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In New Orleans there is always news. From football to festivals, from Mardi Gras to music and from cuisine to crime the city is always buzzing. But things are not so easy in the Big Easy for PR pros.
There is a shift happening in the media landscape. The major daily newspaper is no longer going to be daily in just 30 days. The Times Picayune has been bringing the news to New Orleanians for over 175 years. The owners of the newspaper, have decided to cut down the distribution just three days a week and focus on digital.
In a city that is based on traditions and a rich history, change is not always embraced or accepted. There are yard signs throughout the city in front of homes and businesses demanding daily distribution. Many city leaders and notables have written open letters to the owners demanding they sell or reinstate distribution.
I don’t know as a PR pro what this means for me. What I do know is that it was really hard to see just over 200 people laid off from their jobs. These are reporters that I have gotten to know well. They are people that I considered my co-workers, because I relied on them to do my job. They are people I talked to almost every day.
In a city where the six degrees of separation is cut down to two, we are like one big family. The people of New Orleans are always ready to rally behind each other and this time was no different.
The designation “-30-” is something that PR pros know well. But since the lay-offs, it has taken on a new meaning in New Orleans. One by one, Times Picayune staffers used the symbol on Facebook and other social media to simply, yet powerfully signal that they were among the 202 staffers who will lose their jobs as the Pulitzer Prize-winning, 175-year-old paper pivots to a primarily digital outlet.
“DashThirtyDash” was formed as 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.
The fund has raised or received pledges totaling about $25,000 to-date. Fundraisers have been held at business across the city. Local jewelry designer, Mignon Faget, is continuing to raise funds through the sale of a special Times Picayune commemorative pin. On September 29, the final Saturday of daily publication a major fundraiser will be held to raise additional funds.
While I don’t know if the protest against The Times Picayune will end sooner or later and I don’t know if come September 30 if there will be changes in how I practice PR. I do know that there are people that I will miss working with. I wish them the best in the next phase of their career and I hope that our paths will cross again.