Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, August 14, 2006

McCaw Blasts SPJ Awards

Thanks to ANON for sending this along:

Santa Barbara Publisher Sought To Derail SPJ Award to Editors
By Joe Strupp

Published: August 14, 2006 11:49 AM ET

NEW YORK Publisher Wendy McCaw of the Santa Barbara (Calif.) News-Press tried to derail the recent awarding of a journalism ethics prize to nine of her former employees who quit last month in protest, by writing a stinging letter to the Society of Professional Journalists that called their actions "a smokescreen to hide their personal agendas."

The letter, dated Aug. 4 and sent to SPJ ethics committee chair Gary Hill, was apparently sent in response to the group's investigation into the recent mass resignations at the paper that began July 6 with the departure of former editor Jerry Roberts and five others.

"There is more to this than has been reported, and leads one to wonder what personality or other issues are involved. We would urge you to carefully look at all the facts," the letter, a copy of which was obtained by E&P, stated in part. "It is our belief that the SPJ is being used by this group to further their own personal and political agendas, and not as an expression of ethical principals."

McCaw also complained that SPJ had not sought to properly get her side of the story. "To date, no one from SPJ has contacted anyone connected with the paper except for your letter asking for my reaction and rationale. To what?," she wrote. "As journalists, isn't it incumbent upon you to investigate and report both sides? We would be glad to make ourselves available to you to discuss this in detail via phone or in person. Should you require any further documentation, please let me know."

Hill said SPJ had first sought to get information from the paper in late July, and did not get a response until five days after Hill called the paper on July 31.

"We had asked Ms. McCaw to explain or provide any rationale as to why we should not give this award," Hill told E&P. "We asked for a response in a day or two. Then asked again and they sent it five days later."

Hill said the letter did not offer a compelling reason for SPJ to hold back the awards. "We didn't think that most of the response was germane to the ethical issues and went off on tangents and general matters we weren't necessarily concerned with," he said.

Last Friday, SPJ announced it was awarding its ethics in journalism prize to Roberts and eight other journalists who have quit the paper since the paper's first wave of resignations. Those who left have accused McCaw of meddling in newsroom decisions and unfairly reprimanding employees. In the award announcement, SPJ said it had conducted an investigation of the situation prior to the award.

McCaw's letter accused the journalism organization of failing to find out the whole story and criticized the group for seeking to honor her former workers.

"As every journalist knows, there are at least two sides to every story. The recent events at the Santa Barbara News-Press are no exception," the letter stated. "So far, the majority of coverage has only reported the claims and comments of those employees who resigned. ... In order to clarify the situation, we would like you to consider the following facts before deciding to award them for their actions."

McCaw then went on to note that when she bought the paper from The New York Times Co. several years ago "everyone cheered that they were finally getting a hands-on owner involved in the community. Now, the people who quit seem to be upset that I am hands-on."

She added that "No one has been fired. All those who left resigned of their own free will." McCaw then defended the issuing of four cease-and-desist letters, explaining that "one letter went to each of three former employees and the other was sent 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 have signed this policy and have respected it to our knowledge, with the exception of those who quit."

McCaw then backed up her decision not to agree to union representation in the newsroom, saying, "While the paper does not believe that this is in the best interests of the paper, employees, or the community, we respect their right to do so. We are now moving strictly along those guidelines set down by the NLRB."

The publisher added that claims by some employees, including Roberts, that the "wall" between editorial and news had been breached, were unfounded. "Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Roberts himself served for over a year as both publisher and editor of the paper before being demoted. It appears that this wall is a wall of convenience to Mr. Roberts.

"In every newsroom in this country the relationships between owner/publisher/editor/editorial/news are complex and dynamic. They are based on human emotions, personalities, policies and politics," the letter added. "Even the SPJ Code takes these dynamics into account in that the Code is a guide, rather than a mandate.

"One of the great dangers that any journalist faces is taking something out of context," McCaw's letter continued. "We believe that the alleged ethical violations the paper has been accused of are inaccurate and out of context. Looked at in context and full detail, they are insignificant and no different than issues raised every day in newsrooms everywhere."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"they are insignificant and no different than issues raised every day in newsrooms everywhere."

how would mccaw know? has anyone ever seen her personally physically actually set foot in any newsroom including her own?

8/14/2006 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When was Roberts demoted?

8/14/2006 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Philosophe said...

Ms. McCaw keeps writing that "there are two sides to every story" and complaining that her side is not getting told. Yet she has had ample time, and has more than ample ink to tell her side of the story in great detail. Instead, she writes in vague innuendo, which is unsupported by facts and examples. If indeed she was reining in rampant bias in the news room, all she as to do to prove it is provide the biased stories and explain how they were written to reflect the bias and fool the reader. If there were "personal agendas," what were they and how did such agendas affect the news? Let's hear the specifics. Lord knows, the News-Press staff who have resigned were specific enough. If there is another side of the story, what is it?

8/14/2006 3:23 PM  
Blogger passing-by said...

