Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, September 25, 2006

Keeping It Real with the News-Press

Editor and Publisher mentioned BlogaBarbara in their article about the News-Press Victimization today. SBNP PR Maven Agnes Huff told the reporter that SBNP management certainly wouldn't plant the comment to gain anti-union sympathy:

"That is totally ridiculous," Huff said. "We wouldn't be taking the steps necessary if it wasn't something we felt threatened by."

Still one has to wonder why, as several of our readers have pointed out, she waited until days before the union vote to release the information and be so concerned about the "thinly veiled solicitation of criminal acts". I think I want to start the Center for Union-Busting Studies and use The Mess as a case study. Any grant writers out there?

I am glad she saw that an anonymous submitted the comment....still, I want to make a distinction that "posts" are from blog operators and "comments" should be the correct term for what is written by readers. Otherwise, it seems as if we are all one body rather than individuals.

I stand by my decision to delete the post and am glad to have had our community's strong support for that -- I don't think anyone here would support domestic terrorism. Let's just keep on keepin' it real.


Blogger DC said...

I was involved in a union campaign in St. Louis 3 years ago and I can tell you management will stoop very low to keep unions out of newspapers. From giving raises and bonuses to removing disciplinary reports from employee records (all clandestine, and illegal)they bought "no" votes and intimidated those on the fence.

I don't know what happened in your case, but nothing would suprise me.

BTW: We lost the election by one vote.

9/26/2006 7:06 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

Good grief! You'd a thought that they would have done something about that comment immediately if they were so concerned! What's it been - a couple a weeks since you deleted. PLEASE!!!! dd

9/26/2006 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get it. Bloggabarbara is run by Windy as a cover. whoa.

9/26/2006 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there credibility to Wendy McCaw’s insistence that someone is trying to scale her well fortified and isolated white tower to do cyber damage?

In the real world, authorities would have been notified immediately and an actual threat investigated QUIETLY, so as not to alert the blogger that McCaw’s private detectives were after him or her.

McCaw INSTEAD sounded the alarm by using a NATIONAL press wire, and Dr. Huff says the police have not been contacted.

That’s not how bad guys get caught.

Let’s be honest: the content and timing of the release emphasize its real purpose of smearing the union on the eve of the election. One doesn’t need a Ph.D. in Public Relations to figure that out.

As with most of McCaw/von Weisenberger's tactics during this entire debacle, the national “I’m frightened” press release backfired, giving the local blogs circling around them more stature, particularly since the News-Press (unlike the blogs and other media) didn’t cover Sunday’s rally, much less “the cyber threat.”

People in Santa Barbara aren’t particularly vocal, but the McCaw/"Nipper"/Armstrong/Millstein/Huff "management" team are learning that we’re not dumb and have built-in bullshit detectors.

McCaw’s lack of experience, utterly poor judgment and her isolation from all but her café lover have assured our victory with the union tomorrow.

9/26/2006 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Sunday afternoon rally in De La Guerra Plaza was well organized and the format was ideal.

However, I was sorely disappointed by the last speaker, Dolores Huerta, a union representative who co-founded the United Farm Workers. She made a remark to the effect that, “employers never know what’s going on - all they do is sit in their air-conditioned offices.” This is an unfair generalization and only serves to further polarize the two camps. We’re intelligent people and one of our primary goals is to engage in intelligent discourse with management. This sort of rhetoric is a disservice to all involved. Please don’t invite her to speak again.

9/26/2006 11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course that's how cyberthreats are dealt with: on the sly. The press release was timed to influence the election on Wednesday. Some of us can clearly see that, but ....

On the other hand, we've got a nation full of consumers who suddendly feel more confident in spending their hard-earned cash, all because gas prices have uncharacteristically gone down. They just don't realize the market is being manipulated specifically to tip the election in favor of the Republicans.

People are such tools; they'll believe anything, as far as their pocketbook is concerned, or if they see it in print.

9/26/2006 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next you'll say Wendy is Karl Rove... sheesh, stick with the topic.

9/26/2006 3:44 PM  
Blogger budlawman said...

Anonymous @ 11:08 am -- Dolores Huerta was right on with her comments. Of course she was generalizing, and not making a statement to be academically or rigorously tested. She comes from a world where, for forty years that she has been a part of the movement, farmworkers have been exploited, sprayed with pesticides, denied water, denied shade, denied rest breaks, cheated out of pay, provided horrific residences, herded about, intimidated when they tried to form a union. Last summer, farmworkers died in the 100+ degree heat of Kern County because they were not provided adequate water and shade. Remember the short-handled hoe? Farmworkers' kids grow up without limbs in McFarland thanks to pesticides that the state contends can't be scientifically blamed. Growere and other employers hire high-priced consultants, lobbyists and lawyers to deny workers the basic right to organize, to have dignity at the workplace, and to have laws that truly protect them, and agencies that genuinely enforce those laws. Even the well-intentioned Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975 has been rendered virtually moribund through the efforts of Republican governors and their appointees.

