Monday, June 4, 2012

"Times-Picayune Citizens' Group" issues letter of civic and business support for the paper

Posted By on Mon, Jun 4, 2012 at 1:53 PM

Save_the_Picayune.jpg
A letter urging Newhouse/Advance Publications not to scale back The Times-Picayune to a thrice-weekly publication schedule was written over the weekend by a coalition of civic and business leaders calling itself the Times-Picayune Citizens' Group.

A draft of the letter and a brief story about the group have been posted on nola.com by the T-P's Jaquetta White, but Michael Hecht, president of the group GNO Inc., says a final version with a complete list of signatories will be issued before this afternoon's "Save the Picayune" rally at Rock 'n' Bowl at 4 p.m.

Among those whose names were attached to the draft: Tulane University president Scott Cowen, Women of the Storm founder Anne Milling; and legendary restaurateur Leah Chase (profiled two weeks ago in a Gambit cover story). In the draft statement, Chase said, ""I can and have accepted change in my life. But I do not think this is a good change. ... For people my age, this will be a terrible loss.”

Many employees at The Times-Picayune are uncertain about attending this afternoon's rally, citing newsroom policy regarding off-hours attendance at rallies. Others have speculated about possible punitive measures from Advance Publications at a time when their jobs are on the line. The rally, which will be held tailgate-style, will feature entertainment by Kermit Ruffins, Allen Touissant, the Iguanas and other local musicians, and is open to the public from 4 p.m. till sunset.

EDITED TO ADD: Below the jump: The final version of the letter, with signatories.

Times-Picayune Citizens’ Group Speaks out on Proposed Changes to The Times-Picayune

NEW ORLEANS — A group of concerned civic and business leaders have come together in the wake of the recent announcement by the owners of The Times-Picayune to move to a three-day a week print version in addition to the current web-based nola.com product.

The group’s purpose is to ensure the continuation of the delivery of a high quality, seven-day-a-week newspaper, with access to the entire community. The group intends to open discussions with the current owners as well as other interested parties to achieve its purpose.

Citing the unique New Orleans regional landscape, which has steadily and successfully rebuilt itself since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to become a beacon for economic resilience and innovation, the group is reviewing all options and opportunities to influence the current plans, as is consistent with desires of the papers’ customers and wider community.

As the daily news vehicle, The Times-Picayune has represented the Greater New Orleans community for more than 175 years, serving three critical functions: ensuring news access for all citizens; providing serious coverage that protects the public; and, creating a common conversation and cultural cohesion amongst all New Orleanians.

With this history and service in mind, the Citizens Group believes that it is important to clearly state its desire for The Times-Picayune to remain a daily newspaper, and that any possible future change be conducted in a more effective and considerate transition than what was announced to take effect beginning in September.

“In the next several years, the city will host an unprecedented amount of national and international visitors and media, including the NFL Super Bowl, NCAA Women’s Final Four, NBA All-Star game, commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and celebration of the city’s 300th birthday,” said Scott Cowen, president of Tulane University. “These events, along with the downtown opening of two new $1 billion-plus hospitals, deserve a more robust approach to news delivery.”

“Now is not the time to switch suddenly to a three-day a week publication,” stated Anne Milling, Founder of Women of the Storm. “A daily Times-Picayune has been the backbone of the community in our post-Katrina environment and provides the foundation for all civic dialogue and discourse. It is our hope that the owners will respect the voices and desires of the community which has been so loyal to the printed newspaper for generations.”

“I can and have accepted change in my life. But I do not think this is a good change,” said Leah Chase, Chef at Dooky Chase. “People like Sheila Stroup, Judy Walker, Doug MacCash, and Brett Anderson provide me with information about the things I love, and I can relate to what they write about. For people my age, this will be a terrible loss.”

“New Orleans was recently named the ‘#1 Fastest Improving Economy in the Nation’ by the Wall Street Journal,” said Michael Hecht, President & CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “The drastic reduction of our paper is not only inconsistent with this economic renaissance, it also sends a negative – and erroneous – message to the rest of the world about our resurgent community’s viability.”