Yadda, yadda, yadda... McCaw (or her PR flacks) keeps saying that there are two sides to the story and that no one should judge until both viewpoints are known. Then, she consistently fails to say anything of substance that pertains to the situation the past and present newsroom folks have delineated.

Meantime, the veteran writers who have stayed keep trying to maintain a professional standard. Yesterday's front page feature by John Zant was terrific, maybe the best writing he has done in his long, distinguished career at the paper. The story combined importantant social issues with local human interest and was filitered through Zant's long personal association with the both community and the subjects of the article. Great stuff.

But,in contrast,the new blood cub reporters who write about the Agricultural Board of Review are producing work inferior to the Daily Sound, the Independent, the Coastal View, and even (God forbid!) the Montecito Journal. And the NP big enchiladas seem bent on harassing all the competent writers they can find into leaving before the unionization vote. Ptooeeyy!

8/14/2006 3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jerry Roberts was demoted from Editor and Publisher to Editor and Vice President of News on Jan. 21, 2005, coincidentally the date of the second George W. Bush inauguration.

8/14/2006 4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Jan. 21, 2005 demotion of Roberts was reported in that issue of the paper as a reorganization to manage growth in on-line services under Joe Cole, and allow Roberts to focus on news. Roberts is quoted as saying he was happy with the new arrangement, although I guess Wendy is now saying otherwise. I don't really accept her argument that a publisher/editor cannot keep the News and Editorial parts largely separate... Lou Cannons story about Katharine Graham comes to mind.

April 17, 2005 is the date of Robert's missive about Church/State separation in the paper... that News is separate from Editorial. He described how he managed the news... meeting throughout the day with the editors, most of whom have now resigned. Then he described editorial articles as resulting from meetings of Wendy, Joe Cole, and Travis.

If there is a telltale sign, he mentions that the editorial on the previous Friday was critical of the news reporting, concerning feral pigs. Perhaps the editorial side was trying to change the news article on feral pigs in April, 2005.

Seems to me that Wendy feels she deserved more influence over the news than Roberts and the editors wanted... well, we all knew that. What opens my eyes a bit is to realize the tension started in early 2005. There are probably many, many incidents that have not seen the light of day, and will not, due to the confidentiality agreements that the News-Press required its employees to sign. As some have commented, Joe Cole's resignation indicates that the stress was very high (BTW, anyone had a comment from him?)

A reporter who left early, before the July meltdown, was Morgan Green. Wonder what her view on the mess is.

BTW, the News-Press situation reminds me of the quote about families: good ones all seem to function similarly, but bad ones fail to function each in a unique way.

8/14/2006 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

Wendy McCaw, Arthur von Wiesenberger, Travis K. Armstrong and Ampersand are in a difficult position vis-a-vis the suggestion from philosophe and others.

They could take the low road, as their critics have done, and air every petty personal grievance and philosophical disagreement in print. That is, no doubt, the goal of many former staffers and a cacophony of bloggers who are trying to amass dirt for possible lawsuits, unionization (NLRB) actions, or to fuel longstanding disputes with News-Press management over editorial positions.

To their credit, the management of the News-Press and Ampersand have declined to engage their critics in a tit-for-tat. I have attempted, on their behalf, to provide some clarity and context for open-minded readers -- there must be a few of you here -- without inflaming the situation with baseless rhetoric or personal allegations. If only the critics would exercise the same restraint.

What is clear is this much: The departed News-Press editorial management and staff did not share Ampersand's commitment to local news. They did not investigate, but rather took official statements at face value. Their reporting reflected not the values of impartial observers and diggers, but those of idle pontificators and self-interested partisans.

After a time, Wendy McCaw realized that this situation would not cure itself and that changes would be needed.

As for the lionization of the former staffers, as evidenced by the Society of Professional Journalists awards, this fits hand-in-glove with the unionization effort and the attendant attempts to sow discord in the newsroom by implying that those who chose to stay are less honorable than those who left. Wendy McCaw attempted, again without compromising the internal personnel confidentiality, to explain Ampersand's position to the SPJ board, but it clearly was not interested. So much for "objectivity."

8/14/2006 4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the readers of Vogue and Vanity Fair are going to be in for one interesting and comical article... she keeps digging that hole bigger and bigger. Wonder if it will make in time for the Fall Fashion Issue...hummm what goes well with black
Thanks for keep the public informed...seems this is the only way to get news now.
Keep up the good work and wish you all would start your own newspaper.
The people in SB really need a "news"paper.
There was another site that was interesting...

your readers should check it out..

8/14/2006 5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I read the April 15, 2005 News-Press editorial that criticized an earlier News-Press news article about feral pigs.

Seems that the main point of the editorial was that the news article contained `feral' and `invasive' to describe the pigs. Another significant point was that the statements of a previous park supe, that some PR spinning was done to justify killing pigs, were not used to confront the NPS.

So I went back and read the news article itself... from April 11, 2005. Most people would call it balanced, but I can see how Wendy McCaw could take offense at it, assuming she really, truly has a deep commitment to the island pigs.

