Roughly 300 New Orleanians packed into a parking lot Monday evening to express their frustration with the recent announcement that Advance Publications, Inc, owner of the city's Pulitzer-winning newspaper, The Times-Picayune, would cut the paper's print circulation down to three days a week and dramatically shrink its newsroom.
Protesters at the rally/tailgate party, held in the Rock N' Bowl parking lot, wore hats made (literally) out of the newspaper and carried signs reading "Don't Stop the Presses," according to a reporter for The Times-Picayune who did not wish to be named. The event was packed with both working and retired members of the local media, the reporter said. Many came to show their support for the paper's staff, who were not told about the cuts to their paper's circulation and staff before reading their own fate in The New York Times.
Veterans of the paper wore shirts emblazoned with the phrase "We publish, come hell or high water." The shirts were given to the staff when the paper reopened after Hurricane Katrina.
A handful of New Orlean's musicians performed at the rally, including Allen Toussaint, who donned a black suit with a gold paisley shirt and matching pocket square, backed up by The Iguanas. Several attendees gave speeches, including Michael Tisserand, former editor of New Orleans' alternative weekly, The Gambit, as well as former Times-Picayune reporter and HBO writer Lolis Eric Elie and NPR's American Routes host Nick Spitzer.
The rally was organized by The Times-Picayune Citizens' Group, a coalition of 70 businesses, civic leaders and organizations, who aim to "ensure the continuation of the delivery of a high quality, seven-day-a-week newspaper, with access to the entire community," according to a press release issued Monday afternoon.
Tisserand adressed the emotional crowd. "This is us telling [The Times-Picayune's publisher]: 'Publish everyday or sell the paper,'" he said.