Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, October 27, 2006

SBNP Reporter Melinda Burns Fired

Melinda Burns, 21-year reporter and author of the Measure D article entitled "Danger Zone, was fired today at 4:30 pm according to Craig Smith's Blog. Burns, whose article was sent to at least 40,000 homes in a huge Measure D mailer, had this to say on Craig's blog:
I love working as a journalist is Santa Barbara County. Its a great community to be a journalist in. Wendy McCaw has no legal grounds to fire me. This is an illegal firing for my leadership of the unionization effort at the News-Press. It is retaliation and I'm going to fight it.
And what about Measure D's piece that News-Press management is so upset about? Did that article have a role in her firing? Did she stand up for Measure D as well as the union? Why are they getting rid of their best people that happen to support unionization? Will they stop at nothing to run this paper into the ground? You can't replace talent like that. If you are keeping track Business reporter Frank Nelson resigned last Friday as well -- Salsipuedes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Melinda---we've got your back.

Not to worry. Take a deep breath. You're our hero.

10/27/2006 11:43 PM  
Anonymous Outraged and ticked off said...

The News-Press keeps raising the stakes, pushing their talented experienced writers out, all because of an anti-union authoritarian neurosis/psychosis. It's a disgrace and Wendy and Co are out of control. It may take a while, but the law will catch up to them eventually.

10/27/2006 11:46 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Sara DLG: be careful about your conjecture. I think the summation at Craigsmithblog is the only reaching one can do. The nexus to the straight news article on Measure D is a bit of a reach, unless that is part of the b*l*s*i* in the 2-page termination notice given to Melinda Burns.

Seems like The Wendy is just throwing a tantrum and lashing out wherever it may cause the most outrage with the public and the new Teamsters.

Terminating Burns, a Teamster with the full union behind her, makes even less sense than the idiotic lawsuit against the Indy for a trade infringement about a news article that never was published by choice by the Newspress itself.

But making sense never matters for this Mess, does it?

BTW, you do know that Sara Miller McCune is one of the three recipients of the News-Press Achievement Awards, to be bestowed on Nov. 11? Maybe the other Sara and The Wendy herselves can sit down over some pink drinks and work out a deal to sell Storke Castle and everything in it?

10/28/2006 12:00 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

FDS - youa re probably right but I had to point that out as a strange coincidence at least.

The other Sara would make a great owner of the NP -- definitely conjecture as well, but worth hoping for.

10/28/2006 12:08 AM  
Anonymous Geographically Impaired said...

Here is the beginning of my basic news article for Saturday, followed by a question. A classic insult or test in the news profession goes something like this: "he is such a bad journalist he could not even cover a fire". J-schools also use a simple fire in a building as a classic test for the basic skills.

Here is the article:
Firefighters discover person trapped in burning building

Vladimir Kogan
October 28, 2006 12:00 AM

Firefighters battling a blaze in a four-story mixed-use structure in the 100 block of De la Guerra Street on Friday found at least one person trapped inside the burning building.

The victim's condition was unclear, though an ambulance was dispatched to provide medical help. A spokesman for the fire department did not return calls late Friday.
END THE ARTICLE, minus last paragraphs

So, a question about the location of this downtown fire: is it on De La Guerra Street west of Chapala St., or is on De La Guerra St. east of Anacapa St.? Those sites are three blocks away, separated by Nuevo Paseo mall with no street at all. Here in Santa Barbara, Mr. Vladdy, EAST or WEST is a big deal when referring to a street, such as in a simple news article about a building fire with a victim inside.
And for bonus points, explain how EAST or WEST really are not east or west on the street grid. Experience matters.

Yes, this is a bit off point for the latest absurdity by Newspress, but it is another daily example of how the quality and accuracy is on its way to El Estero facility. Another bonus question: what or where is El Estero?

Mr. Kogan, Vlad, do us all a favor and go to graduate school NOW!

10/28/2006 12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing, truly amazing. When Ms McCaw took over the paper, she said that her aim, her intention was to have the paper do such good work as to win a Pulitzer.

Many of us fools out here, ordinary newspaper readers, believed that was truly her wish — and knew that, although there were a number of good reporters, the only one that had a real shot at that was Melinda Burns.

Her stories were consistently interesting and in depth — and well-written. I often wished that I knew her, but I do not.

What a loss for Santa Barbara! (and, I suspect, for Melinda Burns - not, I'd guess, one of the rich b-'s.) By her writing, the depth and breadth of coverage, she also seemed to genuinely enjoy working here. The only reason can be her union membership.

If nothing else, this act by Ampersand shows that they have no interest in having a good newspaper. It looks as though Ms. McCaw's true interest in the paper is not at all the paper but the SB real estate where it is located.

Go get 'em, Melinda Burns - for yourself and for Santa Barbara!

10/28/2006 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the earlier thread about Santa Barbara News-Press vs. Santa Barbara Independent:

“Nelville Flynn said...

“Nowhere in this post is there even a shred of an argument as to why the purloined News-Press article in the weekly "newspaper" is not a form of theft.

”The freebie was fencing stolen merchandise. In this case, the merchandise was intellectual property rather than a tangible object, but courts have held that intellectual property has inherent value. The freebie may be attempting to hide behind the First Amendment -- although its defenders here won't even go there, preferring childish name-calling -- but the Hadly article was undeniably the property of the News-Press. Had it been published, it would have been in the public domain and citing excerpts from it in proper context would have been acceptable.

”No one, however, has been able to articulate why it's OK to fence stolen intellectual property. The freebie must pay dearly for its crimes.”
10/27/2006 2:03 PM

“Theft” is criminal, Neville, whereas your complaint is civil. If the Indy committed a crime last July at de la Guerra Plaza, ask Cam Sanchez to arrest Nick Welsh. Cam would laugh at your 911 claiming theft of “inherent” value—cops like the real thing, especially on our downtown streets.

