Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, September 29, 2006

You don't have to pay for these!

From Duplicity Watch:

NOTICE on the NP Website today, there is the word "COMMENTARIES" in the upper right hand corner of each page. Lo and behold, if you click on it, FOR FREE you can read all of the Cabal/UNION BUSTER op-eds from Travis, Wendy et al.....

so nice and accommodating of them


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendy must want the world to see those hit pieces on Google search, unlike everything else the paper hides behind its pay wall. Maybe she wants to take the fight to a new level; maybe fighting back against the blogs; maybe finding "agendas" and "bias" in other departments of her paper. Budlawman, will unionization of the pressmen be next? Can’t imagine they wouldn’t like higher wages and benefits. If journalists in sports and photography and features have “agendas” and "bias" that have to be shut down by the Wendynator, same has to be true of pressmen. The difference is, unlike scab reporters sitting behind clean desks running wire stories, if pressmen strike, the paper shuts down.

9/29/2006 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Millstein didn't even know the difference between free and paid on the News-Press website until Edhat taught him with the obituaries. Smart guy. Now they're going to see what use they can make of that knowledge.

Rather than just listening to bad advice, Wendy should understand that there are many things about journalism and business that she and her posse will never know.

She would be smart to instead step back, take a deep cleansing breath, and talk honestly with her readers, advertisers, employees and maybe even that group of pastors about what she’s trying to accomplish. Everyone is in the dark. There are multiple win-win scenarios available, but, as a first step, she would have to summon the simple physical courage to meet face-to-face with real people.

9/29/2006 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dear Staff and Friends"

Excerpts from a free-to-nonsubscribers commentary by Wendy McCaw that first appeared nearly two weeks post-meltdown (July 18, 2006 11:54 AM):

"I want to personally congratulate the whole (biased) team for your great (biased) work in receiving two first and five second place awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association on Saturday. This is further proof that the News-Press is still (was) the great paper it has always been (although the newsroom is biased), thanks to our dedicated (yet biased) and talented (but soon-to-be-revealed as biased) staff.

We are rapidly moving to complete our new team in the newsroom (AKA the International Brotherhood of Teamsters). While there are still some difficulties ahead, we are picking up momentum and should be back on track very shortly (truckin' down the highway that is). Our search for a new editor is well underway (and moving like a snail)...

... To make the News-Press an even more professionally and personally rewarding place to work, I welcome your comments, recommendations and feedback so we can have an open dialogue to work collectively (!!!!!) and collaboratively as we further improve the quality, coverage and accuracy of our paper.

I am deeply appreciative of the loyalty and (six) expressions of support from the hundreds of News-Press employees who unfortunately, were (are) caught in an emotionally charged situation. The many calls and letters of support from the community (any clergy care to write? Lou? Harriet?) have also been gratifying.

My heartfelt appreciation and thanks goes to each of you (horrendously biased staffers) for continuing to get the paper out under these trying conditions. Please be assured that (blah blah blah) ...

- Wendy McCaw, owner and co-publisher

9/29/2006 5:52 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

We will now be allowed a rare look into a private person's intelligence and character. Will Ms. McCaw accept what has happened and move on to the next phase of negotiation with her employees? Or will she deny the reality of a 33-6 vote, attribute the overwhelming statement that such a vote implies, and attribute the result to factors that defy logic and even challenge the imagination?

Those of us who regularly negotiate with unions shrug our collective sholders at Wendy's plight. Get over it. My advice to the dowager of Hope Ranch: You got what you deserved. Time to move on to the next phase.

9/29/2006 9:28 PM  
Blogger budlawman said...

Anonymous @ 4:35 PM, I don't know what's next in store for other non-newsroom NP employees, though it does stand to reason that others may be encouraged by Wednesday's vote.

Eckermann describes the next set of issues facing the McCaw Meshuganahs well, and I hope they will face reality foursquare and, as even Huff implied she would before the union filed its election petition (probably cynically at the time), abide by the clear outcome.

