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.

T-P7 online auction to close at 6 PM CDT Thursday, Sept. 27

For logistical reasons and to allow everyone uninterrupted enjoyment of the great food and music that will be featured at the Sept. 29 “Black, White & Read All Over” celebration of the daily Times-Picayune, we will end the TP7 Talent & Treasures online auction at 6 PM, Thursday, Sept. 27, so please bid NOW!

Although almost all items have now exceeded their minimum bids, any items that do not by the auction’s closing time will be available for purchase at the Sept. 29 event in New Orleans.

Notable items available online via the auction site at http://benefitevents.com/auctions/dashthirtydash/ include:

Winners of featured items will be announced at the party.

Information and tickets to the event, 6-9 PM on Sept. 29 at The Howlin’ Wolf in New Orleans’ Warehouse District, are available by clicking here.

dashTHIRTYdash seeks sponsors, donations for Sept. 29 fundraiser to assist T-P employees and contractors

NEW ORLEANS, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 – dashTHIRTYdash, the non-profit fund established to financially assist hundreds of Times-Picayune staffers, freelancers and contractors who will lose their jobs or much of their livelihood when the newspaper ends daily publication Oct. 1, is seeking sponsors and donations for a Sept. 29 patron party and fundraiser.

Times-Picayune downtown newsroom as of July 25, 2012. One out of every two people in this photo – along with employees in the newspaper’s five suburban bureaus – will lose his or her job on Sept. 30, 2012.

“Black, White & Read All Over,” a benefit for the fund and commemoration to the daily Times-Picayune, begins at 4:30 PM, with a patron party hosted by Rio Mar Seafood, 800 South Peters St. Patron ticket levels are:

  • Pulitzer Prize (two each won by The Times-Picayune in 1997 and 2006) – $1,000/couple
  • Selden Ring Award (won by The Times Picayune in 1995) – $500/couple
  • George Polk Award (won by The Times-Picayune in 2005) – $250/couple

At 6 PM, the evening moves to The Howlin’ Wolf, 907 South Peters St., for the $30/per person general admission party. Details on purchasing tickets will be announced next week. All money raised will go directly to Times-Picayune employees, freelancers and contractors who lose their jobs or significant portions of their income as a result of the end of daily publication, minus staff costs for The Howlin’ Wolf event and a 2% fee being paid to the fund’s 501(c)3 sponsor, the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans, which is also providing financial oversight. All contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law.

Many Times-Picayune employees have spent significant portions of their working lives at the newspaper and will face considerable challenges securing new employment at this stage of their careers, particularly if they want to remain in New Orleans. Even if they choose to pursue jobs with newspapers in other communities, they will confront tough odds: 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.

Sponsorships for Black, White and Read All Over are available at the following levels:

  • Front Page, $25,000 – Notably featured in all promotional materials (including news release, and printed and online materials) and prominent introductions/mentions at the event. Includes 10 patron party tickets at the $1,000 (top) level (admits 10 couples), along with associated patron party premiums and 20 general admission tickets to the Howlin’ Wolf party.
  • Metro, $10,000 – Notably featured in all promotional materials (including news release, and printed and online materials) and prominent introductions/mentions at the event. Includes six patron party tickets at the $1,000 (top) level (admits six couples), along with associated patron party premiums and 12 general admission tickets to the Howlin’ Wolf party.
  • Money, $5,000 – Inclusion in promotional materials and introductions/mentions at the event. Includes four patron party tickets at the $500 level (admits four couples), along with associated patron party premiums and eight general admission tickets to the Howlin’ Wolf party.
  • Living, $2,500 – Inclusion in promotional materials and mentions at the event. Includes four patron party tickets at the $250 level (admits two couples) and eight general admission tickets to the Howlin’ Wolf party.
  • Sports, $1,000 – Inclusion in promotional materials and mentions at the event. Includes two patron party tickets at the $250 level (admits two couples) and four general admission tickets to the Howlin’ Wolf party.

Please contact Times-Picayune alum Rebecca Theim at 702-622-8154 or rebecca at rebeccatheim dot com regarding sponsorships.

dashTHIRTYdash also is planning both live and silent auctions, and is seeking items and/or experiences (a weekend in a French Quarter B&B, VIP ride on a Carnival float, dinner by a New Orleans chef, etc.) to award to high bidders. Please contact Times-Picayune alum Sheila Grissett, 504- 952-1945 or sheilagrissett at gmail dot com regarding auction items.

Individuals, companies or organizations wishing to donate to dashTHIRTYdash may make credit card donations online at https://donationpay.org/dashthirtydash or send checks payable to the Contemporary Arts Center, but in the memo line of the check, please write DashThirtyDash Fund. Checks should be mailed to the Contemporary Arts Center, c/o Glenn W. Gruber, Associate Director/CFO, 900 Camp St. New Orleans, LA 70130. Again, contributions are tax-deductible.

New Orleans-areas restaurants, bars or other businesses interested in hosting individual benefits or donating proceeds from sales of products or services, or making in-kind contributions to the Sept. 29 event fits should also contact Rebecca Theim.

About dashTHIRTYdash

dashTHIRTYdash is a fund to financially assist employees and contractors of The Times-Picayune slated to lose their jobs or a significant portion of their income Sept. 30 as the newspaper abandons daily publication. The Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans is serving as the fund’s fiscal agent, which makes dashTHIRTYdash contributions tax-deductible. The fund also is benefiting from the professional expertise of CAC’s Accounting Services Program, which serves New Orleans-area nonprofits.

The designation “-30-” historically was added by journalists to the end of their reports to indicate “end of story.” But on June 12, 2012, -30- took on a new meaning in New Orleans, as Times-Picayune staffers used it on Facebook and other social media to simply yet powerfully signal that they were among the roughly 200 staffers who will lose their jobs as the 175-year-old, Pulitzer Prize-winning paper pivots to primarily digital distribution.

dashTHIRTYdash is inspired by the post-Katrina “Friends of The Times-Picayune,” which was created in 2005 by four newspaper alumnae. That fund assisted employees across the newspaper who lost their homes or suffered serious financial losses after the storm.

dashTHIRTYdash is on the Internet at http://www.dashthirtydash.org, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Dash30DashNOLA and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Dash30DashNOLA.