Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, November 27, 2006

SBNP Drops Community TV Listings

A faithful reader of ours pointed out to me that the News-Press has dropped community television (Channels 17 and 21) from their TV Listings Magazine.

The News-Press apparently says they do not have room to make the listings they dropped coverage of the channels, even though they fit fine on the page a week ago.

Could it be that News-Press management is angry at SB Channels TV for showing locally produced shows that document the News-Press Mess? Could it be that they didn't want to give their readers access to coverage of the unionization rally and the non-violent, quiet demonstration in front of the Biltmore?

I ask who is showing bias in the newsroom now? Who is interfering with content which truly belongs to the community? You can't just delete news or content that you don't like and then blame former employees for bias....eventually, your hypocrisy will catch up to you. Where is the tipping point? I hope it's right around the corner....

Of course, you can get listings for for Channel 17 and Channel 21 on the web. Another good source for all listings is Yahoo! TV.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dropping community television from the TV Listings for lack of space is ridiculous. How much more "local news" can local television stations be? Also, space seems to be what this daily news paper currently has in abundance, judging from how thin the paper has become. I have no regrets in cancelling my subscription.

11/27/2006 9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish they'd drop 18 - 20 too.

11/27/2006 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The TV listings were the only reason to buy the paper on Sunday...

11/27/2006 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Proof once more that the community can do well without the need for the News Press.
All the news is out there on the web in other local papers and/or media.
They did not have room in the News Press..why are they making the paper smaller/thinner than it already is or are they expanding Dr. Laura's column?

11/27/2006 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one more example of that hypocrisy, Sarah. Another: A few weeks ago the SBNP dropped the weekly Sunday column (in the 'Voices' section) of its own CFO, Randy Alcorn, who had been a little too free in his speech.

11/27/2006 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Faithful Reader said...

The Newspress staff and friends Vigil show by Larry Nimmer will be shown two more times on Channel 17. This is the tepid demonstration on the public walkway in front of Biltmore Hotel, with way too much camera time for Robert Bernstein, despite his good intention.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006: 10:00 pm
Thursday, November 30, 2006: 8:30 pm

11/27/2006 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many ways can Wendy say she hates this community (must change/censor)? Schlessinger speaks for Wendy, in her convoluted way, responding to 10-27-06 sbnp news about violent threats. Instead of directly addressing the violence she publishes a letter from Jeff Paley (11-2-06 sbnp column). Planting seeds of thought, there are those times private business "should" censor, hmmmm? Wouldn't that have prevented the violent threats? They do not directly comment on the violent threats. Aren't they either for or against that technique? They go into their opinions and "what ifs", a kind of change/censor for my POV. Their thinking puts the likes of the Schlessingers/Paleys at one with those who use violent threats. Wouldn't a more responsible columnist (paper), printing a response to that news item start with addressing the violence and threats? She skips both sides of an issue having expression, it's more like blame the business if it's not their expression. Schlessinger says: "My reply, especially to the T-shirt proclamation of America as torturer, is that the anti-democratic forces, combined with the naive and ignorant, is the greatest danger to world peace ever!" Well, who wants to be "naive and ignorant"? She continues by suggesting you read Haim Harari. It fits well into Wendy's world and all this in a local column by a self proclaimed moralist, who also goes by "Mother Laura!". For what are they preparing? Wendy's sbnp will change/censor ("transition") everyway they can and they are in it for the long haul.

11/27/2006 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a shame about Alcorn's column. Yes, he's a fiscally conservative libertarian, but he had a strong independent streak (anti-war, knows Bush is a fraud) that made the column readable.

But we all know by now that Wendy can't stand her underlings to be too uppity. In WendyWorld strength and independence are mortal threats that must be put down.

11/27/2006 1:41 PM  
Anonymous Hap Freund said...

