Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Thursday, July 13, 2006

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.


Anonymous Thaddeus J. Nicklebury said...

The self-styled reformer of the Newpress is actually suffering from paranoid psychosis..dust off the old psych books..she's got it all.. and she needs help..

7/13/2006 7:50 AM  
Blogger David Pritchett said...

These blog entries sure are quite "interesting". Here is a letter I found in Los Angeles Times, which makes the point rather well.,1,505072.story
From the Los Angeles Times

All the news
July 13, 2006

Re "Santa Barbarans Worry About Their Paper," July 8

Thank your for detailing the horror story of the demise of the Santa Barbara News-Press.

One of the sad results of the loss of journalistic integrity at the hands of a seemingly clueless billionaire is the lack of investigative reporting in a community that desperately needs it. Without a proactive press performing a watchdog role over the current development frenzy here, backroom deals, conflicts of interest and revolving-door relationships never see the light of day.

America's Riviera may look lovely to tourists, but for residents, it's another story — one we're forced to read about in the pages of publications produced outside the city limits.

Santa Barbara

7/13/2006 8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendy's note to readers is a chilling message to all of us: we must not let the truth behind this story die; her slander (libel?) of the brave editors who resigned cannot be allowed to stand.

I was iffy about the rally planned for next Tuesday, but now I'm convinced she needs a visual taste of just how non-complacent this town is with her sort of BS...

7/13/2006 9:07 AM  
Blogger snugspout said...

Anybody hear Roberts live on KCSB? Another scoop for the Storke media complex... BTW, the Travis show on KZSB (hmmm... are those call letters a copy of KCSB?) pales by comparison with either KCSB or Jerry Cornfield's old show.

Odd in today's NP... the location fo the Goleta City Council's kickoff was not given (perhaps the address policy)... but a UCSB coed's favorite sunning spot was explicitly identified. I guess the NP wants lechers and stalkers to know where to seek young women, but does not want to divulge the location of where political leaders congregate.

7/13/2006 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

W. McCaw's "note" to the readers was a not quite fascinating example of verbal jiujitsu: the local editors quit because of management/editorial interference in the news; therefore, point out that they are well gone since there was not enough local news and they interfered with the news with their own personal opinions.

Really! She must think we all are stupid. I still subscribe largely out of force of habit. With a continuing lack of local news, I'll be out of there, too — btw, eg. did the SB city council not meet this week? no advisory committee meetings? What about Carpinteria? pieces that I saw by Joshua Molina or Camilla Cohee.)

The City Council is now online Ch 18, streaming and archived, other committees to follow, so maybe the paper won't bother to publish that news, just the "news" of the wild things and the pet animals, the social doings of the rich and famous and the woes of the Chumash.

Hurrah for blogabarbara! and the Indy (one hopes many hurrahs), the Nexus!

7/13/2006 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really! She must think we all are stupid.

She's not the only one.

7/13/2006 10:52 AM  
Anonymous SteelJ said...

It looks like the News Press is still bleeding. From an AP article:

"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."

Source: AP story at the SJ Mercury

7/13/2006 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:52 Anonymous said...
Really! She must think we all are stupid.

She's not the only one.

I tend to agree that those who continue to subscribe to the Snooze-Press are stupid!

I recall how when McCaw was introduced at the Faulkner as the new owner of the paper, and people were congratulating on the local ownership and how it was positive for Santa Barbara, she or her representative made a strong point that she was a buying a business that was expected to make money.

Nothing wrong with that, but what stuck in the mind the impression of a dash of cool water and the lack of emphasis on journalistic ethics and the value of a newspaper to a community.

7/13/2006 2:15 PM  
Blogger snugspout said...

Scott Hadly makes it eight... hard to see how Camilla Cohee can stay on.

I'd go on July 18 if there was a support fund organized for all those who have resigned. Best done by a banker or someone with experience. I hope some knowledgeable person can get a fund going... I'd write some checks.

7/13/2006 2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Indy
Quote of the Week
‘If The Independent were a real news­paper with real journalists, instead of the comic foil of the Santa Barbara News-Press, it would find real stories to write about and not the pretext of a story to attack its competitor for the purpose of increasing advertising revenues.’
— David Millstein, the San Francisco-based attorney representing the News-Press, responding to reports that the News-Press was examining the disc drives and phone records of its employees.

