by Kevin Allman
Times-Picayune employees who have been invited to join the newly formed NOLA Media Group have until Friday to file their paperwork with T-P vice president David Francis. Tonight, Gambit has confirmed that several of the reporters that the paper hoped to retain will not be continuing with the new company.
• Sources say award-winning investigative reporter David Hammer has accepted a job at WWL-TV. (Disclosure: WWL-TV regularly features Gambit reporters on its morning newscasts, and Gambit political editor Clancy DuBos contributes political analysis and commentaries on the station.) Hammer did not return a call from Gambit. Reached tonight, WWL-TV news director Bill Siegel had no comment, but did not deny the story. Hammer's hire is expected to be announced within the next week.
• Several sources have confirmed to Gambit that health care and political reporter Bill Barrow, who often reports on the Louisiana legislature while it's in session, has accepted a job at the Associated Press' Atlanta bureau. Barrow had no comment tonight.
• Barrow is married to T-P City Hall reporter Michelle Krupa. Krupa, like Barrow, was offered a job with NOLA Media Group, but given Barrow's relocation to Atlanta, Krupa's continuing role at the paper is unclear, though editors expect her to leave.
• Crime reporter Brendan McCarthy, a 2009 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, has reportedly told his editors he will not be accepting a job offer proferred by the new NOLA Media Group.
• Columnist Stephanie Grace, who was offered a job as a reporter in the new NOLA Media Group, has reportedly turned down the company's offer. Reached by phone tonight, Grace had no comment.
Several other longtime reporters are said also to be weighing their options, and new publisher Ricky Mathews and editor Jim Amoss have held personal meetings with a few of them during the last week.
The number of veteran personnel turning down the new company's offer — particularly long-time metro reporters — is said to have taken those in the executive suite aback.
"Frankly, they're shitting bricks," said one person with knowledge of the meetings. A second person with knowledge of the talks told Gambit, "I'd say that's accurate."
Furthermore, Times-Picayune newsroom sources have told Gambit the paper has been vacillating on how to report these and other departures. A story about the departures — currently assigned to business reporter Jaquetta White — is expected in the next few days, but how to shape and frame that story was the topic of meetings in the newsroom today.
It is unclear what will happen to the reporters who are turning down the paper's offers — whether they will be asked to leave immediately, or will continue with The Times-Picayune until the new company takes over Oct. 1. The paper has fired more than 200 employees, but has recently placed ads looking to fill dozens of new positions within the NOLA Media Group.
A fundraiser for soon-to-be-unemployed Times-Picayune employees was held tonight at three St. Charles Avenue bars: Avenue Pub, Mia's Balcony and the Irish House, sponsored by the nonprofit group Dash Thirty Dash, The Times-Picayune Employee & Contractor Assistance Fund. Informal reports said that more than $2,800 was raised at the Avenue Pub alone. A dinner for the fund, held earlier this week at the Magazine Street restaurant La Petite Grocery, raised more than $3,000.