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.
Morley Safer: Well, I think what the suggestion is that the future looks very bleak for the paper. And like any business, they gotta look ahead.
Archbishop Aymond: But one of the puzzling things for me is that we know that there are others, specifically Mr. Tom Benson who is willing to buy the paper.
Tom Benson, a local billionaire owner of the New Orleans Saints football team offered to buy the paper to keep it printing daily. He was told that the paper was not for sale...
Morley Safer: If someone is foolish enough to want to buy a newspaper and you're in the business of showing a profit, you'd think you'd jump at the offer.
Jim Amoss: Well, I think our owners are also in the business of newspapering and journalism and care about the preservation of the news report that we are going to be able to deliver in this town. I know that sounds terribly altruistic. But I've just seen so much evidence of that being the case.
Morley Safer: Did you expect that this decision would be made with such outrage?
Jim Amoss: Well I'm a product of this community. This is my hometown. I think I know it well. And I understand the sadness, I understand the anger, and we all have something in common. And that is that we're driven by a passion for this city.
Lolis Elie, the former columnist, has the passion but doesn't believe the abbreviated paper will satisfy it.
Lolis Elie: How can half as many people cover the same amount of news with half as many resources? We fear for the quality of the journalism.
Though the owners promised an improved website and created new jobs to service it, Elie says it's geared toward fun and games rather than watchdog journalism.
Morley Safer: You feel that a newspaper online is a toothless watchdog.
Lolis Elie: It's not the same if I call you and I say, "Morley, I'm going to put this story online two weeks from now or, you know, three days from now." It's not the same thing.
Jim Amoss: There is no law of nature that says that kind of journalism is inextricably linked to ink on paper. We fully intend to continue to produce the kind of public trust journalism for which they know us.
Morley Safer: New Orleans is a kind of reporters' delight.
Mitch Landrieu: Yeah.
Morley Safer: You'd have to agree, yes?
Mitch Landrieu: Well, of course, it is. Yeah. We tell good stories down here.
Morley Safer: We tell good stories and--
Mitch Landrieu: Or we make good stories.
Morley Safer: There's a lot of hanky-panky goes on.
Mitch Landrieu: Yes, sir.
Morley Safer: Do you think that the city and state are going to suffer because the watchdog isn't on watch in quite the same way?
Mitch Landrieu: Right. I hope not. The more robust press we have the better everybody is. So I'm hoping that that is not going to suffer.
The great steel presses of The Times-Picayune are mostly silent now, reduced to working less than half the time. The questions is: Will it become less than half of what it once was?
And there are rumblings that an even larger Newhouse newspaper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, founded in 1842 and with a circulation close to 300,000, could soon be next.