Donald Newhouse rebuffs request to sell Times-Picayune

NOLA.com | Gambit
Donald Newhouse has rebuffed a strongly-worded letter from a group of heavy-hitters in New Orleans to sell The Times-Picayune rather than cut daily printing. The Times-Picayune Citizens Group wrote in a letter delivered Monday:

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 … 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.

Newhouse, however, isn’t interested.

“We have read the letter with great respect and concern,” said Donald E. Newhouse, president of Advance Publications, owner of the paper. “Advance Publications has no intention of selling The Times-Picayune.”

Both NOLA.com and Gambit say the group has lined up a buyer for the paper, citing an unnamed source.

Similar to how Times-Picayune Editor Jim Amoss invoked Hurricane Katrina in defending the move, the group of community and business leaders said the loss of the daily paper threatens their recovery:

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.

Related: The Anniston Star to eliminate Monday print edition

Previous: Complete coverage of Times-Picayune cutbacks

The full text of the letter to the Newhouses:

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.

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

Mary Matalin

James Carville

Steve Roberts

Cokie B. Roberts

Wynton Marsalis

Scott Cowen
President Tulane University

Norman C. Francis
President Xavier University

Kevin Wildes, S.J.
President Loyola University New Orleans

Ralph O. Brennan

Archie Manning

Wendell Pierce

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  • Anonymous

    newsprint does recycle…and soy-ink helps to boost oilseed prices for farmers!

  • Anonymous

    Typical reaction of newspaper management, not that “your first loss” will always be “your least loss” – but with both wings on fire, the owner should realize early on that the chances of walking away from this landing are – Slim! & None!

    I’m not sure who would be the “cash cow” for this buyout group, but I wager they collectively have access to some deep pockets.

  • Anonymous

    Solution: Buy an iPad, Kindle, or similar device. Newsprint is 19th-century tech. I know it satisfies a stupid human need to “touch” something you are “buying” but the escalating costs of newsprint, the logistical demands of distribution and sale of thousands of wads of paper are showing that people do not want to pay the real costs, particularly when there is almost no “news” in the paper anymore. Everything in print has already shown up in electronic media hours, sometimes days, before. 

    I would rather see the resources of competent news organizations devoted to content, not endless rolls of expensive newsprint filling up landfills.