If I were a news reporter or editor, I'd have caved and written the article as Wendy wanted... prohibit feral and invasive, and ask hard questions about the motives of the NPS. One can still make a nice balanced article of it.

I wonder... were the News staff disrespectful of Wendy? Hanging in there to be able to use `feral' seems pretty disrespectful. Or are these minor things like pigs and Rob Lowe (easy to mix those up) the small problems that erupt when way bigger issues, like cost of living salary increases, are buggered up?

8/14/2006 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is off topic (slightly) but a friend e-mailed me a link to a song about Wendy, Nipper, Travis, etc. that is pretty nasty and fould mouthed, yet I can't turn my ears away...

As for Wendy, she keeps proving she lacks the intellect required to run a paper. The woman can barely write, for crying out loud. Her thoughts are scattered, incomplete, off topic; I don't think she has the ability to grasp the situation. (Her lawyers do, though).

8/14/2006 6:06 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Nice try, "Nelville".
Keep it up, though, because the more time you do this, the less time you will interfere with actual news.

We always like to read the desperate justification for blaming the messengers and continual declining to talk with the public and the other local news media.

Time to look up those classic definitions of paranoid again.

8/14/2006 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Pinto says...

The old crew is no differant from the new crew. When did anyone write about the injustice being done to Mumia Abu Jamal or the Zapatistas struggle to obtain dignity for the masses? Or the abuse non native working americans suffer from the local cops? Never. Progressives never got a break from them so today will be no differant. For local news I talk to the people and read this blog. For national news only Socialist Action.

8/14/2006 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Philosophe said...

First, to Anonymous 4:48, the quote is the first sentence of Anna Karenina by Tolstoy and goes, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Secondly, Nelville, your post, while slightly more specific than the various explanations offered by Ms. McCaw, remains far too vague to add anything useful to the discussion. You seem to indicate (though the vagueness makes it hard to tell) that based on the information contained in the news stories that the reporters were not finding the facts that Ms. McCaw thought were there. Is there any evidence that those hidden, unrevealed facts did indeed exist and were suppressed by either malice or incompetence? If such evidence exists, let's hear it so we can all make informed, and "objective" judgments. By the way, the paper used to have many more local stories than it currently has.

Thirdly, Mike Pinto, I actually respect the writings of Karl Marx and Mao Tsetung and I enjoy the ideological purity of your posts; but your religious fervor is beginning to scare me. I recommend a dose of Adam Smith, a pinch of Karl Popper, and a big gulp of Tom Robbins (just for fun), and call me in the morning.

8/14/2006 7:38 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

Mike Pinto - bringing up Mumia Abu Jamal is a bad example - he murdered a cop, even though he wants everyone to believe his brother did the deed. I hardly think he should be thought of as "progressive" or trying to bring about "justice" for the masses. Maybe you should rethink using him as a comparitive example in regards to the NP Mess.

And BTW, the NP did report several times on Jamal and the celebrities urging clemency on his behalf.


8/14/2006 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fourteen people have now quit, and Nelville continues to claim that the "departed News-Press editorial management and staff did not share Ampersand's commitment to local news."

His remarks bring to mind this famous quote from history:

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

-- Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda

8/14/2006 10:21 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Ummm, let's be careful with our metaphors shall we? We aren't talking facism here....

8/14/2006 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. "As every journalist knows, there are at least two sides to every story."

2. "What is clear is this much: The departed News-Press editorial management and staff did not share Ampersand's commitment to local news."

The first quote is from Wendy, while trying to kill the SPJ awards. All I can say is, If that's true, why doesn't Travis print ANYTHING from those who take exception to his paranoid ramblings about some conspiracy to destroy the N-P?

The second is pure bovine feces. Roberts et al worked tirelessly to focus on local news. Let's remember it was ROBERTS who defied tradition and made the A section devoted to local news, while the B section focused on world and national news. Before then it was the opposite. Go ahead, look it up.

The rest of his rant is calumny. He paints with broad strokes a lie withour shape or fact.

If Wendy and her poison-pen puppet, Travis, are going to spin, they should at least come up with something that isn't so easily disproved as bald-faced lies.

8/14/2006 10:58 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

I had to look up calumny :) Excellent word for the day.

I'll save the rest of you the trouble -- "an abusive attack on a person's character or good name".

8/14/2006 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love this site!
thank you Sara for giving people a place to share thoughts about real issues in the community.
i also enjoyed the site refered to previously it explains sooooo much.

8/14/2006 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The word "puppet" is once again allowed on the blog. Very good then.

Janet Wolf is a developer's puppet being mentored by slippery Susan Rose. If that had been more widely known before the primary, she probably would not have gotten in. Dan may have voted for controversial development in the past, but at least he's not a phony puppet like the glossy Janet.

(POST IT SARAH...OR EXPLAIN...this is getting old)

8/15/2006 11:14 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

ANON -- explanation is easy. You made the post out of spite and anger or to prove some point. Second, this comment doesn't belong here as the post is not about the second district race. Third, it's not adding anything to the conversation....the above post, although I question the use of some of the words is well written and adds something to this post. Senseless ranting about Janet and Dan isn't always going to make it here....sorry about that but there are other places you can do that.

