Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Travis Armstrong: Bias Buster?

So now Travis Armstrong is a bias buster? Perhaps today's opinion reflects a bit of historical revisionism? Yet again (unfortunately after a pretty good week) -- he fails to tell the whole story in pumping his chest about an award for the Voices section and not the awards that went to his departed employees. To top it off, he speaks of influence from the newsroom on letters to the editor? What was his job during that time? Here's what he wrote about a "survey" they conducted:

The results also suggested that in the past readers have been concerned about bias in the pages outside the Voices section. Correcting this and banishing any bias I know are priorities of the News-Press management.

I do worry that, inadvertently or indirectly, these pages over the last years have contributed to the idea the News-Press didn't care to address real or perceived bias in the news pages.

I admit that on too many occasions, at the insistence of some journalists in the newsroom, we haven't published some letters critical of certain news reports that readers thought were biased or incomplete. My promise to you is to try better to get those letters in the paper so you can have your say.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's get this straight: Armstrong has been blocking letters-to-the-editor critical of McCaw's newspaper because he couldn't stand up to pressure from "some journalists in the newsroom"? Anyone in particular?

What's his excuse for the letters he's blocked trying to give counterpoint to the newspaper's editorials? Pressure from the woman signing his paycheck?

8/27/2006 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Editor,

I thought the page 1 basil story last week was really dumb. And why the big Sunday page 1 feature on Cuban cigars? Slow news week, or is the paper being run by a former dining critic?


A Loyal Reader

8/27/2006 11:28 AM  
Anonymous hattie said...

What about letters to the N-P that have been edited to remove even the most mildly critical comments re: specific N-P editorials? From my own experience as well as those of other writers, I know this has been a commonplace occurrence for several years. I'm talking about civil, well-written letters (not ranting diatribes) where the meaning was altered by these types of edits. I would respectfully like to hear what Mr. Armstrong has to say about this problem. If he would acknowledge that it has happened & promise it will no longer happen, I think that would be a positive step.

8/27/2006 11:53 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

I confess, I rolled my eyes after reading about concern over "bias outside of the Voices section".

Alas, the reflection in Travis's mirror must be clouded........ dd

8/27/2006 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Robert said...

What you're witnessing folks is one of the sickest co-dependent relationships I've ever seen..Wendy, Travis and long as they are locked in this tail grabbing circle, this behavior will eventually destroy's time for an intervention!

8/27/2006 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Friend of Truth said...

Doncha always like politicians or now, newspaper editorialists, who quote their own polling results but do not cite what and when the poll was, who paid for it, and what the "data" actually were.

If Armstrong there really believed what he writes from his self-imposed exile in the tower, he would meet the public and his critics and justify his fantasies in an actual discussion. Or, at least he would distribute the actual "poll" and its results. Los Angeles Times does that, with a downloadable file with all the very fine print for all the details. That is called credibility.

Here is part of the truthiness and revisionist history in the Travisty opinion today:
"An independent readership study conducted last year found that 75 percent of our readers believed these pages present a variety of opinions. And even more than that said they still could enjoy reading the paper even if they disagreed with strong editorials.
These are great numbers, but they show there's always room to improve.
The numbers also are heartening because they demonstrate that a vast majority of our community values diverse opinions."

8/27/2006 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Armstrong not-so-cleverly is trying to 'coopt' the "Banish the Bias" signs/motto just unrolled by the newsroom staff see:

8/27/2006 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Philosophe said...

From my perspective (which is biased by my upbringing, education, reading, life experience, and career field) I have always detected the same bias on both the News-Press news and editorial pages. That bias is: Local government can do nothing right.

I never let this bias bother me too much because a healthy distrust of government has a long and honorable tradition among journalists. Sometimes, I believe that the stories (and the editorials) had to stretch pretty far to find some sort of governmental malice; but so it goes in the business of selling newspapers. If Mr. Armstrong really wants to eliminate bias from the editorial pages of the News-Press, I would suggest that he give people for whom he feels personal animus the benefit of the doubt before pre-judging their motives based on his pre-conceived predjudice.

8/27/2006 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The hubris of this guy is jaw-dropping.

8/27/2006 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To paraphrase Orwell:

The mission statement of:

I believe in running off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so.

Becomes the Op/Ed:

While freely conceding that the Macaw/Armstrong regime exhibits certain features which the community may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Santa Barbara people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.

And this makes the paper and the community better? How?

8/27/2006 1:46 PM  
Blogger Dominatrikes said...

I couldn't even finish reading his editorial today because it was just another jab at the reporters who left, Susan Rose and Marty Blum and the high density developers. Same old same old ho-hum and yeah, with a heaping dose of double-speak.

