Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, October 06, 2006

Valley Voice Bias?

Is this worth the trouble considering the Valley Voice is a News-Press property? Is this worth the trouble since the Valley Voice is best read for finding out what car is being given away at the Chumash Casino? or maybe for who was drunk and disorderly last week?

Still, here it is, a month before election day and the Valley Voice hasn't done a story on the upcoming council race in probably two months. At the same time, the incumbents have a column printed every week. Since Labor Day, only incumbents not up for re-election have written the columns -- but it nonetheless allows them a space to address challengers concerns without giving the challengers space to make their case. An article this week on the passing of the General Plan quoted incumbent and candidate Jack Hawxhurst (he seems to get the quote every week even though he isn't the Mayor right now) but failed to mention the issue within the context of what should be a tight race for council.

A true community newspaper prints both sides of the story but I guess when you are owned by the News-Press it will always be more of the same.


Anonymous Valerio said...

And any of that is a surprise?

GOLETA Valley Voice staff have been hemorrhaging as well for the past months.

Jim Farr was duped into selling.

10/06/2006 12:58 PM  
Anonymous BITTER TEARS said...


10/06/2006 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Jim Logan said...

Yikes, Sara, as a fan and regular reader, the last person I expected to whack the Voice with a lazy, superficial cheap shot was you.

I'm the managing editor of the Voice, and while we're just a small weekly in no danger of winning a Pulizter anytime soon, we definitely don't deserve a gratuitous smackdown. So, at the risk of protesting too much, allow me to respond.

Although it's true that Ampersand owns the Voice, we are completely independent. Nobody at the News-Press has ever told us what to put in or what to leave out. Since I've been here, nobody has made those decisions but me. We have, in the past, run editorials generated by the News-Press, but they in no way affect our coverage.

As for the charge of bias, that's pig poop. The council members' columns have been in the Voice since before I took over. What they say is their business. If anybody else wants to submit something, they're more than welcome. I've never rejected a reasonable commentary — by which I mean one that isn't libelous or clearly insane. I'd be delighted to run something by the various candidates, but they've never submitted a thing.

I'm glad (and a little embarrassed) you've noticed that we haven't done a piece on the election lately. One is in the works, but I'll concede our coverage of the race isn't exactly wall-to-wall. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, we have exactly three people on staff: myself, a reporter and person who does our calendar. We're busting our humps here. Two, and I realize this is heresy, but I find politics dull and mind-numbing, and I've done a crappy job of pushing election stories. I'll try to do better.

Oh, and about that General Plan story you mentioned. Yeah, Jack Hawxhurst was quoted, but so was Jean Blois, Kristen Amyx of the Goleta Valley Chamber, Jennifer McGovern of the Goleta Housing Leadership Council, 2nd District planning commissioner Cecelia Brown, Goleta planning czar Steve Chase and a couple of residents. Pretty balanced reporting, if you ask me. You seem to think we should have wrapped it around the election, but I think that's a separate issue. It's a judgment call, not a conspiracy.

Anyway, I hope you'll give the Voice another look. In the past few months we've recruited a number of good columnists who cover a wide range of topics and added features we hope folks find useful; we've retooled much of the paper and plan to roll out a major redesign before the holidays.

In short, we're hustling out here to do good community journalism, and I think we succeed from time to time — but then, that's my bias.

10/06/2006 3:55 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...


Thanks for the comment and perhaps I was too harsh considering your lack of staff - didn't have knowledge of that. Your reporter certainly gave both sides of the Genreal Plan -- but the issue has an effect on the election. I should have smithed those words a bit better.

I want to see the Voice do well and I have noticed some changes. The lack of coverage of the council race was something that was missing for me -- I look forward to seeing something in the near future.

Thanks for your input on this issue -- it makes a difference and I am happy to publish it.

10/06/2006 4:06 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

He indeed doth protest too much.

Any editorials there are just lite retreads of the News-Press editorial that appeared a few days prior.

And Goleta Valley "Voice" is hoarse with zero coverage of the News-Press mess and Teamsters unionization.

10/06/2006 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

I liked the Goleta Valley Voice when Jim Farr ran it. It was real small town paper with local interest stories, profiles of community members, and thoughtful balanced opinion pieces. I don't read it much now because, quite frankly, it is just not as interesting as it once was. Perhaps trying to run it with only three people is part of the problem.

One thing I have to admit is that the current incarnation of the Valley Voice is a lot more sympathetic to the Chamber of Commerce than the past version was. I personally do not believe that goals of the Chamber of Commerce are in sync with the values of the majority of the community, I do not know a single Goleta resident who wants Bishop Ranch developed to the extent that the Chamber has recommended. But fair is fair and the Chamber deserves to have its views fully vetted in public square and the local paper is a good place for that dialogue. I just wish the Valley Voice could regain some of its old qualities.

10/06/2006 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Insider said...

"Yikes" as an opening expression by a "Jim Logan"?


10/06/2006 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Voice has been thin and kinda dead.

