Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, July 08, 2006

From the VC Star


Anonymous SBR said...

I think it would be better for you if you gave a bit more information about your post depicting a front page of the Santa Barbara New-Press.

7/08/2006 4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that's a great cartoon.....anyone of us who's lived through and/or been targeted by the News-Suppress over the past few years can smile w/ the knowledge that the gig is up

7/08/2006 4:32 PM  
Anonymous dd said...


7/08/2006 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hearing word now of a rally at DLG in the coming week.

7/08/2006 4:57 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

SBR -- sorry about that. If you don't have HTML email it might not have shown up. I'll remember that in the future...

7/08/2006 7:16 PM  
Blogger cookie jill said...

Shiny Happy People! ;-)

7/08/2006 9:10 PM  
Anonymous reality checker said...

I'm a NewsPress lover! However, the VC cartoon is funny!

BUT...Travis is a hero! You all know it. Why are Newspress staff walking out? H***, I dunno, but I do know that Travis has given a strong voice to the people on his editorial pages. Maybe he's incited co-workers, but that's their business, and their choice to quit. Travis serves Santa Barbara well, and MUCHO KUDOS to Wendy McCaw for backing him. Right on, NEWSPRESS -- !!! The Independent is an entertainment mag only. News-Press makes my day!!!

Go Travis! Go Wendy! Most of these bloggers don't like you, but many many more are thankful to have you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7/08/2006 10:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

below from, which also ran the vc star cartoon and the Mrs.' indy photo (from the deck of the mccaw pavilion at the bowl). headline: "how to become a national joke." The star editorialized about about "journalism 101." google news shows stories in japan, india and england.

Steve Greenberg in the Ventura County Star nails the Santa Barbara News-Press situation. Link.

Up on State Street, meanwhile, sports editor Gerry Spratt has also resigned from the News-Press (that makes seven top staffers to go.) The paper ran an editor's note calling it all a difference of opinion about direction. More than two dozen remaining reporters and other staffers met off premises and apparently decided to keep putting out the News-Press despite the unethical dictates of billionaire owner Wendy McCaw and her new publisher, Travis Armstrong.

At Scott Kaufer's gathering of media types last night at Yamashiro, it was widely assumed that the New York Times and national magazines will now be parachuting into town to finally do the Wendy McCaw story. She has previously been represented by image fixers Sitrick and Company — might be time for her to reactivate the account. Meanwhile, I learned that even before her editors resigned en masse over McCaw's meddling with the news she discussed and perhaps offered the top job to former Santa Barbara Magazine (and Distinction) editor Holly Palance. Also: time to update the photo of McCaw (from the media blog at the Santa Barbara Independent, where writer Nick Welsh is all over the story.)

Thursday's report: Media massacre in Santa Barbara

Photo: Santa Barbara Independent

7/09/2006 6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from the san francisco chronicle, roberts old paper, specifically a blog by c.w. nevius, running with a glamour shot of the "blond(e)" mrs.

"Santa Barbara meltdown

Newspapers are a funny business. Everybody says that but nobody laughs.

Down in Santa Barbara, where the sea breezes blow the loose cash around, they are proving once again that the newspaper biz if one of the last outposts for the flamboyant eccentric. As you may have heard, last Thursday there was an epic meltdown at the Santa Barbara News-Press, a former New York Times entity that was purchased in 2000 by heiress Wendy P. McCaw.

This one had it all: mass resignations, executive editor Jerry Roberts marched off the premises, and a howling mob of staffers screaming obscenities at the publisher.

Man, you don't see that kind of passion for the news much any more. (Although when the Chronicle moved the horoscope to the classified ad pages it was close.)

Roberts, of course, is a former much-admired Chronicle editor, so I can't say I am unbiased in this case. We remember him here as smart, fair, and inspirational. There was also an outpouring of emotion from the staff when he left the Chronicle, but it was more along the lines of "Roberts, you lucky dog, I am so jealous that you get to live in Santa Barbara and run a newspaper.''

Now it turns out that the sun and surf are as delightful as ever, but the newspapering was a little tougher. McCaw, who is referred to as a "reclusive billionaire'' in a less than flattering piece in the Santa Barbara Independent media blog, apparently had a few ideas. Also check update here

For example, let's spell blond with an "e,'' regardless of the context. Women should be identified as "Miss'' or "Mrs,'' not "Ms'' unless she specifically requests that. And then there was the great address controversy.

