Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, September 23, 2006

News-Press Victimized by the Internet

Several readers contributed this story for a possible post -- thanks for the help! You will remember that a comment of a similar nature appeared on these pages and was deleted for not being appropriate....

-- Sara

Santa Barbara News-Press Being Victimized by Criminal Solicitation Alert

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Santa Barbara News-Press issued the following statement today in response to anonymous threats made against the paper:

A disturbing anonymous Internet posting related to the current labor dispute between the Santa Barbara News-Press and the Teamsters union was sent to the company calling for certain illegal actions to be taken against the paper. Several of the actions are serious crimes and the posting itself is a thinly veiled solicitation for criminal acts, which is also a crime.

Among the threats is a call to break into the newspaper's computer system to disrupt and damage normal business activities and for people to steal papers from the news racks. These sorts of attacks are crimes punishable by heavy fines and even prison terms.

The Santa Barbara News-Press takes these threats seriously and intends to cooperate fully in any law enforcement investigation. The company is committed to prosecuting any criminal activities directed towards the paper and its employees to the full extent of the law.

While the identity of the writer isn't yet known, activities of this nature are involved in union corporate campaigns and are used when attempting to improperly force a company to give in to union demands. Professor Jarol B. Manheim at The George Washington University, who is recognized by one publication as "one of the world's foremost experts on campaigns against businesses," describes a corporate campaign this way:

"It is a highly sophisticated form of warfare in which a target company is subjected to diverse attacks...the function of which is to so thoroughly undermine confidence in the company that it is no longer able to do business as usual. The union waging the campaign then offers to withdraw the pressure in return for substantial concessions."

This sort of campaign is most often used to circumvent the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) procedures and secret ballot elections. The News-Press has already agreed on a date for the NLRB sanctioned election. The paper is doing everything it can to work within the system and the law, and will vigorously defend itself against any attempts to do otherwise by anyone.

Agnes Huff Communications
Agnes Huff, PhD, 310-641-2525


Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're an accessory Sara! an accessory! Pretty soon you'll be in the hoosegow with Spendy!!

9/23/2006 5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wouldn't surprise me if SBNP mangement did dirty tricks to their own newspaper to justify this statement. I can imagine that if "something happened" that they would then go to court and demand that the election be suspended. This looks like a setup! Here is a quote from the end of Agnes Huff's statement.

"The paper is doing everything it can to work within the system and the law, and will vigorously DEFEND ITSELF [my caps] against any attempts to do otherwise by anyone."

This is really getting scary!

9/23/2006 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I smell a set up. Did this threat come from the union or from a News-Press management that wants to discredit employees' attempt to organize? Such ploys are standard anti-union tactics.

A bomb threat? A slashed tire? Anything that appears to be a union-led fear campaign could just as easily have been made to look so by the other side.

9/23/2006 8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be more believable if the News-Suppress didn't use a PR firm to send out a press release.

One might reasonably think that a newspaper would have a news story about it. But maybe they did today - a news story quoting the PR firm. But "One" would be foolish to expect anything reasonable.

9/23/2006 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both sides of labor disputes have, historically, employed descpicable tactics.

However, the News-Press did leak its own info about the Jerry Roberts arbitration, and then claimed only Roberts was subject to confidentiality, and accused him of leaking the info.

So I think in this case the most probable cause is the News-Press itself posting the anonymous threat, so then they can make claims about labor doing the threat. Their pattern of behavior is the clue.

9/23/2006 9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note the 5-point "plan" was posted and withdrawn weeks ago...and McFlaw and Hagness Fluff are just screaming in pain about it now?...interesting timing...Go union..and go away Wendy...

9/23/2006 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a highly sophisticated form of warfare in which a company creates attacks upon itself ...the function of which is to cause sympathy for itself and create a negative image for the opposing side. A tried and true formula in the PR business.
I thought there was something "fishy" in some of those posts.... a little too professional??
Nice to know someone reads your blog Sara....keep up the good work.

9/23/2006 10:41 PM  
Blogger budlawman said...

Note that the News-Press avoids actually saying that the union was behind the threat, instead saying that the union is engaging in "corporate campaign" tactics that an academic, Jarol Manheim, labels as "warfare", and this is all in connection with the union's campaign. That's because for the NP to actually accuse the union of such a threat, without facts to support it, would be libelous. As for Manheim -- Google him -- he has never ascribed illegal tactics to "corporate campaigns"; instead, he speaks of tactics that are quite lawful and time-honored: community organizing (including of the clergy), shareholder pressure, customer boycotts. Manheim may not favor such tactics, but his writing and research is not a basis -- as the NP misleadingly implies -- for saying that "corporate campaigns' in any way feature illegal or criminal conduct. This surely does smell of setup.

9/24/2006 6:57 AM  
Anonymous RALLY TODAY REMINDER said...



3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24, at De La Guerra Plaza

Prominent speakers will be invited. More details to come.

The Fundraiser:
4 to 6 p.m. at Ruby's Cafe
De la Guerra Plaza
food and music
suggested donation: $20

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 harrassing 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.