The Actual/Factual Story
On Our Exile from the TV Magazine
by Hap Freund
Executive Director, The Santa Barbara Channels

Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago I saw a new, “improved” TV grid in the SBNP TV Week Magazine, one logically organized by content areas, and then discovered that we had been omitted from the section entitled “local.”

After a few phone calls, I tracked down someone at the News Press who acknowledged responsibility for the decision- Steve Natukin. Steve explained that he doesn’t live here, was unfamiliar with local channels, so he “asked around” about what to include and what to exclude because he didn’t’ have enough space for all the channels and that “others” suggested we be left off. I asked him who the “others” were but he remained unspecific.

When we talked and in several follow-up e-mails, I explained that given the amount and range of local content we provide, our increased visibility in the community, our good relations with so many locally based organizations (ranging from the League of Women Voters to the Santa Barbara Police Department to the Botanic Garden, etc.), and the national and regional awards we have won over the past two years, it’s hard for me to imagine who would think we should be excluded.  I pointed out that we run almost entirely local content 24/7, and that we probably produce more local content than the others listed in the local section (although I was not suggesting that they drop the City or County Government Access Channels, 18 or 20.)

I suggested several solutions--making each line smaller, making the delineation lines thinner, leaving someone else off rather than us.

The News Press eventually offered to include one of our two channels, but asked me to determine which one would be included and which one excluded. I thanked them for trying to find a  solution, but told them that the compromise they offered, having us select one of our two channels to be listed and one to be excluded, was unacceptable.  

I find it "ironic" that duirng the last few months, the News Press management has maintained that one of its top priorities is to make the paper more local or community-based.  If that is true, then including  the TV schedules for both of our  channels would be consistent with this policy, while excluding them, which they were doing, appeared to be contradictory.

Steve Nakutin replied:

"As it stands right now, I can eliminate a channel to make room for one of yours. I am offering you the opportunity to decide which channel is included. If you say that you can’t decide which one to include, I will pick one to add. I would really rather you decide. This does not mean that in the future, we won’t be able to get both of them on."
I reiterated my request, and the position of our Executive Committee, that both channels deserved to be represented and encouraged them to attempt to find a solution that included both.

I have no proof that this was a decision motivated by SBNP management or their editorial staff or that it was in retaliation for our being a true media green space, a public forum, a free speech venue where locally produced programs and diverse voices can be seen and heard. I have my suspicions, but no smoking gun.

I don't know if we will have one channel, both channels or no channels listed in future Sunday TV Week Magazines.
For the time being, we are still listed in the daily newspaper schedule.

Our schedule is usually correct on the TV Guide Channel, on our own website ( and on TIVO. (Often when it is not accurate, it is because of last minute program changes to air something new or more timely. The schedule taht the News Press receives is sent to a company in upstate NY a week in advance, and then distributed back to the News Press, to TIVO, and elsewhere).

If you wish to register your displeasure with the News Press decision, please feel free to write a letter to the editor, to others there, or to call.

And avid SB Channels supporters are encouraged to eat at Aldo's any Tuesday in December; we receive 10% of the proceeds!

What happens next? Who knows. As they used to say on TV: "Stay Tuned!"
Thanks for your support of true media democracy- community-based media as seen on Channels 17 and 21!

Hap Freund

11/27/2006 3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara, must we go over this again?

You crow in big and bold letters your blog is all about....

Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

More variety please, slamming the Newspress, slamming the Newspress, slamming the Newspress is boring, boring, boring.

You did well for a couple posts, please don't slip into bad habits again.

11/27/2006 4:53 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Slip into bad habits? Must "we" go over this again? I never promised to check with you on what posts I place on BlogaBarbara. These are serious issues facing our community and the News-Press is in the middle of them...AND there are plenty of readers who have a high interest in them. Read Hap Fruend's comment and other's above to see why this post is important.

You are welcome to offer other thread subjects by either putting them in the comments section or emailing me at I won't even use your real name unless you say it's okay...BTW a quick look at the last couple weeks, especially near election day, shows variety. Please though -- put yourself in the hot seat and write something for me to post that's not about the News-Press -- if it's thoughtful and reasoned, even if I don't agree -- I'll probably put it up for discussion. I'd love to have some help in that department -- go for it!

