Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, July 29, 2006

POA Ad Campaign Over the Top

With 150 pt. type, the Santa Barbara Police Officers Association as screamed "CRISIS!" at me this week as I paged through towards The Angry Poodle...."From my perspective, the ad is accurate," said POA PR-Flack Richard Cochrane in the News-Press article today. "The point was not to exaggerate, and make sure people have the facts and let people make their own decisions."

Apparently, if CIty Hall does not stem the tide -- we are in big trouble. I want to do all I can to support our men and women in blue but it's hard to when most Santa Barbaran's don't start with a salary close to $70,000 when they come into the job market after college and have the opportunity to rack up close to six figures with overtime. I noticed that the ad just shows the amount our officers are paid less than other jurisdictions and not their full salary.

The SB Cops web site is replete with pages and PDFs of information and even has a merchandise this an exageration? At the very least they went over the top to grab out attention....for a change, I agreee with John Davies on this one -- both sides are doing a poor job at handling the situation, what do you think?

Indy Coverage of Forum

This is kind of like that classic Dutch painting where you see the mirror of the mirror of the mirror of the artist creating a painting but the The Indy Media Blog has a great discussion about the forum about the News-Press Mess. It even has pictures!

If you want to see it on TV -- here's the dates for rebroadcasts on Channel 17:

Saturday, July 29th, 7-9 PM
Sunday, July 30th, 7-9 AM and 9-11 PM
Tuesday, August 1 at 6 PM
Thursday, August 3 at 11 AM and 8 PM
Friday, August 4th at 2 PM
Saturday, August 5 at 3 AM
Sunday, August 6 at 10 PM

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

City Council and Other News Update

With all the news happening on just one corner of De la Guerra Plaza in the last few weeks, we've been neglecting a few things that have been going on at City Hall and around town.

  • Police Contract Negotiations have stalled. Why has there not been leadership from any council members in this area on behalf of the Police Officers Association? They must be upset after all the money they spent on the last election...recent news of a robo-call campaign indicate the lengths the POA will go to in fighting their cause. What are the odds that Travis won't write about this once he is back in the editorial office? Pretty high....
  • North La Cumbre Road Condos:Council voted 4-1 for an to deny appeal for a "revitalization" 9-condo project on the northside. Opponents say the project is contrary to the General Plan.
  • Bob Noel Runs for Re-Election: will this cantakerous school board member ever step down? No wonder Lynn Rodrogiuez decided not to run again.

I'll break these out into separate posts if there is considerable interest in one subject versus the others....

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

McCaw Letter to Readers

Talk amongst's The Wendy's take a free press...

July 25, 2006 03:57 PM US Eastern Timezone
Santa Barbara News-Press Owner Wendy P. McCaw Sets Record Straight
SANTA BARBARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 25, 2006--This morning, Santa Barbara News-Press Owner and Co-Publisher Wendy P. McCaw issued the following statement to readers:

Since the recent resignation of several newsroom staffers, I have done my best to take the high road and not involve the paper in a name-calling contest. I continue to feel that moving the paper forward and putting this behind us is the best course of action. But in light of the recent deluge of misrepresentations, misperceptions, personal attacks and outright lies, I feel I owe it to you to set the record straight.

First and foremost, this is not a freedom of the press issue. I completely support the rights of a free press. I always have and I always will. It is one of the reasons I bought the paper. I support and understand the need for separation between the editorial, news and advertising pages. There is no place for personal opinion or agendas in news coverage.

Violations of our paper's policies and standards are what brought on this conflict. As owner and co-publisher, it was my responsibility to step in and handle this internal matter. Nine members of the staff, out of more than two hundred, chose to resign rather than accept my decisions. I respect their right to do so.

Earlier this month, I appointed Travis Armstrong to temporarily act as publisher. We are in the process of hiring a new editor who is a strong journalist with impeccable credentials to be the buffer between the newsroom and the publisher. Arthur Von Wiesenberger and I are the co-publishers of the News-Press.

It is personally painful for me, and I know it is for all dedicated News-Press staff, to be placed in such a situation. Our energies can and should be focused in positive ways to work together, not on divisive rhetoric. For the quiet majority who sent e-mails and notes of support to me and my staff, I say thank you. I want to assure you that I remain totally committed to overcoming this adversity and staying the course. Let me put a rumor to rest. The paper is absolutely not for sale.

Some newsroom staff have indicated that they wish to be represented by the Teamsters Union. The National Labor Relations Board has rules and procedures under which a collective bargaining unit can be established and employees can express their uncoerced views, including a secret ballot election. While I don't believe that union representation is in the best interests of our employees, the paper or this community, I respect our employee's rights to make their own decisions. Our staff members understand they are free to publicly discuss unionization issues and I expect there will be a full and open debate regarding the attempts by the Teamsters to unionize our paper. Meanwhile, we are taking the necessary steps to ensure the paper is published every day as usual, thanks to our dedicated and hard-working staff.

