The Daily Advertiser’s plan to publish an exclusive special section, “In the event that STM wins Friday night,” came to a screeching halt Thursday when readers and other local team boosters — understandably upset that the daily paper had no plans to publish issues for any other winning teams — called foul. STM is playing Acadiana High School at Cougar Stadium tonight; the winner advances to the Class 5A state championship game in the Superdome next Saturday.

“I got this email forwarded to me today,” wrote a reader, who posted the email on the Advertiser’s blog. “I think it’s pretty much a low blow by TDA.” In the above referenced email, which was sent out by Account Executive Jan LeBlanc, the daily notes that it will be doing a six to eight page special section in the paper Dec. 9 congratulating STM on going to the dome. “If they do not win we will not be doing the section,” LeBlanc wrote, proceeding to list advertising pricing for the section.

That post set off a firestorm of criticism and the paper quickly backtracked on its STM-only plan. Read more here.

What's more, the STM/Acadiana High matchup is not the only semifinal battle being fought tonight involving local teams. Teurlings Catholic travels to New Orleans to face No. 1 Karr in a 4A bout that could end with the local high school — like STM — making its first-ever state title appearance next weekend. And reigning state champ and top seed Notre Game of Crowley hopes to continue its winning tradition in Baton Rouge, taking on Parkview Baptist, which it defeated in the 3A finals last year.

In response to a phone inquiry from The Independent Weekly, Blake Spivak, the daily’s sales and marketing director, says the paper will publish a special section for any local winning team, provided it has sufficient advertising support. Spivak offered the following explanation of what happened via email:
The Daily Advertiser planned to pre-sell a commemorative section highlighting STM’s first-ever journey to the Superdome. If the business community does not support the publication — it would not publish.

At my direction, our sales staff began selling to potential advertisers Monday afternoon. Subsequently, we were contacted by several AHS Rams supporters inquiring why we would “show favoritism” to one school over another. That was never our intent. As we were planning the commemorative section, the differentiation was the historical first trip for the Cougars. It was never a snub to the AHS community.  

Upon realizing that AHS fans felt so strongly about having their own commemorative section, I backtracked to correct the “STM only” issue and told those who inquired via email and by phone that we would print a commemorative section on any area school if the local business communities would financially support the section with advertising.  

The high school sports coverage that The Daily Advertiser publishes in our sports pages and online was never in jeopardy of being replaced or influenced by the singular outcome of one game. We are committed to unbiased, fair coverage of all teams in our news pages. I can assure you that we support and congratulate each of the area teams that are in the playoffs and vying for a championship berth.

Acadiana High School Principal Martha “Nicki” Broussard did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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