It is a long tale, but the basics are that actor Rob Lowe wanted to build a huge compound in the wealthy enclave of Montecito. There were protests from neighbors, especially about the 24-foot high fence Lowe had in mind. Complications ensued.

Lowe appeared at the planning agency hearing, permits were discussed, and neighbors (at least one of whom turned out to have an estate nearly as large as Lowe's proposal) complained. In short, it was a great day for those writing housing stories in the News-Press. It was all there: celebrity, money, and controversy. In the course of telling the story the reporter mentioned the address of Lowe's proposed mansion.

Apparently that set the former "West Wing'' actor off. He complained to McCaw, who reprimanded the reporter and three of the editors who handled the story. Even though she reportedly admitted there was no newspaper policy about publishing addresses, she said it was "a careless error of judgement.''

It was just weird, frankly. Not as weird as the editorial against eating turkey on Thanksgiving (McCaw is an animal rights activist) but pretty strange. Santa Barbara is a small town, the address was in several public documents, and wouldn't you want to know where the edifice was going to be built if you were supposed to have an opinion about it?

From there things have gone pretty much downhill. McCaw decreed that no more addresses would be included in stories unless checked with the owner first. The reporter and editors sent snippy notes to McCaw.

Also, McCaw appointed Travis K. Armstrong publisher, who managed to accomplish the near impossible — he alienated nearly everyone, not just in the newsroom, but in the city.

So, when Armstrong was nabbed for a DUI there was considerable glee in writing it up for the News-Press. However, a subsequent story about how he pled guilty and the penalty was spiked. This caused more upset.

It all crescendoed this week. Popular business editor Michael Todd resigned as well as three other senior editors. Long-time columnist Barney Brantingham also gave notice and when Roberts returned from a vacation to Crete (Crete? Really?) he turned in his resignation, setting off a newsroom scene in which there was reported weeping and hugging.

Armstrong, demonstrating a remarkable tin ear for the moment, decided to come out, put an arm on Roberts and tell him he had to leave, which was enough to trigger the profanity and shouting from staffers upset at Robert's departure. In general, you'd have to say things could have been handled a little better.

Today, on the front page of the News-Press, under the story "Pelican Precautions Pay Off,'' (apparently the big-billed birds are begging for fish less often) Armstrong announces the departures, saying that "newspapers, like companies and families, have differences of opinion.''

In the news business, that's what we call an understatement.

The upshot? McCaw and the News-Press look like small time operators, who think they can turn a public trust into a country club newsletter. Roberts and the editors come across as paragons of journalism, standing up to bad bosses, censorship, and dumb editing. And everyone else around the country gets a good laugh.

Meanwhile, Rob Lowe is still picking out wallpaper.

Posted By: C.W. Nevius (Email) | July 07 2006 at 07:07 AM

Listed Under: Journalism | Comments (6) : Post Comment

7/09/2006 6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the photo of the mrs. in the np over the past years, fit, tanned, thin, happy; it is nothing like the picture in the indy.

7/09/2006 7:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The American entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. See the link below for a good laugh. (Apologies to Sara for the language, but it is a direct quote according to all the people present at the time.)

7/09/2006 9:24 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Classic T despite the language....

7/09/2006 9:39 AM  
Anonymous sane jane said...


Now that Sara has stooped to advertising slanderous apparel on her blog (comment moderation comes with reponsibility), will she advertise my line of products geared toward promoting hatred?

Every purchase includes a free copy of "The Handbook of Small-Mindedness", and the new edition of "Mein Kampf". Operators are standing by now to take your order.

7/09/2006 10:22 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Pretty harsh for a joke Sane (Mein Kampf?)-- WARNING TO ALL WHO ENTER THE ABOVE LINK -- there is bad language that uses the F%$#-word. View at your own risk -- slanderous as it may be, it speaks to what must be a News-Press employee or former employee's experience.

7/09/2006 2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty harsh for a joke Sane (Mein Kampf?)

You're right Sara, what you did was pretty harsh. I think I'm going to sell t-shirts that say "Sara de L'Agenda uses the sexism card to serve her means". You think it will sell? As slanderous as it might be, it speaks to what I'm thinking of your opinion.

7/09/2006 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Glowegal said...