11/27/2006 6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 4:53, please feel free to talk about anything else you wish. For me, and for many Santa Barbarans, this issue with the News-Press goes far beyond what is happening in Santa Barbara. Maybe you haven't been a Santa Barbaran too long, but I have lived here over 30 years, and I have never seen any issue divide this community like the News-Press incident.

Sure, this is about bias, but it is the bias and presumption of Wendy, Nipper, Travis, Agnes and their bunch to push their elitist agenda on Santa Barbara's mostly middle class.

Today I saw the paper and the lead story was on the benefits of going to sleep at sunset. I read it twice and don't get the point of the story.
Some of us have to work two jobs to afford to live in this town and don't have the luxury of sunset slumbertime. Where is the real news?
It sure ain't on the agenda behind the green fence on Anacapa Street.

11/27/2006 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Katlou said...

Keep up your dogged coverage of the News Press. Anyone who still subscribes to that tyrannical paper is foolish. The paper they once knew and loved is long gone. Cancel your subscription and find your news elsewhere!!!

11/27/2006 7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see those two channels dropped from the listings. They tend to be biased. What did they think would happen when they got on the anti-NP bandwagon? DOH

11/27/2006 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara you host a great blog .
The fact that there is so much News Press on here is because it is interesting to the community and to others out side of it.
it gives the people a place to write and say things that that News Press would never publish.. I have yet to hear anything printed in the News Press on the subject of the turmoil and the distress that the changes to the News Press has caused in the city, there may have been something printed but as i no longer receive the News Press i would not know first hand.
Thanks once more for providing the community with such a wonderful forum.

11/27/2006 7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jerry Roberts is in the hospital in SF after emergency surgery to remove his gall bladder and spleen. Please send all your best thoughts but please no phone calls, flowers, etc.

11/27/2006 8:01 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

8:01 pm -- thanks for letting us know, Jerry will be in our thoughts and prayers.

11/27/2006 8:13 PM  
Anonymous lol said...

The best to Jerry Roberts and a speedy get well.

11/27/2006 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Bias for the Beholder said...

So what is the "bias" for the local community access cable TV, channels 17 and 20?

Is it like the bias of Jerry Roberts and Melinda Burns?

Back up you claim, or stop making them, Nelville.

11/27/2006 10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every week it's something. This week, the-middle-finger-to-the-city-fence and deleting the public access channels from the TV listings.

Captain McCaw keeps sailing the good ship News-Press in circles, with no course set. Instead, she's preoccupied with throwing crew overboard, one by one.

The Captain is too out of touch to know that shoals are tearing holes in her hull and it's only a matter of time before she sinks beneath the waves.

11/28/2006 8:41 AM  
Anonymous Cacique said...

In this photo at Edhat today, depicting the fence installer sign or advertisement, does the second line of text really mean that the word "fencing" is a verb instead of a noun?

(editor, feel free to make the link active)

11/28/2006 8:59 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Unfortunately, I can't edit comments.

Here's the link at EdHat

11/28/2006 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I drove by this morning. The fence is an improvement. I hope it stays up.

11/28/2006 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ironic, to hide the "McCaw, Obey the law" signs, McCaw broke the law with the fence.
Neville? You've been quiet. What's the spin? Isn't this further evidence that the city is out to "get" the News-Press? Can we expect Travis to weigh in along those lines?

11/28/2006 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's nice about all this will become evident when News-Press: The Movie is being created. Whereas most true-crime movies state they are "based on true events," this movie will need no disclaimer. The story of the destruction of the News-Press, and the mental meltdown of its owner, will all be true, and yet unbelievable.

I call once again for Tom Bolton and the Santa Maria Times to open a bureau in Santa Barbara. Call the new edition the Santa Barbara Times, if need be. This area is crying out for a legit daily newspaper.

