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Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

TKA on Public v. Private from Business Wire

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The following editorial by Travis Armstrong, editorial page editor for the Santa Barbara News-Press, addresses some issues regarding public vs. private newspaper ownership:

I've been a happy refugee from corporate journalism for nearly five years. Private independent newspapers may be the best way to preserve the printed paper from Wall Street investors who live by stock prices and quarterly results.

I worked for nearly a decade for a division of Dow Jones & Co. in Washington, D.C., then for Knight Ridder's Monterey Herald and San Jose Mercury News (where during my time there the publisher walked out because of edicts from headquarters), and for a summer while in law school for the Newhouse chain's Portland Oregonian. I've seen some of the best and worst that corporate ownership has to offer.

My education about the tentacles of corporate journalism has broadened over the last months as the News-Press has gone through its highly publicized transitional period.

The one big constant during this time has been News-Press owner Wendy McCaw's commitment to the News-Press and to the Santa Barbara community. It's been documented how our media competitors and political forces, who want to silence the News-Press editorials, have tried to use this period for their own gain.

But, in terms of the broader newspaper industry, I've seen how a daily newspaper that's unconnected to a big corporation can be at a disadvantage because of the financial might and pull that particular chains have within the journalism community. In my view, this may be one reason the Society of Professional Journalists entered the fray regarding this newspaper but, oddly, is silent on recent flare-ups involving other papers, such as the newsroom unrest at Tribune Co.-owned Los Angeles Times.

Are corporate sponsors, friendships and other considerations at work when such groups decide whether to take a stand?

Consider this passage from Neiman Watchdog, a Web site of the Neiman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard University.

One commentator writes: "The Times publisher, Jeffrey Johnson, is now the former publisher, having been ousted. It isn't clear what the future holds for Dean Baquet, the editor. Evidently, Tribune company executives and other like-minded corporate cost-cutters can proceed without fretting about reaction from the organized journalism community. Society of Professional Journalists President Christine Tatum, an editor at the Denver Post, said her organization considers it best 'not to engage in "personnel and labor matters." The bottom line: We haven't issued any formal statements concerning the Tribune/Los Angeles Times affair because it hasn't been easy to know where the dividing line is between newsroom disagreements/blow-ups and over-the-top cost-cutting.'"

One only has to look at the society's corporate sponsor opportunities for conventions to see possible conflicts. The group's information on the society's convention hails sponsorships from Hearst Newspapers and the Wall Street Journal, while pitching "platinum level" sponsors for $50,000 and up.

Ms. Tatum says her group thinks it best not to engage in personnel and labor matters. Perhaps she might amend that statement to include: "We think it best not to engage in personnel and labor matters, if it involves newspaper chains we're connected to in any way or that have corporate money for us, but the locally owned independent press is free game. In fact, we don't even see the need to talk to their management before making judgments.”

27 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

SF Chronicle - Turmoil changes Santa Barbara news picture

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/10/24/BUGJOLUK861.DTL&hw=santa+barbara&sn=001&sc=1000

10/24/2006 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

democratic nominee for governor Phil Angelides was in town yesterday? i wonder what he said... after checking out the News-Press, apparently nothing. similar to clinton last week, it looks like he probably just posed for some photos and took off, since there was no story written.

how could you not write a story on the former POTUS and a nominee for the governor of our great state visiting our city?

10/24/2006 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The neutrality of the Wikipedia article on the News-Press has been questioned by an anonymous user, as being too anti-News-Press... see:

Wiki Talk Page on Santa Barbara News-Press

It would be appropriate with those with feelings as to the POV (Point of View) to go there and post something...

10/24/2006 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Society of Professional Journalists – here under attack by Travis -- are urgently interested in banishing bias and agenda. But this banishment is also Wendy McCaw’s after-the-fact explanation for triggering the News-Press’ carnage.

Who’s right?

You be the judge:

Here are some stories that McCaw banished: Travis’ DUI; the bogus suit against Roberts; kicking the Supe and the Mayor off the homeless radio show; and, last, but not least, a photo showing her real stage of life.

And let’s not forget perp walkin’ the editor out the door, killing the news story about all the editors splitting and, instead, writing a non-news propaganda bit that it was a family spat.

And even more examples of McCaw’s banishments: no addresses allowed in celebrity zoning stories; negativizing the Carp councilwoman; no coverage of the anti-paper rallies only steps from her tower office; spiking letters to the editor; and, in her babe’s hamburger essay, accusing her past and present employees of graft.

And, on the other side of the scales of justice, here is ALL of McCaw’s public evidence that her editors and reporters had bias or agendas that needed to be banished: __________________.

