Outcry After NOLA's Daily Paper Cuts Back (With '60 Minutes' Video)
David Carr: They are determined, determined, to transform these newspapers into digital franchises. But if you think of most newspapers are in the emergency room, right? They're all wounded one way or another. And you pick The Times-Picayune, one of -- really, one of the stronger papers in America, and say, "Ah, we'll do major surgery on that one." Seems odd.
Morley Safer: Did they anticipate the kind of outrage that the announcement produced?
David Carr: They knew they were going to get some blowback. I don't -- I don't think they expected the gale force winds, the hurricane winds that came at them. I mean, people were frantic.
Advertisers declared their objections. Rallies were held for fired employees and "Save the Picayune" posters sprung up throughout the town. The city council passed a resolution urging the owners to continue printing daily and an open letter was published where local worthies warned that the Newhouses were losing the trust of the community.
Anne Milling: If the Newhouses have given up on New Orleans as they have why not just sell it? Don't hold us hostage.
Anne Milling, a local philanthropist, is one of several prominent New Orleanians who supported the protest. She was joined by Gregory Aymond, archbishop of New Orleans and Lolis Elie, a writer and former Times-Picayune columnist.
Morley Safer: Why this outrage over a newspaper cutting back?
Lolis Eli: Part of what happened -- particularly after Katrina was a sense of community. And Times-Picayune was a big part of that.
The paper published -- literally -- through hell and high water. Dozens of reporters kept the world informed about what was happening while even their own homes were flooded. In the aftermath, the paper became a beacon of civic solidarity.
Anne Milling: We've recovered a great deal. But we still have a long way to go. There's serious issues before us that we need that daily watchdog voice.
Morley Safer: Archbishop, this has more to do with Mammon than with God. How come you got so deeply involved in it?
Archbishop Aymond: I got deeply involved because I'm from New Orleans. I was born and raised here. I have a great love for the people in the city and our tradition. But besides that I really am concerned about the elderly and the poor. This puts them in a very disadvantaged position.
The reduced paper was portrayed as a bold step into the digital future but New Orleans is one of the least "wired" cities in the country with more than a third of the city without Internet access.
Anne Milling: That's huge in terms of the population in this community. And you can say, "Well -- well, maybe these people don't read the newspaper." But I can promise you, you can see people black, white, young, old, Hispanic, Vietnamese buying newspapers at drug stores, grocery stores, sitting at coffee shops. People read The Times-Picayune.