Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Sunday, September 17, 2006

News-Press Salsipuedes Continues...Yet Again

I'm running out of ways to title these posts...

Santa Barbara News-Press sportswriter Leah Etling resigned Saturday morning after having worked at the paper for the last four years -- the story was reported here earlier today in a comment but is available at The Santa Barbara Daily Sound.

I believe we are up to 23 resignations which unfortunately means the fate of The Organized is getting mor precarious the longer the vote is delayed. How much of this is a dedicated strategy on the part of Wendy, Nipper and Travis -- I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but you have to wonder.


Anonymous philosoph said...

Sounds like a conspiracy theory to me. I know a few of the people who have resigned, and they are doing so in the furtherance of their own professional careers, not because of threats or pressure from News-Press management. They realize that the News-Press is a compromised institution and are doing things in their own self interest. That has nothing to do with the union drive.

9/18/2006 7:55 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

It's hard to call firings/resignings/suspensions anything but a determined and deliberate management conspiracy.

If you put up the staffing of the NP on a white board and traced the patterns I'd think you'd have to be educationally challenged to NOT see the pattern of abuse and hostile work environment all for the goal of union busting, by management. dd

9/18/2006 8:01 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

Should we be saying Uh-Oh.......dd

Tribune called on to sell L.A. Times

Report says Los Angeles power elite turning up pressure, making offers, to try to pry Times away from Tribune Co.
September 18 2006: 9:26 AM EDT

NEW YORK ( -- Tribune Co. is under increasing pressure to sell its largest paper, the Los Angeles Times, according to published reports, just as the company is close to working out a truce with the Chandler family, the former owner of the paper and one of the company's largest shareholder.

The Wall Street Journal reports that several prominent Los Angeles billionaires are interested in buying the L.A. Times, the nation's No. 4 paper in terms of circulation.

Showdown in Chicago
Why do the Chandlers of L.A. want to break up the Tribune Co.? (
All the Times that's fit to sell
The New York Times Co. has lots of history, but its future isn't promising. Now might be time to succumb to the publishing industry's urge to merge. (more)

Business leaders in Los Angeles are also joining together to urge Tribune Co. (Charts) not to make further staff and cost cuts at the paper, saying that it should sell the paper if it is not satisfied with results. The paper's editor and publisher were quoted in an L.A. Times story last week as saying they disagreed with Tribune Co. calls for further cuts.

The Tribune Co. bought the LA Times as part of its purchase of the Times Mirror Co. in 2000. The purchase made the Chandler family the company's No. 2 shareholder in Tribune Co., and made the newspaper publisher party to two complicated partnerships with the Chandlers, which could not be unwound until this month without negative tax consequences.

The Chicago Tribune, which is also owned by the Tribune Co. and the Journal, both reported Friday that the Chandlers and the Tribune Co. were close to a deal to unwind those partnerships, which could open the way to corporate moves such as spinning off television stations or selling newspapers.

The Tribune board meets Thursday, and the Journal reported Monday that Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons is expected to deliver on a directive from the board to present a plan for the future of the media company.

Scott Smith, president of the company's newspaper unit, Tribune Publishing, seemed to dismiss the idea of a sale of the L.A. Times in an interview with the Journal. He told the paper he sees the Times and its staff as a central source of content for other Tribune Co. newspapers.

But the Journal reports that Eli Broad, philanthropist and founder of insurer SunAmerica, and supermarket magnate Ronald Burkle, recently sat down with representatives of the Chandler family and their investment bankers to discuss how they might structure a deal to purchase the Times from Tribune. However the paper reports people close to the Chandlers said these talks didn't go far.

In addition, entertainment industry mogul David Geffen made his own separate, informal, all-cash offer to buy the Times, according to people familiar with the situation.

In response to all three overtures, Mr. FitzSimons wrote a letter saying the board had decided unanimously to not discuss the transaction "at this time," according to a person who saw one copy.