Let me take a moment to clear the air about the cease and desist letters that were sent out by the paper. One letter went to three former employees and the other to the Santa Barbara Independent. The letter to the employees was based on the company's confidentiality policy, something almost all organizations have in place. That policy clearly states that proprietary and confidential information concerning the internal operations of the paper and internal matters may not be disclosed to our competitors or publicly, even after resigning. All employees are aware of this policy and have respected it to our knowledge, with the exception of those who resigned. In the case of the Independent, there was no question that they published material that belonged to the News-Press without permission in direct violation of copyright law. When we raised this, their attorneys quickly agreed to remove all News-Press copyrighted material.

Our staff members understand they are free to publicly discuss unionization issues. There was no attempt to gag or otherwise hinder free speech. I would not permit such a thing.

One of the basic tenets of good reporting is that there are always two sides to every story. Up to now, most of you have only heard the attacks being hurled at the News-Press by those with other agendas besides journalism. That's over now. I will stand up for this paper, my employees and our community whenever and wherever it is needed. A new chapter in this paper's history is unfolding. I invite you to join me in making a difference in our community - instead of forming the great divide which makes for good tabloid coverage but benefits no one.

I would like to personally thank all of our loyal advertisers and readers for staying with us through this difficult time. I am gratified that in July, our new subscriptions exceeded cancellations, resulting in a net subscription increase of 406. While the vocal minority has tried to make a lot of noise, the quiet majority are showing their support.

Many years ago I accepted the fact that the difficult decisions I must make as owner and co-publisher do not make me popular. I am not running a popularity contest. I am running a newspaper. I will always do what I think is best for the News-Press and our community.


Wendy McCaw

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Veronica Meadows Discussion

Good point, let's take this discussion about housing and Veronica Springs over here.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Not the Way the News-Press Planned

I was watching an old-school Miami Vice movie tonight and ran across an amusing, cheesey commercial for the News-Press made from stock video.

A prospective employee is talking about how he was trying to land a new job and sipping coffee from an oversized yellow cup. It goes on to show the boss, who looks like Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, doing a "garage sale" on his mountain bike. The employee had read about a race the prospective boss was in from the News-Press sports section and tried to use the information to get one up on a new job. After the biff, yellow cup man says: "It didn't go the way I planned, but I sure made an impression". Concurrently, you see the fallen biker get up and keep going in the race. It ends with yellow cup exclaiming "Thanks News-Press!".

Oooooh, such subtle use of visual metaphor -- I almost didn't catch it. Is this their message? That it "didn't go the way they planned but they sure made an impression"....are we supposed to be left with being proud of them for getting up and keeping on with the race? We are supposed to thank them?

The commercial itself begs the question why it is needed if subscriptions are up 1,000 with only 406 cancellations according to the Huff and Puff Report posted yesterday. With an average of 16 new subscriptions a day for a now very small paper, we have to ask who isn't telling the whole story? Given their history -- we have to assume the Huff and Puff Report is just that....the SBNP will say or do anything to get elected.

'I'm Running a Newspaper'....I'm a Decider

Under the headline, Santa Barbara a-buzz as newspaper becomes the news, the San Diego Tribune covered the Mess at the News-Press and even gave me a quote in the article....also quoted are Jeremy Tessmer from Arts & Letters, Marshall Rose from the Downtown Organization and our Mayor.

The Wendy is using a few more clichés than one would expect from an owner of a paper. It reminds me of Bush saying he's a "decider" -- what was up by the way with the impromptu backrub of the German Chancellor and the "cutting the Pig" references at a Middle East Summit? Anyway, back on's her quote from the SD Tribune:

Difficult decisions may not be popular. But I am not running a popularity contest. I am running a newspaper,” she said.

Later in the article -- we get this:
Agnes Huff, a public relations consultant hired by McCaw this week to respond to media questions, said about 1,000 readers have canceled their subscriptions over the flap. However, McCaw said that overall subscriptions are up 406 for the month of July (the newspaper reports it has a circulation of 41,000).

“While the vocal minority has tried to make a lot of noise, the quiet majority are clearly showing their support,” McCaw said.

Does this make me part of the Moral Minority? The subscription info is a little hard to believe -- and I have seen Noleta and Goleta driveways peppered with free newspapers for days. How could you lose 406 and then gain over 1,000 with such a small paper currently that doesn't even have an editorial section?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Huff and Puff PR

Thanks to David for providing this press release which works really hard to say absolutely nothing at deserves it's own posting area:

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 20, 2006--The management of The Santa Barbara News-Press issued the following statement this morning.