It's real easy -- I don't care what your opinion is but it should add something and not be a one or two line angry statement. I've printed just about anything people throw BB's way -- but the name calling and anger gets tiring for me and for our readers. If you are going to do that at least give us a little more to ponder...

8/15/2006 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Name calling and anger is all over this blog, Sarah. It's time to get honest about your format -- this is a forum for people that support certain opinions, plain and simple.

It is not a discussion forum when opposing opinions are edited with different standards than those that you favor. I would just ask that you get clear about that. You seem to be happy about having other media to promote your blog. It's your responsibility to be honest about what your blog is all about.

(I hope you post this. It certainly seems relevant to your last comment. )

8/15/2006 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Janet Wolf is nobodys puppet. No one can point to any action she has taken because of developers.

However anyone who looks at Dan Secord's record and developer contributions knows who's drummer he marchs too!

8/15/2006 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

As long as we're on the topic of propriety on this blog, what about the links to the Web site with the profanity-laced "musical" diatribe against News-Press management and the site that strongly implies (without evidence, save for phony psychoanalysis) that Wendy McCaw is an alcoholic?

BlogaBarbara and the pseudonymous "Sara De la Guerra" are at best complicit in the commission of libel and defamation of character against Wendy McCaw and News-Press management. At worst, this blog is an active player in an attempted character assassination.

This is far more serious than references to "puppets," a word that is generally understood to be an acceptable term in political discourse.

8/15/2006 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but the name calling and anger gets tiring for me and for our readers

Your right Sara. We should stop falsely accusing people of sexism. It's anger based name-calling. Quite simply its just poison-penned cantankerism.

8/15/2006 12:22 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

The very fact that these kind of comments get published show that I am not afraid of people I don't agree with -- I'm not sure how many times I have to say this but I don't care what your opinion is -- that's pretty obvious. One side or the other -- the kind of comments I referred to are dropped but give me cogent comments (as you have done Nelville despite your contrary tone) and I will publish. This is my blog and I don't really have to defend my actions -- as always, you are welcome to start your own at

I'm also not responsible for other links and buyer beware -- I have warned people what they are about if they are mentioned in my posts. Wendy McCaw, Nipper, Travis Armstrong, et al are certainly public figures -- inclusion in national press and next month's Vanity Fair certainly proves that. You can either have some fun here or take it really, really seriously. You'll live longer if you have some fun.

8/15/2006 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And after this latest missive, some people still do not believe "Nelville Flynn" is not the Travisty?

And Spendy McFlaw is quite clear about who is the real alcoholic, and he is not the one denying he is.

Still have not hit Rock Bottom yet?
Maybe when Wendy and Nips dump you that time will come, as it is due in about six weeks.

I know, it really hurts when the SLAPP suits and gag orders cannot get to anonymous bloggers. Whine, whine.

8/15/2006 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Janet Wolf is nobodys puppet. No one can point to any action she has taken because of developers.

I think you could have ended that last sentence at "taken" and it would have worked better.

Please don't tell me about the school recycling program again.

Top five achievements of humanity:

1. Pyramids
2. Going to the moon.
3. Janet's recycling program.
4. The Suez canal.
5. Lighthouse of Alexandria

I'm sorry but Janet's-Boyscout-Initiative-That-Was-Quickly-Overturned placed at #7.

8/15/2006 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


8/15/2006 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The very fact that these kind of comments get published show that I am not afraid of people I don't agree with

What aspect do you not agree with? Are you saying that you are accurately accusing people of sexism? What does being afraid have anything to do with it. The issue is whether you are being hypocritical, with double standards on what is allowed and what is too harsh.

I'm not sure how many times I have to say this but I don't care what your opinion is

Sould we have a "casual study" to test that?

8/15/2006 1:43 PM  
Blogger john san roque said...

Just a word of support here: I don't know who Sara is, but she (or he) does a very good job on moderating this blog. When unmoderated comments got really stupid and nasty, comment moderation was enabled--and it was needed.

Sara must be doing things about right because some people believe she edits too much and some people believe she leaves too much in. My take on the criticism above from Neville Flynn and others is that they are merely outnumbered by the people who find the News Press unacceptable. Flynn wants us to give the benefit of the doubt to the NP's non-responses and changing arguments, but that would ignore the many months of history that precedes this latest problem. Am I wrong, or have even steadfast NP supporters on this blog like Bill Carson and "Big Fat Fan of Travis" given up trying to justify the actions and words of McCaw and Armstrong?

Neville-if you think character defamation is alive and well because some bloggers lay into public figures like Wendy McCaw, you'd probably have a stroke if you read what Armstrong has written about people who were actually elected by a majority of the voters in Santa Barbara.

8/15/2006 1:57 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

What aspect do you not agree with? Are you saying that you are accurately accusing people of sexism? What does being afraid have anything to do with it. The issue is whether you are being hypocritical, with double standards on what is allowed and what is too harsh.

