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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Truth or Consequences?

A very interesting development in the News-Press Mess today with the article on Ampersand, the parent company of the News-Press, seeking an injunction against former business editor Michael Todd. The article also puts one of their workers, Ana Elisa Fuentes, on record as saying that Todd's comments to her were not in the "bad or failed joke category" and that former management ignored the complaint.

Of course, threats of workplace violence should not be tolerated AND I'm not clear we know what really happened as it does not seem that Todd or former editors Jerry Roberts or George Foulsham were asked to comment. I would have thought the article would at least have said that the reporter (where's the by-line by the way? It does not show up online...I'll check later) did not receive return phone calls or that the accussed did not want to comment. Is that the kind of in-depth, selfless reporting we should expect from now on? Was this article necessary?

25 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes, this article was DEFINITELY necessary. It shows the other side of the truth that has been bypassed by so many when it comes to what is really going on at the Newspress. Do you really believe all those people jumped ship for altruistic reasons? Come on, use your brains.

8/01/2006 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's strange about the article is that it doesn't mention Travis' DUI even once.

Was this article necessary?

Would you rather they suppressed it?

8/01/2006 9:35 AM  
Blogger anonymous said...

This is an obvious case of character assassination and career sabotage. Fuentes drank the Kool-Aid, just like Bucher.

8/01/2006 12:29 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

9:35 AM - My argument isn't that it shouldn't be reported -- but was there any attempt to get the other side of the story? It conveniently comes off like it serves a dual purpose of discrediting those that participated in the walk out.

8:54 AM -- I'm not sure what your point is? That this many editors and reporters were running away from a employee dispute? I doubt that many people were involved.

8/01/2006 12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara - my point is that the employees that quit most likely had multiple reasons for quitting, like being on the brink of being fired.

Also, the Travis DUI has been written about to the point of total absurdity. Let the guy serve his sentence and let's move on to something that really matters.

Anonymous 8:54

8/01/2006 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope the Independent can dig up some info on this. However, it may be that this is a mechanism by which Roberts and Foulsham can describe inner workings of the News-Press that otherwise would be forbidden by the cease and desist order they have received. Now that the News-Press has publicly named them as being involved, it may be that they are able to publicly discuss the issue (anyone know??). Certainly in the Court Hearing it should be that the Judge can ask for their testimony. Perhaps this article is an attempt by News-Press reporters to allow Roberts and Foulsham to verbally defend themselves without fear of legal action from Ampersand.

And I'd guess that the nature of Todd's other comments (not the parking lot interaction) must be explored in the hearing.

Strictly speaking, Todd's parking lot comment is not a threat... he is discussing an opportunity in the past that he did *not* take to injure Fuentes. And he did not say he would do anything to her *on company property*. His comment obviously has an intimidating tone (in writing), but without a video/sound recording of exactly his tone of voice and Fuentes interaction and response, I would find it hard to conclusively find that Todd was actually intending to intimidate Fuentes.

8/01/2006 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It conveniently comes off like it serves a dual purpose of discrediting those that participated in the walk out.

Yes, this puts a kink in the armor, however big or small, of those who are desperately trying to discredit the newspaper in any way they can. Should SBCAN hold a meeting on this article? Maybe Marty Blum could offer some words of wisdom.

"Superior Court Commissioner Colleen Sterne will hold a hearing regarding Ampersand's request on Aug. 15."

I think that's when you'll get the other side.

I'm not sure what your point is? That this many editors and reporters were running away from a employee dispute? I doubt that many people were involved.

The point that the other person is trying to make is, as with all lynch mobs, is that not everybody is there to lynch for the same reason. Most of those reasons are often self-serving.

Do you really believe all those people jumped ship for altruistic reasons? Come on, use your brains

Exactly. I love how the sports editor quit. It must have been hell trying to do his job when Wendy and Travis were suppressing his stories on key sports issues that he was trying to tell the goodly people of Santa Barbara. BUILD BACK THAT WALL between sports and editorial.

8/01/2006 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Nathan Fitts said...

Earth to Wendy's PR Flacks:

We can tell who you are, and nobody is fooled by your self serving anonymous comments.

You're just talking to yourselves. Do you really believe that enough anonymous comments to this blog will make people think that there actually is a silent pro-Wendy majority?

8/01/2006 3:46 PM  
Blogger orangstar said...