Cam can also tell you that “fencing stolen merchandise” is selling the product of a theft (no crime here) for cash (which the Indy didn’t do).

The next time you think about stepping from behind your porkburger grill to offer legal analysis, check first with law school graduates Armstrong or Millstein.

By the way, thanks for giving the Indy a counter-claim against the News-Press for libel by accusing it publicly of “crimes.” After public cross-examination by the Indy’s lawyers of you and your girlfriend, she’ll be the one who “must pay dearly.”

10/28/2006 7:53 AM  
Anonymous Worker Bee said...

So, Neville, you fired your veteran, Harvard educated reporter because she doesn't fear McCaw and her spineless crew of Money Monkeys.

You shameful cowards. How do you sleep? It must be the intoxicating fumes rising from Wendy's composting cash pile that fuels your dreams.

Shame on McCaw and her Little Pets. Be sure to take big gulps from Wendy's money trough to rinse any sour taste out of your mouths, you slithering mountebanks.

The paper will produce no shred of evidence suggesting Burns's termination was justified. They'll loose this battle like they've lost each before it. (At least the Teamsters are there to fight McCaw - whose recent rash of lawsuits takes her from "Crazy Lawsuit Recluse" to "Thoughtless Lawsuit Zombie").

The Money Monkeys will claim McCaw has a right to run her business into the ground. Go ahead and fight for that, you cravens.

The Money Monkeys will say there is bias in the newsroom, although they will produce no evidence as such. They will claim that putting good citizens of Santa Barbara out of work is a holy effort to seek truth. The Money Monkeys will claim Burns was a scourge on the county! How dare she dedicate the bulk of her honorable career to the Newspress? How dare she resist the stench of Wendy McCaw's money?

10/28/2006 9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's next to go?

My guess: Dawn Hobbs. The next termination coming up.

10/28/2006 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here Nel-vile is a bit of juvie name calling to sink your vampire hack teeth into. I posted elsewhere but wanted to get a double hit, so you'd be sure to see it:

Melinda Burns’ professionalism has been an inspiration to the community for 21 years. Anyone who has EVER dealt with her has been awed by her intelligence and fairness--and now she is subjected to stupidity and prejudiced. Enough!

Wendy, the values you have brought to this community of greed, polarization, favoritism, oppression and feeble-mindedness are abhorrent! Can you see by now you are not a fit here? There are playgrounds for people with idiosyncrasies similar to yours, go there! Leave what’s left of Santa Barbara intact, and depart with the assurance that we will not forget you!

Sara McCune turn your back on the discredited NP award, thereby highlighting Wendy’s disgraceful behavior. This is NO time for a convivial party, unless perhaps you were planning to invite Melinda, Jerry, Scott, George and Cami to join your table?

10/28/2006 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I ran the News Press 10 years ago I would have fired Melinda Burns. For nearly two decades she has been a biased and horrible reporter with an axe to grind. She made news and create the story to fit her point of view. As upsetting as the turmoil at the News Press and as sad as it is to lose some great reporters like Josh, Scott, and Chuck - losing Melinda Burns was well over do.

10/28/2006 10:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that Melinda Burns knows how to spell "overdue."

10/28/2006 11:00 PM  
Anonymous PrimaryMan said...

GI..El Estero is the city's wastewater (sewage) treatment facility..they turn bad doo doo into good doo should take Wendy on a tour sometime!

10/29/2006 6:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...the values you have brought to this community of greed, polarization, favoritism, oppression and feeble-mindedness are abhorrent!

What do you mean bring? These are the values of the community. Look at what's happened to it. This blog is full of examples, from the Cottage fiasco to the canditates running for office who are for sale to the highest developer bidders, or beholding to union thugs.

Santa Barbara has become shameful!

10/29/2006 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$10.00 Dawn Hobbs is next.

10/29/2006 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am confident that Melinda Burns can spell "overdue" but she over does her bias on every story she post and 12 years ago was the subject of a study and speech on personal bias by the media in our community.

So while she is a perfect speller - she is also perfectly biased and a tained reporter.

I continue to shed real tears for the great reporters who have left - Josh, Chuck, Scott and dozens upon dozens of others who left before this summer's drama, yet I cheer with loud glee as Melinda Burns walks away.

I would have fired her decades ago.

Melinda Burns was the poster child for personally biased reporting.

10/29/2006 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

Without commenting on the Melinda Burns situation per se, I'd like to make one point. Would any business besides a newspaper be expected to tolerate sabotage from within, employees who malign and attempt to undermine their employer for ego and self-martyrdom?

I doubt it.

Somehow, readers of this blog seem to think that questioning authority and being churlish should be prized rather than punished.

Put another way: If a waitress at a four-star restaurant spit in the food and told potential customers (behind the chef's back, of course) that the food was disgusting, would she be promoted or fired?

The answer should be obvious.

10/29/2006 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aha--that restaurant analogy is a dead giveaway. Either Nelville = Nipper, or Travis is trying to make us think he is. What fun!

10/29/2006 11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neville, I had no idea readers of a blog would question authority, you're really on to something here. No misdeed should go unpunished. You have the documentation on this sabotage? And you are sure the intent was for ego and self-martyrdom? The waitress metaphor is riveting. My experience tells me cooks do much worse than spit, if you do a feature length piece, a four-star chef would be more believable. I actually like waitresses with spunk who tell me about the food. I ask because I want to know, not to be lied to. Who was the President the year you were born, Reagan or Bush1?