The Santa Barbara News-Press respects the right of employees to seek collective bargaining through unionization. We do not believe this is in the best interests of the employees, company, readers or the community.

The company recognizes there are statutes and procedures that have been set by the National Labor Relations Board that must be followed. This includes a secret ballot election that protects the employees from coercion by the union or the company. The company will adhere to this process in a professional manner and expects that the employees seeking representation will do likewise.

As we move through the NLRB process, the company expects everyone involved to continue doing their jobs in a professional manner.

The company remains committed to all its employees and to the business of running a newspaper. The paper continues to have an open door policy for all employees to address their concerns.

Agnes Huff Communications

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

HDF, Lowe and the Web Hug

This, and several similar posts on this topic have come in to BlogaBarbara in the last day or so, looks like a worthy post topic:

Regarding Lowe and Montecito's Homeowners Defense Fund: Today's new Montecito Journal reports infighting among Montecito Association board members over the infamous Lowe manse appeal, where the normally vigilant Association was MIA "Land Use Committee Chair Susan Keller expressed dismay that Association President Bob Collector had informed members not to participate in the Lowe hearing, " the Journal reports. According the to HDF website (location posted above), Collector is a member of HDF along with Gary Earle and Rob Lowe-- the three photographed together in a web hug, and posting a newsletter thanking Travis for HDF's recent local radio appearance.

[Note from Sara: Here's the HDF WebSite but I am not sure where the big web hug is...]

What is the relationship between Rob Lowe and the reclusive millionaire, her man at De la Guerra and the Montecito Association? Is everyone star struck?

Wikipedia on Rob Lowe mentions HDF this way:

"the president of the Homeowner's Defense Fund, Sally Jordan, characterized California State advocacy for new housing as `like Hitler'.[1] At the same time Lowe opposes new housing for others, he has sought to build a very large mansion for himself at 700 Picacho Lane in Montecito.[2] Lowe's protest over the appearance of the address in the Santa Barbara News-Press precipitated a mass resignation of senior employees at that newspaper on July 6, 2006."

Notice how his address is listed in Wikipedia for everyone to see? Hmmmmm....

Egregious Egotism

Not much to say here, but as you folks are BB's readers, we thought you should see this...Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

So hey, thanks for coming to visit BlogaBarbara!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Was DLG Rally a Success?

Hindsight is 20/20 -- but was the DLG Rally a Success? It may be too soon to tell...

Speaker Update for Noon Rally at DLG Plaza

David Pritchett sent this update along -- it's worth of a post, thanks David:

People's Rally to Restore the News-Press
De La Guerra Plaza, downtown Santa Barbara, in public park in front of News-Press building
Tuesday, 18th July, at 12 noon for about a half-hour

The purpose is to demand that Santa Barbara News-Press ownership and management operate the newspaper with a clear separation of news and opinion, and thus restore the credibility and believability of this newspaper. We also want to honor the now-NINE editors, columnist, and senior reporter who resigned their jobs to stand up for journalistic integrity. And, we want to show support for the employees who remain, under siege, and cannot afford to leave while they start organizing under a labor union. Finally, we are encouraging readers to cancel their subscriptions and to inform advertisers that the newspaper has lost credibility and the public’s trust. Call them at 966-7171 to cancel your subscription and get a refund (actually a fast and easy process, and they even ask why a cancellation).

Here are the confirmed speakers, with a possibility of one or two other high-stature people to be confirmed by the time of the rally. Others from business and civic circles also agree with the message of the rally and would like to speak, but are under the chilling effect and concern about retributions.

* Marty Blum, Mayor of Santa Barbara
* Jonny Wallis, Mayor of Goleta
* Brad Stein, Mayor of Carpinteria
* Don Murphy, recently former 19-year N-P reporter and editor
* Cheri Rae, neighborhood association founder-activist and writer
* Marc Chytilo, public interest environmental attorney
* Scott Hadly, recently former 8-year N-P reporter
* outro music singing by soul singer Ron Paris

Participants are asked to bring noise-makers, and their loud voices, so that the newspaper owner and publisher will hear our message. Everyone who cares about having a credible and trustworthy daily newspaper should come and make some noise at this event. A big turnout will demonstrate community support and may inspire someone out there to purchase the New-Press from Ms. McCaw.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Feral Pigs Come Home To Poop

Alas, it has come to the moment we've all been waiting for -- the pigs have not only come home to poop, but they're pooping all over each other in Wendy McCaw's front yard.

