Laid-off T-P employees file suits

According to a message posted today in a private Facebook group, at least seven former Times-Picayune employees have filed “unlawful employment practices” lawsuits against the paper. Abstracts of all the suits are identical except for gender, job description, and the number of years of employment. An example reads as follows:

[Name] v.
The Times Picayune LLC; Advance Publications Inc.
12/11/2013 [Docket] (New Orleans)

Unlawful employment practices action. Despite defendants’ purported “Newhouse Job Security Pledge,” which was supposed to guarantee that plaintiff, a reporter at the Times Picayune for 26 years, would not be laid off because of economic circumstances or technological changes, plaintiff was laid off. Before she lost her job, plaintiff realized it had been posted to be filled, but plaintiff was not given the opportunity to reapply. A younger, lesser paid employee was hired to take her spot.

It had been rumored for some time that a group of laid-off employees were contemplating some sort of age discrimination action against the paper, and it looks like that action has now been taken.

Stay tuned …

“This is a book with attitude.”

That’s the way LSU’s Charles P. Manship Professor of History Andrew Burstein describes Hell and High Water: The Battle to Save the Daily New Orleans Times-Picayune, a new book by former T-P reporter Rebecca Theim that is being released by Pelican Publishing this month.

Hell and High WaterTheim was living and working in Las Vegas when word broke on the decision to cut publication of the Picayune to three days a week and lay off hundreds of reporters, photographers, and other employees.

Her first response was to form Dash Thirty Dash, The Times-Picayune Employee Assistance Fund, to help cushion the financial blow about to befall those who were coming under the axe, many of whom were personal friends and former coworkers. Through that organization, Theim launched a fundraising effort that was supported by hundreds of people who wanted to help while mourning the losses.

But Theim didn’t stop there. She believed that documenting the tragedy in book form would establish an important historical record, and rather than leave the task to someone else she decided to do it herself.

The result is Hell and High Water, which has received high marks in pre-publication reviews.

An excerpt appears in the October issue of New Orleans Magazine, and a read-through will definitely whet your appetite for the full release, which is being celebrated at Rock ‘n’ Bowl from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Friday, October 18.

In the meantime, locals can pre-order the book at Octavia Books, which is hosting Theim’s first book-signing on Thursday, October 17, beginning at 6:00 p.m.

For those not able to buy local, the book is also available at

However you do it, be sure to get your hands on a copy. It’s a book you will want to keep in your collection as the definitive documentary and analysis of the Newhousing of New Orleans.

The past as prologue

Former Times-Picayune copy and online content editor Cathy Hughes has written an insightful blog post on Eliza Poitevent Holbrook Nicholson, publisher of The Daily Picayune from 1876 until her untimely death from influenza in 1896.

Nicholson took over the paper upon the death of her husband, Col. Alva Morris Holbrook. Despite being a woman in what in those days was definitely a man’s world, she gained the respect of her employees and readers, led the paper out of debt into profitability, and laid the foundation of what was to become (until now) an enduring New Orleans institution.

Hughes speculates on how Nicholson would have managed the transition into the digital age were she still running the Picayune today. To find out how she might have done, read the full post here.

Jeff Bezos offers a reality check

In an interview with a reporter at The Washington Post, the newspaper he recently agreed to buy for $250 million, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos observes,

No business can continue to shrink. That can only go on for so long before irrelevancy sets in.

Bezos continues,

The Post will have “readers at its centerpiece. I’m skeptical of any mission that has advertisers at its centerpiece.

Compare and contrast: NOLA Media Group vs. The New Orleans Advocate.