It was standing room only at the 'Stand Up for the Observer' meeting in London tonight.
Hundreds of supporters of the world's oldest Sunday paper crammed into the Friends Meeting House in London - despite the assurance late last week from Guardian Media Group that the paper will not close as part of a review of the group's national newspaper and web operation, which is losing £100,000 a day.
There are fears that a closer integration with the Guardian could mean substantial job losses and the Observer losing its identity. Comedian and columnist David Mitchell, who chaired the meeting, said that the key issue was whether the Observer retains a proper level of funding and maintains its independence.
Katharine Whitehorn, one of the Observer's best known columnists, told the meeting how the paper had given women "a real voice" and added: "It cannot be allowed to change beyond all recognition".
Observer film critic Philip French stressed how the paper had been "open to new ideas and to new writers".
Barry Norman, a former Observer journalist, described it as "a great newspaper" and praised the current work of Henry Porter in defending the public against invasions of "our liberty by the Government."
Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford said that if a website could do what the Observer did each week - get 400,000 people to pay £2 to read it - then it would be the most successful website in the world.
NUJ deputy general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said the union wanted the Guardian Media Group to honour an agreement that there would be no compulsory redundancies.
Picture shows (Left to Right) Dominic Ponsford, Katharine Whitehorn, Philip French, Barry Norman. Pic: Jon Slattery