When I last saw Diana Pinckley it was at that rally last June shortly after word had gotten out about what the Newhouses were going to do to their Times-Picayune.
A crowd had gathered outside of Rock and Bowl to protest the downgrading of the newspaper from a daily to three times a week. Pinckley was wearing a T-shirt that said, “The Times-Picayune We Publish Come Hell and High Water.” The message reflected what, in retrospect, was the golden era of the T-P only six years removed when the newspaper was an active voice of the recovery and when reporters, flooded out of their own homes, camped out at each others houses to keep the paper alive and when columnist Chris Rose personally took to the streets to deliver the newspaper. Pride was high then, and it should have been.
On this day, the pride had been substantially deflated as ownership, a force sometimes worse than hell and high water, had undermined the beloved newspaper. From the beginning it was battle that could not be won, but that had to be fought because a) it was such a civic issue and b) it was about New Orleans’ dignity.
Pinckley, who died last week because of cancer, had links to the newspaper. Over the years she had contributed book reviews. Most of all, she was married to John Pope, a long time journalist for the newspaper who fortunately had survived the cut.
Had the Newhouses known Pinckley, they might have understood New Orleans as being a city of people who are committed to it. Her profession was public relations but her passion was activism. There were many outpourings of expression last week including this from Ron Biava, Development and Marketing Manager for public radio station WWNO:
Diana loved public radio, and she was quietly one of WWNO's most important supporters, providing (us) with creative ideas and valuable advice, and opening doors to financial support. Meanwhile she was a successful communications consultant and a true servant of the community, working hard for Women of the Storm, Market Umbrella, the New Orleans Science and Math High School, and other education, arts, literary and civic causes, here in New Orleans, in Tennessee and nationally.
There was a memorial service for Pinckley Saturday afternoon at the Ogden Museum; that night, and not far away, there was a fundraiser for T-P employees who had lost their jobs. Today, Monday, is sad too because it is the first day of there no longer being a daily Times-Picayune. (Hey Newhouses, October is when New Orleans comes alive culturally, socially, politically, economically and on the playing field. It is the worst month to cut back a newspaper.)
This moment, however, does not belong to distant owners but to Pinckley, whose legacy reminds us that there are people who care about this city and because of that we will survive unbridled forces, including those that are corporate as well as hell and high water.
Krewe: The Early New Orleans Carnival-Comus to Zulu by Errol Laborde is available at all area bookstores. Books can also be ordered via email firstname.lastname@example.org or (504-895-2266).
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYSAT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 P.M. WYES-TV, CH. 12