The implosion and eventual dissolution of the News-Press will go on for several years, unless there is a tregedy in the tower that forces a sale. Even then, it will take years to build the paper back up.

Tom Bolton, are you listening? This is a golden opportunity that should be acted on now.

11/28/2006 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very sad to reflect on the history of Wendy in Santa Barbara.
A person that gave much to the community over the years that benefited the people.
Great Expectations had Miss Havisham, A tragic character that once had great promise but fell into decline.
Ms. McCaw could continue do so much good for the world if she wanted. When her time is up to leave the earth bound world she could leave this world a better place for all to benefit from her kindness and the enriched lives of the community she leaves behind.. history will record her life and achievements.
Life is short and the time one is here should not be wasted.

11/28/2006 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I vote yes for a Santa Barbara version of the Santa Maria Times - The Indy & the Sound are doing a good job with what they have and can do - Readers please note the SMTimes is FREE on the internet...

11/28/2006 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Friend of Truth said...

Okay, Agnes, why is the fence an "improvement"????

Does it improve the architectural and aesthetic design standards?

Does it mesh beautifully with the existing low stone wall or hedgerow?

Does it keep something out, or something else in?

These little anonymous spin bombs do not help your client without a modicum of explanation, desperate as it would be.

11/28/2006 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, a movie -- "Citizen McCaw."
But Wendy can't hold a candle to Hearst; as a small-town petty newspaper tyrant, she's just a throwback to a breed that existed in abundance across the country before the age of corporate ownership (hardly a savory trend, and there were good individual owners, of the Katie Graham sort, and plenty of bad who did a lot of the things Wendy does, and probably still do, in small towns that don't have the Q-rating of Santa Barbara. Local ownership is a crap shoot -- that's not a new lesson, folks.)

But the right scriptwriter could wring something out of it that would play in Peoria, and would remind people that newspaper ethics are worth fighting for. There's a great tradition of newspaper movies, as an upcoming series will demonstrate. Starting Dec. 9 with a reception to "meet the journalists."

11/28/2006 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

newspaper ethics = oxymoron

11/28/2006 3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to hear the fence will come down! To bad it went up in the first place, the money spent could have used to enrich a life....what a waste.
I wish she would put herself in the position of doing good things to help the world in which she lives and is a part of.
To think of the people she has hurt and harmed in such a short time... all for what and to what end.
She could have once been one of the most admired and loved women in the Santa Barbara area and world...but she choose another path and look where it took her.
People now refer to trash cans as Wendys the media tells the sad story for the rest of the world to read. One can not turn back time but one can change for the better if they's their choice and only theirs.
I post here because the News Press would never print this... at least not at this time.

11/28/2006 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Not Neville said...

Who cares if the didnt publish the SB Channels in the News Press, I dont mainly because I dont watch those channels or read the news press. What I have seen of the SB Channels is poorly produced, and edited programming and the news press is like 3 thin pages of crap anymore if this keeps up the Sound will be a bigger paper at least in actual size.

However I wish I could get a cable rebate instead of being forced to subsidize that Public Access crap..seriously cant they shut those stations down and its 200 or so viewers can check it out on Utube?

Mr Freund was kind enough to post his comments and back and forth with the rep from the News Press which didnt seem that sinister although Im sure the conspiracy theorists would disagree. They actually seemed rather reasonable...but Hap how many viewers do you actually have? and arent you supported by a portion of cable revenues? At least I can say no to wendys paper which is less than I can say about 17 and 18.

11/29/2006 12:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meanwhile Levy has declared chapter 11....

11/29/2006 12:24 AM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

"Not Neville" clearly has no clue, and does not even know the differences among channels 17, 18, 20, and 21. And that is notwithstanding total ignorance on how community access TV is funded and produced and by whom.

And it is YouTube, not "UTube"

11/29/2006 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those channels still lack quality and/or real content. No loss if they could somehow go away.