8/27/2006 1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Editor (whomever you may be):

I read that Ms. McCaw had a nice summer in Europe on her yacht. I see from Dr. Laura’s column each week that she’s having fun with her yacht. I miss Barney’s column, and I guess I have to read him in the Independent now, even though he doesn’t have a yacht.

I’m happy our pesto supply is safe and that good Cuban cigars are on their way to Santa Barbara.

My problem is I live paycheck to paycheck. I didn’t score a huge divorce settlement from my ex-husband and I can’t get my boyfriend to give me a powerful job like you did for your food writer.

Yachting, eating pesto in fancy restaurants, and smoking foreign cigars is out of my league financially.

Since I’ve now heard from both Mr. von Wiesenberger and from Mr. Armstrong that the bad journalists and their bias and agendas have been banished, can you write stories about things that will make a difference to me personally so I will have a reason to keep buying the newspaper?


Another Loyal Reader

P.S. Although I know the opinion pages and the news pages are ethically separate as Ms. McCaw said in a press release she believes strongly they should be, do I keep calling in corrections to news stories to opinion editor Travis Armstrong’s 564-5161 direct dial number as directed on page 2 on the newspaper each day?

8/27/2006 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See Spendy today, a classic.

8/27/2006 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Travis is an assest to the community if for nothing else helping to stop St. Francis from being built.

8/28/2006 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Vladster said...

Bust this bias.
Vlad Watch, late August edition.

My attempt at art criticism today included a lede sentence and paragraph that further shows that I have no editors who are awake and that I arrived in Santa Barbara, uh, just a month ago:

"Santa Barbara's latest foray into public art appears to have kicked off better than the last one. Although the eight pieces chosen for display on State Street have drawn bemused looks, there has been none of the public outrage that accompanied the works of avant-garde artist William Tucker in 2002."

Of course, if I had been awake and bothered even to search past Newspress archives, I would have figured out that the most recent public art display was the steelhead trout fish painted sculptures that were on display, at the very same eight designated places, only earlier this same year from February to April. Hardly the "last one" art display in 2002.

I know, that foible about the art display history hardly is as big a blunder as my reference to the City "Agricultural Board of Review" with its non-correction correction two days later, or the apparent stealth move by Das Williams to run as an Independent for the Board of Supervisors for the November election, as I reported last week.

But, still, I obviously AM the most qualified staffer at News-Press to cover the Santa Barbara City government beat. But now I wonder if a front-page article and photo of an art display that obviously slams McDonald's restaurant, a past and potential advertiser, now will have violated yet another made-up, after-the-fact policy rule from News-Press management. Where is that Wall when you need it?

8/30/2006 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Shocked at myself said...

Travis's editorial today about the dense tunnel effect transforming CHapala frightened me---because I actually agreed with most of what he had to say. He didn't have much of a conclusion, but the concerns he raises are valid. and he didn't find a way to bash Susan or Marty in the context of what he wrote.

Maybe someone else wrote it.

In any event, we should all wake up and take a stroll down Chapala and down Anacapa soon. The rosey picture painted by those who long for density really fades...

8/30/2006 3:36 PM  
Anonymous Shocked, SHOCKED to find that building is going on here said...

Yes, I am Shocked, SHOCKED to find that building is going on here!

As usual, the Editorialist-Editor-Publisher is partially right so the real truth remains suspect in the August 30th editorial.

That editorial listed a long roster of building projects on and near Chapals Street, but many of them sank like a lead Zepellin when the City Council, Planning Commission, or other review boards actually reviewed and commented on those proposals during actual public meetings.

That is the problem with half-assed credibility at that newspaper, like being partially pregnant. Credibility is all or nothing, just like what to believe in an editorial or news article.

8/30/2006 9:28 PM  
Anonymous Not an idiot said...

gee thanks for the arrogant wisdom, anon 928....I wasn't talking about the buildings in the pipeline, but the building I see with my own eyes on a daily basis. Can I believe that...?

8/31/2006 9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SHOCKED said...

You may not be an idiot, but your reading comprehension is bad.

I was writing about the lame and factly-free editorial. Sorry, but it is not all about you.

As Iya Falcone says, the General Plan update will resolved all the issues about overdevelopment. No doubt she is glad that keeps getting posponed in the hopes that she can influence it even more during her desired reign as Mayor.

8/31/2006 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When are they going to do something about mobbing and gangstalking? When are the cops going to make people put a front plate on their vehicle, after all it is the law and they could be fined $350 and with about ten million of such vehicles, that would be a lot of money. They could fix the budget, etc. And fine them for having junk cars on their front lawns and in the street and for having basketball hoops in the street and all these people playing basketball all day long in traffic. All illegal and do the cops care? No, and then they wonder why there is vandalism and fires and all sorts of stuff and guys putting their motor oil in the storm drains and lakes and streams, etc and in the ocean.

5/06/2009 7:18 PM  

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