This seems pretty clear -- I don't agree with your support of the News-Press management but that doesn't mean I won't publish your for the sexism part, the majority of Armstrong's venom has been towards women. This is pretty clear but it is also my opinion so it can't really be labelled as "false". Tell us otherwise! That's what this blog is about and comments in support of Armstrong and McCaw have been published -- I'm not sure how much clear that can be.

S(h)ould we have a "casual study" to test that? -- you've just proved my point! I don't really care that you are supportive of the NP management in terms of posting -- if it's written well and civil I will post it! What I post is opinion -- what I let come through on comments often supports and often does not support what my opinion is. That should be enough proof for anyone.

I'm not sure why there is such an illusion on some people's part that I have to publish anything and everything that gets sent along. Newspapers don't do that -- and don't even try to compare BB to the News-Press here. The level of diversity in opinion is far greater here. It's the same as the "bias" issue -- no one ever said BlogaBarbara saught to be unbiased but for many it is assumed. The fact that I'm letting you have at it with me is proof enough.

We've tried having a free-for-all and it didn't work -- and our readers appreciate the fact that moderation is in place. JSR makes some good points above...thanks for the support.

8/15/2006 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara said:
"The very fact that these kind of comments get published show that I am not afraid of people I don't agree with -- "

I remind you:
You're leaving out the fact the "thing" to which you refer is a post that had to be resubmitted with requests for you to let it go through. And this is not the first time. People are not allowed to state their opinions on this blog where you "don't care" unless you approve of the way something is presented. That's reasonable until one takes into the account that you have a completely different set of standards for posts that have content you agree with. You do care, and you censor with double standards.

You're happy to take praise for this blog, but you won't be honest about its purpose and its double standards.

8/15/2006 2:36 PM  
Blogger snugspout said...

Good job Sara, don't let the vinegary comments of some get you down. Just keep on rolling, you have the best blog in town.

8/15/2006 2:41 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

2:36 PM -- so? The post was mean spirited and I am under no obligation to publish any of it. You've had your forum to complain but it's not good enough is it?

That's it for this discussion -- you win.

8/15/2006 3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as for the sexism part, the majority of Armstrong's venom has been towards women. This is pretty clear but it is also my opinion so it can't really be labelled as "false".

Yes it can be labeled as false. Your opinion can be anything, but public accusations without foundation can be labeled in such a manner. And having the majority of the "victims" be in a demographic that represents 50% of the total population is hardly compelling. Proving that Armstrong is not sexist is a guilty-til-proven-innocent exercise.

8/15/2006 3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why there is such an illusion on some people's part that I have to publish anything and everything that gets sent along.

There is no illusion to that affect. Stop spinning. The debate centers around whether you are being hypocritical with double standards as to what is postable and what is considered "mean spirited", or "pointless" or a "senseless attack".

8/15/2006 3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job Sara, don't let the vinegary comments of some get you down.

I agree. Why don't you cheer yourself up and post a vinegary thread about Travis.

8/15/2006 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara, by becoming the news you must be seen as becoming way too powerful. It seems Blogabarbara is now a target to discredit or restrain---first by the NP’s Dr. ”Blog-Loathing’ Laura and now by NF, offering some ominous legal posturing.

I'm a newcomer to the blog, but it has become a definite part of my day and gives me lots of insights about my community. You have done an excellent job of keeping the flow going (though I have a hard time understanding why everything under the sun, including the loss of the local weathervane is attributed to Second District politics, but perhaps I will catch on). I encourage you to keep up the good work, and please know you are appreciated by a wide and fairly diverse readership!

8/15/2006 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the Vanity Fair article comes out will Travis accuse them of being union sympathizers or having development interests in Santa Barbara?

8/15/2006 3:59 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

To answer John San Roque’s are wrong. My support of the News-Press and the owner has not waned.

Let’s get back to the basics: Wendy McCaw is the owner of a private business which just so happens to be a newspaper. As owner she has the right to hire and fire whomever she chooses. She also has the right to select her executive staff. All this kind of goes hand in hand with owning the paper. Some employees have quit, some have been fired, and some have been hired. One way or another it appears that these actions have been mostly due to the issue of bias. Some BlogaBarbara fans feel the former employees had bias, and some feel that Wendy is inserting her own bias. Either way, this gets us back to the basic fact that Wendy owns the paper. As the owner she gets the last word. That’s how it works.

Of all the posts regarding this tempest in a teapot no one has demonstrated any instance where the news has been falsified. Yes, some “pre-tempest” journalistic flavor has been removed, and yes some “post-tempest” journalistic flavor has been added...but no one on this or any other post has been able to cite where false information has been inserted into what appears on the pages of the News-Press.

Again...Wendy gets to choose whether street addresses appear. She gets to call Marty Blum “Mrs. Blum”. She gets to spell blond blonde. And she gets to support Travis when he criticizes local elected officials, or supports animals at the rodeo. Yes, you anti-Wendy, anti-Travis, anti-News-Press activists get to hate whoever you want to hate, but you have no control over the fact that Wendy McCaw is the owner of the business you love to hate.