10/30/2006 12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neville, you really do take the cake these days. First you accuse the Independent of the crime of theft, and of "fencing stolen goods", all for merely posting a link to an article found on a web site that was not their own. Now you call perfectly legal unionization efforts by your employees "sabotage"? What is going on in that paranoid little mind of yours? Enemies to the left, enemies to the right. Where does it end? You and Wendy really need to get out in the real world a bit more often.

10/30/2006 6:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would any other business whose role was to serve the public not attempt to work with the public?

It is important to note that a newspaper — or any media outlet — is not just "any business," but part of the "4th Estate" with a responsibility towards the public, not just an idle and vindictive rich person's toy.

To be sure, the N-P's motto is only that it is the oldest, not that it is the best nor even that it has any pretentions to fairness or truth.

It is clear it is the responsibility of the community to come up with another media outlet that does better serve the purposes of informing. Blogs are opinion; Ch 3 seems to be for the lowest common denominator; Daily Sound is far from being a quality local news-paper; would that the Independent were daily!

Mr. Wiesenberger/Flynn's restaurant metaphor is not apt. Even if it were, the comparison to a 4-star restaurant is laughable. Once that may have come close to being accurate, but now the News-Press is like a soup kitchen in the Biltmore. A public service? Perhaps but tragic and unfulfilling for those who really would serve and be served.

10/30/2006 6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mission of the NP was once to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable. Now it's comfort the comfortable, and afflict the afflicted. TM said "without fear or favor of friend or foe." Wendy says favor my friends, or fear being fired. She's free to drive her car off the cliff, but it's hard on the car, and the cliff, and the horrified crowd watching this debacle. Cancel your subscription, cancel your ads, and tell your friends to do the same.

10/30/2006 6:46 AM  
Anonymous Where's the Contract? said...

Nelville, apparently you remain deficient in your legal studies. Despite your best (illegal) efforts to stifle your employees, they have the statutorily protected right to publicly talk about and criticize their working conditions and management's wretchedness, and how it impacts them. That right exists for all employees, including those who work for a restaurant. Your post does offer insight into the true reasons why you fired Burns; she angered you with her outspoken union leadership, so you retaliated. It won't wash, Flynn.

10/30/2006 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Worker Bee said...

Yeah, that person should be fired. But your analogy simply doesn't apply to the Newspress, so I don't see your point.

First, this statement makes me scratch my head:

"Somehow, readers of this blog seem to think that questioning authority and being churlish should be prized rather than punished."

-Neville Flynn, Money Monkey

What a ridiculous thing to write. Are you saying trouble makers like Gandhi are unjustifiably honored as heroes? I'm running out of new ways to call you a fool, but this statement is a new low for an already Five Star Buffoon.

And although you continue to believe there is/were agenda driven reporters and editors working the Newsroom which you never visit, with employees you do not know, there is no evidence to support your belief. And you seem to forget that we DO know these people you claim have an agenda and we know for a fact they do not.

I, for instance, have two close friends who are reporters at the NP. That makes the score of "Reporters I Know At The NP" vs. "Reporters The Publishers Know" 2-0. Not to mention the acquaintances. So we know the score, man. You should meet and get to know some of these people before you make statements about their ethics.

10/30/2006 7:10 AM  
Anonymous Time to Cancel said...

Yep. If you or anyone you know still hasn't cancelled, do it for Halloween!! Trick or treat---get rid of the ghost of NewsPress past---the current version is a skeleton of its former self.

Firing veteran reporter Melinda Burns was an act of war. Even if you're a pacifist, be a conscientious objector and cancel! Burn your News-Press subscription card!

10/30/2006 7:48 AM  
Anonymous Melinda for disease control said...

Neville/Nipper, you ARE delusional – the News-Press is far from a four-star restaurant, and its quality is sinking fast under your “management,” judging from the thin and boring edition this morning.

As usual, porkbreath, your food analogy is backwards.

Melinda Burns is the chef, doing the shopping and performing the hard work in the kitchen of preparing meals for public consumption using the freshest ethical ingredients.

You and Wendy McCaw are the ones who spit on Melinda’s plates of healthy cuisine as they pass by you on their way to the dining room, by forcing out editors and reporters and altering and spiking news stories.

Melinda had no choice but to try to stop further contamination from spreading to the dining public by bringing in help from a union and gets canned for what anyone with common sense would see as a duty for her higher than that owed to Wendy’s “business.”

In the end, however, Melinda will be able to buy her own restaurant from the sweet wrongful termination verdict against you and the Mrs. for breach of public policy and violation of the First Amendment.

Can’t wait to watch you try to stumble through your cruel “spitting in the food” riff, Neville, in front of a jury.

10/30/2006 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Worker Bee.

Grow up. Your comments are childish.

10/30/2006 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Neville's BS Detector said...

Re Neville's restaurant analogy. If the owner of the restaurant was purchasing spinach from an outfit known to be taineted with salmonela and the head cook and waitress knew that, would they be considered mere sabateurs intent on maligning the owner for ego or self-martyrdom if they reported that usage to customers, the local newspaper, or law enforcement? No, they would be called whistleblowers and applauded for bringing to public attention behavior the community does not condone.

In this context, we have the question of whether the News-Press management run the paper in compliance with standards of journalistic ethics. While alleged violation of those ethics may not be criminal, literally as opposed to morally, the community interest in its disclosure falls more happily into the protected and morally supportable whistleblower category than that Neville would apply to it.

10/30/2006 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, Neville, it is not like a waitress spitting in food.

It is more like the French Laundry being bought out by a billionaire, and then having the billionaire insist that something disgusting (I won't elaborate, but truly disgusting like something a public health department and sanitary district would process, not simply frog pancreas or another odd ingredient) be secretly added to each diner's meal.

And then having the billionaire fire a famous chef like Thomas Keller of the who refuses to put the disgusting material in a meal, and who was trying to get all the other chefs to organize in favor of pure meals.