The suppression has already started. The 22 June article on Rob Lowe's residence contained the addresses of all the property owners mentioned in the piece. I just accessed an archived copy and the addresses that were in it at the time of publication have since been removed. This is, quite simply, grassroots revisionism. Any thoughts as to when McCaw & Co began working for Bush?

7/09/2006 6:20 PM  
Blogger snugspout said...

An older cartoon of Wendy from her Coastal permit days...

7/09/2006 6:51 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Anon 5:31 -- go for it! You are complaining because I give you a forum to speak out against me? Travis' sexism is pretty clear but so what -- that's his opinion. It just doesn't belong in the news side of the business.

Where else but the News-Press could you get a DUI, bury the follow up and become the publisher a few weeks later -- it doesn't happen in the real world. Definitely not in the political world -- do you think he would have won the 2nd District race if he was a candidate?

7/09/2006 7:48 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Tsk, tsk Sara. Your tongue-in-cheek question to Anon 5:31 falsly assumes that candidates win or lose based on things like reputation, experience or intelligence. The only way anyone wins in our open-minded, progressive community is if they are part of the Capps/Schwartz/Rose sorority.

7/09/2006 7:58 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Sorry Bill -- can't believe that. Voters aren't drones who follow whatever Lois or Naomi or Susan say. But, getting all their endorsements does make a difference as it would for any candidate no?

7/09/2006 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 5:31 -- go for it! You are complaining because I give you a forum to speak out against me? Travis' sexism is pretty clear but so what -- that's his opinion. It just doesn't belong in the news side of the business.

Not complaining because you give me a forum to speak out against you. I appreciate that, and the effort that you put in to keep this blog going. I'm complaining that you falsley accuse somebody of sexism. Its a cheap card and easy to use too. Especially since the victim demographic is 50% of the world. The problem is that its undeserved. When Travis goes after people, and I'll admit that he does, its not because of their sex. It's because of what they are saying or doin.

If you want to continue to smear your own blog with accusations of something as serious as sexism, then I'd suggest you show where and when Travis has exhibited behavior where he slandered someone purely on the basis that they are a women, and not because they happen to be lousy at their job.

7/09/2006 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where else but the News-Press could you get a DUI, bury the follow up and become the publisher a few weeks later -- it doesn't happen in the real world. Definitely not in the political world -- do you think he would have won the 2nd District race if he was a candidate?

Where else can a guy dodge military duty, not work a real day in his life, have half a coconut for a brain and become President of the United States? Even better, start a war with a random country and get re-elected?

7/09/2006 9:05 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

As for Glowegal posting above, you mean this item from the Montecito Board of Architectural Review?

End of last page

Berkoff Trust New Residence
10. 05BAR-00000-00172 Guesthouse, Cabana and Garage
700 Picacho Lane

05LUP-00000-00952 (Errin Briggs, Planner 568-2047) Ridgeline: N/A

Request of Don Nulty, architect for the owners, Berkoff Trust, to consider Case No.
05BAR-00000-00172 for preliminary approval of a new residence of approximately 9,860
square feet, guest house of approximately 800 square feet, cabana of 800 square feet,
garage of approximately 800 square feet, accessory structure of approximately 500 square
feet, new pool and new tennis court. There are no structures on the parcel. The proposed
project will require approximately 900 cubic yards of cut and approximately 900 cubic yards of
fill. The property is a 3.4 acre parcel zoned 3-E-1 and shown as Assessor’s Parcel Number
011-140-024, located at 700 Picacho Lane in the Montecito area, First Supervisorial District.
(Continued from 7/11/05, 7/25/05, 1/09/06, 2/27/06, and 3/13/06)

7/09/2006 10:00 PM  
Blogger snugspout said...

NY Times article today...

July 10, 2006
In This Paper War, an Owner Faces an Exodus of Journalists
Local newspaper ownership has earned praise lately, but perhaps not in the offices of The Santa Barbara News-Press in California. Last week, six top editors and a veteran columnist resigned from the paper, claiming the owner and her management had repeatedly undermined news coverage.

The journalists included the editor, Jerry Roberts; managing editor, George Foulsham; deputy managing editor, Donald Murphy; metro editor, Jane Hulse; business editor, Michael Todd; sports editor, Gerry Spratt; and Barney Brantingham, a longtime columnist who had been working at the daily since 1960 when he began as a copy editor.