8/15/2006 4:26 PM  
Anonymous Philosophe said...

You are doing a great service. I agree that inarticulate and vitriolic name-calling does not add to the discussion. I appreciate the standards you have set. I am very new to the blogging world (blogsphere?) and may not yet be acclimated to the culture. Some posts seem unskillfully written and unncecessarily nasty. This seems like a great forum to share and debate ideas. But I was always taught that ad hominem arguments were poor logic. Maybe I'm old fashioned.

Anonymity offers a great deal of freedom (a freedom for which I am grateful for my own reasons). However, like all freedoms, it is best not to abuse this one.

Thanks for all your hard work Sara.

8/15/2006 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendy McCaw spuriously slammed Jerry Roberts for "resisting more local news." Yet on Monday, August 15, she fired the five community columnists hired by Roberts who in the aggregate wrote more than 1,000 articles.

8/15/2006 5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I defend that my post was not too harsh, but based on the facts. For the purpose of an exercise, please tell me if you like this wording better:

Janet is supported by the established Dem party -- the same party that asked Das not to run at all. Susan Rose IS acting in favor of the developers (could be referred to using the "p" word) and she favors Janet as her replacement. Janet is taking donations from developers, at least one who has an interest in the unincorporated district and who is trying to hide his donations.

I've taken out questionable adjectives such as:
glossy (which was meant to refer to brochures and hair)

Maybe these adjectives are better:

Would this make the cut on the first submission?

8/15/2006 6:11 PM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

In my experience, the moderator here has been evenhanded despite having her own bias or agenda. At least the moderator is disclosing her biases and agenda, unlike the more-pious-than-thou clique that ran the News-Press newsroom until recently.

I have just two complaints:

While the moderator seems to be judiciously filtering comments to remove the most juvenile name-calling, she applies a totally different standard to links. (I could add that she also applies a different standard to juvenile name-calling when it's directed against Wendy McCaw, Travis K. Armstrong, Arthur von Wiesenberger and Ampersand, but I won't go there.) The links are as much a part of the content stream as the text people enter, yet "Sara" takes responsibility for moderating everything except the links. I'm only asking for consistency here.

No. 2, BlogaBarbara could gain more credibility if its moderator would disclose her (his?) identity. This isn't a personal attack on "Sara," but a comment on blogs generally. LAObserved is the most respected blog in Los Angeles because its moderator, Kevin Roderick, is a known quantity and people can evaluate his biases. (I realize it may sound hypocritical for this pseudonymous poster to demand disclosure of others, but I believe moderators should be held to a higher standard than posters.)

Other than those things, the moderator is doing a commendable job.

8/15/2006 6:43 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Keep it up, "Nelville;" you are just an alternative verbose equivalent of "Mike Pinto" and his communist sayings, but from the other direction.

But more details from anyone about the posting above would be good, for:

Anonymous said...

Wendy McCaw spuriously slammed Jerry Roberts for "resisting more local news." Yet on Monday, August 15, she fired the five community columnists hired by Roberts who in the aggregate wrote more than 1,000 articles.

8/15/2006 5:21 PM

8/15/2006 8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:31pm said...

Wendy McCaw spuriously slammed Jerry Roberts for "resisting more local news." Yet on Monday, August 15, she fired the five community columnists hired by Roberts who in the aggregate wrote more than 1,000 articles.

Is this really true... the Santa Maria Lady, the Montecito Guy, the Santa Ynez guy (is that Etling, Sideways in Neverland?) Any verification?

8/15/2006 8:46 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

6:11 --- just write the comment and press publish....geeez. Let's move on.

8/15/2006 8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what is Wendy's new and improved management team doing to satisfy her mission statement of "increased local news coverage"?

Ohhh, that's right... they are yanking senior staff writters off their seasoned beats and sending them on wild goose hunts to write profiles on back-flipping dogs in Santa Ynez... (no offense to dog lovers -- back-flipping dogs sound great)

Sorry NP, but the circus was like two months ago... that doesn't sound like very relevant, local news to me. But keep it up. You have almost offended and demoralized every talented and valuable employee you have left in the building to the point of walking out... which is really what your new mission statement is anyway, right?

Anything to stave off unionization.

God save the pigs but to hell with hard working people.

8/15/2006 8:59 PM  
Blogger john san roque said...

To Bill Carson:

I disagree with your statements in two areas:

1. Owning a newspaper does not equate with owning a business. There is a paramount responsibility to the public to inform. It’s not like running a carwash or a McDonald’s. Your statement that it “just so happens to be a newspaper” is scary. News is not owned. Expanding your thinking to include other media, a few people with a lot of money could control the information that gets to the public on radio, television, and newspapers. In fact, we have seen this occur right here in River City when Armstrong refused to allow Blum to appear on “his” radio station even though her appearance had nothing to do with him. Ownership of a newspaper should have responsibilities and obligations beyond pushing the owner’s agenda.