And then having the billionaire sue other restaurants for revealing the disgusting material to everyone.

Kind of makes me want to avoid any place that Arthur van W. is associated with or even recommends, BTW.

10/30/2006 12:21 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

These analogies, similes and methaphors are driving me crazy...let's hold back on what odor comes from people's breath please!

10/30/2006 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

Melinda Burns was the best they had. She is the consumate professional journalist who writes so fairly one would never know what her opinion is from reading one of her articles. Her writing is skillful and her story-telling superlative. The News-Press doesn't deserve her. Good luck Melinda. Let us know where you will be writing so that we can read you again.

10/30/2006 2:21 PM  
Anonymous click and cancel said...


To: All Media
From: The organized at SBNP
Oct. 20, 2006

Today, the GCC-IBT filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board in Los Angeles against the News- Press, challenging the paper's retaliatory and unlawful discharge of Ms. Melinda Burns. Her firing is perhaps the most extreme example to date of the continuing campaign by the News-Press management to discourage and frustrate the collective voice of its newsroom staff, so eloquently and clearly expressed a month ago.

In a perverse if futile move intended to strike fear into its own newsroom, the Santa Barbara News-Press late Friday fired Senior Writer Melinda Burns, one of its most experienced, skilled and dedicated reporters in retaliation for her prominence in the union campaign leading to an election victory on September 27.

This latest example of vindictive and lawless labor relations at the News-Press shows shocking disrespect for Burns's following and her sparkling reputation in the Santa Barbara community, and for the sweat equity she has earned over more than two decades of reporting.

It is transparently obvious that Ms. Burns was fired because of her prominent public role - well-known to News-Press upper management - in introducing the newsrooom staff to the Graphics Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (GCC-IBT) and then helping to lead the campaign for union representation to an overwhelming victory, 33-6, on September 27.

Ms. Burns, a graduate of Harvard University and USC, has been with the News-Press for 21 years. During that time, she has won numerous prestigious awards for her in-depth coverage of farmworkers, immigration, science and the environment. Most recently, Ms. Burns took first place in the Best of the West contest for immigration and minority affairs reporting, in competition against newspapers of all sizes in 13 states.

In a May, 2005, article in the News-Press proudly reporting on her achievement, her editor said, "Melinda's work demonstrates our commitment to provide excellent local coverage that mirrors all of our county's communities." In 2004, Ms. Burns was awarded a "Pinnacle of Excellence " National Science Journalism Award by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2002, she received a Special Journalism Award from the Santa Barbara League of Women Voters, honoring her for in-depth reporting and high journalistic standards.

Over the years, Ms. Burns has obtained more than $30,000 in private and state grants to carry out various investigative projects for the News-Press. Most recently, she directed the "New Okies" photography exhibit that was on view for eight months this year in Santa Barbara County, documenting the plight of the Mixtec strawberry pickers in Santa Maria.

In filing an unfair labor practice charge today on behalf of Ms. Burns, the GCC-IBT requests that the NLRB seek her reinstatement with full back pay and promptly investigate and prosecute the News-Press for this latest violation and the string of others that preceded it. In addition, the union asks the Board to seek injunctive relief in the federal district court to compel the News-Press to do what it disingenuously says in its press releases it will do (but in reality does the opposite): that is, cooperate with the NLRB, honor that agency's and this nation's labor laws and heed the emphatically-declared mandate of its employees who wish to collectively bargain with their employer for a fair employment contract.

- 30 -

10/30/2006 6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She was...


10/30/2006 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think you have canceled - maybe you should call and make certain! I canceled (I thought) in July. Then 2 weeks ago I got a call from the NP asking if I want to be taken off "vacation hold." I'm serious! I think they may be using this method to artificially keep their subscription rates high.

10/30/2006 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A propos of the quality of the News-Press staff, this from the Independent blog:

The Rest Of The Story

By Indy Staff, October 30, 2006
By Club Reporter

Interesting news story in Saturday’s Santa Barbara News-Press:

Firefighters discover person trapped in burning building

by Vladimir Kogan

Firefighters battling a blaze in a four-story mixed-use structure in the 100 block of De la Guerra Street on Friday found at least one person trapped inside the burning building.

Several engines from the Santa Barbara Fire Department responded to a report of a fire Friday evening, and firefighters punctured a hole in the roof to provide ventilation. [snip – sorry for the lack of a link; the article is not on the website]

The article continues to describe the second floor rescue, and how, at the time of the news report, the man’s condition was unknown. The good news is that an ambulance was providing support. No calls, evidently, were returned from the Fire Department headquarters.

Now this is the kind real news we need from the News-Press.

As veteran broadcaster Paul Harvey says, “And now… for the rest of the story.”

We received this E-mail today from one of our more astute bloggers, "Vladdy Baby," which was sent to City officials from John Ahlman, the Santa Barbara City Fire Dept. Battalion Chief; it's authenticity has not been verified, but we believe it to be true:

You may have read the article in the News Press entitled "Firefighters discover person trapped in burning building" dated Saturday the 28th of October.

This was preplanned DRILL, not an actual incident. I had no communication with Vladimir or any SBNP reporter about this event. I will remind him to verify any event before publishing it, especially one where he is not in personal contact with myself or another representative of the fire department.

All drill activities such as this are relayed to the 911 dispatchers so as not to alarm the public. The four story "mixed-use structure" was our training tower.

When conducting training such as this, we use alternate radio frequencies to communicate, not our main tactical channel. I can not be completely sure, but it appears that Vladimir Kogan of the Santa Barbara Newspress may have picked this up off an emergency scanner and ran with it. The article was written in error as the "Fire" was a drill.

By Indy Staff | October 30, 2006 |

10/30/2006 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Melinda---we've got your back.

