Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, September 30, 2006

What's Missing...

I was so impressed with this list from blogger Balanced Commentaries that I have to post it, thanks BC!...Sara


This new “COMMENTARIES” section backfires in that it’s better defined by what’s missing, than by what Wendy McCaw (owner and publisher) selectively includes from the ongoing debacle:

MISSING: The statement of public concern signed by the distinguished group of local clergy, eventually published in the Independent after rejection by the News-Press.

MISSING: Arthur von Wiesenberger’s (McCaw’s live-in boyfriend) disrespectful reply to that group of clergy.

MISSING: David Millstein’s (San Francisco lawyer now sitting in editor-in-chief’s office) ignorant letter to Edhat asking that it “cease and desist” from linking to free public portion of the News-Press’ website.

MISSING: Millstein’s dumbfounding “don’t you dare represent journalists” letter to 44 local prominent lawyers and ex-judges.

MISSING: A courteous response, or any response, to the request of several respected national journalists, living locally, to meet with McCaw and von Wiesenberger.

MISSING: Travis Armstrong’s (editorial page editor and sometimes publisher) DUI sentencing story.

MISSING: McCaw’s July 13 “note to readers” – published on the front page of the Santa Barbara News-Press -- where she attacked her own editors and reporters for inaccurate biased reporting, causing more talented journalists to walk out.

MISSING: McCaw’s written apology (never made) to her remaining newsroom staff for her gratuitous July 13 public attack.

MISSING: Copies of the slew of “cease and desist” letters sent by Millstein to a variety of past employees demanding them to refrain from their constitutional right of freedom of speech.

MISSING: Von Wiesenberger’s libelous essay posted on his website claiming that his newsroom employees are like dishonest hamburger cooks.

MISSING: The spiked story about the newspaper’s $500,000 lawsuit against Jerry Roberts (former editor-in-chief), even though the information ran in a L.A. Times story after Millstein leaked it to the press.

MISSING: A photo of the 56-year-old McCaw, looking her real age, rather than the sorority shot with pearls used now.

MISSING: The court document dropping the ridiculous lawsuit against Michael Todd (former business editor) seeking a restraining order arising from a terrible joke involving an ex-photographer who is now only being kept on the payroll as a reporter, but not working, to maintain legal standing to keep the action against Todd alive.

MISSING: A copy of McCaw’s warning to the Daily Sound demanding that it stop, well, looking like a newspaper.

MISSING: An even cursory listing of the 16 new reporters, for the benefit of readers, in case someone wants to contact one of them about breaking news.

MISSING: A copy of the written policy that keeps the elected county Supervisor representing the News-Press and the elected Mayor representing the News-Press from being on a News-Press radio show, after an invitation, to talk about the homeless problem in parts of the city including the News-Press.

MISSING: The written acknowledgement (doesn’t exist) that McCaw’s “I’m scared” national press release – issued two days before the union vote -- about a quickly removed anonymous comment several weeks ago on Blogabarbara, was a poorly conceived attempt to improperly inject fear into the union ballot.

MISSING: An explanation why, when publishers go on vacation, the opinion page editor must be appointed acting publisher with special authority to start editing news stories.

MISSING: The July 7 “note to readers” by Armstrong saying that the editors and columnist walking out on July 6 was sort of an internal family tiff, even though he grabbed Roberts by the arm and escorted him from the building physically.

MISSING: The news story, written by Scott Hadley (departed senior writer), about the editors and columnist resigning, that was spiked by Armstrong in favor of the not credible July 7 “note to readers.”

MISSING: The results from Nick Montano (private investigator hired by McCaw) and the results from the examination of the hard drives pulled from the computers of the editors walking out on July 7.

MISSING: McCaw’s letter of thanks (which doesn’t exist) to Mike Martino (night security guard of several decades) for his long service, before replacing him with her own troops.

MISSING: The list of local celebrities with whom McCaw is star struck, so Scott Steepleton (Associate Editor, there’s no Editor) can be sure to know when to not publish addresses arising from public zoning hearings.

MISSING: The original Carpinteria councilwoman story before interference by then acting Publisher Travis Armstrong.

MISSING: The complete McCaw style book, staring with: Ms. vs. Mrs. vs. Miss; blonde vs. blond..

MISSING: A specific example from McCaw, just one, of the “agenda” or “bias” in stories by her reporters and editors that resulted in 21of them walking out, compared, perhaps, against the specific examples of the ethical breaches by McCaw of the SPJ Code provided in detail and in writing by the departing journalists.

MISSING: Stories and photographs about last Sunday’s protest rally occurring steps from the front door of the News-Press.

MISSING: A clear and credible corporate mission statement (doesn’t exist) from McCaw to her employees and her readers detailing what course she plans to sail with the Santa Barbara News-Press and what plans she has – if any – for restoring respect to her and her newspaper.


Anonymous harping said...

