dashTHIRTYdash ISO New Fiscal Sponsor

dashTHIRTYdash’s fiscal sponsorship by the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans ended June 28, 2013. Thanks to the CAC for its support in the past year.

Although the fall-off in donations that precipitated this decision is to be expected nearly nine months after Times-Picayune employees were laid off, now is when the need is becoming critical because the severance of former employees who have not yet found a new job is either ending or being exhausted. So, dashTHIRTYdash is in the market for a new 501(c)3 sponsor, but until we can line up another organization, our ability to accept donations – either via checks or credit cards – has been temporarily suspended. (dashTHIRTYdash founder Rebecca Theim still plans to donate half of the post-expense proceeds of her upcoming book about this saga to the fund, so we’re on the hunt for a non-profit willing to handle our finances, check processing and distribution for a reasonable administrative fee.)

Thanks to everyone for your support thus far. Stay tuned and stay strong!

One laid-off Times-Picayune employee’s heart-breaking story

6/28/13: Thanks to all who contributed. We raised $1,075 from 12 individuals in less than 24 hours, almost all of whom are former employees of The Times-Picayune, along with two who continue to work for NOLA Media Group, along with a couple of diehard supporters. CAC already has cut the check to the former employee, and it made it to her in time to pay her mortgage. Thanks again.

6/27/13: A not-so-happy turn in the previously happy postscript: The former Times-Picayune production employee profiled below started the new job in April, which she secured with the help of a former newspaper colleague. However, she was forced to leave it only a couple of weeks later after it aggravated a chronic health condition she has. As of late June 2013, she had not secured another job. She has exhausted her reserves, and has no way to pay her July mortgage payment, due on the 16th. Can you help?

4/9/2013: A happy postscript to this sad story. The former Times-Picayune employee whose sad story is relayed below started a new job Monday, thanks largely to a recommendation from a fellow former T-P employee. She’s thrilled and wanted to thank everyone involved with dashTHIRTYdash.

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I just had the saddest conversation since The Times-Picayune nightmare began. I was speaking with the wife of a married couple who worked together for about 15 years at the newspaper before they both lost their jobs Sept. 30 as part of last fall’s Purge.

After losing his job at the Picayune in September, the husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away six weeks later. The wife has not gotten another job yet because she was caring for him. “All the dreams and things we were having in our minds, we know they will never happen,” she told me about losing their jobs and benefits. “And now, with his passing, all life has changed forever, and it will never be the same.”

If you can help, checks may be sent to the Contemporary Arts Center – with “dash30dash” written in the memo line – c/o Nanette R. Saucier, Director of Accounting & Financial Services, 900 Camp St., New Orleans, LA 70130-3908. If you also add “Packaging” in the memo line, I will personally make sure your donation is sent directly to the widow. If you prefer to pay by credit card (at https://donationpay.org/dashthirtydash) and want the money to go to her, comment on this post or send me an email (at rebecca [at] rebeccatheim dot com) when you put your payment through and I’ll make sure the donation is earmarked specifically for her.

As former employees’ severance runs out and the economy remains troubled, I fear we’ll hear more stories like this one, but this is the saddest one I’ve heard so far.

Thanks.

Former Times-Picayune projects reporter uses acceptance of national award to call attention to newspaper’s changes

An all-expense-paid trip to New York to accept a prestigious national award for a

Cindy Chang addresses the

Cindy Chang addresses the Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Awards presented Feb. 4 by John Jay’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice at Columbia University.

yearlong investigation into Louisiana’s prison system should have been a happy occasion for former Times-Picayune special projects reporter Cindy Chang.

Instead, Chang found herself explaining why she and many of the other reporters, photographers, graphic artists and editors who worked on the eight-part series, “Louisiana INCarcerated,” no longer worked at the newspaper:

“This series happened because The Times-Picayune invested resources in it, plain and simple,” Chang told the audience at the Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Awards presented Feb. 4 by John Jay’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice at Columbia University. “I worked on it more or less full time for nearly a year. There were three other bylined reporters, a photographer/videographer, a graphics artist and about a dozen other staffers who contributed to the project.

“A month later, much of that team was laid off, along with nearly half the newsroom staff. One of the writers was laid off. The photographer was laid off. The graphics artist was laid off. The page designer was laid off. The copy editor was laid off. Peter Kovacs and Dan Shea, the two managing editors who were always the driving force behind projects, including this one, were also canned. Here’s your thanks for your great work – a pink slip! The paper/website immediately began hiring young, inexperienced and presumably cheaper replacements.