First time blogger so if this doesn't make sense to anyone.. well I don't really care. I just find it hard to be silent when people I care about are left open to attack by people who have no idea what they are talking about... Ofcourse each of the staffers who left the NP had their own unique set of reasons that enough was enough. But all of those reasons were held together by a common thread that ultimately came down to integrity. No, wise-ass, we don't need to "build back the wall between sports and editorial" but if you had been reading the coverage from sources providing actual quotes from these "disgruntled employees" you would know that indeed his reasons for leaving were influnced by the departure of Roberts, Murphy and Foulsham but not because of the same pressures they were under. Perhaps we should all do our research a bit more carefully in the future before we go throwing around low blow assumptions.

8/01/2006 4:28 PM  
Blogger anonymous said...

The Michael Todd story looks like an attempt to sicken the remaining writers and editors to the point that they all slowly resign. That leaves the Travis-ites in charge of a bunch of college kids. All the union backers will be gone. It's a pretty drastic strategy and shows that the owner doesn't care about credibility or quality, as long as all her opponents are out. Cohee resigned today.

8/01/2006 6:18 PM  
Blogger john san roque said...

It's hard to tell which anonymouses are repeat anonymouses, so maybe I'm adressing several people or the same person several times. My personal opinion is that, yes, the people left for altruistic reasons. The possibility of a yet-to-be-determined "threat" would hardly account for many long-term, high-level people leaving their jobs en masse. And it's also easy for me to believe their stated reasons after watching the overbearing authoritarianism of Armstrong and MaCaw for a couple years. (Can't appear on MY radio station; can't walk across MY beach; can't expect YOUR letters or opinions to be printed in MY paper; can't anticipate MY future policy on addrersses, etc.) So--I believe that they left for the reasons they stated--journalistic integrity.

You pose several sarcastic-type questions that imply you know something that the rest of us don't. Please enlighten us: tell us why they quit.

8/01/2006 6:34 PM  
Blogger anonymous said...

Just FYI: Part of the strategy for the SBNP is to sway public opinion on the blogs. There ARE PR flaks all over this thread. The Todd story and the Cohee forced resignation are part of the union-busting effort. It's going to get a lot uglier.

8/01/2006 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't imply anything. I merely speak from a different point of view. One of knowing Travis personally and knowing the truth. Enlighten you? That would be betraying a good and honest family member. Perhaps you should consider that those who chose to quit didn't want to go home to their families and say "I got fired today", but instead left before that became a reality. Looks better on the resume.

8/01/2006 8:56 PM  
Anonymous bender said...

wooooooh...!!!

If the ol' fat cats wanna jump ship, I say "buh-bye!" They should've bought their homes a few years ago with good interest rates, should've made a dent in the mortgage and be riding high in equity. That's what the density-lovers say anyway. Let the fresh blood college grads come in and have a shot at living the good life in Santa Barbara. Montecito Bank & Trust should be willing to set them up with some mighty fine AFFORDABLE loan programs. Oh, yeah, that's what fill-land-throw-pee is all about......Woooooohhh!!!!

8/01/2006 9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also believe they left for reasons of journalistic integrity. And in the case of Todd, my understanding of the situation is that his initial suspension came hours after his response to his reprimand re: Rob Lowe's address, while his dumb joke came weeks prior. If he was such a threat, why not fire him on the spot as soon as the joke comment was reported?

8/01/2006 9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. The restraining order story was at the very least poor journalism in that it didn't cover all sides, with nothing from Todd, his lawyer, Roberts or Foulsham.

2. Has the News-Press ever run a story about a local company filing for a restraining order against a departed employee on an internal company matter between employees. Can't think of any. Wendy is violating her own gag order.

3. The double-hammer legal filing/news story discredits Todd, but more importantly sends a "don't f@ck with me" message from Wendy to her union loving reporters. It will get uglier. Much uglier.

8/02/2006 12:26 AM  
Blogger orangstar said...

Too many anonymous speakers but I think that the one who is supporting Travis on this thread is clearly one of Wendy's bobbleheads who is being paid to stir up shit. You know Travis personally? Well I am calling you out. Nobody is buying what you have to sell. Maybe YOU should consider that those who resigned with their dignity still in tact went home and conferred with their families first and were encouraged to do what was right! To be fired might have been a smarter move financially... atleast there would have been a severance package...

8/02/2006 12:34 AM  
Blogger anonymous said...

Bender, the sad thing about that "fresh blood" is it will take years for them to learn how to put out a quality product. They're good kids, and they're talented. But it takes a lot of years to learn this craft. It's an art. And to take pleasure in a group of professionals leaving good jobs to enter a desolate job market is mean-spirited and ignorant. We are witnessing a tragedy. A newspaper that regained so much credibility over the past five years has lost ALL of it in a few days. It's sad. And a responsible owner would never have let it happen. Look for more assassination pieces similar to the one about Todd in the days to come. The paper will get rid of as many veterans as possible. Now, it' all about killing the union drive. Readers be damned.

