The T-P has already laid off hundreds of staffers and is planning to cease daily publication in the fall, moving to a three-day-a-week printing schedule.
The letter was signed by media figures such as James Carville, Mary Matalin and Cokie Roberts; musician Wynton Marsalis; actor Wendell Pierce; and the presidents of several New Orleans universities, along with prominent religious figures in the city and the owner of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Hornets.
It praises the Newhouse family, whose Advance Publications owns the Times-Picayune, for supporting the paper over the decades, but bitterly denounces the move away from daily readership.
In the end, we fear our community has already made its judgment on the three-day publication plan and the damage already realized cannot be undone. But the relationship between your family and our community does not have to end sourly. If your family does not believe in the future of this great city and its capacity to support a daily newspaper, it is only fair to allow us to find someone who does.
If you have ever valued the friendship you have shared with our city and your loyal readers, we ask that you sell the Times-Picayune. Our city wants a daily printed paper, needs a daily printed paper and deserves a daily printed paper.
Donald Newhouse, president of Advance, told a Times-Picayune reporter that, while he had "great respect and concern" for the sentiments in the letter, the signatories would not get what they wanted.
"Advance Publications has no intention of selling The Times-Picayune," he said.