Employers like those Dolores has battled should not be treated with the kind of respect you demand until they show workers fundamental dignity and respect in their jobs. Wendy McCaw doesn't deny her employees the basics of life, but she has not shown herself capable of, or interested in, sitting down and engaging in reasoned discourse, or authorizing anyone to do so on her behalf. She certainly has shown her penchant for retiring to her ivory tower on Anacapa street, or her 25-acre beachfront property where she would like no one to venture on "her" public beach, or her yacht.

Dolores' rhetoric comes from hard-learned lessons, and is fundamentally genuine and true. I don't know who you're asking not to invite her, but I doubt most people would agree with that, and if given the opportunity, I am certain most people would be happy and feel privileged to invite this most accomplished labor and feminist legend back.

9/26/2006 8:47 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...


I do not know if this belongs here, but I just read a very interesting essay by Michael Kinsley in Time Magazine. The essay, entitled "Do Newspapers Have a Future," touches on several issues that are topical here in Santa Barbara. Kinsley was the editorial and opinion editor of the Los Angeles Times in 2004 and 2005 and currently works for the British newspaper Guardian.

He touches on the effect of the internet on newspapers, the double-edged sword of local ownership, and the separation of reporting and opinion. It is an interesting read.

My favorite quip is, "Meanwhile, thre is the blog terror: people are getting their understanding of the world from random lunatics riffing in their underwear, rather than professional journalists with standards and passports." I was slightly offend by this witticism, since I never blog in my underwear, I have a passport, and I believe that I possess standards. However, I may be a lunatic and I admit to riffing.

Snide bon mots aside, Kinsley makes some very good points about the transition in way we receive news. Yet, call me anachronistic if you will, there is something about reading the paper (almost any paper) over a cup of strong coffee that can never be replaced by the blue light glow of my montior.

9/26/2006 9:26 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Thanks for the tip Eckerman -- I'll look up that article and thought others might want to too. You are right that a good newspaper and a cup of coffee beats a monitor any day. Me? I'm a random lunatic in flannel pajamas -- it's getting to cold at night :)

9/26/2006 10:02 PM  
Anonymous breadandroses said...

I'm with ya, budlawman! Dolores Huerta is a superhero, and having her speak at our rally was an amazing experience and a big morale boost. Through her long history of battles fought and won for farmworkers (and other workers, blue- and white-collar) and for women's rights, she has earned my undying admiration and respect. (Notice how respect - or the lack thereof - is a recurring theme in the News-Press Mess?)

9/27/2006 2:30 AM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

I'm sure Dolores Huerta's comments were born of knowledge and experience -- they just aren't relevant to journalists. Reporters sit in air conditioned offices and engage in labors no more physical and demanding than entering words into a keyboard. They do not pick grapes in 100-degree heat, risk asphyxiation in caves or clean toilets in hotel rooms.

In other words, they are poor candidates for union representation.

Journalists at the News-Press enjoy modern and useful amenities, generous paychecks and competitive benefits, and the pleasure of working for one of the nation's best small newspapers. Some may have philosophical differences with the management, but those are questions of journalistic prerogatives, not working conditions. The presence of a union would only inflame the problems alleged at the News-Press.

9/27/2006 8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelville! How was vacation, dude?

News-Press journalists do have air conditioning, can't argue with that, but now they work for a vindictive, cowardly owner who has turned a once-great paper into a national laughingstock. What was one of the best places to work, with respected professionals at the helm, is now one of the worst.

Whatever happens with the union vote today, the people who have taken a stand for ethical journalism will, ultimately, survive with their dignity intact. But the opportunists who have traded their integrity for Wendy's money should know this: their careers as legitimate jounalists are over. Better save what you can, because no real paper will hire you after your inevitable dismissal.

9/27/2006 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelville! How was vacation, dude?

News-Press journalists do have air conditioning, can't argue with that, but now they work for a vindictive, cowardly owner who has turned a once-great paper into a national laughingstock. What was one of the best places to work, with respected professionals at the helm, is now one of the worst.

Whatever happens with the union vote today, the people who have taken a stand for ethical journalism will, ultimately, survive with their dignity intact. But the opportunists who have traded their integrity for Wendy's money should know this: their careers as legitimate jounalists are over. Better save what you can, because no real paper will hire you after your inevitable dismissal.