Not to worry. Take a deep breath. You're our hero.

Are you giving her a job or something?

10/30/2006 9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The current ruling regime of the News-Press mistakes intelligence and thoughtfulness with "bias" and "opinion".

Their firing of Melinda Burns perfectly illustrates that corruption.

Shame on them.

10/30/2006 10:02 PM  
Anonymous Fiction vs truth said...

From today's online N-P [freebie version]

October 31, 2006: Saturday's News-Press included an erroneous report on a fire in downtown Santa Barbara. The incident that took place was in fact a drill. More»

So the irony steepens----they fire a veteran, intelligent, savvy journalist the day before one of their inept, frat boy writers ==and an editor I presume---allow a completely false story, based no doubt on scanner chatter---to run.

Will someone please stop the bleeding.

10/31/2006 8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does anyone still care?

10/31/2006 11:38 AM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Melinda will make a bundle on the punitive damages award.

Funny thing about alleged bias in writing a news article. If her work were so biased, then why did newspress publish it? We know the editors there do not really know anything, but they go through that ruse to pretend they are editors in charge of the news writers work, alleged bias and all. Thus, it cannot be biased work if they accepted and published the writing of Burns.

Newspress company held and did not publish the writing of Camie Cohee because she did not spin an article about Carpinteria City Council the way the ownership wanted it. So if that is their approach, why not also hold or kill any allegedly biased articles by Melinda Burns? So besides the fact that they were not biased, Newspress has no case because Newspress had plenty of opportunities to change or kill her articles.

Oh, Melinda is going to make a bundle on this one!

10/31/2006 12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right, FD Streetfighter, that cuts to an absurdity of the 'cover' (not real) reason for firing Melinda. Why wouldn't Steepleton, or whoever the editor on duty, also be fired for editing and sending along for publication an article or articles that were so biased they merited firing?

After all, when reprimands went out over the printing of Rob Lowe's vacant lot, it wasn't just reporter Camie Cohee who got one. Three editors, including managing editor George Foulsham, got them too.

10/31/2006 3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has been well over seven weeks since I let my subscription to the news-press expire.
It is still being delivered. I wish Wendy would stop littering my driveway.

PS: does this litter/freebie count towards a fraudulent circulation figure?

10/31/2006 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, maybe the most effective thing is to get the Santa Maria Times to be available down here.

Did you notice that their circulation went up in the last 6 months?

I'd subscribe in a heartbeat if they had South Coast delivery. Alas, called and they don't.

At least I wish they would start distributing at South Coast bookstores and convenience marts.

10/31/2006 4:53 PM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

The comments from "streetfighter" betray a lack of understanding about the recent changes at the News-Press.

Under the discredited former editors, bias was allowed to seep into the news pages as there was no quality-control procedure. According to one independent survey in 2005, 64 percent of News-Press readers believed that reporters flavored their stories with personal opinions. One of those reporters was Melinda Burns.

Current News-Press management is focused on eliminating bias and restoring the newspaper's credibility. As a result, the employment of certain staff members is no longer tenable.

10/31/2006 6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, Neville, I remember that survey. I don't remember its credentials on how scientific it was. But everybody was upset at that 64 percent figure. What do do? I'd have started by getting more specific responses to see if there was some consensus on the perceived bias.

By saying that Melinda was "one of those reporters" you're half-implying that she was identified in the survey as a biased reporter. Not true. No one was. It's a raw figure. To a large extent it probably reflects nationwide accusations of media bias leveled from all sides, from Rush Limbaugh to
I'm not saying ignore the survey figure, but I don't think embarking on a campaign of replacing all veteran reporters with 22-year-olds is quite the appropriate response. Nor do I think that the survey item is why all this has come about. It's a smokescreen.

So Melinda was "one of those reporters" like they all were, and the response to the survey figure is to get rid of all of them. (You're halfway there) They were all in cahoots? Toward what specific agenda? That's something you haven't specified. Oh, that's a "personnel matter," whereas just leveling the vague accusation of "bias" and letting readers fill in the blanks in their own minds is fair game.

10/31/2006 7:34 PM  
Anonymous the Editor said...

NElly..please read your entry again and correct the grammar:

"The comments from "streetfighter" betray a lack of understanding about the recent changes at the News-Press."

the Editor

10/31/2006 7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Nel-vile for clearing up the quality control issue---yep, that fire story was pure bias in that story, or accuracy either. As a reader, given the options, I'd say bring back the real reporters, even with alleged "bias," because those reporters also brought the facts and readers more discerning than you could separate the two, if in fact "bias" ever existed.

10/31/2006 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelville Flynn: "...Current News-Press management is focused on eliminating bias and restoring the newspaper's credibility...."

Judging by Saturday's fire on de la Guerra story, seems to me they're heading in the wrong direction for credibility. But as the Irish novelist George Moore said, "The wrong way always seems the more reasonable."

I suppose it helps to be always smiling at yourself in the mirror and saying the h... with public opinion, but how about doing another reader poll now and see what the results are, how successful you all have been in "eliminating bias and restoring the newspaper's credibility"? The paper trots out that other poll so often the nag's gotten weary.

10/31/2006 10:43 PM  
Anonymous Slogby Polling said...

Nelv, sure would be nice to publish the data from that 2005 survey so we could all see.

I've read another survey, conducted by Slogby: 57 people polled, 31 say News-Press more biased after the July 6 purges, 8 say no change, 2 say less biased, and 16 stopped reading the News-Press entirely.

11/01/2006 2:06 AM  
Anonymous city watcher said...

I subscribed to the paper for many years, more than 20, including last spring. Offhand, I don't recall when that poll was, sometime last spring, I think. (I never was phoned/written or polled in any form.)