Newspapers are still profitable; the Journal reports that the L.A. Times has an operating profit of 20 percent. But they are under pressure from declining readership and advertising revenue as they face competition from new media sources, such as the Internet.

Tribune stock is down nearly 40 percent since the end of 2003. The company took on debt to finance a $2 billion share buyback earlier this year to try to help share price, a move that was opposed by the Chandler family trust.

The Tribune Co. is not alone in seeing sharp share price decline over the last 12 months; No. 1 newspaper publisher Gannett Co .has (Charts) seen its stock fall even more sharply, dropping more than 20 percent in the last year, while the New York Times (Charts) has lost nearly 30 percent in that period. Shares of Journal publisher Dow Jones Co. (Charts) and the Washington Post (Charts) are also sharply lower.

Knight-Ridder, one of the nation's largest newspaper companies, was acquired by The McClatchy Company (Charts) earlier this year under pressure from shareholders to sell its assets to make up for share price declines there. Since that purchase, McClatchy has sold off several former Knight-Ridder papers, some to local ownership groups.

9/18/2006 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those interested in Santa Barbara's daily newspapers, there is a long article in today’s Wall Street Street Journal about the Los Angeles Times: “Tribune Faces Pressure
To Sell Los Angeles Paper; Billionaires, Civic Leaders
Say Local Control of Times May Prevent Further Cuts”

Here’s an excerpt of local interest:

“While buying a local paper can bring owners a powerful voice in their community, it also can prove tricky. In 2000, Wendy McCaw, who earned a sizable fortune in her 1997 divorce from telecommunications mogul Craig McCaw, bought the Santa-Barbara News Press from New York Times Co. Since then, she has seen a number of publishers come and go. This summer, much of the newsroom staff walked out and took to picket lines complaining that Ms. McCaw interfered in the editorial process.”

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

As events at the L.A. Times unfold, Wendy McCaw is being mentioned in some of the stories as shorthand for how a local billionaire can screw up a newspaper. Here is an except Fox news:

"Can Newspapers Do Good Journalism And Make Money?
Monday, September 18, 2006
By Susan Estrich

“The day may well be coming when newspapers are like sports teams; the toys of the rich, bought by billionaires to be players, instead of owned by publicly held companies.
The real question is: Will communities be better served that way? Will coverage be fair, or will billionaire boy owners with no backgrounds in journalism prove unduly meddlesome in ways that make Tribune a fond memory (think about Wendy McCaw, the billionaire owner of the Santa Barbara New Press, who went off and fired half her top staff).
In Los Angeles, we may soon find out.”

9/18/2006 8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Local disaster planning officials need to plan for the possibility that the new News-Press might "drop the ball" again and not provide adequate public safety information if there is a fire much closer to home.

9/18/2006 9:02 AM  
Anonymous hattie said...

RE the piece by Susan Estrich (cited by anon 8:48)that included this misinformation:
"Wendy McCaw, the billionaire owner of the Santa Barbara New Press, who went off and fired half her top staff"--I hope lots of people write in to Fox News to point out that a) they were NOT fired, they resigned; and b) it's not half the staff yet (23 out of 57?) but at the rate it's been going it could be soon.

9/18/2006 12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any resignations today? I want to update my scoresheet. thx

9/18/2006 2:35 PM  
Anonymous Where there's smoke... said...

For a look at local news coverage, year 2006, take a look at Doc Searls’ information about the Day fire;

Compare his information to that of the News-Press website, which has been missing in action.

And Doc is just one guy, not a reporter, on his way to a lecture somewhere else. The News-Press recently hired about 18 new reporters and editors, according to its “spokesperson,” and has about 60 news people.

Where the heck are they?

P.S. Here’s a portion of one of Doc’s posts, about the state of local news coverage, including a comment about the News-Press’ “local news station.”

“The Day Fire was the probable source, since we had seen its river of smoke in the sky just a few hours ago at sunset, flowing southwest from mountains in the northeast and out over the Pacific, not far from us over Ventura. If the wind had shifted toward the west, that would explain it. But were there any closer fires? How would we know?