… “There are still talented people at The Times-Picayune whose instinct is to dig deep. But I fear that will become increasingly difficult as the focus shifts to frenetic blogging, quantity over quality and, eventually, pay-for-clicks.”

Cindy Chang and David Simon at John Jay criminal justice awards.

Cindy Chang and David Simon at John Jay criminal justice awards.

Chang closed her remarks by adding that the series’ team members who kept their jobs or have secured new ones will contribute their portion of the $1,000 prize money to dashTHIRTYdash. Shea has pledged to match that donation.

Chang, who the newspaper sought to retain, but who declined to stay, now covers immigration issues for the Los Angeles Times.

Other John Jay honorees included Mother Jones‘ Shane Bauer, whose article “No Way Out,” examined solitary-confinement practices in California, and writer and TV show producer David Simon, who was awarded the first “Justice Trailblazer” Award for his early crime reporting career at the Baltimore Sun and his subsequent work developing TV series and specials about crime and urban issues, including, “Homicide,” “The Corner,” “The Wire,” “Generation Kill” and “Tremé,” the latter about life in post-Katrina New Orleans. Simon also was an eloquent critic of the newspaper’s decision to end daily publication and slash its staff, writing about it in the Columbia Journalism Review and Gambit.

Last major investigation produced by Times-Picayune before purge wins prestigious national award

Several winners to donate share of prize money to dashTHIRTYdash

Louisiana Incarcerated,” the eight-part expose about the state’s prison system and the LAIncarcerated_LOGOlast major investigative project produced by The Times-Picayune before last year’s mass layoff, has been named the 2012-13 winner of the prestigious John Jay/H.F. Guggenheim Prize for Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting.

Several members of the team that produced the report have indicated they will donate their share of the $1,000 prize money to dashTHIRTYdash. Currently, 59 applicants are awaiting a second distribution the non-profit will make once enough donations are received to sufficiently undeLAIncarcerated_screen_shotrwrite it.

Of the core team that produced the series – reporters Cindy Chang, Jonathan Tilove, John Simerman and Jan Moller, photographer Scott Threlkeld, and graphics artist Ryan Smith – only one remains with the newspaper. Of the larger group of 13 who were significantly involved with the project – Chang, Tilove, Simerman, Moller, Threlkeld, Smith, managing editors Peter Kovacs and Dan Shea, photo editor G. Andrew Boyd, city editor Gordon Russell, political editor Tim Morris, designer George Berke, and copy editor Katherine Hart – seven were laid off (although one was subsequently rehired).

JohnJay_LOGOThe award, sponsored by the country’s preeminent academic institution on criminal justice, honors investigative, feature and enterprise journalism that significantly enhances public understanding of criminal justice issues. It is administered by the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay, and judged by a panel of leading journalists and educators.

“Louisiana is the world prison capital,” an introduction to the series begins. “The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly five times Iran’s, 13 times China’s, and 20 times Germany’s. The hidden engine behind the state’s well-oiled prison machine is cold, hard cash.” The series fueled public support for passage of a state bill making some nonviolent offenders eligible for earlier parole, according to the news release announcing the award.

CindyChang

Former Times-Picayune projects reporter Cindy Chang is now at the L.A. Times

Chang, who now covers immigration for the Los Angeles Times, will travel to New York to accept the award Feb. 4. She’ll likely rub elbows with David Simon, creator of the HBO series “Treme,” about post-Katrina New Orleans. Simons, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, also created HBO’s “The Wire” and is being recognized for his career contribution to criminal justice journalism.

Credit card donations to dashTHIRTYdash may be made securely online at https://donationpay.org/dashthirtydash. Donations by check should be made payable to the organization’s fiscal sponsor, the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans – with “dash30dash” written in the memo line – & mailed to the CAC, c/o Nanette R. Saucier, Director of Accounting & Financial Services, 900 Camp St., New Orleans, LA 70130-3908.

“60 Minutes” to air report about death of the daily Times-Picayune Sunday, Jan. 6

UPDATE, 1/3/2013, 3:33 PM CST: Catch a video preview of the segment, featuring an interview with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, by clicking here.

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The long-awaited “60 Minutes” segment about the death of the daily Times-Picayune will air during the show’s Sunday, Jan. 6 broadcast, the show’s communic60Minutesations director confirmed today.

