June 14, 2016

As the Orlando Sentinel newsroom continues covering the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, newsrooms in other cities are showing their support with food.

Southern California News Group, which includes publications such as the San Bernardino Sun that covered the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, bought Monday night’s dinner. The Los Angeles Times, which won a Pulitzer for coverage of San Bernardino, plans to send pizza. The Tampa Bay Times (which Poynter owns) plans to send food.

Also on Tuesday night, former journalists from the Sentinel and the Boston Globe sent subs to the newsroom and set up a bar tab. Erin Ailworth, a Wall Street Journal reporter who previously worked at the Sentinel and the Globe, organized the meal and tab, but said her fellow Sentinel alums are the ones who really stepped up. She was inspired to organize the gesture after remembering what it meant when the Chicago Tribune sent pizzas to the Globe newsroom as it covered the Boston Marathon bombing.

So far, 90 journalists have chipped in for the dinner and the tab, which is currently up to $1,235. They sent a letter along with dinner Tuesday night. It included this:

Once off deadline, feel free to wander over to North Quarter Tavern, where we’ve set up a tab that will be open to Sentinel staff over the next few days. Grab a drink, have a snack on us – but most importantly, take a moment to recharge.

Keep up the good work.

Thanks to the #SouthernCaliforniaNewsGroup for sending dinner to our newsroom. #thankful #orlandounited

A photo posted by Janet Brindle Reddick (@jbreddick22) on

The gesture has become a familiar one between newsrooms that have faced big stories in their communities and newsrooms currently facing those stories. Last June, The Baltimore Sun sent pizzas to The (Charleston, South Carolina) Post and Courier as it covered the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Last April, The Boston Globe sent pizzas to the Sun as it covered the death of Freddie Gray and the protests that followed.

And in April of 2013, the Chicago Tribune sent pizzas to The Boston Globe as it covered the Boston Marathon bombing.

Mark Katches, the editor of The Oregonian, said that the Portland-based newspaper will also be sending food to the Sentinel. But, he added, it won’t be cake, referencing a recent newsroom outbreak of norovirus after a staff celebration.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said The Wall Street Journal is sending food. That’s incorrect. Instead, a Journal reporter who once worked at the Sentinel is organizing a meal.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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