NEW ORLEANS-- Reaching out from across the country and across the decades, former and current Times-Picayune staffers packed into The Howlin' Wolf on Saturday night to celebrate the daily paper that was.
'It is very gratifying to see the bond between the people who work at this paper because we love working here,' said former Times-Picayune reporter Matt Scallan. 'It was a great place to work.'
Scallan speaks in the past tense because after 22 years as a reporter there, he lost his job. The paper is moving to increase its online presence and decrease its printed publication to three days a week.
'This is very tough on a lot of people,' he said.
The reason for the fundraiser is to help those laid-off employees, through the dashTHIRTYdash fund. Rebecca Theim, a former Times-Picayune reporter who covered City Hall from 1988-1994, helped organize the event.
'We're here just to help and hopefully help people make a transition to another job and be able to stay in the city of New Orleans,' Theim said.
With the final Saturday edition of the Times-Picayune printed on Sep. 29th, New Orleans now becomes the largest city in the country without a daily newspaper.
'Major cities, you would expect to have a daily newspaper,' said State Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans. 'And without having the Times-Picayune-- and being New Orleans-- you kind of wonder whether businesses, tourists and conventions are going to look at us a little differently.'
What will be different, though, is how the daily paper touched lives-- especially for those who helped shape it over the years. On the heels of covering Hurricane Isaac for the paper, and amidst a heartbreaking end, former reporter Scallan offered a gracious hope.
'I'm disappointed I'm not staying, but I wish the paper well and I still think it's going to be a remarkable tool to get information about the New Orleans area,' he said.
For more information on the Times-Picayune employee assistance fund, click here.
In the meantime, the Times-Picayune announced it would be publishing an early Sunday edition that would be made available on Saturdays.