Jim Romenesko broke the news this morning, noting that correspondent Morley Safer in September interviewed the newspaper’s Editor Jim Amoss and former T-P columnist Lolis Eric Elie, now a writer with the HBO show “Treme.” Also interviewed were New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond, and community philanthropist Anne Milling, the latter who led a high-level citizens’ group that unsuccessfully lobbied Times-Picayune owner Advance Publications to abandon its “sometimes daily” plans.

A blurb about the segment, supplied to dashTHIRTYdash by the show’s Communications Director Kevin Tedesco:

“It’s a sure sign of the digital times when the New Orleans Times-Picayune, published every day for 175 years, goes to a three-day-a-week publishing schedule. It’s a fate many more newspapers face as the Internet becomes the source of almost instantaneous news. Watch Morley Safer’s report on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT.”

Some supporters of the effort to save the daily newspaper have been concerned that the

"60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer interview New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

“60 Minutes” correspondent Morley Safer (left) interviewed New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in mid-September

“60 Minutes” report would focus too much on the generic “dying newspaper industry” narrative many media outlets have reported, and not enough on the unique characteristics of New Orleans and The Times-Picayune, and the ham-fisted and insensitive way Advance handled the changes. The blurb above seem to suggest those fears aren’t without merit.

“60 Minutes” airs in the New Orleans market on WWL-TV on Sundays at 6 p.m., Gambit‘s Kevin Allman noted in a post today to the alt-weekly’s blog.

dashTHIRTYdash website 2012 review

WordPress pushes out an automated annual report for all of its sites, which this year included dashTHIRTYdash. If you’re interested in seeing which posts generated the most traffic, or what searches or referring sites got people to the site, click the link below.

Here’s an excerpt:

In 2012, there were 41 new posts, not bad for the first year! (It was actually only about five-and-a-half months.) There were 130 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 15 MB. That’s about 3 pictures per week. The busiest day of the year was June 27th with 1,317 views (courtesy of a mention on the popular JimRomenesko.com blog … thanks, Jim!).

The most popular post that day was Successful Fundraiser and Unexpected Visit by the New Publisher.

Click here to see the complete report.

Applications now being accepted for second round of dashTHIRTYdash grants

Laid-off Times-Picayune employees are invited to apply through Dec. 1, 2012 for a second round of grants from dashTHIRTYdash.

Anyone laid-off Times-Picayune employee or contractor who received a grant in the first distribution and would like to receive one in the second distribution does not have to complete the application again, but instead should add his or her name at this link. Anyone whose seeking a grant for the first time may apply by completing the forms at http://dashthirtydash.org/dashthirtydash-grant-application/ and submitting them as directed.

dashTHIRTYdash, a non-profit created by newspaper alumni and civic activists, raised money for the hundreds of Times Picayune employees and contractors who lost their jobs Oct. 1 as the 175-year-old Times-Picayune ended daily publication in favor of a thrice-weekly edition and decided to focus on its website. The layoffs reduced its total staff by one-third and its newsroom by almost one-half, the newspaper reported in June. (NOLA Media Group, the newspaper’s new parent company, has since hired some new, primarily younger and less-experienced employees.)

dashTHIRTYdash distributed its first round of grants earlier this month to 75 former staffers and contractors, who had an average tenure with the newspaper of 20.6 years.

Individuals, companies or organizations are encouraged to continue to donate to dashTHIRTYdash, which will include additional contributions in its second distribution. Donations may be made securely by credit card at https://donationpay.org/dashthirtydash. Alternatively, contributions by check should be made payable to the “Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans” – with “dash30dash” written in the memo line – and mailed to CAC, c/o Glenn W. Gruber, Associate Director/CFO, 900 Camp St., New Orleans, LA 70130-3908. (The CAC is serving as the fund’s fiscal agent, making dashTHIRTYdash contributions tax-deductible.)

Gambit awards dashTHIRTYdash another “bouquet”

Gambit, New Orleans’ alternative news weekly, awarded dashTHIRTYdash another “bouquet” in its weekly “Bouquets + Brickbats” feature, this time in the Oct. 30 edition, for the nonprofit’s work in providing grants to 75 laid-off Times-Picayune employees and contractors who applied for financial assistance.

Check out the “bouquet” in the digital edition of the issue by clicking here, or see it below:

Thanks, Gambit!

Checks, BTW, should be going out to recipients next week, via dashTHIRTYdash’s fiscal agent, the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans.