News-Press founder T. M. Storke isn't just rolling in his grave, Wendy and Travis are twisting the spit of his dessicated corpse over an open flame, to the frightening, sickening delight of the insullated few.

Ya just can't greet these feral beasts, non-native to the environment, with goodwill any longer. They clearly have no respect for it, and why should we expect that they will respect their good fortune?

There are a few reasons that I moved away from Santa Barbara, and BlogaBarbara:

1). I felt that the site's original activist origins needed, and did, change in a direction that was more appropriate for a long-term voice on the Central Coast.

2). I went from holly-go-lightly single bon-vivant to happily married family man who no longer had the time to give a flying eff what BS McCaw, and Armstrong, and Falcone, and all these other inheritors of privilege were cooking up to screw the average Santa Barbarian out of housing, livelihood, and home, and...

3). To do so, I had to move to NoCo. You try feeding five mouths and making a mortgage payment -- hell, rent! -- in Santa Barbara. Do I love NoCo? No. But I love my family, and it makes me sick to my stomach -- one issue for us at BB for quite some time.

By the way, dear Barbarians, how about this sweet blast from the past? Travisty in his own words from April 2005 in the SB-NRP:

Did I miss some great Santa Barbara blogs during my Web surf? The ones I've seen so far are like Fox News, all opinion and reacting but no reporting. They just tell people what they want to hear.
Funny, he pegged the current paper he "publishes" except for one small fact, mister FacstWrong: he's not telling people what they want to hear, he's telling people what he and the monied interests who own the paper wants to hear...their own words and opinions ad naseuem.

Before you kill the messenger I must note: this blog has no advertising, makes no money, and has value only to those who choose to read it. We are not the (once) paper of record for the county. We are all editorial.

But the SB-NRP has truly sunk into the editorial gutters of Montecito. Living Wage? Screw You! You should commute from Lompoc to serve us -- the elite -- our delicious choco-lattes.

Affordable housing as you serve us? Screw You! We've have our mansions! Drive, bitches.

Can't afford a five-dollar cup of coffee and a cookie from Pierre Lafonde? Let polly eat a cracker! McCaaaaaaw!!!

But don't dare publish Rob Lowe's maybe perhaps sometime-in-the-future-but-really-not-address. Hell no!

Do you have an SB address while you serve my foie-gras?

Uh no, sorry... Too effing bad!

You publish MY drunk driving arrest after a hot night of schmoozing at the Baccara? Hell no! How dare you! You're fired!

You can barely afford to feed your kids Chef-Boy-Ardee while living in a slum, serving me Foie Gras, and can't even get beach access near the Baccara? Yawn.

Oh, well..........

Welcome to the new Santa Barbara. Everything that brought the rich here, art, music, beauty, culture, performance and an esoteric diverse community, are dwindling.

Oprah, where are you? If you would like to start a debate about the haves and have-nots in America, you can start, quite literally, in your own backyard.

But really, I'm just a knee-jerk Travis-hater, right?

If feral pigs and Rob Lowe's ostensible future address are more important than people, real people, who live and breathe right here and have this waste of trees called the Santa Barbara News-Press thrust on their doorsteps each morning, then the News-Press should find failure at the bottom of the bankruptcy court docket.

I'm ashamed, extremely ashamed, that this blog was "ahead of the curve" -- it means that I've failed.

Once, I knew and loved you, Santa Barbara. I guess it's true, people get what they pay for. And sometimes, they just plain get sold down Mission Creek.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Duct-Tape Gang Member Says 'Let's Not Lose It'

In case you missed it -- one of the remaining reporters at the News-Press made the following comment -- it bears repeating....

As one of the duct-tape gang, I would like to express my appreciation to those who attended our event Friday on short notice and others in the community who have offered support.

I hope that several thousand people can attend Tuesday's event. This was covered briefly on Friday but bears repeating: I can't stress enough the importance of keeping the discourse civil and on-point.

If the rally devolves into a political event and/or an "F.U. fest," it helps Travis' and Wendy's cause. Please keep the doctrine of clean hands in mind ... we have the momentum, so let's not lose it.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Page Views This Week for BlogaBarbara

I want to give Travis, Wendy, Nipper and Sam an idea about how important the News-Press Mess issue is to our community. This past week, BlogaBarbara has received over 3,400 visits and over 7,000 page views on this topic alone. Typically we were running at about a 1,000 visits a week prior to the walk out. Triple the visits is a major jump.

To our consistent readers, I want to thank you all for your support, your comments (even if I don't agree with them) and most of all your participation as your time and attention is important -- especially in this day and age. I don't take that lightly and hope you will will continue to help me keep this blog going with poignant comments and as-civil-as-you-can dialogue. To our new readers, I hope you put us in your Bloglines or other tool you might use to keep track of what goes on in this community.