9/24/2006 8:59 AM  
Blogger john san roque said...

I think you previous commenters need to face the reality that some people find it acceptable to do illegal things. They shouldn't, and the News-Press or any other organization or individual, has the right to object or take legal action.

I am no fan of the News-Press, but I'm no fan of the illegal activities suggested in recent blogs. Yes, it's possible that there might be someone planted by the News-Press writing to this blog to gain sympathy, but I'm sure some of the comments suggesting illegal activities were from real bloggers expressing their own opinions.

There are enough things to do within the law to withdraw support for the recent activities of the News-Press; suggesting stupid things outside the law merely allows the News-Press PR machine to churn out exaggerated statements like the Huff piece.

Or, I could be completely wrong and we'll all wake up to find that Mike Pinto is actaully a mole working for the News-Press to get sympathy for their position by suggesting we trash the NP vending machines.

9/24/2006 9:16 AM  
Anonymous The Partys OVER said...

If you’ve not yet seen this today, it’s worth a read; it includes the letter written by Arthur VW in response to the delegation [including Lou Cannon, clergy, etc] who sought a meeting w/ the owners. It speaks for itself. See you at the rally today!---
Bully, Intimidate and Misinform. Sunday, Sept. 24, 2006. Back at the beginning of this month about 20 local religious leaders presented a letter to News-Press owner Wendy McCaw asking her to make "a clear commitment to professional ethics," and to treat the journalists who worked at the paper fairly. The authors of the letter were even willing to pay for it to run as an advertisement in the paper. Yesterday, I received a copy of co-publisher Arthur von Wiesenberger's letter responding to their requests and have posted it here. You know, if there was any doubt that "The Nipper" is incapable of writing for the paper, let alone determining what is newsworthy, he removes it with this letter. He may be able to eat his way across a continent but he couldn't argue his way out of a paper bag. He cites the quashed story of editorial editor Travis Armstrong's sentencing for drunk driving as not being newsworthy. Not newsworthy? The Nipper wouldn't know a newsworthy story if it walked up to him in the bar at Lucky's, planted a big fat wet kiss on his lips, and then shoved its phone number down the front of his trousers.
This comes on the heels of the disclosure of the Millstein letter which I posted on Friday. And honestly, I still haven't cooled off from reading that. Its simply unheard of for a lawyer to attempt to dissuade other lawyers from taking someone's case. In my opinion, its unethical. As if the deck isn't already stacked enough in favor of Wendy McCaw when it comes to having money and resources to fight the battle over whether proper journalistic ethics will be observed at her paper. Bully, intimidate and misinform seems to be the order of the day at Wendy's house of horrors. Just when you think that McCaw's tactics have bottomed out, she finds a yet another way to achieve a new low.

9/24/2006 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The McCawCaw regime in Santa Barbara has the same propensity for unethical and erratic behavior as the Kim Jong Il regime in North Korea.

The "five-point plan" and indignant Huff-and-Puff statement bear the same fingerprints of a Machiavellian public-relations campaign designed to discredit their opponents.

It's obvious what's going on here, and we aren't falling for it.

9/24/2006 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

john san roque said: ... but I'm sure some of the comments suggesting illegal activities were from real bloggers expressing their own opinions.

And you know this because of, what, some kind of divine solitary knowledge? How can you make such a false statement? How do you know? "I'm sure" indeed! From what I've read (and I check this and other Santa Barbara oriented blogs several times a day), any time someone even hinted at illegal activity, others jumped on it right away and said "no." I never saw anyone writing "Yes, that would be a good idea."

9/24/2006 6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had to catch up on the NewsMess. A big thanks to the Santa Barbara community for using the web to publish news, community events, local sports editorials and opinions and doing it in such a professional manor. No need for the NewsPress now. i just follow the links.
I could not believe the letter from Arthur and that Huff was stupid enough to let them print it and least not forget the hilarious letter from the lawyer.
Real TV is really missing out on our little town.
Over dinner the other night friends and i were discussing what type of people Wendy surrounds herself with, ol' Nip, Dr? Laura, Mr "video" Lowe humm sorted photos & past & lewd conduct ? birds of a feather?
Can't wait of the next "rich" episode provided by the links.
All smiles in the hills here and enjoying the view.

9/24/2006 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BIG headline on page one of today's Santa Barbara Daily Sound, "NEWS-PRESS VOTES LOOMS." Also a news story about the rally yesterday, including a photo of Dolores Huerta with reporters standing behind her, and the two press releases by Wendy McCaw.

Funny, though, not a word about any of this in today's News-Press. And McCaw maintains she respects the separation of news from the front office--and not one word.

9/25/2006 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Let's Sing said...

A small city newspaper owner communicates with her LOCAL readers by using a SAN FRANCISCO lawyer and a LOS ANGELES spokeswoman to send out NATIONAL business wire press releases. Won’t meet with her customers, as Craig Smith notes. Weird. Lame, as Doc Searls notes. Certainly ineffective, as the union vote and departing readers show. Bizarre … which somehow reminds me of a song.

