AAN Announces Relief Effort to Support Gambit Employees

AAN announced today that it had established a multi-pronged effort to provide immediate relief to employees of its New Orleans-based member paper who have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The centerpiece of the effort is a special fund that the association has established in its Alternative Newsweekly Foundation to accept charitable contributions from members who want to provide immediate assistance to Gambit Weekly employees. The fund is accepting donations immediately and will begin sending checks to displaced employees early next week.

“The folks at Gambit have lost their homes and their jobs, and are without any source of income, and they need help,” says AAN President Kenneth Neill, publisher of the Memphis Flyer. “This association is going to do everything it can to provide assistance in their time of need.”

The association will also serve as a conduit to help Gambit employees find temporary assignments or permanent positions at other AAN-member alternative weeklies, many of which have already contacted AAN with job offers. AAN will also serve as a facilitator for members who would like to help the displaced employees find transportation, lodging, meals and other bare necessities.

Finally, AAN will produce a series of house ads that members can use online and*** in their own papers directing readers to contribute to the Gambit fund*** as well as an as-yet undetermined disaster-relief organization. The house ads will be available for download from the AAN Web site by next Thursday.***

Before any of this can happen, AAN needs to locate the displaced employees. To that end, the association earlier today set up a message board on its Web site in order to locate missing workers.

Margo and Clancy DuBos, co-owners of Gambit Communications, have been in regular contact with AAN since Tuesday. Late Friday evening, after an exhilarating day in which he participated in a nautical search-and-rescue mission, Clancy spoke with AAN Executive Director Richard Karpel and learned that the AAN relief effort had been announced. He later sent this message via e-mail:

“Since Katrina struck, we have been overwhelmed by the enormity of the destruction left in its wake. We are even more overwhelmed by the outpouring of assistance and generosity from our fellow AAN members. This is the highest calling of our organization — making a real difference in the lives of others — and proof of what a great group of professionals belong to AAN. We will never forget you. God bless you all.”***

AAN members can make tax-deductible contributions to the Gambit Fund by check or credit card. Checks should be made payable to the Alternative Newsweekly Foundation. Checks written by member companies should include the word “Gambit Fund” in the memo section; checks written by individual AAN members participating in a matching-funds program should include the name of the company they work for. They should be sent to the foundation at 1250 Eye Street N.W., Suite 804, Washington, D.C. 20005.

To contribute by credit card, members can call AAN at 202-289-8484, or e-mail Tiffany Kildale at tkildale@aan.org.

Several AAN-member companies have already announced significant contributions to the fund.

Houston Press and New Times Media have announced that together they are donating $15,000 to the relief fund. New Times will also match the tax-deductible donations that New Times managers and employees make to the fund, up to an additional $15,000.

Village Voice Media will also contribute $15,000 and match its employees’ contributions up to $15,000.

The Stranger and Portland Mercury have pledged $1,500, and will match employee contributions up to another $1,000.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian announced that it will contribute $2,000 to the fund.

Willamette Week pledged a minimum of $3,000.

City Newspaper made a donation of $1000 and said it would match employees’ donations up to $500.

Alternative Weekly Network sent a check for $5000 and will seek additional assistance from AWN members.

The Austin Chronicle pledged $1500.

The Charleston City Paper is taking donations from employees and will match the contributions dollar for dollar.

The Memphis Flyer pledged a minimum of $1500 to the Gambit Fund, matching every employee’s contribution dollar-for-dollar. ***

Many other AAN members expressed an interest in helping Gambit and its employees, but were unable to contact AAN in time to be included in this announcement. Additional contributions will be announced on the AAN Web site as they are received.

***Italicized information added Sept. 2, 11:55 pm.

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