"The local news station isn't, really. Mostly it runs newspaper stories. At that hour it runs the BBC. And it has no website. The local paper's website is mostly useless and behind a paywall anyway. The news-talk station mostly runs national programs, and the local news on its website hasn't had anything new since August 26th. (A 40-acre fire put out on Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch.)”

9/18/2006 7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You folks are just now starting to realize how useless the NP has been for the last few years.

Look at what's happening at the LA Times. Do you really think the NP is going to be around much longer, or be the paper you seem to think it was?

9/18/2006 8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:40 is referring to industry-wide trends in publishing.

The LA Times and other big papers are suffering greatly because much of their content can be found elsewhere - particularly the Internet.

Most smaller newspapers aren't suffering as much because they have a near-monopoly on local news. The News-Press was in this category until recently and remains the dominant source for local news in southern Santa Barbara County.

That's changing now. Rather than suggest that the LA Times or Santa Maria Times or Ventura County Star start local editions in Santa Barbara, or turn to the Santa Barbara Daily Sound, local news consumers should support an online-only newspaper for Santa Barbara.

Think about it: The startup costs would be relatively low (just computers and an ISP), there are already unemployed journalists in Santa Barbara who know the community better than the News-Press "scabs," we have an educated and Internet-savvy populace hungry for an alternative to the News-Press, and the news business is trending toward online anyway.

A strong local online newspaper competing with the News-Press could eventually erode the McCaw product's readership and become the dominant local news source. Advertising and revenue would follow.

9/19/2006 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, 8:20, there are no News-Press "scabs." How could there be? To have scabs you have to have a union, and the vote's not until next week. And it looks like it will pass overwhelmingly, even among the new young hires who are turned off by management heavy-handedness.
And then there will be a unionized work force fighting for the restoration of journalistic integrity in what may well be a closely-watched and precedent-setting case. That hope, that fight, is what keeps most of us here.
So contrary to what a few people say, those of us who've chosen to stay aren't just craven lowlifes looking out for our own behinds. What we're doing takes some cajones.

(Though I'll certainly grant you the points about the Internet and other local media. I like how it's all stepped up. A vigorous free press abhors a vacuum. Or something like that -- reworking cliches is not my strong point.)

9/19/2006 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Pinto says...

I never purchase for profit media but I did see the article in Vanity Fair about Wendy and the Von Nipper dude. I want to know where Wendy lives so I can camp on her beach this week. That Nipper dude is weird. How is it if Wendy Deville is so smart she cannot recognize that Nipper is a leech. He isn't even qualified to be in the capitalist circus he professes to be a member of. At best he is the stooge of Wendy and her rich toadies. I didnt really care about for profit media hirings and firings but I will now dump more SBNP's than ever before. "Hi my name is Nipper and I suck wealth out of my wife" And what about Michael Douglas. Has life been so cruel to him it isn't enough to live off Cathrine Z but now Wendy as well?

9/19/2006 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't mean to suggest that new News-Press employees are strikebreakers when I used the term "scabs." But they are parasites who exploited the News-Press degraded standards for their own professional advancement, so they are scarcely any better.

As for my comments on an Internet-based local newspaper mounting a successful challenge to the News-Press, its task is aided by the N-P's own backward approach to its online product. Very few newspapers charge for content because that model has failed. The N-P's persistence in doing so ensures that its online readership remains painfully low, which keeps advertisers from getting on board. Has anyone seen any credible data on the number of online N-P readers? My suspicion is that it's dismal.

9/19/2006 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And then there will be a unionized work force fighting for the restoration of journalistic integrity in what may well be a closely-watched and precedent-setting case. That hope, that fight, is what keeps most of us here.

Sounds like you've spent too much time on Willie Nelson's bus...