But, they did one of the only fair pieces I ever saw on Isla Vista a few months ago... mentioned the adopt-a-block program, and a few other good works in IV that never get any coverage....

The South Coast media just plays the same old tape loop about IV being wastrels...

10/06/2006 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10/06/2006 12:58 PM:
Why was "Jim Farr duped into selling"? The impression I, a GVV reader, had was that he got tired and decided to move on of his own free and informed will. He didn't have to sell but chose to do so and probably got a fair amount of money.

The paper has certainly gotten thin, but if there are only two on staff plus the calendar writer no wonder it is so thin, especially if the editor cares not for the number one spectator sport, politics.

10/06/2006 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Jim's friend at the bank said...

CHUMASH with an H.

Jim Logan is a good newspaperman - leave him alone and let him do his job.

10/06/2006 11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love reading newspapers of all sorts and sizes, butI now skip the Valley Voice. It's not worth the bother.

10/07/2006 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's your paper now, not the folks of goleta..
It's your lie, tell it any way you want to ....

10/07/2006 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Another Ex said...

Since the ownership change, the Voice has ceased to be anything close to a local weekly newspaper. It relies way too much on wire and syndicated material that's available everywhere else.
Jim Logan is no doubt correct that minimal staffing is a factor, but plenty of other publications do much better without many people (i.e, the SB Sound, the Santa Ynez Valley News, even the NP's own Valley Life).
Logan's got the resources to do better if he and his tiny band really start to hustle, put all their energies into reporting the news that matters to Goleta, and spend less time trying to make pretty pages.
But given who his employers are, I can understand why it might be difficult for them to muster much enthusiasm. They're probably just glad they're not downtown.
As for Jim Farr, he sold because he had achieved his primary goal for the Voice -- supporting Goleta cityhood -- and the paper continued to be a money pit.
As for incumbents writing columns while seeking re-election, journalistic ethics, fairness and common sense dictate that the columns be put on hiatus until after the election. Otherwise, it's Logan's responsibility, not the other candidates', to ensure the balance.
Ownership really is the problem for Logan and the Voice. As an independent entity, the paper had a vested interest in trying to best the daily.
Now it's just a starving appendage on an ailing whale that seems hell-bent on beaching itself.
And you can bet Logan won't be getting any brownie points for showing up the survivors in DLG Plaza.

10/07/2006 1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only McFlaw would find a ME who finds "politics dull and mind numbing." What stimulates this small town editor? The big bottled water non-debate at UCSB? Or, maybe he’s thinking about a covering the hotly debated Goleta issue-- lack of local-grown basil? Give me a break...must we all dumb down to the Nipcaw basement level?

10/08/2006 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Jim Logan said...

Actually, I meant to say "elections" sted "politics." My bad; sloppy writing. The former have devolved, at least in this country, into juvenile (urination) contests between people who've eaten too much asparagus. The latter has become the real blood sport of our times. Who could be bored by that?

But while politics can be endlessly fascinating, there is more to cover — even in Goleta. Poor families being thrown out of their homes by people who won't identify themselves, for example. Or turning Naples into a gated hell of stucco monstrosties. Or the slow death of Old Town.

The best stories — hell, since the time of Gilgamesh — have been about people who work, struggle, thrive and die in an unforgiving world, and those are the ones that turn my crank. They're not the easiest stories to find and tell, but I think they deserve a place alongside politics, sports, elections and the police blotter.

I wish I could say we've done a great job on all of these, but I can't. The Voice, like most of us, is a story in progress, and we're busy writing our butts off.

10/09/2006 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old Town Goleta seems very much alive to me... Don Hertzfeldt is there (I hope)... but the place is always hopping when I'm over there. I prefer it to most of the chic-i-fication of State Street in Santa Barbara. Hollister in Old Town Goleta and Milpas in Santa Barbara are two of the last real boulevards in the area.

I'd suggest, Jim, working a lot harder to recruit people to right local op-ed pieces. Actually the profiles of locals were one of the best features of the old VV.

10/10/2006 5:38 PM  
Blogger Major Jim said...

If the Voice really wants to show that they're a small town independent newspaper instead of joined at the hip with the News Press then stop running the Armstrong editorials. Armstrong isn't interested in what Goletans want anymore than Santa Barbarans--he's McCaw's paid hack.

If the Voice doesn't have the staff to produce its own op-eds then don't print NP retreads just to fill space. I liked the Voice the way it was.

I also kinda miss one aspect of the Beacon--it was about building up and serving the community rather than searching out (or manufacturing) every controversy and rift. I know its not as exciting the barroom brawls of local politics, but we could use some news about things that bring our community together.

10/17/2006 10:34 PM  
Anonymous gordonliu said...

the police blotter is even biased and filled with misinformation. i have seen several situations where the author describes situations where police have arrested people for crimes that dont even exist, and written them up on charges that dont actually relate to any real laws!

8/19/2007 2:13 PM  

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