11/29/2006 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, FDS, how does one find out how (and how much) community access, channels 17/21 are funded? I think it is part of the long term contract Cox has with the City to be the sole provider.

I agree with the previous poster that the content on both sucks --- and I now rarely rarely look at it. Surprising in this media-interested city with UCSB, SBCC and a number of film festivals that there is so little interest in producing anything of quality on public access. I wonder why?

Still, though, it should exist, just in case....

What about Ch 18/20 funding? They're essential and excellent in understanding how the city, 18, works - and sometimes excellent, ch 20.

As for the N-P, one of the only reasons I've picked up a copy at the news stand of the paper was to get a copy, full version of the tv. I'll not even bother on that anymore if the local access stuff is not there. It certainly wasn't for the editorial screeches --- and I've missed Alcorn's acerbicism.

11/29/2006 9:52 AM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

More anonymous spin bombs, eh?

Seems like more than 7 hours of original video production on the various events documenting the demise of the News-Press is a bit of quality and highly real content, unless one does not want the public to know more than the News-Press own spin and fantasies about it.

11/29/2006 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like more than 7 hours of original video production on the various events documenting the demise of the News-Press is a bit of quality and highly real content hmmmm. And this isn't bias?

And they wonder why they were dropped?

11/29/2006 2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fds - isn't the News-Press a private business? Why waste public programming time on it?

11/29/2006 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are the rumors true that the News Press is going to become a spanish language paper to better serve the working community?

11/29/2006 7:21 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Covering a series of events as news somehow makes the video producers biased?

Any management or ownership of News-Press always were free to present their views for any of the videos done and any in the future.

So come on down, Nelville, and talk to the camera. No editing to distort anything. SBChannels TV will give you a full hour to say what you want and spin this mess any way you can imagine. So is that "biased" too?

11/29/2006 7:50 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Gee and Hmmmm... are the Newspress defenders complaining about the shows on SB Channels TV (17 & 21) because that nonprofit organization just started showing a new grant-funded series called
"SB Connection" about arts and culture, with celebrity host STARSHINE ROSHELL ?!

11/29/2006 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So goes Millstein, so goes Nelville ...

11/29/2006 9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


News Press Defenders? The News Press sucks but so do 17 and 21 and nonprofit as they may be, come on its still funded mainly by cox's deal with the city which the cable customers ultimately pay for. I think the only argument you have heard against them is the low quality of their product, same as the news press's current product.

Youre starting to sound a lot like Travis...

11/29/2006 11:41 PM  
Anonymous SB Channels Fan! said...

Channels 17 may not be perfect, but it offers UNCENSORED voices of the community, not like the NP which limits or edits letters to the editor to maintain a single point of view, or which tells reporters what to write or how to write it.
These are CITIZEN-PRODUCED videos, some good, some bad, but all representing examples of FREE SPEECH and diverse interests and opinions. Even some of Wendy's favorite issues are represented- a libertarian program and one on animal rights!

The other channel, 21, has UCSB specials, interviews with artists, local cultural events at the Marjorie Luke Theatre, and some newly funded BALANCED local issues programs.

Sure the programs may be uneven, but it's a lot of local content and people do watch. Ask anyone who's been on one of these programs. Or as the police who ran a series for two years and said that they caught 12 criminals because they saw their mug shots on the most wanted part of the program.

SB Channels Fan!

11/30/2006 4:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not a debate on whether 17 and 21 are worthwhile or even unbiased. It's whether they should be listed with all others on a grid that purports to be simply a complete guide to what's there. I think Fox News is biased. But I'd find it quite odd if it weren't listed.

11/30/2006 6:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with prior post.
This seems like a punitive move by the "powers-that-be" at the SBNP as retribution for Channel 17 airing much of the community-produced programming that explores the News Press controversy. why would these channels be left out when Channels 18 and 20 are included, and when that god-awful Cox 8 channel is there, with almost no real content.