9/19/2006 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mp, you jest? isn't wendy near and above hrbeach? someone thinks they saw her entering bac @ np, few weeks past? loading? nip is one of those who you'd find in the ladies bathrm stall in the eighties. remember nipper's and places like? 4-6 people in a stall. he was big with the "coke wh*r*es". lot's of women alright. one of the most revealing things about her is that she is in that much denial. if she has figured him out, she still needs to be right, can't admit mistakes. now wendy's "voice" has launched her money making debate, "paid wh*re" vrs "unpaid wh*r*". her "voice" makes it okey to call wendy "unpaid wh*r*" and wendy doesn't get any of it? she's heavily medicated or feeling trapped in a disastrous personal/business life. she may need to keep others in prison. it only takes one escapee who can talk to reveal details of the madness, could be the poolboy. it will happen one day. all of this makes it more vital to support the rally on the 24th.

9/19/2006 5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So contrary to what a few people say, those of us who've chosen to stay aren't just craven lowlifes looking out for our own behinds. What we're doing takes some cajones.

Sounds more like staying in a BURNING building! Not too smart!

9/19/2006 6:35 PM  
Anonymous breadandroses said...

To Anon. 4:04 and 6:35 (who may or may not be the same individual, and who may or may not be a "friend" of Wendy's):

Thank you for your support! It's so heartening to know that there are people like you out there who truly understand the ethical issues at the heart of the "News-Press Mess" and who understand that sometimes, you just have to take a stand and fight injustice - even if it means taking personal risks (such as, say, your livelihood) and even if it means a long, brutal struggle in a tense and awful working environment in which your own employer has turned against you.

Anonymous(es), your encouragement is what keeps journalists like myself and my embattled colleagues going when we're working to get the paper out and it's Christmas Day; or when there's a big breaking news story (9/11, let's say) and we're all logging countless hours of overtime; or when we're busting our asses for 16 hours covering an election. You guys are what makes it all worthwhile - knowing that you're out there rooting for us, and that you have a deep appreciation for the fact that we continue to make these sacrifices in order to protect your First Amendment rights and make democracy possible: to make it possible, in fact, for you to live in a society where you can freely express your opinions ...

... whatever they may be, and for whatever they're worth.

9/20/2006 2:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

booo hooo hooo

Your lack of objectivity makes it apparent that you couldn't cover the story that you're in the middle of.

Part of the problem with the NP.

Lets get a couple of other things straight: Our military protects my First Amendment Rights, and we don't live in a democracy, we live in a Representative Republic.

9/20/2006 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

BreadAndRoses is up to his eyeballs in sanctimonious hooey and can't see straight.

There are plenty of workers who perform far more important and dangerous tasks than reporters stuck behind their desks, even in a politicized newsroom like that of the News-Press.

This isn't about ethical journalists waging a noble battle on behalf of the First Amendment. It never was. This is about employees watching out for their own egos and paychecks.

9/20/2006 12:53 PM  
Blogger passing-by said...

In Re Anonymous 11:06 - Perhaps the most tiresome variety of Americans are those who insist on parsing the difference between the terms democracy and representative republic when others use them in informal, non-academic settings... a truly sophomoric habit.

Moreover, in my view the military protects our lives, territory and economic interests. The military has no role in protecting our First Amendment Rights. The military culture is not steeped in the ideals of freedom of speech.

9/20/2006 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be a twit. You have a "reporter" throwing things out that aren't facts.

The press that claims to hold some high moral and ethical place in our society, and is DUE this or that? Please!

They aren't the protectors of anything and don't deserve things not earned.

Keep on passing by.

9/20/2006 2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo Neville!

9/20/2006 3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Good to have you back.

You are wrong. This is about a noble cause. Everybody know nobody at the News-Press was talkin' union until the ethical breakdown began. It's just that simple. Those fighting for union want to build back that wall between news and opinion, period.

On another note, 11:06, journalists do protect our freedom of speech.

When our own government seeks to revoke our freedom of speech, the military does not march on Capital Hill. No, it's reporters who spread the word.

The military may protect our freedoms from outside forces, but journalists are among those charged with protecting them from forces within our own borders.