Feel free to write a post for me to publish with salient news to

Indy Posts 'Mess' Correspondence

The Santa Barbara Independent posted letters of reprimand from News-Press owner Wendy McCaw to editor Michael Todd in an online version of The Angry Poodle. It also lists the whole text of Colin Power's resignation letter.

In her "memo" to Todd, Wendy says that including Rob Lowe's address was an unecessary detail of the story and that it could "potentially damage relations with other high profile readers".

In a response to Todd's letter back questioning the decision, McCaw accuses him of attempting to "cloak the publishing of a celebrity's home address in the garb of free speech, journalistic ethics and egalitarianism is specious. Nowhere in your resonse does one see the slightest regard for the Lowe's and their safety. The values of fairness for which you espouse in your tirade apparently do not extend to the Lowe's".

I guess celebritys have more of a right to fairness than the rest of us in Wendy's World. Rock on, Wendy. I'm not worthy.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Employee Rally at DLG

Take a look at the rally pics from EdHat --- today's rally was different than the rally next Tuesday. This was an employee based rally organized within maybe a day. If you don't have a MAC, visit The Sound for a story (C'mon Sound -- making pages for IE5 only is so old school -- most of your demographic uses Firefox or Safari...).

With unconfirmed reports of graphic designer Colin Powers resigning today we are now at "The News-Supress 9".

Finally, Rumor has it that Travesty Armstrong went to the bell tower to take pictures and gawk -- and to make his "facebook" for future dismissals. When someone in the audience yelled "JUMP!" -- I heard he stepped back.

The Inconvenient Truth at the News-Press

Thanks to snugspout for providing a link to the LA Times article today.

Here's some key points from quotes from Mr. Revisionist -- Travis Armstrong about the incovenient truth:

In his most extensive comments, Armstrong said in an interview Thursday that Cannon had failed a basic journalistic tenet by not calling him for an explanation.

Pot calling the kettle black.I'm pretty sure that any of you that have been in Armstrong's crosshairs have not gotten a call to explain your side before he dispenses his vitriol on the editorial page. Just ask Marty Blum, Susan Rose or even Brian Barnwell.

He said the News-Press had not covered other DUI cases unless they involved traffic accidents or serious injuries. He said his transgression got more attention because of long-standing "hard feelings" between him and Roberts, the former editor.

What's good for the goose...Armstrong continues to not acknowledge that his name on the masthead makes him a public figure. When this happened to Caprinteria Council Member Joe Armenderiz -- there was plenty of coverage on his DUI. What's different about it? He wants so badly to be an everyday Joe but live the life of a power broker.

Armstrong, 41, went on to accuse "a large group of people," including Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum, of trying to damage the newspaper's credibility.

"Some of them are connected to high-density development, which we have opposed," Armstrong said.

"And I think people will do as much as they can to keep this story going…. They are manipulating other media to try to silence this independent media voice."

What Happened to Crisis Management? He clearly did not talk to Singer before he let loose this salvo. First, Mayor Blum has a long history of opposing development --- and he should be clear that he has tried to take her down with editorials for at least two years running.

"Silencing an independent media voice"? Excuse me? If the News-Press was an independent voice -- Nipper wouldn't be calling reporters from France to get them to quash a story and Travis wouldn't be silencing stories on the retirement of the Mayor of Carpinteria or his own DUI. What world does he live in?

NPR Story on the Mess

Here's a seperate post on the NPR Story. The linkis here.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Barney, Nick and Lou Tell It Like It Is...

If you haven't yet -- get an Independent for one of the most riveting articles I've seen in years. Barney Brantingham did a great job at reporting what happened at DLG Plaza -- and so did Nick Welsh with his timeline of what happened.

Lou Cannon's letter to Travis was riveting as well -- explaining why he cancelled his subscription. Community letters from prominent community members was the coup de grace.

I have to say I feel a bit vindicated that so much information about Travis Armstrong is now coming to light after writing about it for close to a year and a half. What amazed me, however, is how Barney and Lou were able to put in words what I've been thinking, writing and commenting on for so long -- in a way that efficiently told the story everyone could hear. That's why they get paid the big bucks and I am NOT a journalist. Good for them for taking a stand. Good for The Indpendent for taking on Barney as a columnist.

Those of you that aren't convinced that losing eight key, respected staffers isn't a big deal -- read this story. After reading it -- if you choose to make comment supportive of Travis and Wendy, I'm going to assume that it has to do with a hired gun from San Francisco peppering our pages with anonymous comments. I'll still publish them but I gotta figure I would pepper too if I was paid hundreds an hour.

I've got one word for you Travis -- KARMA.

