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.

CJR’s highly critical “Battle of New Orleans” report about The Times-Picayune is live

The anticipated critical evaluation of The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com since last fall’s dramatic “digital first” restructuring is live on the Columbia Journalism Review‘s website. And NOLA Media Group Vice President of Content Jim Amoss is not happy about it.

Chittum’s lengthy piece talks unflatteringly about last summer’s “Rapture,” during which several top editors disappeared from the newsroom to surreptitiously plan the coming changes, swearing underlings of co-Managing Editor Peter Kovacs and Dan Shea to secrecy because their bosses would be purged along with 199 colleagues. He describes parent company Advance Publications’ “Michigan Model,” the seeming dry run at their eight Great Lakes State newspapers. He chronicles the pain of The Purge, June, 12, 2012, when employees found out they were losing their jobs in the most humiliating of circumstances, and the push-back editors received from some reporters the organizations sought to retain.

But Chittum spends the bulk of his report exploring the metrics and “strange finances of the move, which help explain what to many appears inexplicable, from either a journalistic or a business point of view.”

Read the report here. But also peruse the reader comments, in which Amoss takes Chittum to task, first for not accepting NOLA.com’s invitation to visit its new offices, which it moved into atop the Canal Place high-rise in January. Amoss then went on:

As reporters we choose our subjects, our quotations, the lenses to frame our work. The best put aside conventional wisdoms and derivative points of view. They allow their writing to be shaped by deep reporting and their own fresh responses to what they find. Mr. Chittum’s backward-looking and narrow take falls short of doing that. American newspaper journalism has been beset by bloodletting and decline for a decade. Those who find a path forward will do so by being innovative and entrepreneurial in their thinking. We don’t claim to have all the answers to finding a viable future for our industry. But we believe that we’re advancing the essential conversation about what kinds of bold changes will save us.

Chittum’s response to Amoss’ response:

As Jim well knows, I was in New Orleans in early December and asked for interviews then and in the weeks afterward. I didn’t hear back from anyone for about seven weeks, at which point my deadline was nigh. My editors declined to fly me down to New Orleans again just to see the new newsroom.

The report will also appear in the magazine’s March/April print edition.