8/02/2006 12:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm orangstar. I've never been called a bobblehead before. Sorry to burst your bubble but I've never met Wendy, don't even live in CA.

8/02/2006 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too many anonymous speakers but I think that the one who is supporting Travis on this thread is clearly one of Wendy's bobbleheads who is being paid to stir up shit. You know Travis personally? Well I am calling you out. Nobody is buying what you have to sell. Maybe YOU should consider that those who resigned with their dignity still in tact went home and conferred with their families first and were encouraged to do what was right! To be fired might have been a smarter move financially... atleast there would have been a severance package...

Wrong. Not being paid. Wish I was. What I am stirring up is logic. And there is more than one of us because I am not writing all of these. Maybe YOU should consider that.

8/02/2006 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just FYI: Part of the strategy for the SBNP is to sway public opinion on the blogs. There ARE PR flaks all over this thread. The Todd story and the Cohee forced resignation are part of the union-busting effort. It's going to get a lot uglier.

I'll tell you what's going to hurt the union effort. It's the same thing that hurts all union efforts. The recalibration of salaries. Some people will make more and some will make less. That's why there are a number of employees at the NewsPress who are not interested in the union.

8/02/2006 10:13 AM  
Anonymous big fat fan of travis said...

People are getting paid to support Travis? Where can I sign up? That sounds like a dream job!

8/02/2006 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Empire strikes back!

Will the Resistance hold?!

8/02/2006 4:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you folks really think the NP is going to be around for years? The whole industry is changing... get used to it.

8/07/2006 1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THIN-SKINNED COMPANIES SIC LAWYERS ON THEIR ANONYMOUS CYBER-CRITICS
San Jose Mercury News (CA)
April 16, 2001
Author: TRAVIS ARMSTRONG column
Estimated printed pages: 2

THE WEB has pumped up the intensity and extended the reach of what used to be office gossip. Internet message boards loaded with anonymous tirades ragging on a corporation's stock performance or management can pop up on far-flung browsers.

Naturally, this riles executives. Companies should learn to live with this high-tech innovation in communication. But, no, their lawyers are marching to court to pierce online anonymity and silence legitimate speech.

Meet AquaCool. That's the Internet pseudonym of someone who used Yahoo's message boards to ridicule his bosses at a Web consulting business. He tagged an executive at the publicly held company ''so dull that a five-watt bulb gives him a run for the money.'' Another higher-up ''believes that the faster you go in your car, the smarter you get.''

Hyperbolic barbs such as these are sophomoric but scrape nerves. According to papers in federal court, AquaCool says he lost his job because of them. His employer got a subpoena ordering Yahoo to reveal his real name.

Variations of this grim tale are becoming much too common. In 1999, the Mercury News reported that companies were starting to file ''cybersmear'' suits in Silicon Valley courts in noticeable numbers. These techno-torts have spread as the popularity of Web chatter has taken off.

A typical case goes like this: A company claims defamation and the judge quickly signs subpoenas to unmask the cyber-ranters. Employees found posting messages get axed or reprimanded. Others, often shareholders, get ominous letters telling them to shut up. Presto, the case disappears.

The paucity of full-blown trials makes me suspicious. It suggests that the companies bringing these suits really don't believe they have valid claims and deserve damages. They just hate these embarrassing jabs and want to silence critics.

This is a perverted use of the pre-trial discovery process. This is the time when lawyers are supposed to gather evidence for real cases. Here the subpoenas are tools to nip online speech.

The practice needs to stop.

Judges could be more aggressive in reviewing the disputed postings before OKing subpoenas. Do the postings appear to involve someone's right to express opinions? People should be able to do that without fear of court intervention. It's hard to take a lot of these rants as factual statements -- when message boards are loaded with sarcasm and exaggeration. This tone and context of the chat rooms should raise the standard for issuing subpoenas.

Web anonymity disturbs off-line sensibilities. Georgia even tried criminalizing it, but a judge tossed out the atrocious statute. We forget thatanonymous speech has a rich history in Europe and the United States. Remember the Federalist Papers. More recently, in 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court noted: ''Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind.''

Rants and gossip in chat rooms might not be that lofty. But judges are wrong to let hyper-sensitive people, with creative lawyers, use legal tricks to detour around the First Amendment. Stop rubber stamping subpoenas.
Drawing
Memo: Travis Armstrong is a Mercury News editorial writer.
Edition: Morning Final
Section: Editorial
Page: 6B

8/18/2006 6:54 PM  

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