Scott Hadley Resigns

Number 8 if you are a number's person -- a talented reporter bravely left the News-Press today....I've been told there's an AP story on this but can't find it. Anyone have a link?

Goleta Council Slate or No?

Does the Goleta Council incumbent's joint press conference at Stow Grove Park not constitute a slate? They even served soda and pizza...I've never seen three seperate announcements made at the same time and not have some central theme. To me, it passes the smell test.

Revisionist Journalism -- so 1984!

Wendy McCaw called her former editors "disgruntled" today in a "note to readers". Using an age old tactic, she attacked them with the same concerns expressed about her and Travis by saying that these workers placed their personal opinion in the news they wrote and gee, that's unethical. Excuse me? I thought it was the other way's the direct quote.

This requires journalists and editors to separate their personal feelings from their professional news judgment. 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.

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.

I wrote the other day about dusting off my copy of Orwell's 1984 -- revisionist journalism is usually within the realm of the spin doctors. Oh yeah -- they have one now. Is he blonde? Maybe a member of the Meerkat Protectors League? Big sister and big brother are alive and well at DLG Plaza.

In other news, a commenter put the whole text of a rather strange post from Craigslist which offers a reward if one catches her man at De la Guerra drunk. I'd rather not post something like that here but here's the link if you want it. Also, the Daily Nexus article was a good one for background on the issue and even gave BlogaBarbara a shout.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mess and News-Press Update 7/12

Barney Brantingham told KEYT News that Nipper is no longer his friend in his interview with PrimeTime Palminteri. is offering news in their daily email "For those of you no longer reading the News-Press".

A rally related to the mess is planned for Tuesday, 7/18 -- see below.

Interesting opinion pice by Dana Parsons in the LA Times about NP workers standing up for their principles. He calls them "journalistic folk heroes".

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

News-Press Mess Rally on Tuesday 7/18

Please Note: Got this from a reader that lists their pseudonym at the bottom as anonymous -- with tips to my email, I won't divulge identities unless told it is okay or names are purposely placed in the text of the tip/community post -- Hope that makes sense to all y'all -- Sara.

July 18th rally will happen to BUILD BACK THAT WALL between the News and Opinion content of Santa Barbara News-(Sup)Press, and to cancel subscriptions and demand a refund for the remaining prepaid amount. Advertisers also can be informed about this growing public concern.

Rally at Noon, Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Location: De La Guerra Plaza, in front of News-Press building, downtown Santa Barbara
(in public park near City Hall, on De la Guerra St. between State St. and Anacapa St.)

This is an ultra-grassroots event with none of the usual suspects as organizer or sponsor, because the credibility of the daily newspaper affects everyone, from radical activists to the stodgy business establishment. Nobody has to pick sides or feel uncomfortable by association about who is or is not the lead on this rally, as everybody needs a credible daily newspaper.

Although this rally may be considered too far off for the pent-up demand, it still needs some advance time to find and invite the Credibility Heroes of the ousted News-Press editors and writers, as well as to confirm some other speakers with schedules to accommodate. As speakers are confirmed during the next few days, look to fresh postings at the various blogs on the topic, as well as some email lists.

Even a week away, this rally will continue to be a fresh and timely issue then, with more news articles anticipated nationwide (New York Times apparently is doing yet another article), and an expose by Barney Brantingham in Santa Barbara Independent on July 13. All this is in addition to his blistering comments in the three TV news interviews, plus his long expose in Santa Barbara Independent on July 13, plus anything else juicy in the Independent and elsewhere about the News-Press meltdown and Credibility Crisis. See these TV news links on the story: video text

Unfortunately, the usual Wall separating the Opinion Church from the News State has now crumbled with the purges on Bloody Thursday (July 6, 2006), when the 6 (yes, 6) top editors and the legendary columnist Barney Brantingham were pushed out of their jobs or resigned in disgust. As a result, no clear boundary remains between who controls the editorial or opinion content, versus what goes in a news article. That's a problem.

As a result, the newspaper has lost its credibility, and people and organizations that effectively have been black-listed from the Opinion pages now may be, or already are, black-listed from the news articles and other public-serving venues in the newspaper. That is going too far and breaks the bounds of standard professional standards and ethics.

"Black-listed" from the Opinion pages means they cannot get letters published (no matter how pertinent), and/or they are the consistent targets of criticism, no matter how trivial or repetitive. Conversely, public officials and others also may be praised or sugar-coated too much in news articles because the Wall has crumbled that should separate the Opinion Church from the News State. Black-listed from the Opinion pages is annoying and unfair, and reflects more on the writer than the subject, but black-listed from the News content is selective and suspect reverse-censorship.