Zip. Nada. Bupkas. Squat.

Fact is, few can really trust what Wendy and boytoy publish any longer.

Except for the waterboy’s unconfirmed claim of high school editorship of his Swiss boarding school newspaper more than 30 years ago, there’s not even technical knowledge of what happens in a newsroom.

So Travis can attack the SPJ, but it appears it is on to something in Santa Barbara.

10/24/2006 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This "press release" so typical. When Travis can't adequately and honestly defend his own newspaper's position, the only option for him is to tear into the (perceived) competition, in an attempt to divert the readers' attention from what's really happening.

But really, Travis, can everyone else be so wrong? I haven't see any independent source defending News-Press management since this debacle began. You and Wendy and the Nipper and your cadre of lawyers and PR lackeys, and ever diminishing loyalists, have been acting like the schoolyard bully, and it's long past time for all of you to take an honest, refreshing look at yourselves.

But of course, the chance of that happening is pretty slim, maybe completely impossible. You're dug in too deep now, and to admit that you were and are still wrong would be tantamount to total capitulation to your (perceived) enemies, which you believe are everywhere you look.

10/24/2006 3:28 PM  
Anonymous slanted and enchanted said...

Anonymous 2:59:
I am tempted to e-mail your posting directly to Von Cheesenburger and TK Armstrong and request a reply, but my identity is obvious from my e-mail address and I don't want to be on Wendy's lawsuit radar.
That is one of the best summaries of the past few months I have seen thus far. Wendy, AVW and TKA continue with their bunker mentality, blindly attacking every person and organization that utters a word of truth regarding the NP meltdown. Thank God few people are being fooled.

10/24/2006 3:35 PM  
Blogger Craig Smith's Blog said...

Armstrong goes on to note that the individual owner (meaning, Wendy McCaw) is disadvantaged in some respects and claims "this may be one reason the Society of Professional Journalists entered the fray regarding this newspaper but, oddly, is silent on recent flare-ups involving other papers, such as the newsroom unrest at Tribune Co.-owned Los Angeles Times." Excuse me, but I've been following the situation at the Times and its quite different than what's going on at the News-Press. (Read rest of post.)

10/24/2006 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

Isn't it interesting that the most strident attacks on the News-Press are coming from rival media seeking to carve out a share of the News-Press devoted and well-educated readership?

And isn't it even more interesting that all of these rivals are based not in Santa Barbara, or even California, but the Midwest?

Judge for yourself. Los Angeles Times - Chicago. Ventura County Star - Cincinnati. Santa Maria Times - Davenport, Iowa.

And the Society of Professional Journalists also is wagging its finger from afar - Indianapolis.

These rivals and self-appointed watchdogs don't care about Santa Barbara. They are interested only in sucking money out of the market and sending it back to their corporate bosses in the Midwest.

The News-Press, on the other hand, is a proudly local institution. Its profits stay in the community. It stands up for local values - like the preservation of our environment and quality of life - when out-of-town developers seek to plunder for personal gain.

(As a side note, isn't it interesting that a former News-Press "journalist" once shilled for a giant retailer based not in California but Minneapolis?)

Little wonder, then, that these out-of-town entities and their local puppets would seek to destroy the News-Press.

Interesting, eh?

10/24/2006 5:13 PM  
Anonymous the Destroyer said...

tip for Nelville

www.paxilcr.com

10/24/2006 7:09 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

As we know, the most strident "attacks" are coming from long-term News-Press readers, right here in Santa Barbara County, who are sad and angry about the interference with the professionals who once ran the news of the newspaper but were pushed out by Nelville Flynn.

10/24/2006 7:15 PM  
Anonymous slanted and enchanted said...

You're a weird guy, Neville.

10/24/2006 7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After putting up with SBNP.s [Wendy's] PETA and 'save the pig' projects for so long I spied this on the BBC and it is very obvious that Travis and the gang are missing a great event

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6080114.stm


they can save the rats and rabbits to boot, sorry no pigs so far

10/24/2006 7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do News-Press' profits really "stay in the community," Neville/Baron, or are they used for "the preservation of our environment and quality of life" by feeding the non-renewable, global warming and ocean polluting maw of the U.S.S Calixe and her helicopter as it ferries you to foo foo weddings on the French Rivieria? Interesting, eh?

http://photonote.blogspot.com/2005/08/calixe.html

10/24/2006 8:05 PM  
Anonymous not fooled said...

If you really believe corporate executives have ordered local journalists -- most of whom genuinely are local, and have a stake in the area -- to "destroy" the News-Press, well ... you're rather disturbed.