I just love this...This is the biggest story in town...Come on man! And what's with Wendy doing all her biz with San Francisco-based firms. Keep the money in town and maybe we will get lucky and some anti-Wendy will turn on her and donate a large chunk to the Indy and convert it to a daily.

-The Kid

7/13/2006 2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanna know where they got that picutre of Wendy on the front page. I must say she's looking pretty hot compared to the one TV and the Indy used. LOL!

But seriously folks, the News-Press will never be the same as long as Wendy owns it. It's not going to fold, so that's a waste of breath talking about. What is going to happen though is the Indy and now the Sound will greatly benefit and this town will have three voices. I think that's incredible. Our little town with three different voices. How great is that?

7/13/2006 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was sent out by PUEBLO today.

Today, Newspress reporters, copy editors, and sports writers presented to the
Newspress management a list of demands including a demand of a contract,
negotiations for better working conditions, and a clear separation between the
news and opinion departments.

These demands are in the best interest of our community.
Come to De La Guerra Plaza tomorrow to support the Newspress employees!

For more background on the issue, check out the three links below, and find out
more tomorrow.

7/13/2006 5:10 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Looks like yet another chapter in the continuing series of AP news articles spreading around the world. Notice that the "publisher" himself now is doing the talking, instead of the flak Sam Singer, who kept insisting that only 100 subscriptions have been lost and no more.

Santa Barbara News-Press owner responds to staff changes
- By GREG RISLING, Associated Press Writer
Thursday, July 13, 2006

(07-13) 12:05 PDT Los Angeles (AP) --

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."

New acting 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 purchased the paper in 2000 from the New York Times Co. It has a 57-person editorial staff, publishes seven days a week and a 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, "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 said.

Earlier this week, Armstrong appointed four new editors. The paper has yet to name a new chief editor and managing editor.

7/13/2006 5:37 PM  
Blogger The Observer said...

You can check out coverage of Wendy and Travis over at

7/13/2006 6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You did!

Is that an honest mistake, or will you tell me
why you edited me out?????????????????

7/13/2006 6:25 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

I've not published a couple things recently that were a little too over the top (but believe me only a couple) -- try again, as you are anonymous, I'm not sure which it might have been.

Also, I just published a few as I was gone all afternoon -- maybe it was one of those? I'll work with you on this -- try again.

Our guidelines revolve around not using profanity or very over the top allegations not supported by fact -- one liners that are not backed up, no matter what the point of view, don't always make it.

7/13/2006 6:40 PM  
Anonymous SteelJ said...

Has anyone read or seen the actual the story the News Press opted to kill in favor of Armstrong's "Note to our readers" about what happened that day?

7/13/2006 6:53 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Writing about "revisionist journalism"
check out these allegations by the Publisher in this audio file from National Public Radio, for a story that played earlier today.

copy and paste the URL as necessary

In the middle of this audio story, Travis Unethical-wrong is blatently dissing Camilla Cohee because she did not include some unsubstantiated allegations about Donna Jordan, a Carpinteria Council Member and constant critic of Travis buddy, Joe Armendariz, a future one-term city council member there. (the details in the Indy today [July 13] help fill in those details in this account)

7/13/2006 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The link isn't working FDS -- can you try again? Thanks.

7/13/2006 8:14 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

The link works fine. Copy and paste the whole URL.

This news piece on NPR today seemw worth a separate topic posting by the host.

The interview with the Factswrong publisher (no longer Sam Spinner Singer) directly insults the reporter Cohee.

7/13/2006 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: The Santa Barbara News-Press

I'd go back to the first ten layoffs Ms. McCaw was responsible for if you really want to see her ethics in action.

That would be the year 2000 to be exact, during the sale from the New York Times to her company Ampersand Publishing.

Ethics are Ethics kiddos.

Just ask around a bit, no?

You'll see.

A person is either living by a code of honor or?

They do things like that to other human beings.

Kudos to those brave editors and journalists who walked out of that snakepit.

Oh, and ps:

Never a Storke or a Chandler will you be, will you Ms. McCaw? Much as you would like to believe this about yourself.

7/14/2006 9:44 AM  

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