The editorial opinions of the newspaper owners and publishers already are interweaving with the straight news content, thereby blowing the credibility so readers do not know what to believe as fact, selective omission, or melded opinion. "Happy news, ads, and opinion all smooshed together." The readers and the whole community need a credible record of the news held up to the highest professional and ethical standards. Such credibility includes an impermeable wall separating the Opinion pages from the News pages.

To paraphrase President Reagan: Mrs. McCaw, Build Back That Wall!

The new news editors hired either will be total Yes-men (yes, they all are men), or they will be intimidated or terrified and be unable to resist the meddling into the news content. After the raw power purges on Bloody Thursday, why should anyone expect the new news editors to do anything contrary to the wishes of the Ownership? Those new editors were hired for a reason, further feeding that Elephant in the Newsroom.

Everyone who cares about credibility and believability for what should be the local "News of Record" should come to the half-hour rally at noon on Tuesday, July 18th.

To cancel your subscriptions and get a refund for what is prepaid-paid, call them at 805-966-7171. A blog commenter noted they said a refunded would be made.

Send me ideas for the rally, or post them at the Indy Media Blog. The attachments (via the email version) is an editorial cartoon from Ventura County Star. Print it and bring it to the rally.

remaining anonymous to avoid the Black-list,
the Church/State Separatist

Inconvenient Truth in Wine Country

One of our readers passed this interesting article along from thanks for the tip!

Here's the teaser:
Global warming could hurt wine Scientists fear that rising temperatures will harm the wine industry in Napa, Sonoma and Santa Barbara counties ... and that by the end of the century, the best growing lands in the state's $2.9 billion industry will be unsuitable for the finest wines.

Mess at the News-Press Update: New Editors

This just in from a News-Press BusinessWire press release which has hired gun Sam Singer as a contact person:

Charles Bucher was named assistant managing editor, Scott Steeplton was named the new City Editor, Tony Peck was appointed Interim Sports Editor, and Brian Banmiller was appointed contributing business editor of the Santa Barbara News Press.
Her man at De la Guerra -- Travis Armstrong had not much to say other than this:

"I am pleased to promote these excellent journalists," said Armstrong. "They bring to their positions an intense focus on the reader, a creative approach to the presentation of news and a dedication to local reporting."

What they didn't mention:

  1. Sports coverage lacked horribly today due to "production difficulties" but at least one is able to read the wire story about Zidane getting MVP for the World Cup despite a hooligan-like head butt to his opponent. What was he thinking?
  2. The paper continues to be pretty 8-page front section isn't worth the price of admission.
  3. No editorial today again -- has it been since July 5th? There is still no mention of the news that has legs....denial seems to be the modus operandi right now.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Crisis Management at the News Suppress

The New York Times article by Lisa Klug from today where a News-Press representative so vehemently denies the Mess at the News Press features quotes from corporate spinmeister and hired gun Sam Singer. Singer has worked for John and Denise DeBartolo to gain control of the 49ers football team from Eddie DeBartolo. Any 49er fan will remember that battle royale. He proudly points to an award he received for handling the largest Levi Strauss layoffs and plant closures in history and it being named "best handled crisis of the year" by PR News. Perhaps his best experience for this job was handling the Jack-in-the-Box tainted beef crisis. Here's what his company does in their own words:

In a crisis, it is difficult for clients to see beyond the chaos. We offer an objective perspective on how the public, elected leaders and the media are likely to view the situation.

Our ability to help in a crisis comes from veteran experience. Whether a high-profile lawsuit, layoffs, bankruptcy, or an explosion at a factory, we have the talent and institutional knowledge that can make the difference between control and escalation.

Is it also difficult for their clients to tell the truth? It sure isn't too difficult for him to lie....this is what he said in the New York Times:

Ms. McCaw and the new acting publisher, Travis K. Armstrong, did not return calls seeking comment. Sam Singer, a spokesman for Ms. McCaw, said the resignations came as a result of the owner's plan to increase local news coverage.

Crisis Management Watch may be a new feature here at BlogaBarbara -- I'm going to go dust off my copy of 1984 by George Orwell right now. Revisionism in the newsroom has begun. How do these people sleep at night?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

From the VC Star

Friday, July 07, 2006

Should The Indy Go Daily?

Is the time ripe for a big change at The Independent? Maybe a Barney/Nick dueling columns for the next month or so to test a daily out and see what happens? Should they take on the erstwhile News-Pressians and make a go of it?

I see just a few pages at first in the Indy racks sometime next week -- people must have an alternative! Will it happen? or will the Indy continue on their as-many-classified-and-real-estate-ads-we-can-get present course? Yes, they bring profit -- but do they make a difference?

Will the plot thicken? Cherchez la femme!

