Several hundred people rallied at the Rock ‘N’ Bowl parking lot in Mid City in support of the Times-Picayune. A community effort is taking shape to block plans of the Newhouse family publication to cut staff and print editions only three times a week.
Writer and filmmaker Lolis Elie spoke fondly of his 14 years writing for the Times-Picayune. He says the cutbacks represent a threat to the city’s fabric.
“Whether or not this is going to be successful, I got no idea. But in many ways the question is not so much about the character of the Newhouses and about the potential to change their mind and to demonstrate to them how wrong-headed this decision is. I think this is yet another example of New Orleanians attempting to take back our city from people who would otherwise seek to destroy it.”
Michael Hecht, president of Greater New Orleans Incorporated, says a strong Times-Picayune signals the resiliency of the city.
“The rest of the country, if you read the press, is saying, ‘Well, you know, this is sad but inevitable. New Orleans is losing its paper because it never recovered from Katrina.’ That is 100 percent wrong. Our economy is one of the strongest in the country but that’s how this is being interpreted. We’re being now grouped with Detroit as a place that really is still struggling. And so, to me, in economic development, that’s incredibly damaging.”
City philanthropist Anne Milling is working with community leaders to find alternatives. But there’s nothing specific yet.
“If you don’t try, you won’t get. And so, you know, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So you gotta just try.”
Staff cutbacks are still not announced. Plans to cut back print editions are set to begin this fall.