Bitter, mean and wrong.

9/27/2006 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The new EU - Elitist Union

9/27/2006 10:51 AM  
Anonymous slanted and enchanted said...

Just couldn't stay away, Neville? I figured with your busy schedule of intimidating employees leading up to the vote you wouldn't have time to compose your party-line defenses of Wendy and Nippy. Glad to see you've carved out enough time to rejoin the discourse.

9/27/2006 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelville is on his way to a career in PR. He had such a way with words.

9/27/2006 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendy McCaw is a good woman. A good woman. Such a good woman.

9/27/2006 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed: have to hand it to the employees staying on the job to be able to vote today in the union election. The whole point, maybe unique in American union drives, is that these employees are standing up to management to maintain truthfulness, untainted by business necessities or Wendy’s Whims. They’ve shown courage.

9/27/2006 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Coming to Border's said...

With all of the newly unemployed writers sitting around Santa Barbara, it was bound to happen: in the works are a biography (unauthorized) about Wendy, also featuring von Nipperburger, Rob Lowe, and the entire cast of the News-Press Mess.

9/27/2006 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Blogmania said...

Blogabarbara. Edhat. Craig Smith. The Indy media blog. SB Star-Free Press. Even Spendy McFlaw.

Who had heard of any of them a couple of months ago? Now I read them every day. They fill in the breaking news and balanced opinion spaces abandoned by the News-Press. Otherwise, we would never know stuff like the newspaper’s lawsuit against its editor, Sunday’s rally or today’s union election details. Stories like these are on the radio and in other papers, but not a word in the News-Suppress. If the paper doesn’t treat itself like anyone else, it just highlights what it is trying to hide. It's good for the blogs--gives them something to chew on.

9/27/2006 2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Santa Barbara News-Press' Staffers Who Quit Head to 'L.A. Daily News'

By Joe Strupp

Published: September 27, 2006 4:05 PM ET

NEW YORK Could the Los Angeles Daily News become the refuge for the Santa Barbara News-Press staffers who have quit in protest of Publisher Wendy McCaw's alleged newsroom meddling?

At least two former News-Press employees, both among the 23 who have resigned since July in protest of the paper's newsroom policies, have joined the Daily News in recent weeks, according to Daily News Editor Ron Kaye. And he says he has talked to others.

"It is possible somebody else may wind up here," says Kaye, a 22-year Daily News employee and editor for the past year. "We have talked to a few others. The proximity and timing is right."

Kaye also criticized the News-Press for creating an atmosphere that he says has driven away good people. "They are skilled and talented people who found the conditions working for Wendy McCaw unacceptable and took a stand to defend their own integrity and values of journalism," Kaye said of his new hires. He added that McCaw is "going to have a tough road rebuilding her paper. The credibility has been damaged. How is she going to hire talented people after what has happened?"

In response to Kaye's comment, News-Press spokeswoman Agnes Huff issued a statement to E&P, saying "The News-Press continues to be focused on getting past all these issues and improving the paper, the news coverage and its service to the Santa Barbara community. Comments from competitors and critics that are based on hearsay and speculation, are nothing more than personal opinions that have little to do with the facts. "

Kaye said former News-Press assistant sports editor Kim Burnell joined his team as a copy editor/page designer shortly after Labor Day, while George Foulsham, who had been managing editor in Santa Barbara, starts Monday. Foulsham, among the first group to resign July 6 in protest, will become the Daily News' assistant managing editor for presentation.

"George is a great guy with a lot of experience and we are glad to have him aboard," Kaye said of Foulsham, who has also worked at the Ventura County Star.

In a related development, newsroom employees at the News-Press are voting today on a proposal to unionize under the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Results of the voting, which will include about 50 workers, are not expected until late tonight.

Joe Strupp ( is a senior editor at E&P.

9/27/2006 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone/s will make a fortune on the books. One of Wendy's college chums commented on a blog, I'm certain there are many, who will be glad to share their memories. Nipper is too easy, so many can remember, everybody wasn't wasted. I'm a little concerned for Nelville, they're getting unglued. It's not going to be pretty.

9/27/2006 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:40 PM Craig Smith Blog reports the News Press voted to unionize....hooray!

9/27/2006 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Associated Press

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The feud between newsroom employees and ownership at the Santa Barbara News-Press intensified Wednesday, with workers voting to join a union and management alleging employees may have been coerced.

The vote was the culmination of months' worth of bad blood that spilled into public view last summer when nearly every top editor quit to protest what they claimed was meddling by owner Wendy McCaw. She has countered that the former employees had injected their personal views into news coverage.