Signed,

Times-Picayune Citizens’ Group (Full list still being compiled)

Jay Altman Chief Executive Officer FirstLine Schools

Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond Archbishop of New Orleans

Jerry Bologna Deputy Director Jefferson Economic Development Corporation

John Barry Kent Blackwell President Burtheville Association of Neighbors

Ralph Brennan

James Carville and Mary Matalin

Tod Chambers, President Mavis Early, Executive Director Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association

Henry Coaxum Chairman New Orleans Business Alliance

Michael Cowan Chair New Orleans Crime Coalition

Scott Cowen President Tulane University

Flozell Daniels, Jr. President & CEO Foundation for Louisiana

Norman Francis President Xavier University of Louisiana

Ruthie Frierson Founder & Chairman Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans

Melissa Gibbs, Chair Tommy Faucheux, Vice-Chair GNO, Inc. NextGen Council

Leon Giorgio Chairman Jefferson Business Council

Rafael C. Goyeneche III President Metropolitan Crime Commission

Julie Graybill President Faubourg Marengo Neighborhood Association

Stan Harris President & CEO Louisiana Restaurant Association

Michael Hecht, President & CEO Dale Benoit, Chairman Greater New Orleans, Inc.

William H. Hines

Walter Isaacson

Tamara Jackson Executive Director SilenceIsViolence

Leslie Jacobs

Ben Johnson President & CEO New Orleans Chamber of Commerce

John Little Chairman New Orleans Regional Leadership Insititute

Dr. James E. Lyons, Sr. Interim President Dillard University

Nancy Marsiglia

Chassity McComack Executive Director River Region Chamber of Commerce

Ed McGinnis Treasurer Irish Channel Neighborhood Association

Reid McLellan Chairman Plaquemines Association of Business and Industry

Suzanne Mestayer Chair Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region

Anne Milling Founder Women of the Storm

Todd Murphy President Jefferson Chamber of Commerce

Thom Pepper Chair Lower 9th Ward Stakeholder Coalition

Stephen Perry President & CEO New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau

Wendell Pierce

Debby Pigman President Faubourg Delachaise Neighborhood Association

Dr. Patrick Quinlan, Chief Executive Officer Warner Thomas, President & CEO Ochsner Health System

Larry Rase Executive Director Northshore Business Council

Julia Reed

Stephen Reuther Chief Executive Officer St. Bernard Parish Chamber Of Commerce

Charles Rice President & CEO Entergy New Orleans, Inc.

Toni Rice President New Orleans Multicultural Tourism Network

Howard Rodgers Executive Director New Orleans Council on Aging

Nolan V. Rollins President & CEO Urban League of Greater New Orleans

Greg Rusovich Chairman The Southeast Regional Coalition of Business Councils

Harry Shearer

Nick Spitzer

Mark Vicknair

Dr. Thomas R. Warner Chancellor Nunez Community College

Dr. Joe Welch Chancellor River Parishes Community College

Alyssa Wenck President Young Leadership Council

Brandy Whisnant Secretary Junior League of New Orleans

Rev. Kevin Wildes, S.J., Ph.D. President Loyola University New Orleans

Tim Williamson Co-Founder & CEO The Idea Village

504ward

The Foundation for Historical Louisiana

French Quarter Citizens, Inc.

Lafayette Square Association

Louisiana Landmarks Society

Smart Growth for Louisiana

Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents, and Associates, Inc.

Times-Picayune Loving Cup Recipients

1992 Times-Picayune Loving Cup Recipient Diana Lewis

1995 Times-Picayune Loving Cup Recipient Anne Milling

1997 Times-Picayune Loving Cup Recipient Leah Chase

1999 Times-Picayune Loving Cup Recipient Herschel L. Abbot Jr.

2000 Times-Picayune Loving Cup Recipient Alden McDonald

2003 Times-Picayune Loving Cup Recipient Fran Villere 2006 Times-Picayune Loving Cup Recipient Ruthie Frierson

2007 Times-Picayune Loving Cup Recipient Bob Brown

2008 Times-Picayune Loving Cup Recipient R. King Milling

2009 Times-Picayune Loving Cup Recipient Scott Cowen

2010 Times-Picayune Loving Cup Recipient Tommy S. Cvitanovich

2011 Times-Picayune Loving Cup Recipient WIlliam Goldring

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