I’m told that 22 members of the Newhouse family received this letter today. It’s signed by Archie Manning, James Carville, Mary Matalin, Wynton Marsalis, Cokie Roberts and others.
Nearly a half century ago, your family invested in the future of New Orleans by purchasing our daily newspapers. Norman Newhouse came to New Orleans, raised a family here, and was welcomed by our community.
Your family has been a blessing to our city. You built one of the greatest local newspapers in the United States, became one of our most respected employers, grew with us as our people spread out across seven parishes, and stood selflessly with the citizens of New Orleans when a vicious storm knocked us down.
In return, our city has supported your family. The Times-Picayune, a recipient of four Pulitzer awards, likes to boast that it has the best readership of any major metropolitan market. And that makes us proud too, because it shows how our community is loyal, engaged and dedicated to civic discourse. In other cities, newspapers were hemorrhaging money but The Times-Picayune remained profitable and loyal to the employees who have served New Orleans so well.
Unfortunately and sadly, the considerable goodwill your family enterprise has created in New Orleans in the last 50 years has dissipated in just a few short months because of the decision that took our entire community by surprise. Advance Publications and its leadership have lost the trust and credibility of a significant segment of the community. Citizens have publically protested the proposed new format; prominent civic and business leaders and advertisers have stepped up to speak out against the plan, and an online petition is climbing toward 10,000 signatures, including celebrities like Ed Asner and Garrison Keillor and ordinary New Orleanians whose comments are a tribute to the towering impact of the newspaper you built. Clearly, the voices of our community are strongly opposed to what you are doing./CONTINUES
It is painful to report that right now it is nearly impossible to find a kind word in these parts about your family or your plan to take away our daily newspaper. Our community leaders believe that your decision is undermining the important work we continue to face in rebuilding New Orleans. Whether you intended to or not, you have already created the impression that our recovery is so tepid that we cannot support an important civic institution like a daily newspaper.
In the end, we fear our community has already made its judgment on the three-day publication plan and the damage already realized cannot be undone. But the relationship between your family and our community does not have to end sourly. If your family does not believe in the future of this great city and its capacity to support a daily newspaper, it is only fair to allow us to find someone who does.
If you have ever valued the friendship you have shared with our city and your loyal readers, we ask that you sell the Times-Picayune. Our city wants a daily printed paper, needs a daily printed paper and deserves a daily printed paper.
Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond
Archdiocese of New Orleans
President Tulane University
Ralph O. Brennan
Cokie B. Roberts
Norman C. Francis
President Xavier University
Kevin Wildes S.J.
Loyola University New Orleans