Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read the Independent ( where Colin Powers stunning resignation letter is linked as a pdf.

This is all so extraordinary that it is like a nightmare. McCaw's lawyer threatening Barney with a defamation suit and more and more.

7/14/2006 8:46 PM  
Anonymous BONES said...

That was a damn good rally! The NP staff showed a lot of guts, while Wendy and Nipper were phantoms as usual and Travis (I think it was him)looked just silly peering at the crowd thru the 2nd floor window cage! No backbone at all! and it was hard not to notice Starshine looking pretty fine! Anyway, this thing is far from long can Wendy hide??

7/14/2006 8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From a News-Press commentary by Wendy McCaw, 9/30/01,
Like anyone else, a newspaper is entitled to have an opinion. Starting with Noah Webster's delineated opinion published in 1783 in the Connecticut Courant, responsible newspapers have been careful to separate their own opinions from day-to-day newsgathering and advertising solicitation.

Our opinion pages are therefore physically separate from our news and advertising pages, and the News-Press' views are clearly marked with an "Our Opinion" heading.

We strive on our op-ed pages to provide you with a forum to voice your opinions, on all sides of an issue. Regular readers know that News-Press opinions sometimes clash with other views published in our Voices section.

One responsibility of a newspaper is to be fair to the public, and thus to earn and keep its trust.

When a newspaper loses that trust it loses its credibility. When newspapers censor, what remains could be unchecked propaganda.

Wendy McCaw is owner and chief executive officer for the News-Press.”

7/14/2006 9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

he AP story about the protest and Travis noting that people with "political axes to grind" attended the rally:

Fri, Jul. 14, 2006

Santa Barbara newspaper staff, supporters rally over resignations
Associated Press

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Dressed in black and their mouths taped shut, reporters and staff of the Santa Barbara News-Press staged a boisterous Friday protest over a recent wave of resignations at the newspaper.

A crowd of more than 300 supporters roared with applause and shouts when about 25 News-Press employees emerged from the 151-year-old newspaper's Spanish-style landmark building and walked to a microphone in an adjacent park.

The protest was the latest public display of newsroom tension that began when staff accused the daily's owner of meddling in coverage. Nine employees have resigned - copy editor Colin Powers quit Friday, joining six top editors and two writers who left earlier in the two-week-old dispute.

Newspaper staffers have been ordered not to speak about internal operations, reporter Melinda Burns said, adding they were threatened with being fired if they did.

"We are very sorry we can't speak, but thank you for coming," Burns said, stepping away from the microphone as members of the group put duct tape over their mouths.

"What happened to freedom of the press? Behind me are reporters with gags over their mouths," said a tearful Barney Brantingham, a long time News-Press columnist who resigned last week.

Many in the crowd hoisted signs reading "Free the News," "No More News Suppress" and "Stop the Travesty," the latter a reference to interim publisher Travis Armstrong.

Armstrong said he watched from his office part of the protest, which he blamed partly on the paper's enemies, among them developers and politicians.

"I do recognize that some of the people who attended the rally had political axes to grind with the News-Press editorial page," said Armstrong,
who was editorial page editor before being named interim publisher.

He said employees who protested would not be disciplined, adding he was disappointed by how the newspaper's order not to discuss internal operations had been portrayed.

"We do have personnel policies about talking to the media, just as other companies do," Armstrong said.

One of those who resigned, reporter Scott Hadly, said a list of demands was presented to management Thursday. He said employees want restoration of journalistic ethics, reinstatement of editors who were forced to resign, negotiation of a new contract and recognition of the Teamsters union as their exclusive bargaining unit.

Those who quit have said owner Wendy McCaw has interfered with their journalistic work.

They say that among other things she killed a story reporting on Armstrong's recent sentencing for drunken driving. The newspaper had previously reported on his arrest. They said she also reprimanded staffers for publishing the address where actor Rob Lowe plans to build a mansion.

In a note to readers published Thursday, McCaw said the resignations were prompted by her unwillingness to let editors and reporters "flavor the news with their personal opinions."

Armstrong said fewer than 2 percent of the News-Press' 41,000 subscribers have canceled the paper over the dispute, adding many who did "were people involved in different political groups."

Among those who canceled was Ronald Reagan biographer and former Washington Post reporter Lou Cannon. He wrote a scathing indictment of the News-Press that was published in a letter to the weekly Santa Barbara Independent.

"Eventually," Cannon wrote, "your owner might realize that she's unlikely to find a real newspaper person to run her paper until she decides to follow ethical journalist practices."

7/14/2006 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
KEYT coverage of the employee rally today.

7/14/2006 9:53 PM  
Anonymous Keith Rozendal said...

interviews by kcsb 91.9 fm
at the rally can be found

the reporter is cathy murillo
currently the news and public
affairs director at kcsb and
formerly the news editor at
the independent

7/14/2006 10:00 PM  
Anonymous Dreams are made of this said...

A check on Google news reveals that the AP story on the N-P staff protest hit the wires in the past half hour, and over 300 papers worldwide have the story posted, most with photos......

...and the best ol' Travis can do is blame developers? ..the chickens are comin' home.....