It would also betray a profound ignorance in how newspapers, even those run by chains, operate. But then, you have no interest in reality, do you?

Please, Nelville, this isn't some godforsaken flyspeck town filled with credulous yokels. Don't insult us. We know what's going on at the paper; we know you're just an increasingly shrill shill for Wendy and her gang of out-of-town lawyers and hacks.

You, in fact, are not helping Wendy. With every silly post you write you demonstrate quite clearly that you are not credible in any conceivable way.

One could, I suppose, pity you. You're obviously a man without character or integrity of any kind. You have sold yourself. And that, for any man, is a tragedy.

10/25/2006 6:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to current management, the NP is now known nationally as a lickspittle lapdog of the rich. No local is proud of that.

10/25/2006 6:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neville, dude, wake up from your daze -- we're not in the back rooms of Nipper's any longer. The most strident attacks are coming from your own, local, professional journalists who want you and the Mrs. to keep your porky paws off of the credibility of the local news. As a start, they've put a union in place. As a start.

10/25/2006 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: "... Wendy McCaw's commitment to the News-Press and to the Santa Barbara community."

Why, if Wendy is committed to the News-Press, did she hire inexperienced reporters with no knowledge of the community? Why is she spending company money and management time fighting employees' 33-6 vote for union representation instead of replacing the editors who left and trying to improve the paper?

Why, if Wendy is committed to the community, are we reading more and more about fancy spa treatments, $12,880 handbags and who attends Montecito parties?

And less and less about the working people of the community, like all those families who were evicted -- some illegally -- in Isla Vista, and the popular local veterinarian who is very ill?

And Jon Stewart on Page 1? With how to buy tickets? Give me a break.

Just whose community is Wendy trying to serve?

Obviously not mine. I get my news elsewhere. Thanks Daily Sound, KEYT, the Independent.

10/25/2006 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this isn't some godforsaken flyspeck town filled with credulous yokels.

Sure it is!

10/25/2006 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One could, I suppose, pity you. You're obviously a man without character or integrity of any kind. You have sold yourself. And that, for any man, is a tragedy.

And the Academy Award goes to..."not fooled" for his exciting letter which has more drama than "Shattner Takes on Macbeth".

10/25/2006 4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Sarah should come out into the public and reveal her identity if she wants to continue slandering Travis by falsley accusing him sexism. Its such a serious statement that it warrants coming out into the open. Otherwise it just seems like a shameful unwarranted attack.

10/25/2006 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara can come out when Nelville does, and when Travis Armstrong actually appears in public and tries to have a civil discussion with the whole public and "rival" news media.

Nice try at baiting the blog host in order for Millstein to attack "her".

Who is trying to "silence" the public now?

10/25/2006 5:42 PM  
Anonymous say what said...

5:42pm makes no sense at all. He/she must be an SBCAN advocate.

10/26/2006 12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara can come out when Nelville does, and when Travis Armstrong actually appears in public and tries to have a civil discussion with the whole public and "rival" news media.

Travis already is out in the open. Every day.

Nice try at baiting the blog host in order for Millstein to attack "her".

Call it what you want but continually trying to plant a false accusation of sexism on someone while hiding behind a blog is pretty shallow. If Sarah was accusing someone of being a jerk, or greedy, I wouldn't have a problem with it. But a charge of sexism is pretty severe in my book. It's gets people fired. So, if you are going to throw it out there, back it up with courage.

Who is trying to "silence" the public now?

Are you implying that Sara will be silent if she forced to be public about Travis?

10/26/2006 10:21 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Anon -- this shouldn't be such an issue and nothing has been said about sexism on TKA's part for many months. For what it's worth, I hereby retract those statements -- they really aren't germane to the current post and it's really a subjective opinion.

I also don't see them as any more than opinion but am happy to let it go. People can make up their own minds on the issue....and I apologize for any upset I may have caused on his or your part.

10/26/2006 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and I apologize for any upset I may have caused on his or your part.

Apology not accepted.

10/27/2006 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course "Apology not accepted," anonymous 10:37. Rather see a lawsuit, eh? Wendy just keeps making more and more "friends" around town this way. An amazing process to watch.

10/27/2006 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course "Apology not accepted," anonymous 10:37. Rather see a lawsuit, eh? Wendy just keeps making more and more "friends" around town this way. An amazing process to watch.

Nahh, don't want a lawsuit. I'm just calling out the people who claim "high-road", when in fact, they are slimier than the rest.

10/30/2006 9:51 PM  

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