How many readers were questioned? What examples of "bias" were given or definition provided? How many questions and how many readers were polled? What were the response rates? What other questions were asked?

Btw, when was it? I'd like to go to the public library and check it out — that's where I now see occasional copies of the paper: it takes about 30 minutes to read 10 days' worth of papers — I don't bother with the op-ed pages, except the letters: the opinions are not local, for the most part, and just about all are available online.

And as for the editorials, I haven't been bitten by a rattlesnake and so don't need to build up immunity with a daily dose of venom.

11/01/2006 6:17 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

Nelville, with all due respect, you are simply wrong. I have been interviewed by Melinda Burns for one of her stories and during the interview I got a peek into her personal views on the subject. However, when the article came out, it was perfectly balanced with both sides of the issue fairly presented down to giving each side the same amount of print and allowing both views to be expressed by articulate quotes. Except for the elegant mastery of grammar, vocabulary, and syntax, the writer was invisible in the article. That is unbiased reporting and that is how Melinda Burns writes.

11/01/2006 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Current News-Press management is focused on eliminating bias and restoring the newspaper's credibility. As a result, the employment of certain staff members is no longer tenable.

I take it more terminations are on the way. I'm guessing Hobbs is next.

11/01/2006 8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are wrong, Neville, and Streetfighter is right: a jury is going to pop your lover girl for big bucks for firing Melinda Burns in violation of public policy and labor statutes.

Cannot wait for the public trial. McCaw can defend her view of “bias” from the stand under oath. You will find juries are not as isolated or ignorant about the real world as she is.

On the stand you will not be able to fake stupidity about the difference between what readers believe from your “survey” and what actually occurs. An independent survey shows that a significant percentage of people still believe the world is flat. Another survey shows that a food writer with experience from a Swiss boarding school paper might know something about journalism. Neither is true, of course.

11/01/2006 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Worker Bee said...

Someone in a previous post on the matter of the Newspress meltdown suggested that us bloggers could learn a thing or two from Nelville. My guess is that suggestion was made by Rob Lowe, who apparently wasn't busy taping himself having sex with underage women, so he took time to post. Or perhaps it was "Dr." Laura taking a break between admiring her own nude pictures on the internet (which beautifully immortalize her youthful affair with a married man) and spewing hypocritical and bigoted rightwing diatribes across America's airwaves.

Ahhhh, the company kept by McCaw and Nelville von Butterburger...I digress. I wanted to list two things I've learned from The Nip:

1. Earn your fortune the old fashioned way: Marry it.

2. Use your new-found social status to land jobs you're wholly unqualified for.

I bring all this up at the end of a dying thread because I think it's important we not forget the moral fiber of McCaw and her appointed Yes-creeps: they will say it's childish name calling. This is not name calling - I'm not making this stuff up. These people have actually done these rotten things and I, for one, am not going to forget. A rat is a rat is a rat.

These are the things McCaw's buddies surrounding the Newspress mess have done and the company they've kept and you don't get free passes for past ethical meltdowns when you support putting honest, hard working people out of jobs because of your incompetent ego, and in the mean time crown yourself the Prince of Truth. Sorry, Nip, you have to earn that crown in a different old fashioned way: you have to actually earn it.

11/01/2006 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Neville's BS Detector said...

Re Nelville recent posting:

If you want to be taken seriously, you'd best publish the so-called independent survey you are so fond of giving conclusionary reference to.

As for discredited editors, again, your conclusionary dismissal of them as discredited does not make them such. Or do you have another survey, that you will publish, that so describes them. Your reiteration of this assertion serves only to defame them, not to support your unsubstantiated assertion.

As for your assertion that Burns was one of those who flavored her stories with too much personal opinion and that the SBNP is focused on eliminating bias, your credibility and that of the SBNP does not support your assertion. That is particularly the case given all you or your paper have presented is blanket conclusionary repetition of this mantra, all the while hiding your operations behind a veil of trade secrets and copyright assertions, and refusals to publish any leters critical of your operations and conduct. If you wish credibility, back by becoming more transparent and less abusive to others in the journalistic community.

Note to the Blog. I doubt there will be any huge jury award going to Burns, much less an award that will be freely available for us to review. Recall that the SBNP requires employment contracts apparently require arbitration of disputes and the SBNP has demonstrated itself willing to bludgeon another publicly disclosing those the course or result of such proceedings. So much for the transparency I suggested.

11/01/2006 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you idiots not see how much power Nelville has over you? He writes one posting and you all jump off the cliff like lemmings. He must be laughing his A** off.

11/01/2006 11:03 AM  
Anonymous slanted and enchanted said...

Neville, when did the former editors become "discredited?" Seems to me they've received nothing but credit since leaving.

11/01/2006 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to point out something about the survey item Neville refers to and that's been mentioned in NP editorials as a justification for the ongoing purges.
I'm not aware that the results of the survey were ever published in the NP. The results were presented to us employees at a presentation. Newspapers sometimes commission surveys, or form focus groups, to get some community feedback. The survey was pretty lengthy.

If that survey item is going to be used publicly to justify firing Melinda Burns, quashing Starshine's lifestyle column, etc., etc., then it's incumbent to say more publicly about the survey, including the size of the sample and how it was chosen -- basic information a newspaper gives when reporting the results of *any* poll or survey to establish its credibility.

And don't hide behind the "it's an internal matter" on this. You've made public the survey figure. Give the rest of the story. And how did management extrapolate from this figure (64 percent of respondents say NP reporters are biased but aren't asked in what way) that they should take certain actions -- kill a story on Travis' DUI, reprimand editors for the printing of a relevant public-record item, publish stories on Michael Todd that made no effort to contact him or his attorney for response, and much more.

