Today’s Gambit story about the Times-Picayune cuts mentions that many staffers gathered at Wit’s Inn after work Tuesday and that “colleagues from the Chicago Tribune phoned the bar and opened a tab for their compatriots.”
I asked around this morning: Who at the Tribune bought the drinks?
I found out that it was Angela Rozas, an editor from Louisiana who interned at the Times-Picayune in 1999, then was hired fulltime and worked at the paper until going to grad school in 2002. (She joined the Tribune a year later.)
“There’s a tight community of former Picayuners, and we’ve never forgotten our time there and our friends there,” says Rozas. “Whenever one has lost a job the others have pitched it, whether by creating a website or sending some beer money. This time there were so many of our friends [who lost jobs] we didn’t know where to start.”
She knew that staffers often gathered at Wit’s Inn bar, and figured that “if I can’t be there to toast them, at least I can send some beers their way.”
Rozas called the tavern at 5:15 p.m. and told the woman who answered that phone that she wanted to buy drinks for the Picayune journalists there.
“I gave her my credit card number and a spending limit.” She emailed other friends and they pitched in, too. (David Meeks, Steve Ritea, Dante Ramos, Jordan Barnett, and Natalie Pompilio were among those contributing to the beer fund. Rozas declines to give a dollar amount, but says she hopes it paid for a few hours of beers. One of the first things she said when I called her was: “It wasn’t our intention to call attention to ourselves. I would have been fine if my friends down there could have just enjoyed it.”)
She adds: “It wasn’t about the money. We just hoped they would know there were people elsewhere rooting for them. We’re all just heartbroken for them.”