The workers voted to join the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Attorney Ira Gottlieb, who represents the workers, said the tally was 33-6. A spokeswoman for McCaw would not confirm the total but acknowledged employees had voted for the union.

"This historic vote sends a serious message to the company that we are strong and united in our efforts," the employees said in a statement.

The results must be certified by the National Labor Relations Board before both sides can begin contract negotiations, Gottlieb said.

Union officials and management agreed earlier this month to the election after both sides traded accusations of unfair labor practices. After the balloting, the paper issued a statement saying, "the News-Press is not convinced that its employees were afforded a fair election free from coercion. The paper will consider all its options."

News-Press spokeswoman Agnes Huff declined to elaborate.

In a statement, McCaw said she was disappointed by the outcome "and the way this organizing campaign has been waged."

She said she remained committed to providing timely, balanced news coverage to readers in the picturesque oceanfront community about 95 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Both sides had previously filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming intimidation and harassment. Those issues were being investigated by the board, which will decide whether to dismiss the charges, settle the dispute or issue a complaint detailing violations that an administrative law judge would consider.

Many of the employees who resigned said McCaw intervened to nix a story about the drunken driving sentencing of editorial page editor Travis Armstrong, as well as reprimanding staff for publishing the address where actor Rob Lowe wants to build a mansion.

The News-Press is a 41,000-circulation daily. It has about 50 newsroom employees among a 206-person work force.

9/27/2006 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Santa Maria Times:

News-Press journalists vote to join Teamsters Union

Newsroom employees at the Santa Barbara News-Press voted overwhelmingly today to be represented by the Graphics Communications Conference of the Teamsters Union.

The employees, engaged in a months-long public battle with News-Press owner and co-publisher Wendy P. McCaw over journalistic ethics and independence, voted 33-6 to join the union, according to a source who declined to be identified.


A spokesperson for the employees and the union was not immediately available for comment on the results.

The election was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

More than 20 news staff members at the paper have quit on been fired since early July. The journalists have charged that McCaw, who bought the newspaper five years ago, has meddled in newsroom operations.

McCaw and her allies have countered that many of the departed reporters and editors had allowed personal biases to enter into their stories, and were not sufficiently committed to covering local news.

“While we are very disappointed in the outcome of today’s election and the way this organizing campaign has been waged, we are pleased that this unpleasant labor dispute is moving towards a resolution,” McCaw said in a statement distributed by a spokeswoman.

“The focus of our attention remains on our responsibility to provide timely, balanced news coverage to our readers in Santa Barbara and the surrounding communities,” she concluded.

The results of the union electIon still must be certified by the NLRB. The next step would be for the two sides to enter negotiations on a contract.

9/27/2006 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has the Mayor been to Lompoc? The whole city is wireless. Meanwhile, still no raises for the Police Officers...

Marty Blum, mayor of the scenic coastal city 85 miles northwest of Los Angeles, will inaugurate SBA's new high-speed broadband wireless network, which provides enterprise-class Wi-Fi service throughout the passenger terminal as well as to airlines and other airport tenants.

The new Wi-Fi network is powered by ICOA through its Airport Network Solutions (ANS) division. ANS is a leading national provider of airport Wi-Fi solutions. The network offers passengers secure, affordable and convenient broadband wireless Internet access from anywhere in the terminal and will provide WLAN services for airport administration and operations functions, airlines and airport concessionaires.

Passengers with Wi-Fi-enabled laptops or PDAs can connect to the Internet to check their e-mail, access their corporate servers, download important documents and surf the Web, with unlimited access from anywhere in the Airport. Access is fee-based, at $3.95 for 20 minutes or $6.95 for a 'day pass.' Though IOCA's partnership with Boingo Wireless, Inc., unlimited access is available at SBA and 45,000 other locations nationwide for $21.95 per month.

"Santa Barbara Airport is pleased to provide this new high-speed Internet system for our passengers, airlines, tenants and visitors," said Karen Ramsdell, Airport Director. "This new service demonstrates the Airport's commitment to provide outstanding customer service and enhance our passengers' travel experience."

SBA's new public wireless Internet service is available throughout the entire terminal and does not require users to install or use proprietary software. As a 'neutral host' network, the ANS-powered solution will also allow subscribers of major national and international branded services access to the network through access agreements with ANS.

9/27/2006 8:38 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

What thuhell does a news release about the paid service for WiFi at the airport have to do with the NewsPressMess or the Police Union salary negotiations?!?!

Lompoc has the whole city up with working WiFi. Now, Santa Barbara airport has WiFi, for a hefty fee, just like most major airports elsewhere.

And the point is...?

9/27/2006 11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the Mayor is trying to learn how to blog.

9/28/2006 1:57 PM  

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