Well done--which is rare. (Couldn't resist the hamburger pun--sorry, Nipper!) Thanks, Balanced Commentaries, for taking the time to spell it all out so clearly. And thank you, Sara, for posting.

9/30/2006 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'd say that summs it up!
she's made a long lasting joke of herself and the newpress.
some of us can have a good laugh and a good cry over it.
Thanks for everyone who as tried to get the news out to the public via papers, blogs and edhat and keeping us informed of the going ons in SB.

9/30/2006 1:25 PM  
Blogger lolita said...

Lying by omission is still a lie...

9/30/2006 3:50 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Balanced Commentaries -- in an effort to be balanced and for the fact that I don't want to edit your work -- I wonder if saying Millstein demanded past employees to refrain from their right to free speech is the correct wording. Did he? Perhaps more appropriate would be that the letters had a chilling effect on their right to free speech, no?

9/30/2006 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. What a devastating list of sins.

Looks like nothing is, well, MISSING.

Thank you for summing it all up.

9/30/2006 9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taken together, the MISSING is a damning indictment of McCaw’s community leadership over the past six months. Just because a lovely girl hits the lottery by marrying the right guy in college doesn’t mean she’s fit by experience or temperament to manage a complex enterprise like one of the nation’s daily newspapers.

10/01/2006 7:23 AM  
Anonymous Balanced Commentaries said...

“If Millstein’s letter were boiled down to its essence, it would say, ‘Shut your pie hole or we’ll sue you to Kingdom Come,’” is Nick Welsh’s take on a McCaw “cease and desist” letter. In the flesh, the letters are several pages of thick legalese.

The News-Press can protect its confidential information from public disclosure by employees and former employees, as Millstein’s letters insist. Their text is too carefully worded to say, outright, that reporters are not entitled to freedom of speech. Sara is right and we stand corrected.

But let’s get real: McCaw never let the newsroom have truly damaging internal company confidential information. But she’s so rich and potentially vindictive that the legal fees suffered by a working journalist defending against McCaw’s legal onslaught under any circumstance would result in the bankruptcy of the editor or reporter, even if McCaw’s suit is without merit.

Former employees receiving Millstein’s letters – and those who have not had that honor yet -- have been afraid to criticize McCaw’s policies, even for matters in the public interest that are outside of company confidentiality and are clearly permitted free speech, since they don’t want to be looking down the barrel of court dates like Jerry Roberts and Michael Todd. To keep that pressure on is why Millstein sent the letter of protest to the 44 lawyers and ex-judges offering assistance.

Again, not wanting to be sued to Kingdom Come, we stand corrected even though a correction was not requested and apologize profusely to Mr. Millstein and the McCaw organization for any misperceptions whatsoever that may have arisen from the above post about McCaw’s and Millstein’s cease and desist letters. The post was intended to describe the practical chilling effect of the “cease and desist” letters on free speech, rather than to mean that the text of Millstein’s letters say that reporters and editors are not entitled to free speech.

10/01/2006 7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Serious national discussions of newspapers rarely fail to mention our own Wendy. The New York Times this morning, “How Did Newspapers End Up in this Mess,” by Richard Siklos, has this excerpt:

“And private ownership, he said, “is a mixed bag” — just look at the continuing upheaval at The Santa Barbara News-Press in California, where journalists have been at odds with the newspaper’s owner, Wendy P. McCaw.

“You substitute the demands and discipline of the public marketplace for one individual who may be wonderfully benevolent or may turn out to be pretty destructive,” Mr. Rattner told me.”

10/01/2006 7:26 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Thanks BC -- exactly where I was coming from.

10/01/2006 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Wendy McCaw saying the 21 or so editors and reporters quit because they were not committed to local coverage like she is. But MISSING is her letter terminating the five writers from Santa Maria, Santa Ynez, Goleta, Montecito and Carpinteria, not to mention killing Starshine’s column, and driving out Michael Seabaugh and firing the features editor over a slight against Dr. Laura. In exchange for this wanton destruction, we get newly arrived Dr. Laura, with her rant this morning absolutely MISSING anything local.

10/01/2006 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Valerio said...

With the 23 Newspressers resigned or terminated already, plus 6 community columnists, plus the first to go Publisher and buffer Joe Cole in May, the total really is 30 and rising for the carnage.

10/01/2006 3:49 PM  
Anonymous Dallas Morning News said...

Saying 'I do' in high style - on the Riviera
Sunday, October 1, 2006

Last week, megawealthy Californian Wendy McCaw had more pressing business than putting down the staff insurrection at her Santa Barbara News-Press.

She pulled her 193-foot helicopter-equipped yacht, Calixe, into harbor at St. Tropez in the south of France to attend the wedding of native Dallasite Karen Farquharson to British-born Dallas businessman Horatio Lonsdale-Hands.