11/30/2006 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Post your CITIZEN-PRODUCED videos on Google and free up these channels for other content. Who cares if they're listed or not. Everyone knows where the blah blah blah channels are.

11/30/2006 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Posting videos on Google is fine, but someone has to go look for them to see them. having them air on local television makes them available to everyone with cable tv in the region, channel surfers.

12/01/2006 5:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:34: Not everyone has internet access; even fewer have high speed internet access necessary for video viewing. Most everyone has tv, although not cable....

Keep the public access channels and have their programs widely listed. The schedule page ( still features, one of two, "A cultural Feast on Thanksgiving Day" on 21 - and nothing is featured for 17, which is not too surprising!)

Improve the quality but that's way too wishful..... However, the new SB Matters series on 21 looks to be very good.

12/01/2006 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The News-Press should become a kiss and tell in order to survive... Give us the Salacious parking lot details, or face the your demise:

Chronicle of the Newspaper Death ForetoldThe newspaper industry knew it was doomed 30 years ago.
By Jack Shafer
Posted Thursday, Nov. 30, 2006, at 6:44 PM ET

Illustration by Mark Alan StamatyA good three decades before the newspaper industry began blaming its declining fortunes on the Web, the iPod, and game machines, it knew it was in huge trouble. In the mid-1970s, two of its trade associations (which have since merged)—the American Newspaper Publishers Association and the Newspaper Advertising Bureau—sought to diagnose the causes of tumbling newspaper readership since the mid-1960s and recommend remedies.

The associations formed the Newspaper Readership Project, which sociologist/marketing specialist Leo Bogart helped direct. Bogart's 1991 book, Preserving the Press: How Daily Newspapers Mobilized to Keep Their Readers, portrays an industry that knew exactly what ailed it but refused to adapt to a shifting marketplace. Change a few dates and a few names in a couple chapters from Preserving the Press, and you could republish the whole thing as "breaking news."

Bogart and the project rat out the usual guilty parties for falling circulation—radio and television. But they also cite city-to-suburb migration (and the distribution difficulties caused by metro sprawl), growing transience that prevents people from establishing roots that in turn nurture the newspaper habit, and changes in work and commuting patterns, as well as the flaccid editorial product in many markets.

The ideas ultimately advanced by the Newspaper Readership Project were so universally accepted that Los Angeles Times media reporter David Shaw was already filing a preview of its findings and recommendations in a Page One Nov. 26, 1976, feature. In the lede to "Newspapers Challenged as Never Before," Shaw asks:

Are you now holding an endangered species in your hands?

At the time of Shaw's extinction warning, the number of U.S. households and the combined circulation of all daily newspapers was almost at par—about 70 million households versus 60 million in circulation. Today, the number of U.S. households exceeds 100 million, but daily circulation is flat or down a couple million from the 1970s.

Shaw quotes Times Publisher Otis Chandler saying that he doubts the Times—or any other metro daily—is "really essential" to even 50 percent of its readers, something even the most depressed publisher working today would never say. And remember, the Los Angeles Times of that era was a circulation lion.

The solutions proposed by Preserving the Press and Shaw's article read like the standard prescriptions written today: Make an attempt to "reconnect" with readers, who feel alienated from newspapers. Make coverage more local. Hook kids when they're young. Let readers "sound off" about issues on special pages of the paper. Connect with and hire minorities. Expand the weather report. Introduce or expand op-ed pages. Spice up the design and print more color. Run more lifestyle, consumer, and personal-finance articles. Chase potential readers—and advertisers—into the deep suburbs.

Is there a metropolitan newspaper that hasn't taken all of this medicine? Is there one that isn't taking maintenance doses of these meds today? And yet newspaper circulation continues to dribble down.

Shaw reports that newspaper people thought the increases in leisure time would benefit their industry. To a degree, that played out, especially when readers devoted themselves to fat Sunday papers. But as societal wealth increased, Shaw writes, many readers found they could afford other leisure pursuits they found more compelling than reading the news and completing the crossword puzzle: travel, watching movies on VCRs, dining out, making long-distance phone calls, groovin' to a Walkman, and recreational shopping.