11/01/2006 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A recluse who makes limited social apearances is going to take the stand? I can't imagine she'd allow a major magnified look at her. Wasn't Wendy vs Parker dep a diaster? Can't she use a Ampersand Publishing lapdog to do her dirty work? Or maybe she already plans to settle, this is just a "transition" expense.

11/01/2006 1:02 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Worker Bee -- you are cutting close and testing my limits! I'm really feeling like the name calling is getting out of hand on everyone's part -- one thing I can say about Nelville is that he/she is definitely doing their best to keep it clean -- which is where I'd rather see us all be.

11/01/2006 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Worker Bee -- you are cutting close and testing my limits! I'm really feeling like the name calling is getting out of hand on everyone's part -- one thing I can say about Nelville is that he/she is definitely doing their best to keep it clean -- which is where I'd rather see us all be.

I agree. It's jeapordizing our overall mission of trying to discredit the newspress. We also need to have threads on here that have something to do with that little mentioned topic: "The Rest of the Known Universe". That would help give the appearance that this whole board has not been created and singularly guided towards the one goal of trying to bring down a newspaper. I think we need to use more phrases like "high road" and "casual study" to make sure Sarah can maintain a "keepin it clean" atmosphere.

11/01/2006 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Worker Bee said...

In the spirit of doing what's right, I'll ask forgiveness for calling McCaw and her friends names. It is not the right thing to do. And as much as I wish there were 25 hours in the day to call The Nipper things like Baron von Piggly Wiggly, I will halt, and take a different course. The people have spoken. I admit to doing wrong. Sincerely.

I have used name calling as a tool to communicate my distaste for the way the Newspress has mistreated its employees. I apologize to McCaw, The Nip, "Dr." Laura and all Blogabararans for any discomfort. Actions and words have impact, and only a self absorbed fool would be unwilling to change course given the irrefutable evidence of their wrong doing.

Now if only McCaw would do the same...

11/01/2006 6:25 PM  
Blogger Dominatrikes said...

I'm sad to see Melinda go. She interviewed me for an article once. She asked about a million questions and even after I answered a question, it took several more follow up questions before she was satisfied. She was very thorough and I always thought her articles were very neutral and factual.

We no longer get the Newspress. We read Internet news, magazines and catalogs over breakfast now. We miss the Newspress but feel like it no longer exists. We didn't cancel out of self-righteous solidarity or anything like that. We just felt that Travis was incorrigible and over the top and that the Newspress was being eviscerated. It no longer is worth the money.

It's sad to see all these good reporters go. Good luck Melinda. Please know that there were people who recognized and appreciated your work.

11/01/2006 6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the truth comes out. This blog is only about bringing down the News-Press???

I was wondering why the NP has become the only topic on blogabarbara, but that would explain it.

11/01/2006 7:21 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Excuse me? It's rather obvious that there are many other posts about other subjects....Goleta, 2nd District, City Issues....but what is the news of the day? what do people speak of around the water cooler? The News-Press is the news right now and there is no denying it.

11/01/2006 7:28 PM  
Blogger passing-by said...

So, just to clarify -the "discredited editors" are the ones who received ethics awards from a national journalism organization, while the current editors who are overseeing this "transitional period" are the ones who published a completely bogus story about a major fire that never happened with a trapped victim who never existed only a block or two away from the NP building? Therefore, fantasy news is best. It is nearly impossible to be biased while reporting imaginary news. That Nev is a sly fox; you can't argue with a position like that!

11/01/2006 7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course the buzz around the watercooler at The Independent is all about the NewsPress. Yes, Sara dear, we know.

11/01/2006 8:41 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Dear? Is it really 2006? Time to find a new post topic....

11/01/2006 11:10 PM  
Anonymous link said...

Teamsters Stand With Reporters at Santa Barbara News-Press

Teamsters Fight Newspaper's Anti-Worker Tactics

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Teamsters are standing strong with their new members at the Santa Barbara News-Press. The formerly non-union newspaper gained national attention in September when a majority of their journalists voted for Teamster representation.

However, executives at the News-Press displayed their anti-union colors by unlawfully terminating a long-time journalist last week in retaliation for her role in union organizing. The journalist, Melinda Burns, was a 21-year employee with the newspaper. Since the employees vote overwhelmingly to join the Teamsters' Graphic Communications Conference (GCC) in September, the paper's executives have sought to overturn the election. Since July, more than two dozen editors and reporters have quit or been fired.

"Our members at the Santa Barbara News-Press deserve respect, dignity and the opportunity to bargain for a contract," said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. "Since their vote in September, we have considered them full- fledged members of our great union. We will continue to fight for their right to work in an atmosphere that is free from employee harassment and intimidation."

On Monday, October 30, the GCC-Teamsters filed an unfair labor practice charge against the News-Press. "We want the News-Press to rescind its termination of Melinda Burns," said George Tedeschi, president of the Teamsters Graphic Communications Conference. "All of our members, whether they be journalists, pressmen, bindery workers or graphic artists, have the power of the Teamsters behind them when it comes to their rights in the workplace."

The Graphic Communications Conference represents more than 60,000 employees in the printing and publishing industries in the United States as part of the 1.4 million hard working men and women members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

11/02/2006 10:06 AM  
Blogger ts said...

Current News-Press management is focused on eliminating bias and restoring the newspaper's credibility.

If you were focused on restoring the paper's credibility, then you wouldn't be posting such transparent lies here, and in press releases. You are either incredibly stupid, or think we are (which would make you incredibly stupid in either case).

11/03/2006 12:22 PM  
Blogger ts said...

Under the discredited former editors, bias was allowed to seep into the news pages as there was no quality-control procedure. According to one independent survey in 2005, 64 percent of News-Press readers believed that reporters flavored their stories with personal opinions. One of those reporters was Melinda Burns.

