Will Chapman, the recently retired executive director of the Louisiana Press Association, comes from a newspaper family and worked in journalism for the better part of 50 years, starting in middle school. With about 88 members, the association represents news organizations in all but two of the state’s parishes.
Chapman’s career-culminating work for the Louisiana Press Association helped him appreciate how dedicated smaller newspapers have been not just to survival, but also to serving as a rare, trusted institutional voice. His role involved fielding calls from publishers and editors trying to come up with ways to bridge gaps in advertising, how to report government meetings remotely and other immediate issues.
“The fact that here we are and they’re still here, I mean, that’s a pretty damn good success story,” Chapman said. “So I think the stick-to-it-ness, the perseverance, the (willingness) to continue to fight and to not give up, I think is something that I thought was very impressive.”
Listen to the oral history interview:
See more from The Essential Workers, an oral history project tracking the experiences of locally owned newspapers in Mid-America during the pandemic.