9/30/2006 3:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just picked up the newest edition of Vanity Fair, the one with Scientologists Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and the darling Asian baby they adopted on the cover. While flipping pages to the Cruise photo spread, I spotted Santa Barbara billionaire Wendy McCaw and her fiance Arthur Von Trapp (something like that) on page 188. My first thought was "Gawd, she's put on a few pounds!" But at least she can say that she isn't some dumb blond (is it blonde?) trophy wife. Anyway, I'm sure you read the article which portrayed her as our county's 2nd freakiest resident after Michael Jackson so I don't need to repeat it.

But I stopped cold on page 195 when it said that Jeramy Gordon, the 23-year-old publisher of the "little" Santa Barbara Daily Sound, might be facing legal action from the not-so-little Wendy McCaw. McCaw's legal eagle, David Millstein, "said the look and feel of Gordon's paper are too similar to that of the News-Press..." Truer words have never been spoken. To prove her point, I grabbed a copy of each paper and did a comparison, and the results were hideously shocking. Here are my PowerPoint points, if were to do a PowerPoint on this.

N-P: 22 X 12.5"
Sound: 16" x 10.5"

Page surface area
N-P: 275-square-inches
Sound: 168-square-inches

Number of pages
N-P: 40-60 per day
Sound: 20 per day

N-P: Mostly wire copy with a few local stories
Sound: Mostly local stories with a few wire stories

Front page logo
N-P: Condensed serif bold typeface with a cute illustration of an adobe mission surrounded by sail boats. (Adobe mission-style buildings with terra cotta tile roofs are the registered trademark of Amperstand Publications, all rights reserved.)
Sound: No cute illustration, non-condensed Century Typeface

Editorial Page spin
N-P: Right-wing kook
Sound: No editorial page

N-P: National chains and those who haven't figured out that locals hate the N-P
Sound: Local businesses

N-P: Color
Sound: B&W

Willingness to print addresses of TV stars
N-P: none
Sound: unknown

Desire of owner to become chummy with TV stars by not printing their addresses
N-P: Strong
Sound: unknown, probably none

N-P: 50 cents
Sound: Free

There you have it. This comparison clearly shows that these two newspapers are extremely similar, and yet I can't understand why Wendy hasn't sued already. Sure, she'll be hit with what's called an anti-SLAPP motion, a costly penalty designed to stop billionaire fat cats (did I say "fat" again?) from trying to silence others who use the First Amendment. It will cost her millions and the money will make Jeremy's day. But she's got the bucks and should sue anyway. Besides, the people in our legal system have nothing better to do than hear her complaints.

9/30/2006 4:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That ("Below you will find the latest commentaries on Santa Barbara News-Press.") is such a joke!

If she/they wanted any public respect, as a NEWSpaper, they'd run a section detailing the issues, giving all sides a chance to speak.

As it is, this seems like the very rare situation where there is only one side, or 85% one sided.

9/30/2006 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Balanced Commentaries said...

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.

9/30/2006 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The “Commentaries” forgets to post the classic Nipper piece comparing the News-Press to a corrupt hamburger stand. In case you missed this illuminating look into the mind of one of our newspaper publishers:

"I appreciate those of you who have recognized that this thread is uncomfortable and not in the spirit of the rest of the site. But since my reputation (and the reputation of people I love and admire) are on the line, I want to address the issues here as best as I can.

I won't get into a discussion of how former friends treat (or mistreat) one another or other personal attacks as that is clearly a violation of the policies and rules of this site.

In fact, it is the violation of company rules and policies that is at the core of the News-Press problems. But the workings of a newspaper is complicated to explain, so here is a story about a similar problem.

Let's say you own a popular Hamburger restaurant with a good reputation and a loyal customer following. One of the most important parts of your business is the consistency and quality of your hamburgers.

You hire a manager to run the restaurant and you trust him to hire and manage the kitchen and wait staff. After some time you notice that the restaurant's sales are slipping. You decide to do a survey of your customers to find out why.

You discover that over half your customers no longer like how the hamburgers taste. As you investigate, you discover that some of your cooks are using pork instead of beef in the hamburger patties.