Gambit first awarded dashTHIRTYdash a bouquet June 26 in connection with one of the first benefits for the organization. Read that one by clicking here.

dashTHIRTYdash to distribute grants to 75 laid-off Times-Picayune staffers with almost 1,568 total years at newspaper

Seventy-five laid-off Times-Picayune employees, who worked for the newspaper for a combined total of almost 1,568 years, will receive direct cash grants from dashTHIRTYdash in the charity’s first of two planned distributions.

dashTHIRTYdash, a non-profit created by newspaper alumni and civic activists to raise money for the hundreds of Times Picayune employees and contractors who lost their jobs Oct. 1, has raised approximately $60,000 to-date. The money came from individual donations, benefits held by New Orleans restaurants and businesses, an online auction that attracted donations from some of the country’s biggest names in news and talk, and a Sept. 29 New Orleans fundraiser underwritten largely by the community.

The layoffs, which the newspaper reported in June reduced its total staff by one-third and its newsroom by almost one-half, came as the 175-year-old Times-Picayune ended daily publication in favor of a thrice-weekly edition and decided to focus on its website. NOLA Media Group, the newspaper’s new parent company, has since hired some new, primarily younger and less-experienced employees.

The grant applicants’ average tenure with the newspaper was 20.6 years.

“It’s clear that members of this group were among the most experienced working at the newspaper,” said dashTHIRTYdash founder and former Times-Picayune reporter Rebecca Theim. “Because of the stage many of these people are in their careers, they may face considerable challenges securing new employment, particularly if they want to remain in New Orleans.”

The odds may be even more formidable if they hope to continue their careers in the newspaper business: in the past five years, U.S. newspapers have eliminated almost 40,000 jobs, or more than 11% of total industry employment, according to Paper Cuts, the recognized industry source on newspaper layoffs and consolidations.

“We realize the assistance dashTHIRTYdash is able to provide each individual is nominal, but we hope it will help make a mortgage or rent payment, go toward equipment or training needed for a new job or business, or help meet some other important need,” Theim added. “More than anything, we want the former employees and contractors to know their work at the daily newspaper was deeply appreciated.”

Of those applying for assistance, 41% came from the newspaper’s pressroom and packaging operations, while 28% came from editorial (including the newsroom, and photography and graphics/art/design staffs). Those departments were the hardest-hit by the layoffs, according to figures in a June 12 Times-Picayune article.

The size of grants each applicant will receive depends on whether he or she was full-time, or a part-time employee or contractor. Eleven were part-time, and 64 worked full-time. More information about how the money is being allocated is available at http://dashthirtydash.org/2012/08/23/formula/.

The fund anticipates making at least one additional disbursement. The deadline for applying to receive money in that second distribution is Dec. 1. Any former employee or contractor who applied for a grant in the first disbursement will be contacted regarding his or her desire to be included in the second. Any laid-off T-P employee or contractor who did not apply for the first distribution may apply for the second distribution by completing the form at http://dashthirtydash.org/dashthirtydash-grant-application/ and submitting it as directed.

Individuals, companies or organizations are encouraged to continue to donate to dashTHIRTYdash, which will include additional contributions in its second distribution. Donations may be made securely by credit card at https://donationpay.org/dashthirtydash. Alternatively, contributions by check should be made payable to the “Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans” – with “dash30dash” written in the memo line – and mailed to CAC, c/o Glenn W. Gruber, Associate Director/CFO, 900 Camp St., New Orleans, LA 70130-3908. (The CAC is serving as the fund’s fiscal agent, making dashTHIRTYdash contributions tax-deductible.) More information is at http://www.dashTHIRTYdash.org.

Major Contributors To-Date

Contributions have come from a wide cross-section of the community. The largest contributions, in descending order of size, to-date are:

  • Anonymous gift via the Greater New Orleans Foundation, Inc.
  • Former Times-Picayune Managing Editor Dan Shea, and Stephanie Stokes, the newspaper’s “Inside Out” editor: (including auction proceeds)
  • New Orleans jeweler Mignon Faget, who is donating 10% of the sales of her Times-Picayune-themed pins and double old fashioned glasses
  • Times-Picayune “Social Scene” columnist Nell Nolan, former Times-Picayune political cartoonist Steve Kelley, local actress Ashley Nolan and Mid-City Theatre, which donated proceeds from a September stage production in which the trio starred. The donation was made in memory of communications strategist and civic activist Diana Pinckley, the late wife of longtime Times-Picayune reporter John Pope
  • Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group (Red Fish Grill, Jazz Kitchen®, Ralph’s on the Park, café b, café NOMA and Heritage Grill), which donated 100% of the proceeds from its “Save the Picayune” signature cocktails created shortly after the news of the paper’s coming changes broke in late May
  • The Avenue Pub, which donated 100% of its June 28 bar proceeds, and included beer donated by NOLA Brewing Co. and Crescent Crown Distributing
  • Former Times-Picayune Outdoors Editor Bob Marshall, whose Lake Pontchartrain fishing expedition proved so popular in the fund’s online auction that he agreed to provide two additional ones to requesting runner-up bidders
  • The New Orleans law firm of Smith Stagg LLC, which was a sponsor of the Sept. 29 fundraiser
  • LaPetite Grocery Restaurant and Bar, which donated 30% of its sales from a special June 26 benefit dinner
  • Slim Goodies Diner, which donated 20% of its July 1 receipts, and also collected about three dozen direct donations solicited from customers

