SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Local political blogger and former attorney John Settle has announced he has purchased the Inquisitor, a local weekly tabloid known for its focus on crime coverage.
Neither Settle or Danny Lawler, who has run the paper since launching it in 1997, were willing to divulge the terms of the sale except to confirm it was paid for in cash and that the publication officially changes hands at 12:01 a.m. Friday, October 11.
Lawler told NBC 6/FOX 33 he decided to sell since he has become increasingly busy with his growing auction company and wasn’t able to focus on as many investigative stories in the paper as he had in the past. In addition to the auction business, Lawler says he has recently expanded his Gavel Falls Campground and RV Park with 24 new sites.
Lawler, who has engaged in some public, personal, and legal battles in the name of exposing corruption, also says he’s ready to spend more time with his family.
“I want to be a private person,” said Lawler. “We just don’t really wanna be public figures anymore.”
Lawler says he had been a police officer in Oil City for about two years when he decided to, “start-up a paper where officers could actually get credit for the work that they do.” He quit the force after five and a half years to focus on the paper that has since become known for its catchphrase, “If you don’t want it printed, don’t let it happen.”
Still, plenty of people did “let it happen” over the years, providing plenty of fodder to fill the pages of the Inquisitor with police blotter details, mug shots, and Lawler’s trademark tabloid headlines. It also carried Settle’s column for more than 15 years and even featured Settle’s own mug on the cover following his arrest in March 2019 on a charge of soliciting prostitution.
“People were gonna expect it. He was arrested. He had to be on the front page,” Lawler said. “He didn’t ask for it not to be, and it was not even a question.”
Settle pleaded guilty in May and was ordered to pay a $300 fine. Now, he is taking over as owner, editor, and publisher of the paper. He says the format of the paper, which Lawler says currently prints about 4,800 copies a week, will remain basically the same.
“Like it or not, crime sells!” Settle noted in a blog post Thursday afternoon announcing his purchase of the paper. Those who “let it happen” can still expect to see their name and mugs in the pages of the Inquisitor.
“I think so. However, I don’t wanna run any hate campaigns, but people who have brushes with the law will be in The Inquisitor,” said Settle. “That’s been the basis of the paper. How much coverage and how prominent the coverage will be on a case by case basis.”
But Settle says he does want to appeal to a larger audience in Shreveport-Bossier.
“What I hope to do is, besides bringing people to read about who had problems with law enforcement, is also give more immediate coverage to local organizations and local events.”
In his blog post, Settle said he will also expand coverage of Caddo/Shreveport politics and hopes to find a freelance reporter to help with coverage of Bossier politics. The two full-time employees of the paper are staying on under Settle’s ownership.
Settle says he expects to merge the blog with The Inquisitor online, which requires a subscription to access exclusive content. He’s been busy building a following on ‘Settle Talk‘ since his license to practice law was last suspended in September 2018. He also owns a real estate title company and works as a political consultant.
Settle says he no longer wants to practice law, but that he’ll be drawing on his decades of experience as an attorney as he hones his journalism skills and runs the publication.
Lawler says he will not play any role in the paper’s editorial content or management, although Settle confirmed he will continue to advertise his businesses in the paper for the next five years.
The final issue under Lawler’s ownership hits stands Friday.