2. You say that there are no examples of news being falsified. It’s not quite that simple. Can anyone who read the News Press over the past year believe that those individuals or organizations that supported the eradication of the pigs on the Channel Islands got equal time in the news sections of the News Press? Do you remember how many times there was a picture of a pathetic piglet on the front page of the News Press as a teaser to a story about that issue?

Do you remember the prominent news articles about the fiscal problems of the Goleta City Council, and then the short buried article when they were commended for putting together a balanced budget? And do you remember the same treatment for Santa Barbara’s budget?

Do you remember the front-page article about the Chumash Casino giving away cars through drawings among casino guests? That article even had pictures of the cars on the front page of the News Press. Was this news or was it free advertising for a cause supported by the paper?

I will not go on, but in my opinion similar examples are available for the treatment of the Coastal Commission, for local politicians, and other topics.

Do any of these examples reach your challenge of falsification of the news? No. Do they show that the bias of the News-Press ownership extends beyond the editorial column? I believe they do. That wall of separation began crumbling a while ago.

8/15/2006 9:04 PM  
Blogger Stephen Murdoch said...

In response to the anonymous posting at 5:31pm above, it is true that the community columnists have been dropped from the NP. I wrote the Montecito Column. I received a very brief email from my editor saying that the column would no longer run. He didn't provide an explanation, other than that it had to do with the newspaper's "restructuring." I have no other insight as to why it was discontinued. It was an odd and abrupt end to the column; for the record, I really enjoyed writing it.

8/15/2006 10:57 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Now we're getting somewhere. JSR admits it's not "falsification of the news" that's the issue, but instead BIAS. And bias, boys and girls, is in the eye of the beholder. The old News-Press had bias as does the new one. And this is the prerogative of the owner, whoever the owner might be. This is not to say that either version of the paper falsified news facts.

You may not like it, but owning a newspaper is EXACTLY like owning any other business. Whoever owns it ends up inserting his or her own bias. And in Wendy's case, she gets to eliminate the bias that she did not want and insert her own. If she chooses to show pictures of pigs, then JSR, that's what she gets to do! As you may recall, the old NY Times News-Press held an exactly opposite bias (there's that word again) when it came to the issue of animals.

And since you mentioned responsibilities and obligations, do not our elected officials have "responsibilites and obligations"? I'm sure you'll say yes, but when Travis exposes them for shirking and abusing them, you accuse HIM of being unfair. Marty and Susan refuse to appear on Travis' radio show for one reason...because they know they can't defend their actions.

8/15/2006 11:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Stephen Murdoch, for confirming that you have been dropped. I enjoyed your column , even though my tolerance for all things Montecito is modest.

I did think all of the local columns... yours, William Etling's, Helen Thomas', Rochelle Rose's ... who is the fifth? were a good feature.

8/16/2006 7:52 AM  
Anonymous Valerio said...

Travis as opinion editor can "expose" what the elected officials do or not do, but then not publishing their responses and other letters and essays by others is indeed BIAS.

An error of ommission is still an error, or bias, and contributes to why that newspaper is declining and likely will go extinct at the rate of their decline.

For instance, why no breezy article about all the new reporters who have been hired and the shuffling of beats? Under Jerry Roberts, those kinds of updates to the readers were published about twice per year. Obviously, they have something to hide.

8/16/2006 9:17 AM  
Anonymous lost in space said...

Thank you Bill Carson for your 11:21pm post.

This hits the nail squarely on the head. We can squabble all the day, and support different sides of issues, but your post does an excellent job of describing the underlying situation -- like it or not.

I especially appreciate your comment as to why Susan and Marty won't appear on Travis' radio show. I whole-heartedly agree. Being in an elected office takes a lot of courage and energy, as you have to be fully present and on your toes whenever you are in public. They need to be just as willing to answer tough questions as they are to get in a buggy and ride up State Street in the Fiesta Parade. That means getting on the radio with Travis.

8/16/2006 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Travis is not good at disagreeing without being disagreeable. Susan and Marty are similarly bad as this! So, not hard to see why they don't go on his show.

Sure, a newspaper is just another business, however, over time American newspapers found that the best business practice was to strive to be fair. Maybe that is not the best business strategy anymore. However, Wendy should not be surprised to see customers flee her paper if she deviates from the American norm; she should not be surprised either with parodies of her as a wacky billionaire.

8/16/2006 11:29 AM  
Blogger john san roque said...

Well, at least I understand the reasoning now. A newspaper can say and do anything as long as it doesn't print things that it knows are false. "News" is not really news unless the owner decides it needs to be covered, and then it's okay to spin that news because the owner does own the newspaper.

And, as Bill Carson points out,

"Whoever owns it ends up inserting his or her own bias. And in Wendy's case, she gets to eliminate the bias that she did not want and insert her own."

So the thought that there is some separation between editorials and news articles is merely a quaint, but naive, notion.

I feel so much better now knowing that objective information is not important.

8/16/2006 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Santa Barbara Opinion Press is no differnt than the NY Times - why all the fuss?