The News-Press, which was founded in 1855 and now has a circulation of around 41,000, is owned by Wendy P. McCaw, a philanthropist and the ex-wife of Craig McCaw, the cellphone magnate. (Ms. McCaw's holding company, Ampersand Holdings, bought the paper from The New York Times Company in 2000.)

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.

Mr. Roberts disputed that explanation. Employees quit, he said, "largely because of ethical concerns" over the policies of Ms. McCaw; the co-publisher, Arthur von Wiesenberger (who is also Ms. McCaw's fiancé); and Mr. Armstrong, who is also the editorial page editor.

"These are primary ethical issues of the blurring of the line between opinion and fact, editorial page and news page," Mr. Roberts said. "More than 100 papers ran a story about the resignations on Friday, but The News-Press was not among them. It ran a column by Travis Armstrong spinning it. To me, that proves the case that they're mixing up apples and oranges and that the paper is not doing a great service to readers who expect to find news on the front page instead of opinion."

When asked if the dispute hinged on former staff members' concerns for journalistic standards, Mr. Singer said, "That's nonsense."

Although the resignations appeared sudden, Mr. Roberts said tensions had grown since the April departure of the former publisher, Joseph Cole. Mr. Roberts described Mr. Cole as a buffer between the owner and the newsroom. Journalists complained about prohibitions against printing the term "Ms." or any address without management approval and the scrapping of a follow-up article about a drunken driving arrest of Mr. Armstrong.

Mr. Singer denied allegations of management missteps. He said, "Mrs. McCaw purchased The News-Press in order to give an independent voice to the people of Santa Barbara that is not cookie-cutter journalism." LISA ALCALAY KLUG

7/09/2006 11:34 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

C'mon Sara. You can't be that naive. The reason the sorority wins is because there are enough drones to help them win. Why else would "we" continue to elect so many ineffective politicians?

7/09/2006 11:53 PM  
Anonymous BONES said... need to wean yourself from Newpress editorials by Travis 0.23....cheers!

7/10/2006 8:09 AM  
Blogger john san roque said...

Reply to Bill Carson:

You replied to one of my postings by saying that I had animosity toward the NP and that not everyone thinks that local politicians like Blum and Rose are infallible. You're getting into Armstrong's area of expertise here--false accusations, exaggeration, and blindness to reality.

I honestly don't know anyone who thinks Blum, Rose, Marshall, Schwartz, Capps, Nava, the Coastal Commission, or the Goleta City Council are infallible. I have never said that and I don't recall anyone else saying that. Some of us are just looking for a minimum of fair treatment and journalistic standards.

You've got to face reality. All the voters in Santa Barbara county are not stupid, and it's not the Mayor or Susan Rose who has made the News-Press the object of humor, ridicule, and embarrassment in the journalistic community.

Do you want to give us your reasoning on why those editors quit? Is Barney against local news coverage? Does Jerry Roberts not understand the difference between news and opinion?

7/10/2006 9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Pinto says...

The NP is now a member of the George Bush takeover of our country. Just as I foretold this moment, revolution is only months away!

7/10/2006 1:05 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

JSR: Travis and the News-Press have taken a lot of heat for their so-called unfair criticism of local politicians like Rose, Blum and Capps. Loyal, lock-step sycophants come unglued anytime any criticism is leveled…giving the impression that Rose, Blum and Capps can do no wrong (i.e., infallible). The fact is that these politicians have made huge blunders during their respective terms in office, and they more than deserve the criticism they receive. The N-P in recent years has been refreshing in its willingness to hold these people accountable.

No one said that the voters are in Santa Barbara county are stupid. Some of the smartest people in the world can be manipulated. And that’s exactly what the local political machine does. They manipulate the intelligent, busy, distracted, and sometimes naïve voters just enough to maintain control of the local political scene. C’mon…you can’t honestly believe that Mayor Blum represents the best of what Santa Barbara has to offer.

As for why Jerry Roberts and the rest quit…they are the only one’s who know why they did what they did. It still appears to me to be nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.

7/10/2006 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Steve Greenberg said...

Since I've been seeing people grabbing my editorial cartoon rather indiscriminately, and many wish to print it out, you can at least find a decent version of it online at:

Steve Greenberg, Editorial cartoonist
Ventura County Star

7/12/2006 2:51 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Thanks for the comment and I could have written some attribution for you -- I apologize. You do great work.

7/12/2006 3:17 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Thanks for the comment and I could have written some attribution for you -- I apologize. You do great work.

7/12/2006 3:17 PM  

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