Less than two months after being honored by her alma mater as an Outstanding Alumna, Jennifer Brown has learned that she is losing the very job that coveted the recent recognition.

Brown, a 1996 UL Lafayette (then USL) journalism graduate, is among the 84 newsroom employees at The Times-Picayune who learned this week that they will no longer have a job at the New Orleans newspaper come Sept. 30. The mass layoffs at one of the nation’s oldest newspapers — 200 staff members have been cut, with 84 of 169 newsroom employees getting the boot — come on the heels of a devastating announcement from the T-P’s parent companies, Advance Publications and Newhouse, that The Times-Picayune will no longer be a daily newspaper starting this fall.  

UL journalism professor Dr. Robert Buckman says Brown is a years-long employee of The Times-Pic’s copy desk who in April was awarded the UL Mass Communication Department’s annual Outstanding Alumna award recognizing graduates who have excelled in their field.

When Katrina devastated the city in 2005, Buckman says Brown “was one of a tiny group who stayed in the [Times-Picayune] building all night and was evacuated the next day by delivery truck through axle-deep water.”

Brown played a role in the “CATASTROPHIC” banner headline following Hurricane Katrina, according to Buckman, and was working the copy desk the night the Saints won their first Super Bowl, prompting the famous “AMEN!” headline in The Times-Pic Monday edition.

She also shared in the Pulitzer the paper earned for its Katrina coverage.

Gambit’s Kevin Allman has been closely following The Times-Pic saga since the night it first broke on The New York Times website. Allman points out in a Wednesday blog that “no one from Advance Publications or Newhouse ... was on hand to deliver the [layoff] news:”
Besides the newsroom slashing, the paper’s entire marketing department was fired save one person. All special sections employees, the library staff and human resources employees were also presented with severance papers.

The paper’s new publisher, Ricky Mathews, was not seen in the building.

Richard Thompson, a business writer, brought a bottle of Crown Royal to his individual meeting. He ended up splitting it with business editor Kim Quillen. Both were fired.

Those who were invited to stay with the newly christened NOLA Media Group, which will oversee NOLA.com and the thrice-weekly Times-Picayune, now have two weeks to decide whether to accept the “conditional offer” (which includes a background check and drug testing) or opt for severance. Several of those who spoke to Gambit tonight said the offer didn’t include even the most basic details of the new jobs, down to whom they would be reporting or what their specific duties would be under the NOLA Media Group.
Read more from Gambit here and here.

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