Advance Publications’ decision to cut the publication schedule of the New Orleans Times-Picayune to three days a week is running into organized local opposition. This week, 22 members of the Newhouse family -- which owns Advance -- received a letter signed by more than 70 prominent citizens and representatives of civic groups, asking them to sell the newspaper rather than reduce its publication frequency.
Opponents say the reduced schedule will hurt the newspaper and a city still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
The strongly worded letter made a personal appeal to the Newhouse family, based on their reputation, including this admonition: “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.”
“Advance Publications and its leadership have lost the trust and credibility of a significant segment of the community,” it added.
In the letter, the group said it had already located a willing buyer for the newspaper, but did not identify the individual or organization or disclose how much they were willing to pay.
The list of signatories includes musician Wynton Marsalis, journalist Cokie Roberts and political power couple Mary Matalin and James Carville. New Orleans Archbiship Gregory Aymond, former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning, Saints owner Tom Benson and the presidents of Tulane, Loyola and Xavier Universities are among other notables.
The offer was firmly rejected by Advance Publications president Donald E. Newhouse, who stated: “We have read the letter with great respect and concern” but concluded: “Advance Publications has no intention in selling The Times-Picayune.”
There is more bad news for newspapers in Alabama, with the announcement by Consolidated Publishing Co. that it will cut the Monday print edition of The Anniston Star beginning in October. The newspaper is also discontinuing certain weekly sections.
The news comes not long after Advance Publications announced it would slash the publication schedule for three Alabama newspapers: The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and The Mobile Press-Register. Advance also announced that it would lay off 400 employees from the Alabama newspapers by the end of September.