7/14/2006 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Powers resigned.

Another rally Tuesday.

New York Times coming in with a big article.

Vanity Faire coming in with a big article.

McCaw and boyfriend afraid to come back from "vacation" until the publicity dies down.

But when she returns, Travis will be her fall guy. Making him walk the plank is her only graceful way out.

7/14/2006 10:56 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

New Angry Poodle today (yes, Friday):

7/15/2006 12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Illuminating thread on the Indy Blog:

Can someone just pour me a fucking cocktail?
Posted by Travis Armstrong | July 15, 2006 12:00 AM

I actualy prefer wine. But what was I looking for when I was driving the wrong way on Santa Barbara Street near Haley Street?
Posted by Travis Armstrong | July 15, 2006 12:05 AM

What Mr. Armsrong means by "cocktail" is metaphorical -- he means "reporters" who will cover local news stories as they are directed, and won't let subjective notions such as "objectivity" interfere with ownership's right to ensure that stories aren't peppered with hostile, biased attempts to pretend that all people should be treated equally in the eyes of the news.
Posted by Sam Singer | July 15, 2006 12:28 AM

What Mr. Armstrong means by "wine" is "journalisitic integrity" -- meaning people who aren't owned by high density real estate developers. Mr. Armstrong was driving down Santa Barbara Street because he was investigating the type of appaling construction that's occuring -- check out the new condos at the corner of Santa Barbara and Carrillo and you'll understand.
Posted by Sam Singer | July 15, 2006 12:41 AM

Is anyone else pissed off about how hard it was to get a beer at the Pearl Jam concert last night? I mean, they ran out of beer at the top and I had to drink a Bacardi malt beverage for christsake. Then I waited in line below for half an hour and missed "Even Flow." When I drove home, I'd only had like 6 or 7 drinks. Put that on the front page, Hadley! Oh... don't have a job anymore!!
Posted by Travis Armstrong | July 15, 2006 12:49 AM

What Travis means by "beer" is "local coverage." It's hard to have too much, even when you have to drive.
Posted by Sam Singer | July 15, 2006 12:52 AM

(Travis, please call a cab and go home to bed)
Posted by Sam Singer | July 15, 2006 12:53 AM

7/15/2006 1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Santa Barbara News-Press' Union Organizing Pre-Dates Mass Defections

Find this article at:

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 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 ( is a senior editor at E&P.

Links referenced within this article

Find this article at:

© 2006 VNU eMedia Inc. All rights reserved.

7/15/2006 6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Oprah could buy the Newspress..she's got publishing experience, she earned her own money, she's smart and she's not afraid of people like Wendy is!

7/15/2006 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Harper said...

Speaking of neighbor Oprah, I've been wondering why she hasn't weighed in yet on the News-Mess situation. Isn't she supposed to be the voice of the people? But perhaps her membership in the Montecito Celebrity Club is too precious to risk... Likewise, has anyone heard a peep out of Rob Lowe since this whole drama began? After all, he has played an important role--perhaps the most significant role of his, um, stellar career. I'd think that one of the journalists covering this story would have tried contacting him to at least get a "Lowe did not return calls" quote.

7/15/2006 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of neighbor Oprah, I've been wondering why she hasn't weighed in yet on the News-Mess situation. Isn't she supposed to be the voice of the people?

Maybe she doesn't care.

Likewise, has anyone heard a peep out of Rob Lowe since this whole drama began?

Saw him at the Arlington the other day, going in to see Pirates. At first glance, he seem to be totally disraught over the worldwide tragedy that become the NewsPress, or maybe it was the fact that the line to the boxoffice was really long. Either way, the emotional blanket that is covering the South Coast is smothering. I don't know if I can go on.

I'm surprised you knucklebunnies haven't come up with a name for next Tuesday's rally. How about Dark Tuesday or The Day the News Stoppped?

7/15/2006 4:30 PM  
Anonymous Harper said...

Obviously the News-Press meltdown isn't big news when compared with other events going on in the world. But it's either naive or disingenuous to act as though what's happened to our town's only established daily paper is of little consequence to those who live here as well as to others. The fact that it has made worldwide news speaks for itself. It might be helpful for you to read this analysis of the situation from Fortune magazine:

7/15/2006 8:54 PM  
Blogger David Pritchett said...


Thanks for the publicity, as all publicity is good publicity.

The more the detractors talk or write about it, the more concerned they obviously are.

7/15/2006 11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the rally worth going to was last week's. I am cringing in advance in embarassment for the flood of self-serving speeches being worked on right now. The thing that gave the rally last week it's power was the image of gagged reporters. Listening to a group of gloating blowhards is a whole other thing.

7/16/2006 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Never mind the blowhards said...

Hey anon 1236---don't start cringing---or if you must cringe, cringe in response to the audacious comments that McCaw and Armstrong make in today's New York Times' article (now online);

Yes, there will be blowhards there on Tuesday but they won't be the focus.

The reporters who remain at the N-P need a visual and audio reminder that they are not forgotten.....and Travis and the Wendy need that too...

so, never mind the blowhards.......just go make your own noise!

7/16/2006 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

7/16/2006 11:16 PM  

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