The kitchen has lowered the costs of goods and with the extra money being saved they can give free burgers to their friends in exchange for favors. One cook wants to park in front of the restaurant all day without getting a parking ticket, so he gives a burger to the meter maid. Another wants to charter a boat in the harbor for his friends and family and gives a bunch of burgers to the boat captain.

Your manager gives away catered burger feasts in order to get his own TV show. He claims the show benefits the restaurant but has nothing to do with hamburgers and everything to do with his favorite sport, hunting squirrels.

While the manager hands out bushels of burgers to his friends and acquaintances he quietly builds the restaurant's pork barrels.

You realize that you have a restaurant that is out of control. You tell the manager to stop and to get the cooks to stop. "Put the beef back in the burger" you say.

He ignores you and goes away on vacation. You then tell your cooks, "no more pork in the burgers". But they pay no attention and continue to break the rules. You have some loyal staff who try and help.

The manager returns from vacation and sees that his pork-burger fiefdom is no longer impenetrable. He gets most of the staff that have been in cahoots with him to resign (with the promise of even more free burgers when you are forced to rehire them).

They walk out but you refuse to rehire them. So your manager goes to a writer at the Hamburger Herald (who he has also showered with burgers) and tells him that your restaurant has been selling pork-filled hamburgers. Without looking into who was actually selling what, the writer writes a scathing story about you and your restaurant.

Coincidentally the writer also owns the competing hamburger joint across the street from you.

The Jews and the Moslems are up in arms about the deception (and for once agree on something). "I was forced to eat pork when I thought I was getting beef" they scream outside your restaurant.

Your former manager now uses that story and starts a campaign with national and international publications (many of whom happen to own hamburger restaurants in your town).

To make matters worse, he goes to the Hamburger Institute (a make believe trade organization that, for this story's sake, oversees the quality and reputation of hamburger restaurants). They read the stories and your manager calls himself the whistle-blower who is being punished for pointing out that you are selling pork burgers.

The Hamburger Institute, without any investigation (because they too have received some free burgers from your manager) give him and the other departed staff the "Hamburger Honesty Award".

Meanwhile back at your restaurant, you have tossed out all the pork and are putting beef back into the burgers that you make. Your customers are beginning to taste the quality of your food once again. They slowly start returning to the restaurant.

You still have some naughty cooks that try and slip some pork into the burgers when no one is looking. You can't fire them because the Hamburger Helpers Union is trying to represent them. All you can do is keep pushing to get rid of the pork and bring true beef burger quality back onto your menu.

The naughty cooks cook up a campaign and put posters on their cars, "Bring Back the Beef". Now everyone thinks you are the one that has been spiking the burgers with pork.

The truth is you can't stand pork burgers and you would never eat them or sell them. But public perception makes you the Prince of Porky Pig Patties.

PS - Freelancers for the News-Press such as Gina, are not bound by the company rules that are in place for full time reporters. The rules clearly forbid full time employees to accept any "freebies" such as travel, hotels, cruises or the like. The former N-P staff and editors knew this and enforced it on those who were not one of their "pets".

When I was a freelance writer for the N-P doing the local restaurant reviews, I paid for the meals I was reviewing. Sometimes the meals cost more than my $125 I was paid for the review. Even though the work didn't make economic sense, I felt the only way I could keep the reviews truly objective was by paying my way. After all, I was writing for our readers, not for the restaurants."

9/30/2006 11:54 AM  
Blogger passing-by said...

Lost in the avalanche of events this last week was T.A.'s shrill, juvenile, poison-pen editorial attacking a newspaper in a neighboring city that had the gall to say that the NewsPress had some major problems going on that ought to be addressed. T.A.'s response was to name-call and charge hypocrisy... the same way he responds to any reference by anyone to his and Wendy's shortcomings.

In T.A.'s odd world view everyone else is a conspirator against the NewsPress and everyone else has a lot more problems. And the only reason 24 employees have left and 85% of those remaining in the newsroom voted to unionize is that people who oppose arbitrary authority are either evil-doers of dupes of evil-doers. Only T.A. and Wendy know best. Maybe one reason this story resonates so deeply is that it so much resembles the mentality of federal government. Never have such looney people held so much power over the rest of us in this community/country.

9/30/2006 12:10 PM  

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