“We’re deeply grateful to the businesses, organizations and individuals who not only donated to this important cause, but also often provided a way for people in the community to also rally behind those who were losing their jobs,” Theim said.

Sept. 29 Fundraiser Largely Underwritten by Community

The Sept. 29 fundraiser and accompanying auction raised the most money for the charity. It was also billed as a send-off to the daily Times-Picayune and occurred on the newspaper’s final Saturday of daily publication. All laid-off employees and contractors were invited to attend for free. The Howlin’ Wolf donated its Warehouse District facility for the event, which drew more than 300, including Times-Picayune staffers and alumni from seven decades and about 10 U.S. states, spanning from Hawaii to New York.

Restaurants and eateries that donated cuisine to the Sept. 29 fundraiser included: a Mano; Cafe Atchafalaya; Galatoire’s; Ralph’s on the Park; Rio Mar Seafood; Liberty’s Kitchen; Martin Wine Cellar Catering; and Whole Foods Market Arabella Station.

Musicians who organized or donated entertainment included: Jason Patterson, of Snug Harbor and the New Orleans Jazz Celebration; keyboardist and WWOZ host David Torkanowsky; longtime former Radiators guitarist Camile Baudoin; jazz pianist and vocalist Matt Lemmler; the Charmaine Neville Band; swing harmony group The Pfister Sisters; jazz saxophonist and bandleader Martin Krusche; and singer and guitarist John Rankin.

Celebrities who contributed experiences or items for the online auction included: Anderson Cooper; The Ellen Show; TODAY Show; “Meet the Press;” CNN anchor, special correspondent and New Orleans native Soledad O’Brien; “Good Morning America;” ABC-TV and NPR veteran political analyst and New Orleans native Cokie Roberts; and notedauthor, New Orleans native and States-Item alum Walter Isaacson. The auction also featured art work, photography and other items donated or created by Times-Picayune employees and alumni and New Orleanians.

In addition, Rock ‘n’ Bowl donated its facility for a Sept. 28 reunion that attracted almost 200.

Application deadline for grants from dashTHIRTYdash extended until Oct. 12

The deadline for the first grant distribution from dashTHIRTYdash has been extended by two days, until Friday, Oct. 12, at 5 PM CDT.

The grants are available for any Times-Picayune employee or contractor who lost their job because of the newspaper’s decision to end daily publication.

Funds will be disbursed among all employees and contractors who apply for it, without regard for individual financial circumstances. (If you’re interested in more information about how the money will be allocated, please click here.)

All applications will be kept strictly confidential; an absolutely minimal number of people will have access to the applications, and dashTHIRTYdash will not publicly disclose the identities of anyone who applies for or receives grants.

To receive a grant, click on this link – dashTHIRTYdash_GrantApplication – and complete the attached form and IRS W-9 form and return it by email or fax as indicated.

Distributions and Deadlines

dashTHIRTYdash plans two distributions of money: one around Nov. 1, 2012, and another by Dec. 31, 2012.

If you apply for a grant by Oct. 12, you’ll receive your first check around Nov. 1, and automatically be contacted about whether you’d like to also receive a grant in the second distribution. (If you get a new job before the second distribution, we hope that you will opt out and leave more money to be divided among your former colleagues who have not yet gotten new jobs.)

Individuals, companies or organizations wishing to donate to dashTHIRTYdash may still do so. Donations may be made securely by credit card at https://donationpay.org/dashthirtydash. To donate by check, make checks payable to the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans – with “dash30dash” written in the memo line – and mail to CAC, c/o Glenn W. Gruber, Associate Director/CFO, 900 Camp St., New Orleans, LA 70130-3908. The CAC is serving as dashTHIRTYdash’s fiscal sponsor, so all contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.