Skip to comments.Owner Strikes Back in Turmoil at Santa Barbara News-Press
Posted on 07/14/2006 4:41:12 AM PDT by abb
Normally genteel Santa Barbara convulsed with another round of recrimination Thursday over its daily newspaper with owner Wendy McCaw accusing journalists who quit her newsroom en masse of using the paper to air their biases, while one of the defectors slammed the wealthy owner as an amateurish meddler.
Much of the fighting was conducted on the front pages of the Santa Barbara News-Press and the alternative weekly the Santa Barbara Independent. Even one-time Washington political columnist Lou Cannon joined in the print-lashing of the daily newspaper's operators.
While the week-old battle raged, an eighth News-Press journalist resigned Thursday and the acting publisher said some of the city's establishment was fanning the controversy to damage an editorial page that had dared to question politicians and proposals for high-density development.
Thursday's opening salvo came with McCaw's front-page "note to readers," telling her side. In it, she accused the journalists who quit last week of failing to meet her goal of "accurate and unbiased reporting."
"When news articles became opinion pieces, reporting went unchecked and the paper was used as a personal arena to air petty infighting by the editors," McCaw wrote, "these goals were not met."
The letter, accompanied by a photo of a smiling McCaw in pearls, said that some disgruntled employees "appeared to use the News-Press for their own agendas [and] decided to leave when it was clear they no longer would be permitted to flavor the news with their personal opinions."
From the beginning of the controversy, however, many of McCaw's employees said it was the owner and her acting publisher, Travis Armstrong, who tried to censor the news.
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
Owner of Santa Barbara Paper Explains Mass Defections-- Then Another Quits
Published: July 14, 2006 7:45 AM ET
SANTA BARBARA Santa Barbara News-Press owner Wendy McCaw told readers Thursday that the resignations of nearly all her top editors were prompted by her unwillingness to let them "flavor the news with their personal opinions."
The editors quit last week, citing meddling in news coverage by McCaw and her team. In a "note to readers," McCaw said the editors not her were the problem.
"When I purchased the News-Press, I had goals to improve the quality of the paper, to have accurate unbiased reporting, and more local stories that readers want to read," McCaw wrote.
"Some of the people who lost sight of these goals and appeared to use the News-Press for their own agendas decided to leave when it was clear they no longer would be permitted to flavor the news with their personal opinions."
Publisher Travis Armstrong said a survey of readers conducted by an independent company late last year found many believed stories were slanted. He wasn't able to provide details about the findings.
Armstrong said the paper has lost several hundred subscribers since last week but newsstand sales have increased.
Editor Jerry Roberts, managing editor George Foulsham and his deputy, and the sports, business and city editors all quit, as did a longtime columnist.
"I resigned because of a difference in fundamental, journalistic, ethical and management principles," Roberts said Thursday. "Any other characterization is inaccurate."
Following McCaw's letter, another staffer quit. Reporter Scott Hadly, an eight-year veteran, said his decision was based on the letter and the paper's refusal to print his story on last week's resignations.
"She's trashed her own newspaper right there," Hadly said of McCaw's letter. "I can't fathom why she did that."
The News-Press, founded in 1855, is locally owned and published by McCaw's Ampersand Publishing LLC, which bought the paper in 2000 from the New York Times Co. It has a 57-person editorial staff, publishes seven days a week and has a daily circulation of about 41,000.
McCaw, a wealthy social activist, wrote that journalists and editors must separate their personal feelings from their professional news judgment, saying that "otherwise, the reader is ill-served and journalistic integrity is lost."
"When news articles became opinion pieces, reporting went unchecked and the paper was used as a personal arena to air petty infighting by the editors, these goals were not met," McCaw wrote.
Earlier this week, Armstrong appointed four new editors. The paper has yet to name a new chief editor and managing editor.
But thats what these "journalists" were taught in school. they are smarter and wiser and just better all around people than the average guy. So we'd better forget our opinions and let them guide us.
Perhaps this owner is trying to delay the death of her paper. Sounds like everyone involved needs a class on professionalism.