Current News-Press management is focused on eliminating bias and restoring the newspaper's credibility. As a result, the employment of certain staff members is no longer tenable.

This argument is self-contradictory. If the source of bias was lack of quality control, then the solution is to institute quality control. Firing a 21-year award-winning reporter is not quality control. Since Ms. Burns' presence at the paper predates the "seepage", she cannot be the cause of the "seepage". And why wasn't Ms. Burns fired at the beginning of this attempt to eliminate bias, instead of, coincidentally, after leading the unionization effort and writing the Measure D article?

In other words, this is a bunch of ridiculous malarkey simply made up in order to rationalize an action that was obviously carried out for other reasons.

11/03/2006 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendy McCaw and Arthur von Wiesenberger are to be congratulated in eradicating the bias creeping into the news pages. Good job in firing Melinda Burns and forcing out other experienced journalists to make that happen. Judging by the newspaper today, the community is finally getting the bias-free paper it deserves:

Page 1—HUGE story about an owl getting lost, written by “Associate Editor” Scott Steepleton (there is no Editor-in-Chief). Wendy put her best man on the story, and he was happy to appease, since he embaressed her big time by green lighting the story about the fake fire. Nice FEATURE story about Madeleine Albright.

Page 2—no photos to distract from all the stuff jammed together, but the nice George Bush “we will win” quote really stands out. Also, the staff box still shows locals Arthur, Wendy, Travis and Steepleton doing their fine job of running things, so why bring in a newspaper professional from the outside who might have different experience, temperament and talent? (Whoops, Steepleton lives out of town.)

Page 3 – Nice big “save the fish” story and two photos. No further need for “save the fish” editorials.

Page 4 – nice ad for Travis Armstrong.

Page 5—a few briefs of what’s left of local news.

Page 6 – two HUGE ads for the News-Press radio station—why let the Mayor or the Supervisor on the station anyway.

Page 7—more about the owl, headline: “Max hoots, and wears a leather anklet.”

Page 8—big ad for the lifetime dinner – Morris, Tom and Sara, hope you say something realistic about the “achievements” of Wendy and Arthur in banishing the bias that was seeping into the News-Press, eh?

Page 9 – anti-war story echoing editorial page about Iraq war and another News-Press ad.

Page 10–ah, finally, the opinion page. This is where Wendy gets to have her say—leaving her own opinions, agenda and bias off of the news pages 1 through 9, as she’s doing so well. In addition to Wendy’s view on Prop 83 there is another Travis piece about the Coastal Housing Partnership.

Page 11—a nice selection of wire copy, in favor of Arnold, against the Democrats, and against Iraq, sort of like the editorials.

Page 12—last page of the local news section. More of the long FEATURE story about Albright.

I just can’t go on to the next section, the paper is so fat and interesting.

Congratulations, again, Wendy and Arthur. Great job in banishing the bias.

11/03/2006 4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 4:13p, Help me understand Dr. Laura & the Santa Barbara New-Press. To my knowledge N-P doesn't mention her on blogs. Why the silence? I know it's the end of this but try to explain somewhere why an unbiased paper would promote someone so intolerant? She has a voice on radio she doesn't need to be Wendy's. She makes Wendy look worse. As you know the misleading. She calls women who have sex before marriage things like "slut" and "unpaid wh*res", I could go on. She took over a local column, she's rarely local. She's a joke for her set up calls and letters, and that foolishness is prominent in Wendy's paper. She's famous for lies since she became known and no one outside of her cult would trust her. I hadn't paid much attention to N-P situation until Dr. Laura, like many others I know that was telling for N-P in the worst way. How can you claim to be unbiased when someone so biased won't publish a fair cross section of letters and Wendy does nothing toward fairness? I admit if I do see the paper, it's a few days old but people talk. I'm told she did write about the community more last Thursday and it was more intelligent. Prehaps the community will grow to like her if she improves. Still I understand she is pushing a very biased concept. She likes Fox News and in step with them she and N-P will be on the Islamic-fascists fear bandwagon. Is that Wendy's philosphy? I'm told to look into Haim Harari? Who is he?

11/03/2006 8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Update on the Mess from the Pacific Coast Business Times.

11/03/2006 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Santa Barbara News-Press newsroom employees and friends will hold a candelight vigil outside the Biltmore Hotel on Saturday evening to protest the increasing attacks on journalists under the management of Wendy McCaw, the newspaper owner.

McCaw and co-publisher Arthur von Wiesenberger will be at the Biltmore on Saturday to give out “Lifetime Achievement Awards” to three Santa Barbara philanthropists. But what will be the lifetime achievement of Wendy McCaw?

In recent months, 28 journalists have left the News-Press because McCaw was interfering in the news and violating basic rules of journalism ethics. Thousands of readers have cancelled their subscriptions in protest.

Last month, McCaw broke the law and fired Melinda Burns, a 21-year veteran reporter, for leading a successful campaign in the newsroom to join the Teamsters. Through the union, the newsroom seeks to win a contract that will help restore journalistic integrity to the News- Press.

It is fitting that we hold this vigil on Veterans Day. Freedom of the press is one of our most cherished rights, and it is under siege in our hometown.

Saturday’s protest will begin at 5:15 p.m. along Channel Drive in front of the Biltmore. It will last approximately one hour.

To get to the Biltmore, take the Olive Mill Road exit off Highway 101 in Montecito and turn toward the ocean. The road makes a right bend and becomes Channel Drive. The hotel will be on your right.

11/07/2006 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool - this should start a new round of terminations. Any guesses who'll get fired?

11/07/2006 3:45 PM  
Anonymous petition link said...

31 people have already signed the online petition to reinstate Melinda Burns ...

11/07/2006 6:44 PM  

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