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.

Thanks to the businesses that have supported us

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been nine weeks since the boom was lowered at The Times-Picayune and about six weeks since the launch of dashTHIRTYdash. A few people have asked for a complete list of the businesses that have lent their support to the fund thus far, so please find that list below, in alphabetical order. To all 18 of you to-date: thanks so much for your support – it means a great deal to many of the hundreds of employees, freelancers and contractors who are losing their jobs or significant portions of their income because of the changes coming to the newspaper:

The Avenue Pub, 1732 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans  
The Brylski Company, 3418 Coliseum St,, New Orleans  
Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans, 900 Camp St.  
T-P alumnus Chuck Cook, now news content advisor for student media at The University of Southern Mississippi  
Crescent Crown Distributing  
Euclid Records, 3401 Chartres St.  
Gambit
Howlin’ Wolf New Orleans, 907 Peters St.  
LaPetite Grocery Restaurant and Bar, 4238 Magazine St., New Orleans  
Mia’s Balcony, 1622 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans
Mignon Faget, 3801 Magazine St., New Orleans; Canal Place, First Level, New Orleans; Lakeside Shopping Center, Metairie  
NOLA Brewing Co.  
N’Tini’s Steaks and Martinis, 2891 Highway 190, Mandeville  
Plum, 5430 Magazine St., New Orleans  
Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group (Red Fish Grill, Jazz Kitchen®, Ralph’s on the Park, café b, café NOMA and Heritage Grill)  
Rio Mar Seafood, 800 South Peters St., New Orleans  
RockNBowl, 3000 S. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans
Slim Goodies Diner, 3322 Magazine St., New Orleans  
Wohl & Co. (Kit Wohl)  

New Orleans rallies behind Times-Picayune and dashTHIRTYdash

Local Restaurants and Bars Host Fundraisers to Assist Newspaper Employees and Contractors Set to Lose Jobs

NEW ORLEANS, Friday, June 22, 2012 – Petitions, letters, Facebook pages, fliers, banners, rallies, and meetings about creating possible competitive news outlets are among the reactions to the recent announcement that New Orleans will soon be the largest U.S. city without a daily newspaper. Individual New Orleans businesses now are rallying behind the men and women who produce their beloved Times-Picayune. These businesses are beginning to host fundraisers for dashTHIRTYdash, the newly created fund to financially assist Times-Picayune employees and contractors slated to lose their jobs or a significant portion of their income Sept. 30 as the newspaper abandons daily publication.

“Save the Picayune” signature drink specials have been offered since June 8 by all five Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group properties (Red Fish Grill, Jazz Kitchen®, Ralph’s on the Park, café b, café NOMA and Metairie’s Heritage Grill), from which 20% of proceeds will go to dashTHIRTYdash. N’Tini’s Steaks and Martinis in suburban Mandeville offered a “Daily Picayune” martini June 18, with 50% of sales being earmarked for the fund. And New Orleans jeweler Mignon Faget has created a Times-Picayune pin, from which 10% of the proceeds will go the fund.

Next up is LaPetite Grocery Restaurant and Bar, 4238 Magazine St., in New Orleans’ Uptown neighborhood, which will donate 30% of receipts to dashTHIRTYdash from its Tuesday, June 26 dinner hours. The restaurant will extend its customary closing time by an hour until 10:30 PM. Reservations may be made 24/7 at OpenTable.com.

Efforts for dashTHIRTYdash then move to the Lower Garden District on Thursday, June 28, when three St. Charles Avenue restaurants and NOLA Brewing will host a dashTHIRTYdash restaurant and pub crawl. Participating restaurants include:

  • The Avenue Pub, 1732 St. Charles Ave. (at Polymnia). The venue will donate 100% of all liquor, beer and wine sales between 6-9 PM to the fund. (Please note that Avenue Pub is a 21-and-over establishment.)
  •  Mia’s Balcony, 1622 St. Charles Ave. The restaurant will donate 10% of food sales for the entire day, plus 100% of NOLA Brewery beer sales to the fund.
  •  The Irish House restaurant, 1432 St. Charles Ave., will donate 100% of NOLA Brewery beer sales from 6-9 PM to the fund.

Crescent Crown Distributing also is assisting with the evening.

Then, on Sunday, July 1, Slim Goodies Diner, 3322 Magazine St. also in the Lower Garden District, will contribute 20% of its receipts to the fund. Hours are 6 AM to 3 PM.

Other organizations and individuals assisting with dashTHIRTYdash include:

  • The Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans, which is serving as the fund’s fiscal agent. Going through the CAC allows dashTHIRTYdash to benefit from the respected center’s non-profit status, which makes dashTHIRTYdash contributions tax-deductible. dashTHIRTYdash also will benefit from assistance by CAC’s Accounting Services Program, which was created after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina to help the growing number of New Orleans non-profits.
  •  Author, photographer, graphics designer and artist Kit Wohl, CEO of Wohl & Company, a New Orleans-based advertising, public relations and marketing firm, who has donated design and graphics services, including concepting and designing the dashTHIRTYdash logo.
  • Times-Picayune alumnus Chuck Cook, now news content advisor for student media at The University of Southern Mississippi, who with student Kiza Jordan designed and will oversee production of dashTHIRTYdash t-shirts that will be sold to benefit the fund.

Individuals, companies or organizations wishing to donate to dashTHIRTYdash may 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 benefits for dashTHIRTYdash or donating proceeds from sales of products or services should contact Times-Picayune alumna Rebecca Theim at phone number or email address below.

-30-

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 non-profits.

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.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Rebecca Theim (Times-Picayune alumna, 1988-94), 702-622-8154 (cell), rebecca at rebeccatheim dot com.