Horatio's elder brother, Richard Lonsdale-Hands, owns a beachfront estate there (next door to King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden), where the rehearsal dinner was held.

The next afternoon, Dallas businessman Eduardo Brittingham and Ms. McCaw's fiancé, Baron Arthur von Wiesenberger, served as co-best men at a waterfront ceremony at the Millesim Beach Club.

The wedding party also included Horatio's daughter, Tiffany Lonsdale-Hands, and Horatio's Dallas-based younger brother, James Lonsdale-Hands.

The bride's parents, JoJean and Dale Farquharson, made the trip from Dallas, as did Sambuca's jet-setting co-owner Holly Forsythe and Highland Park movers Cornelia and Ralph Heins.

While the Veuve Clicquot flowed at the post-nuptial reception, a 15-minute fireworks display lit up the skies over the French Riviera.

10/01/2006 8:08 PM  
Blogger lolita said...

Dr. Laura is selling a book. She was on Larry King, admitting she was in the "cute" nude photo's. Next she said "Then there are some really slutty ones where somebody is on a floor. And those are supposed -- and those are not me." ...and those are not her? She also doesn't do anything "for the point of money". I think she can't get any worse, this was the most delusional yet. Santa Barbara News-Press "voice of".

10/01/2006 9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An enormous amount of collective experience, savvy, dedication, community smarts and institutional knowledge left the News-Press with those 30 people. Actually, the number seems low, since I heard other people were driven out of the newspaper. Compare that with the replacement “talent” brought in: a royal thong merchant, a right wing radio screamer new to town, and 16 rookies who will be shown the door as tanking subscriptions result in staff reductions. There is no relief in sight: a qualified publisher is not being recruited and no legitimate editor-in-chief will take the job.

10/02/2006 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Valerio's carnage will increase by another 15 to 20 bodycount since the idea of bringing in new reporters to vote against the union utterly failed. Some of the veterans staying around for the vote will escape and some will be fired.

10/02/2006 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Six months ago, the carnage described in the MISSING list was unthinkable. The News-PRess had been nominated for top journalism awards. The New York Times said it had 25% profits.

Then, seemingly on a whim, Wendy McCaw strapped on dynamite and became a suicide bomber.

Six months from now, all its employees will be locked out by McCaw as part of her ongoing battle with the Teamsters, unless she suddenly changes her moods and methods, which is unlikely. Doubt it? Well, think back six months.

10/02/2006 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Hypocritical "Environmentalist" said...

“One troubling aspect about some in our community who throw about the “sustainability” concept is how they pick and choose parts of it for their own political and financial convenience,” the Baroness-to-be said this morning in her Santa Barbara News-Press editorial.

According to the Dallas Morning News, “megawealthy Californian Wendy McCaw” needed her “193-foot helicopter-equipped yacht, Calixe” to get to a wedding reception. Other guests rented small cars and drove from the airport.

Who’s picking and choosing when to throw “environmentalist” and “sustainability” around for their own convenience?

Google “Calixe” and post a comment about how many gallons of non-renewable energy you think it takes to move Wendy ten nautical miles on that leviathan and the cost for those miles, sustainable or not. Non-polluting prizes will be awarded to the winner.

Throw in your guess as to how many award-winning reporters could be hired for that amount and you could receive bonus points.

10/02/2006 4:26 PM  
Blogger lolita said...

What about the helicopter?

10/02/2006 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Santa Barbara do as i say not as i do.

10/02/2006 10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big LA Times article today about Prop. 87... that's got a near-billionaire (Stephen L. Bing) backing it... it is a tax on crude oil extraction.

Just an example of what a more committed enviro-billionaire can do, or try to do. Meanwhile, our Wendy-O-Willful rants and raves while burning up megagallons of icecap melting, polluting, fuel in her 160-foot boat with a mini-helicopter (probably she has a 3 foot tall mini-Baron Nipper to ride with her too...)

10/03/2006 6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Valerio's carnage will increase by another 15 to 20 bodycount since the idea of bringing in new reporters to vote against the union utterly failed. Some of the veterans staying around for the vote will escape and some will be fired."

I still don't get what the big deal is, the total that voted was a small 39 people. Mountains out of mole hills people.

As far as Wendy spending her money as she pleases, she has EVERY right to do so. I think envy and jealously are spurring on your comments. What will you possibly complain about if Wendy pulls out of the Newspress? Real issues? Hey, there's a thought!

Get real and move on people. Your fascination with Wendy et. all is becoming soooo boring and so transparent to having to pick on someone to make yourself feel better.

10/03/2006 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said, Baron, well said.

10/03/2006 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not the Baron 2:32, but I wouldn't turn down a ride on the boat that's for sure!

10/03/2006 6:05 PM  
Blogger johncena said...

Baron well said.and well done its a nice thing to hear.and what about the helicopter. i want to know more about this. i am interested to know.

California Dui

9/16/2008 9:18 AM  

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