Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Dog Did it -- Blame the Poodle!

Interesting Daily Sound article provided by First District Streefighter:

When in doubt, "Dr." Agnes, blame Nick Welsh.
Editor’s attorneys fire back at paper’s allegations


Attorneys for former Santa Barbara News-Press editor Jerry Roberts fired back at newspaper management yesterday, saying that it was not them who leaked details about a $500,000 lawsuit the paper had brought against Roberts, but the paper.
The Los Angeles Times, citing sources at the newspaper, reported last Friday that News-Press owner Wendy McCaw had filed a $500,000 lawsuit against Roberts for a breach of contract and for causing damage to the paper.

But the News-Press released a statement the same day saying that the paper “suspects that details may have been leaked by Mr. Roberts or his representatives since the News-Press did not make any public disclosures about the case.”

“You can’t just trust something because it’s published,” News-Press spokeswoman Agnes Huff said.

In a letter dated Monday and addressed to News-Press counsel David Millstein, Andrine Smith of Stimmel, Stimmel & Smith “demanded retraction based upon evidence in her possession that it was Mr. Millstein himself who had a copy of the arbitration demand delivered to a News-Press reporter,” according to a statement from the law firm.

The statements were “untrue, irresponsible and, unfortunately, consistent with the type of slanderous attacks we have come to expect from the News-Press and its ownership,” the letter said.

News-Press reporter Vladimir Kogan, who is a new reporter hired over the summer in light of the mass resignations at the newspaper, wrote a draft article in the event that news of the arbitration broke elsewhere.

But Agnes said that while it was true Millstein provided Kogan with a copy of the arbitration demand, there was no breach of confidentiality to allow the client or its employees to have access to the suit.

“The notion that the News-Press was legally obliged under a confidentiality provision is untrue,” Huff said. “The News-Press respected and wanted to keep the proceeding private and confidential.”

The breach, Huff said, came elsewhere, and the paper is currently investigating if it might have come from someone in its newsroom.

She said she and Kogan were the only people called by the Times, and that they both didn’t comment on the situation.
According to Smith, as Kogan was conducting his reporting for the article, a conversation between Kogan and Roberts was “overheard by ‘numerous people in the newsroom’ and from there made its way into the media.”
But Huff said she was “assured” that all of the conversations regarding the arbitration article were done in a separate and private place.

“We exercised great care that this was a sensitive and private matter,” she said.

Among other things, the newspaper also alleged that Nick Welsh, the executive editor and popular columnist at The Santa Barbara Independent newspaper, called the News-Press newsroom and stated, “I have a copy of your article on the arbitration.”

But Welsh was confused when contacted by the Daily Sound last night, and wasn’t sure the quote is accurate.
And even if he made it sound like he did have a copy when he talked to Kogan, he said he does not have a copy of the article written.

“If they have it on tape I guess I said it,” Welsh said. “But I don’t remember it like that at all.
“I wish I had a copy but I don’t.”

Welsh said he had heard about the story a few weeks ago, and knows there are “copies of the story out there” but he has yet to see one.

The only way Welsh, or anyone outside the newsroom, would have seen the copy of an “internal company privileged draft” was if it was stolen, Huff said.


Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

I KNEW that Nick Welsh, as part of the Rival Media and Cabal, was behind all of this!!

Sam Singer was dumped after even he protested the bald lies he was pushed to spin, so no doubt Agnes Huff and Puff gets the axe today.

9/01/2006 7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems that "Dr." Huff & Puff is writing the editorials over the N-P now. Read today's editorial and see for yourself.

The News-Press isn't the only form of media in town. Thanks to the Independent and now the Daily Sound, we have other places to get information, and when those other places all contradict what the N-P says, how do they expect to rebuild that trust?

The whole situation makes me sick.

9/01/2006 7:54 AM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

More on anonymous "independent surveys" with no data or actual survey questions revealed. So Jerry Roberts was the one who really was responsible for killing the story on the drunken driving prosecution of the editorial writer? Now I understand where the bias really came from.
Thanks, News-Press!

Why is this not another "note to readers"? Too hard with an actual name and face to accept responsibility for this paranoid desperation?

[News-Press Editorial]
Opinion: Banishing signs of reporting bias

September 1, 2006

One challenge for all private companies when dealing with disgruntled ex-employees is how to respond when personnel matters become public. Former workers at times seem to have more latitude to talk and spin.

The managers of your daily newspaper recently found themselves in this position.

For an enterprise devoted to communication and getting out the news, the last two months have been an awkward time because of the difficulties in sharing internal information.

Yet in this space, we've tried never to shy away from controversial topics or point out opinions that some people might find unpleasant.

The opinions expressed on these pages are one reason why certain politicians and special-interest groups are looking to try to damage the News-Press' reputation and finances during the newspaper's transition period.

But except for a small group of employees, the News-Press team of 200-plus workers has continued not only to act professionally but has come together to protect their livelihoods and be good stewards of an institution that has been part of Santa Barbara since the 1800s.

Today and on Sunday, we'd like to share with you some background information to give you a better idea of what we've seen happen in the newsroom over the last years.

The management and staff of any newspaper should be committed to eliminating opinions of individual reporters and editors from the news stories. Any reporter or editor who isn't committed to this goal ought to leave the newsroom.

At the News-Press, there have been concerns involving newsroom bias and ethics. They are problems that the management would have preferred to address and correct internally, just as other news organizations do outside the public spotlight in the normal course of business.

Banishing the bias from the news reporting is a top priority for the present newsroom management. But the reality is that some of the past editors too often failed readers on this score.

Here's a number that speaks for itself: An independent survey conducted by an outside agency last year for the News-Press found that 64 percent of News-Press readers believed that reporters project their views into stories and were not neutral. The percentage was even higher among readers ages 18 to 34, a category of people the News-Press and other newspapers must reach out to or risk perishing in the decades ahead.

A large majority of our readers simply thought news stories reflected the bias of reporters. These are professionals on the payroll to provide you with straight-down-the-middle reports, rather than interject their political or other personal viewpoints.

Banish the bias? By all means.

And also make sure that balance is back in every story.

That is the goal as the News-Press moves forward, as the newspaper corrects the missteps of the past.

The management and staff of any newspaper should be committed to eliminating opinions of individual reporters from the news stories. Any reporter or editor who isn't committed to this goal ought to leave the newsroom.

9/01/2006 8:19 AM  

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