News; and Garland Forman, general manager of the North Region for Louisiana State Newspapers and publisher of the Ville Platte Gazette, Basile Weekly, Kinder Courier, Oakdale Journal, Richland Beacon News (Rayville), Caldwell Watchman (Columbia), West Carroll Gazette (Oak Grove) and Tensas Gazette (St. Joseph).

Hanna is also a co-owner of the Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday and The Franklin Sun in Winnsboro. The Hanna family has owned and operated newspapers in Louisiana since 1965.

“I grew up in the newspaper business and was trained by one of the best newspapermen there ever was — my father. Daddy trained me to report the news to the public in an unbiased fashion and to park opinions on the opinion page. That sounds somewhat old fashioned in today’s media environment, but as long as I’m publishing newspapers, that’s how the Hanna Newspapers are going to do it.

“I am acutely aware of the challenges newspapers face. Our readers want their news in varying formats, and we always are pursuing new avenues for our advertisers to reach their customers.

“In my opinion, one of the Louisiana Press Association’s most important roles is ensuring the general public can readily access public records, and at times, that means we must take an adversarial position toward elected officials and others in a position of authority. Too often we encounter efforts in the state legislature to curb the public’s right to know about what their government is doing with their tax dollars and how they’re doing it. That’s why LPA maintains a presence at the legislature, offering our input to ensure the public isn’t shut out. It’s vitally important we never abandon those principles.”

A native of Concordia Parish, Hanna graduated from LSU in 1993 with a degree in mass communication. After a brief stint working as a deputy press secretary to a governor, Hanna returned to northeastern Louisiana in 1994 to work at the Concordia Sentinel and The Franklin Sun in more than one capacity — news reporting, advertising and delivery. In 1996, Hanna and his father bought The Ouachita Citizen in West Monroe and since January 1996 Hanna has served as publisher of the newspaper. During the past six years, The Ouachita Citizen has won first place honors four times for Best Investigative Reporting, otherwise known as the Gibbs Adams Award, in LPA’s annual Better Newspaper Contest. In five of the past seven years, Hanna has won first place honors for best regular column, named the Sam Hanna award in 2006 in honor of his late father.

Hanna and wife, Gena, have two children, Victoria, who graduated from LSU in May with a degree in accounting, and Elizabeth, who will be a fifth grader at the Jesus the Good Shepherd School in Monroe this fall.

LPA was founded in 1880 as a trade association uniting the state’s daily and weekly newspapers.

The organization represents the state’s news publishers in the legislature as well as providing educational services and acting as an information clearing house. It promotes advertising in newspapers and on news websites, in magazines and other publications and media through its marketing service that provides a variety of services including its popular one-order, one-bill service for clients.