I don't know anything about "social activist" Wendy McCaw, whether she's left or right or puce, but if the NY Times ran the paper for a long time, it can only be worse than it was 35 years ago.
"While this says little for the state of the media, we at FR.com can enjoy the fact that all who write on the Internet effectively "Own a press"."
I really kinda wonder if the press was ever "fair and balanced". Its always been owned by someone and they generally had an axe to grind.
We'd like to think that the media is some noble enterprise. In reality they have to turn a profit and their management has to be appeased.
These "journalists" seem to hold the somewhat mistaken belief that the world can somehow not function without their collective wisdom, spewed on a daily basis.
She is right on the money with this. This is now standard by all reporters who think the readers NEED their opinions in every story, little wonder these halfwits are destroying the newspaper business.
Amen! We currently live in an era of profound change that echoes the invention of Guttenberg's revolutionary press a half a millennium ago. Perhaps Gilder says it best:
. . .
The force of microelectronics will blow apart all the monopolies, hierarchies, pyramids, and power grids of established industrial society. It will undermine all totalitarian regimes. police states cannot endure under the advance of the computer because it increases the powers of the people far faster than the powers of surveillance. p 61
. . .
The new law of networks exalts the smallest coherent system: the individual human mind and spirit. A healthy culture reflects not the psychology of crowds but the creativity and inspiration of millions of individuals reaching for high goals. In place of the broadcast pyramid, a peer network will emerge in which all the terminals will be smart -- not mere television sets but interactive video receivers, processors, and transmitters. p 63
This just in... (God, I love saying that, lol)
'Santa Barbara News-Press' Union Organizing Pre-Dates Mass Defections
By Joe Strupp
Published: July 14, 2006 12:30 PM ET
NEW YORK Newsroom employees of the Santa Barbara News-Press were apparently upset enough, even before last week's multiple editor resignations, to seek union representation, according to a union official.
George Tedeschi, president of the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamster, said his California representative had been approached several weeks ago by editorial employees looking for union support.
"They asked if we would represent them, it has been a matter of weeks," said Tedeschi. "We are going to ask the employer to recognize the union and hopefully they will. If not, we will have to take whatever steps necessary to get the employees certified."
Tedesch's comments followed a report on the Web site www.laobserved.com that several News-Press editorial employees had approached Publisher Travis Armstrong earlier this week to inform him that the union request had been made. Armstrong could not be reached for comment Friday.
Word of the union organizing comes just a week after the News-Press underwent a massive editorial leadership resignation, which included Editor Jerry Roberts, five lower editors, a longtime columnist, and an investigative reporter. The resignations, which began July 6, were in response to accusations of meddling by owner Wendy McCaw and Armstrong.
McCaw has since denied the complaints and stated that some staffers left over a difference in news judgment. She also hinted in Thursday's paper that bias had allegedly crept into some reporting.
Tedeschi, whose union also represents editorial employees at Newsday in Melville, N.Y., said the News-Press employees would likely seek a certification vote if the newspaper declines to recognize the union. "We prefer to work with the employer, but the employer has to be reasonable," he said, declining to say how long such a vote might take to occur. "It depends upon what course of action we determine to go. The NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] can be a long, drawn-out process."
When asked about the News-Press situation, which has already prompted heavy criticism from local residents and journalists, and at least 100 subscription cancellations, Tedeschi said it was obvious employees feel the need for group strength.
"People are upset, but there is another alternative," he said. "To form a union."
Joe Strupp (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior editor at E&P
"People are upset, but there is another alternative," he said. "To form a union." Said by a union organizer. Probably a Libroid, too. Somehow I suspect conservative union organizers are more rare than virgins abiding at the House of the Rising Sun.
Another alternative is to sell off the paper and start another with new people.
If the unions do as much good for pressstitution as they did for aviation, it will be time to sell stock in companies making newsprint.
Go ahead and quit. With all the job losses in the newspaper industry, they should have no problem replacing you with a report who has been out of work for a year or two and is willing to live with the simple requirement that only the facts be reported.