8/16/2006 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the eliminated "Community" Columnists: I am SO sorry to see that JRoberts-driven, creative, local aspect of the NP destroyed. I believe the powers that be will regret that decision, but I guess it will be at the low end of totem of disastrous mistakes made since July 1. Stephen, do you think Wendy, perhaps, didn't enjoy your take on professional newspapering? Well, I enjoyed it si thanks for your insights. To all the community column colleagues--it was hard work I know, much appreciated, and it will be very much missed. So how many subscriptions will fly out the door with the news of this elimination? Advertisers are you paying attention?

8/16/2006 1:40 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said... you actually believe that any news outlet provides nothing but objective reporting of the news? Think hard. You are quite naive if you honestly believe that KEYT or the SB Independent provide you with pure, objective news?

That being said, IMHO the News-Press does a better job at it, by a long shot, than any other local outlet.

8/16/2006 2:14 PM  
Blogger john san roque said...

Bill Carson: The News Press is the only real daily paper in this area. Comparing it to the Independent or a TV station is not relevant. The News-Press is to Santa Barbara what the Times is to Los Angeles or the Chronicle is to San Francisco. Those are the comparisons that should be made. It is the newspaper of record where someone should be able to go to find the historical record for Santa Barbara.

I have been a librarian for over 30 years. The reason my profession exists is to provide accurate information to everyone. As a librarian in research libraries, a higher task for me is to teach individuals how to evaluate information. We warn people that most of the Internet is a vast wasteland of unauthenticated information. We used to be confident that mainstream newspapers were primary sources of information, but you have to be a lot more careful now.

How you and I define truth will never be agreed upon, but I sincerely believe that the editorial pages of the News Press actively try to deceive readers by selective printing of facts, refusing to give opponents a voice, and skewing the contributions of the community. The news sections have not been as blatant, but more and more they have been intentionally selective in presenting information that supports the paper's viewpoint.

Since I have been complaining to the News Press for about two years by citing examples of this, I find it ironic now when half the staff quits over this issue and the journalistic establishment of this country comes down on the NP's practices, that people (such as you ond others above) deny that it's happening. Or, you switch arguments to say that everybody does it. Everybody does not do this. Whether you like the LA Times or the Washington Post or the NY Times, you can look at their editorial page and find diverse opinions. Opponents are engaged, not discarded. And while everyone makes mistakes, the news reporting tries to be accurate. The NY Times is the paper of record for this country, and when they screw up, they try to fix it. That's 180 degrees different from what's going on here.

8/16/2006 6:15 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

JSR: I disagree with your analysis. First of all, I never said I liked the fact that news outlets insert bias into the news...I just recognize that it happens. I would never "switch arguments" to make a point...I'm simply attempting to bring the world of journalism into proper perspective. Secondly, I'm surprised you use the LA Times and SF Chonicle as examples of journalistic correctness. Most agree that both those papers tilt firmly to the "left" (aka BIAS). Lastly, the reason I brought up the Indy and KEYT is to make the point that the News-Press provides the best version of the truth that you will get from any media outlet in our area.

All that being said, I appreciate the dialogue we've been having.

8/16/2006 10:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks again Sara, for an amazing thread. So entertaining to hear Travis,oh I mean, Nelville, defend his silliness. In my opinion his last editorial about KEYT sounded exactly like high school...very funny and yet very pathetic. "They have gag orders too, see? Neener, neener." It will be wonderful when Wendy loses interest in her little lap dog (and I don't mean the angry poodle) and also in her hobby newspaper. Then, perhaps we can have a newspaper representative of our wonderful, civil, egalitarian town where celebrity and money do not trump character.

8/16/2006 11:36 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

We need to watch the identification of commenters -- I'm letting this go as it's shown up already but lets try to stay away from that -- we really don't know who Nelville is.

8/17/2006 5:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt Nelville is Travis. Travis probably wouldn't bother to blog here. It's Sara who's obsessed with Travis, not the other way around.
Wink wink, Sara. It's OK. Everyone loves to have a nemesis. Travis seems to be yours.

8/17/2006 12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelville has all the traits of a PR firm. Travis may be reading along with us, but I don't think he'd take the time or the risk to log on (my understanding is Google can track blogger data should they so choose).

Also, each writer has an identifiable style that readers and/or editors (especially former editors) could recognize to ID Travis (i.e rarely used words like. “hummmm”). And, another thing, isn't blogging a no-no for NP employees? Could we even imagine Employee-of-the-Month- Travis crossing a Wendy-edict?

However, the issue has allowed my imagination to soar: What infraction will cause McAwful to boot Travesty out the door? I can barely wait for the day when pigs fly!

8/18/2006 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Let us now," said Wendy, bracing herself up for her finest effort, "take a peep into the future"; and they all gave themselves the twist that makes peeps into the future easier. "Years have rolled by, and who is this elegant lady of uncertain age alighting at De La Guerra Plaza?"

"O Wendy, who is she?" cried Nips, every bit as excited as if he didn't know.

"Can it be -- yes -- no -- it is -- the fair Wendy!"

8/18/2006 12:44 PM  

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