Print the News and Raise Hell

We got a view into what the future of the News-Press will be today in Travis' quote of Civil War editor William Story (did he really edit the Civil War? -- maybe he was a Civil War-era editor? and you are the Publisher now? Was that Mister Armstrong? -- sorry, I wasn't sure how to use the title -- I'm just a dumb blonde):

"A newspaper's duty is to print the news and raise hell." We feel that we have achieved this in some measure and will continue to do so in the future.

When I read the quote, I see a slash, a wall, a line of fire between the words "print the news" and "raise hell". We know here at BB that like so many National Enquirers, Travis will continue to raise hell at the expense of reporting the news and then mix them together in a menage of contrary political leanings and what he sees as good government (hey, did you hear about that email at City Hall and maybe even that lawn sign at the fire station?). It's already happened and will continue...more fodder for these pages, I am sure.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Indy Coverage of the News-Press Mess

This week's Angry Poodle explains why blond is always supposed to be spelled with an "e".

They also made a special page for the latest news on the mess at the News-Press....

More, I am sure, will be coming soon.

News-Press Exodus

It looks like our friend Travis Armstrong's promotion has caused the mass exodus at the NewsPress. According to commenters on a previous post, here are the confirmed resignations that don't even show up on their staff page on the web site:

Executive Editor Jerry Roberts
Managing Editor George Foulsham
Deputy Managing Editor Don Murphy
Metro Editor Jane Hulse
Business Editor Michael Todd
Columnist Barney Brantingham

Could it be that mixing editorial with news just won't fly with these seasoned journalists? A new era has begun at the News-Press where officeholder bashing and the fate of meerkats, pigs and salamanders will rule the front page and more often than not be placed above the fold. Maybe even above the banner...

Thanks to all for the updates during the day -- I was away from my computer. So, what's next for our community paper with Wendy, Travis and Nipper at the helm? It's a scary thought....

May Ray Strong Rest in Peace

John Iwerks had it right this morning in the News-Press article about the passing of artists Ray Strong at 101: "He's not gone," Mr. Iwerks said. "He's with us in his paintings, and in his words and our memories."

Strong was an incredible artist and a moving force in our community, he will be missed.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Tips and Community Posts

A recent commenter asked about how to send tips for posts to BlogaBarbara -- my email is In the past, I wasn't checking it much but am willing to check more often. I kind of like the idea of posts either being generated or even authored by readers. Of course, I won't guarantee it -- but I see no reason not to post what others submit if it is relevant.

Monday, July 03, 2006

DLG Plaza Rumors

BB Readers,

This just came in from First District Streetfighter -- sounds like conjecture but if it is true, it is worthy of it's own post. In any event -- facts right or facts wrong -- an interesting subject....

This brings up an issue for me as to whether I should be allowing BB readers to generate their own posts -- my initial reaction is that it is fine as long as it is clearly defined who wrote what and there is an understanding that not every post that is offered will be published.

Let me know what you think about that if you have a strong opinion as I am open on this issue.....


-----------TEXT FROM First District Streetfighter------------
To replace Joe Cole, who departed a few weeks ago, "news on the street" is that the new News-Press Publisher will be... Travis Armstrong.

Facts right or wrong... The Wendy indeed is keeping the biz close to home and in a narrowing circle of dependent thinkers. First Arthur, then Travis.

Jerry Roberts, the allegedly independent News Editor, also is seeking a new job; that is why he was gone on "vacation" a couple of weeks ago. And, The Wendy also now is confirmed personally to have called and asked respected news writers there to sanitize an investigative story to go easy on a certain industry about how its employees are treated. That news writer is looking to bail, and the absence would be conspicuously noticed.

Not so sure how Factsright or Factswrong will help the Bottom Line of the News-Press, which is the usual role of the Publisher. Hard to think he will really improve the reputation of that newspaper or the desire of the community to buy ads.

And for equal-opportunity substantiated gossip, SB Independent also is looking for a Publisher, after having rejected all the incumbent senior staff there with a sharp business and sales expertise.

Sales manager whiz Penelope Huston, after 8 years, was strung along for a month by the Indy owners, and now has left to go back home to Tennessee, to make a phat salary in a cheap housing market. Thurlow left Indy in mid May and is not looking back now as an Assistant Vice Chancellor for Alumni Affairs at UCSB.

Maybe blogs WILL take over as the first source for news?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Woo-ing Voters in the 2nd

I'm not entirely clear why Guzzardi would want to endorse Secord given his record on development and The Guzz's very public slow growth stands. Upset over who spent money where aside -- I don't see Guzzardi having a choice if he is going to endorse at all. Do Secord and Wolf really want his support? Probably so....