9/20/2006 4:27 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

2:28 -- no need for the twit comment!

9/20/2006 4:59 PM  
Blogger passing-by said...

twit = one who taunts, ridicules, or teases, especially for embarrassing mistakes or faults... I can live with being a twit!

On a different note, today we received something called the News Press Direct in the mail. It looks like the Sunday ads and classifieds that we no longer see because we cancelled weeks ago. Is this new? Is it an attempt to buoy up the number of advertising readers? Why is this necessary in view of the rosy subscription numbers the NP boasts about?

9/20/2006 6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Journalists produce a product (ink on paper), nothing else. The work they've been doing lately is shoddy at best. Where is this idea that they are noble coming from? I just don't see it.

9/20/2006 6:33 PM  
Anonymous breadandroses said...

Don't cry, Anonymous 11:06! It'll be OK!

Seems like a lot of you funsters take our free press for granted. Perhaps you'd care to go live in a country with a state-controlled media? May I suggest Cuba, China, or North Korea?

Have fun! Write if you get work! (If you can get a postcard past the censors, that is.)

9/21/2006 12:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sense of self-importance is amazing.

9/21/2006 8:14 AM  
Anonymous breadandroses said...

I think you meant "your sense of self-importance," not "you sense of self-importance." Unless you're actually calling me a sense of self-importance, which is cool but kind of nonsensical.

9/21/2006 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone explain all the concern over this? I don't get it. Papers go out of business all time.

9/21/2006 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck! Now, go take on the Day!

9/21/2006 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry bread, those may be your favorite places, but they ain't mine.

Good luck with with the saving your ego/paycheck rally.

9/21/2006 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You're having a tough time making your case. A few facts on how the press protects American rights might help.

9/21/2006 7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is that the "new" NewsPress that came in the mail? lol lol lol lol lol lol lol

9/21/2006 11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Save your energies. Give these guys up. They need some Civics 101 to make it worth your time. I'm serious.

The reality is they're just trying to toy with you. They ain't on the level, and, well, come off like tween howler monkeys flingin' doo.

Here's to a great rally Sunday. I hope you feel rewarded for your efforts. And thanks.

9/21/2006 11:47 PM  
Anonymous breadandroses said...

Anonymouse 7:43 (and other Anonymice): Here are some excerpts for ya. Full text available at (Also, you may want to do a Google search using keywords such as "press," "role" and "democracy.")

by George A. Krimsky

In a free-market democracy, the people ultimately make the decision as to how their press should act, says George Krimsky, the former head of news for the Associated Press' World Services and author of "Hold the Press (The Inside Story on Newspapers)."