9/25/2006 7:37 AM  
Blogger john san roque said...

To: Anonymous 6:59 pm

So, does your comment mean that you think Mike Pinto (as one example) IS a shill for the News Press?

C'mon, Mike, give us some help here. Are you working for Wendy and Travis when you tell us to trash the NP vending machines?

9/25/2006 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendy McCaw must be reading Blogabarbara pretty closely, since the posting she describes appeared for just a short time a few weeks ago. The letter from Wendy’s lawyer to local lawyers also mentions blogs. I guess her hired private dick and her hired flack must be fans of Blogabarbara, since anything they don’t like they can attribute to the union. BTW, I thought Wendy said that News-Press personnel matters are private and the News-Press can’t be like other media and write stories about the biggest story in town. But her lawyer's letter mentions details from her $500,000 lawsuit against Roberts like his “constructive termination.” Wendy’s lawyer also caused the leak to the L.A. Times. Does it work both ways—is the duct tape coming off?

9/25/2006 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's so true, let's sing 737: but let's add the opener to the Vanity Fair article after "a small city newspaper owner SITS ABOARD HER YACHT THOUSANDS OF MILES AWAY....."

9/25/2006 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is too much to keep up with! Did newpress get a threat? This crime was reported to local police, fed's, other? Or are they talking about the 5 plan THAT WAS REMOVED? Can't e-mails be traced? If someone reports an internet threat to law, what does law advise? They will say, can't talk it's under investigation? What is regular procedure to authentic victims? This is very suspicious behavior. If it was a random looney, most likely easy to solve. If clever scandral, this could remain a mystery. Who has the most to gain? WENDYCO. Has any law agency announced this "crime", or is this just alleged when Wendy communicates to business wire? Strange timing, Independent's comments disabled for days, anyone know why? I've heard of other security issues and unusual happenings. WHAT ARE ALL THE LAW AGENCIES WHERE THIS THREAT WAS REPORTED?

9/25/2006 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Spinning the Spin said...

...anon 1:55.......well, maybe if the SBPD got their RAISE........

9/25/2006 3:33 PM  
Anonymous harping said...

Sara, congrats on making the national news! Here's the link from Edhat:
"A national report on the post on Blogabarbara threatening the News-Press."

9/25/2006 3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendy seems to likes her national publicity, as ugly to her and to the News-Press and to Santa Barbara as it has been. Why else send out stuff like "the threat" on a national wire? So that she can look like a billionaire victim to her voting reporters days before the union election? Nawww...

Here's the story in the Editor and Publisher magazine about the weeks-old and very brief posting – mentioning Blogabarbara:

9/25/2006 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANON 3:33 sbpd needs to clear sgt mcgrew collusion incident. answer questions direct. facts and numbers. don't remain a part of the sham, you do the math and help them: "9/21/2006 10:46Pm What does the raise mean in terms of pension costs? does anyone have a idea for that figure?I would appreciate knowing." "9/20/2006 11:44 PM To NUMBERS PEOPLE, Who pays for the police taking their salary dispute to the people? What is the approximate amount of money for almost 7% difference (19.3%/26% say 5-10 yrs)that the police want?" This (call to break into the newspaper's computer system to disrupt and damage normal business activities) crime was reported to local police, fed's, other? THANK YOU GOOD CITIZEN.

9/25/2006 6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is boycotting advertisers illegal?

9/25/2006 8:59 PM  
Blogger budlawman said...

This Huff Puff piece is pure, transparent, cynical, bogus anti-union propaganda, tied to Wednesday's union election. According to the Editor & Publisher story, the NP had this alleged threatening blog post for two weeks, and just decided to issue the release now -- still without seeking any law enforcement involvement. The NP has been trash-talking the Teamsters since the union was invited aboard in July and has nothing to show for it. The Wendy/Nipper/Armstrong/Millstein axis has acted besieged at all times, when the truth is it finds everything its employees do that is not strictly obedient to the Whim of Wendy -- no matter how innocuous -- to be threatening: from quitting, to criticizing the paper, to organizing, to delivering a letter to her personally, to creating a "gripe website", to uttering the name of the paper on a blog, to placing the paper's name in juxtaposition with a Teamsters bumper sticker. So most interestingly, when the NP actually receives a message that if sincerely uttered would be a genuine threat, it sits on it, doesn't tell the authorities, and only re-releases it in time to try to garner maximum (though still infinitesimal) unionbusting campaign value.

9/25/2006 11:07 PM  
Blogger David Pritchett said...


The Newspress staff and Teamsters rally from Sunday afternoon (Sept. 24) is shown on SBChannels17 this week in this schedule. It is a 40-minute video by Larry Nimmer and GirlMan Media.

Wednesday 0900 hrs.
Wednesday 2000
Saturday 1400
Saturday 1900
Sunday 2200

9/26/2006 10:00 PM  

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