The Town Talk, started as The Daily Town Talk in 1883 and later named the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, is the major newspaper of Central Louisiana. It is published by Gannett in Alexandria, the seat of Rapides Parish and the economic center of Central Louisiana.
The daily newspaper has a circulation of some 19,500 daily and 27,500 on Sundays. It covers the news primarily in seven parishes with a population of approximately 400,000. The coverage area reaches from the Mississippi River on the east to the Texas border on the west.
The Town Talk was born on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1883. It was owned by the original Irish-American founders, including Edgar Hammond McCormick and Henarie Morrison Huie, and their heirs until 1996, when it was sold to Central Newspapers of Indianapolis, then the 15th-largest newspaper company in the United States. The parent company was called “McCormick & Company Inc.” Central Newspapers was purchased in 2000 by Gannett of McLean, Virginia, was owned until his death by Eugene S. Pulliam, the maternal uncle of former Vice President of the United States J. Danforth Quayle.
In 1962, Joe D. Smith, Jr. (1922–2008) became publisher of The Town Talk. He was the husband of Jane Wilson Smith (1922–1992), a McCormick heir whose family owned the newspaper. Over the years, Smith was also the general manager, president, and chairman of the board. Under his tutelage, The Town Talk became the first daily newspaper in Louisiana to become computerized. He took the view that newspapers were expected to foster growth and improvement in the community as well as report the news. Some four years after the death of Jane Smith, Smith sold to Central Newspapers for $62 million.
On the acquisition of The Town Talk, Louis A. Weil III, Central Newspapers' chief executive officer, said that under Smith’s leadership, “the newspaper has become one of the premier medium-sized dailies in the South. It fits with our goal of acquiring newspaper properties with a strong position in their market area and a proven history of journalistic integrity." Weil's analysis was in sharp contrast to that of Adras LaBorde, who in 1945 launched a 32-year career with the newspaper. At the time, LaBorde described The Town Talk as "an overgrown country weekly published on a six-day basis." The publication had indeed changed little in the years between 1925 and 1945.
Paul V. Carty became executive editor of The Town Talk on July 7, 2003. Prior to his appointment, he was managing editor of Gannett’s Star-Gazette in Elmira, New York, since 2001. Carty started his journalism career in 1980 at the Clearwater Sun in Clearwater, Florida, owned by Jefferson-Pilot Communication. He has since worked for newspapers owned by Landmark Communications Inc. in Norfolk, Virginia, and Elizabethtown, Kentucky; and for Knight Ridder Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania, and Bradenton, Florida. He is a former instructor in the Pennsylvania State University's College of Communications.
Other key members of the news and editorial staff, as of 2009, include: Richard Powell Sharkey, assistant managing editor for news and features; John Marcase, assistant managing editor for news and sports; Cynthia Jardon, editorial page editor and social media editor; Mandy M. Goodnight, news editor; and Randall Benson, sports editor.
Under the McCormick heirs, The Town Talk considered itself a politically Independent newspaper and did not endorse candidates. Since Gannett Co. Inc. purchased the newspaper in 2001, the paper has begun endorsing candidates. In 2004, for example, it endorsed Alexandria Republican Jock Scott in his unsuccessful race for the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2007, it supported Republican Bobby Jindal in his successful race for governor.
- Ira Wallace Anthony (1936–2010)— wire services editor and copy editor from 1963 to 2007
- James R. "Jim" Butler, Jr. — former managing editor; current editor of The Eunice News in Eunice, Louisiana
- William F. "Bill" Carter (1928–1995)—sports editor in second half of 20th century
- William Chaze — city hall and regional reporter, later Associated Press editor in Washington, D.C., senior editor for U.S. News and World Report
- Jeff Cowart – press secretary to former Governor Buddy Roemer, later consultant in Washington, D.C., and medical consultant in San Antonio, Texas
- Nelder Dawson (1928–2006) - advertising manager and director of personnel; company employee for fifty years
- Helen Derr (1918–2011) — religion editor, 1955–1977
- Michael P. Dunne (1949–2007) - later environmental reporter for the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate
- Sue Eakin (1918–2009) - historian and columnist
- Ronald R. Grant – former state (regional) editor and editorial page editor
- Chanan Gerald Hambleton (1935-2012) - Town Talk reporter, president of Alexandria Press Club, and later news director for KSYL Radio and a consultant for the Rapides Parish Police Jury
- Tom J. Hardin – executive under Joe D. Smith, Jr., and publisher under Central Newspapers ownership
- Mike Hasten - Capitol reporter in Baton Rouge
- Chet Hilburn, reporter, later with Houston Chronicle, author of The Mystique of Tiger Stadium: 25 Greatest Games: The Ascension of LSU Football (2012)
- Ethel G. Holleman (died 1979) – women's editor in 1960s and 1970s
- Leandro S. Huebner — Former senior photographer and Photo Editor from 1987 to 2007. Initiated the first total digital darkroom for a newspaper in Louisiana. Worked at the Town Talk from 1973 until retirement in 2012.
- Cleo Joffrion — first African American reporter, 1975
- Adras LaBorde (1912–1993) - managing editor; total career spanned 1945-1977; wrote "Talk of the Town" column
- John LaPlante (1953–2007) - later political reporter for Baton Rouge Morning Advocate
- Tom Joseph Ledet (1933-2016) - Town Talk journalist, president of the Louisiana Press Association, press secretary to U. S. Representative Gillis William Long of Louisiana's 8th congressional district (disbanded) and former Lieutenant Governor Robert "Bobby" Freeman, executive director of the Red River Valley Association, Pineville native who resided in Lafayette in his later years
- James Henry "Jim" Leggett — former political reporter and editorial page editor
- Elizabeth Roberts Martin – first woman in an editor's position; named president of the Louisiana Press Women in 1974
- Bret H. McCormick - former news and sports reporter; sports editor since 2013
- Marilyn Miller - later industrial public relations representative in Minden and the author of Sons of Darkness, Sons of Light: A True Crime Story based on a crime in Webster Parish on Christmas 1916.
- Rebecca Jo Tubb Mulkey (1949–1999) – features writer
- John Travis Nixon, publisher of what later evolved into The Monroe News-Star and The Crowley Post Signal, former journalist at The Town Talk c. 1890
- Len Sanderson, Jr. – first director of The Town Talk's Baton Rouge bureau, 1974; chief of staff to Governor Roemer (1988); later a business consultant
- George W. Shannon (1914–1998) – joined The Town Talk in 1938; later the editor of the since defunct Shreveport Journal
- Richard P. Sharkey - former city editor, assistant managing editor, photo editor, production editor, multimedia editor, features editor, special projects editor, and current reporter
- Bob Tompkins - sports reporter, 1976-2015; sports editor, 1987-1994
- Cecil Williams (1922–2008) -- business editor and columnist; on staff, 1955–1987