... A self-governing society, by definition, needs to make its own decisions. It cannot do that without hard information, leavened with an open exchange of views. Abraham Lincoln articulated this concept most succinctly when he said: "Let the people know the facts, and the country will be safe." Some might regard Lincoln's as a somewhat naive viewpoint ... but the need for public news has been a cornerstone of America's system almost from the start.
Thomas Jefferson felt so strongly about the principle of free expression he said something that non-democrats must regard as an absurdity: "If it were left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." The implication of those words is that self-governance is more essential than governance itself. Not so absurd, perhaps, if you had just fought a war against an oppressive government.
... In the wake of America's successful revolution, it was decided there should indeed be government, but only if it were accountable to the people. The people, in turn, could only hold the government accountable if they knew what it was doing and could intercede as necessary, using their ballot, for example. This role of public "watchdog" was thus assumed by a citizen press, and as a consequence, the government in the United States has been kept out of the news business. The only government-owned or -controlled media in the United States are those that broadcast overseas, such as the Voice of America. By law, this service is not allowed to broadcast within the country.
... In its early days, the American press was little more than a pamphleteering industry, owned by or affiliated with competing political interests and engaged in a constant war of propaganda. Trust was not an issue. What caused the press to become an instrument for democratic decision-making was the variety of voices. Somehow, the common truth managed to emerge from under that chaotic pile of information and misinformation. A quest for objectivity was the result.
Many critics have questioned whether there is such a thing as "objectivity." Indeed, no human being can be truly objective; we can only seek objectivity and impartiality in the pursuit of truth. Journalists can try to keep their personal views out of the news, and they employ a number of techniques to do so, such as obtaining and quoting multiple sources and opposing views.
... Where is the relevance of all this to the emerging democracies around the world? Certainly the American experience, for all its messiness, provides a useful precedent, if not always a model.
For example, when one talks about an independent media, it is necessary to include financial independence as a prerequisite, in addition to political independence. The American revenue-earning model of heavy reliance on advertising is highly suspect in many former communist countries, but one has to weigh the alternatives. Are government and party subsidies less imprisoning? If journalists are so fearful of contamination by advertiser pressure, they can build internal walls between news and business functions, similar to those American newspapers erected earlier in this century.
If they are fearful of political contamination of the information-gathering process, they can build another wall separating the newsroom from the editorial department - another important concept in modern American journalism.
... Is objectivity a luxury in societies that have only recently begun to enjoy the freedom to voice their opinions? Listen to a Lithuanian newspaper editor shortly after his country gained its independence: "I want my readers to know what their heads are for." His readers were used to being told not only what to think about, but what to think. Democracy requires the public to make choices and decisions. This editor wanted to prepare citizens for that responsibility with articles that inform but do not pass judgment. His circulation increased.
Though nearly 60 percent of the world's nations today are declared democracies - a monumental change from a mere decade ago - most of them have nevertheless instituted press laws that prohibit reporting on a whole array of subjects ranging from the internal activity and operations of government to the private lives of leaders. Some of these are well-intentioned efforts to "preserve public stability." But all of them, ALL of them, undermine self-governance.

9/22/2006 2:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

... In its early days, the American press was little more than a pamphleteering industry, owned by or affiliated with competing political interests and engaged in a constant war of propaganda.

Not much has changed!

9/22/2006 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rally Update: For a Free and Honest News-Press

The rally:
3-4 p.m. Sunday, September 24
De la Guerra Plaza

Invited Rally Speakers include:
*Manny Valenzuela, Teamsters Director for the Western Region
*Sue Broidy, Journalist Loan Fund
*Mayor Brad Stein and Marty Blum
*Cedric Robinson, UCSB professor of political science
*Teena Grant, pastor from religious community
*Journalist Sander Vanocour
**Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers

The fundraiser:
4-6 p.m. at Ruby’s Café
De la Guerra Plaza
Hors d’oeuvres and music
Suggested Donation: $20.00

**Live performance by Stiff Pickle Orchestra. Rod Rolle and Tom Murray draw on urban blues, American country music, hit songs of the 1920s and 1930s, jazz and rock in a unique blend of composition and sound.

**Proceeds will be donated to the Journalist Loan Fund to help current and former News-Press employees who have been forced out, fired or suspended without pay.

Please join the organized newsroom of the Santa Barbara News-Press in a show of support for journalistic integrity and a fair employment contract. In recent weeks, 22 top journalists have left the newsroom because Wendy McCaw, the owner and co-publisher, was interfering in the news. An atmosphere of intimidation and surveillance has replaced the openness that a free press requires.

This month, 11 newsroom employees received notice that they would be suspended for two days without pay for the “offense” of attempting to deliver a letter to McCaw. The letter asked her to stop harassing employees who were seeking union representation.

The No. 1 priority of these employees, some of whom have worked at the paper for decades, is to restore ethical standards at the News-Press. They expect to win their union election by a large margin on Sept. 27. Until their demands for a fair contract have been met, they are asking subscribers to CANCEL THE NEWS-PRESS TODAY.

The Sept. 24 rally is organized by newsroom employees and the Graphic Communications Union of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Please help us send a message to McCaw that SANTA BARBARA DEMANDS A FREE PRESS.


9/22/2006 1:05 PM  

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