Fresh thinking about what ails newspapers arrived in yesterday's (Nov. 29) Wall Street Journal, where staffer William M. Bulkeley contributed a column titled "The Internet Allows Consumers to Trim Wasteful Purchases." Bulkeley explains how the photographic film industry, encyclopedia publishers, the music industry, and the advertising industry feasted on buyers by forcing them to purchase things they didn't want—prints of all 24 shots from their camera or a whole album to secure one favorite song, for example. "The business models required customers to pay for detritus to get the good stuff," Bulkeley writes. But digital cameras, the Web, iTunes, and search-related advertising have stripped those industries of their power to charge for detritus.

Bulkeley could have easily applied the wisdom of his lesson more broadly to newspapers. It's not that the complete gestalt of local, state, national, and international news plus sports, comics, classified, opinion, and hints on fashion, home, entertainment, and food isn't still useful. It is. But given a choice, and the economic means to make a choice, many buyers prefer to make an unbundled purchase. Unbundling the news they want from the news they don't want is what the Web allows readers to do now.

For decades, newspapers—and other media—prospered by exploiting what former hedge-fund manager Andy Kessler calls EPILIT, which is short for Entertainment (or Editorial) and Perishable Information Leading Indirectly to a Transaction. The model works to the media moguls' advantage, he writes, as long as the number of distribution "pipes" (newspapers, TV networks, radio stations, cable channels, phone lines, etc.) can be controlled. When anybody can join the EPILIT party—exactly what the Web encourages—the monopoly profits enjoyed by media moguls suffer. And make no mistake about it, American newspaper publishers sucked every available dollar out of their advertisers and readers when they occupied the commanding heights.

Kessler's cheeky essay from October, "Media 2.Uh-Oh," predicts that because nobody will be able to control the pipes in the future the way they once did, all the media markets will be in play and remain in play for some time. The turmoil experienced most acutely by the newspaper and music industries has now spread to the television industry, which is cutting costs and restructuring. (See this story about the collapse of the 11 p.m. news ratings in Washington, D.C.)

If you agree with me that the newspaper business has been on a slow, unstoppable train ride to hell for many decades and that the Web has only accelerated its descent, then you'll enjoy another article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal.

"Buy This Newspaper!" by editorial-page staffer Holman W. Jenkins Jr. (sorry, only the first paragraph is on the Web) regards Jack Welch's offer to buy the Boston Globe, the coming breakup of the Tribune Co., and Wall Street's snipping at the New York Times Co. as "straws in the breeze" portending a time when newspaper companies stop trimming page size and get rid of paper pages altogether for the Web.

What's preventing anybody from going first, of course, is the $45 billion ad market that generates profit margins of up to 20 percent, Jenkins writes. Yes, newspaper Web advertising is growing, but not fast enough to cover the declines in print advertising. A paper gets about one-tenth or one-twentieth the advertising revenue for a Web reader as it does a print reader, he notes.

To thrive, news companies need to convince advertisers to pay much higher rates for readers who "value their time at tens or hundreds of dollars an hour lingering on newspaper Web sites for perhaps half an hour everyday, and they're not just channel flicking. They're engaged," Jenkins writes. As I've written before, people may be giving up the newspaper habit, but their appetite for news is growing. The 1.1 million circulation for the print New York Times served 25 million unique readers in April via its Web site, according to the company's own logs.

I'm not the type to predict the future, if only because I'm so bad at it. But print editions of newspapers, which saw the endgame coming 30 years ago and did everything they could to forestall it, need to figure out what they're best at and double down in those realms. To give one example, if newspapers think they're in the editorial business, the slimming of the business pages at most dailies indicates that the standard business section is doomed and the copy should be folded into the rest of the paper to make room for a section the masses really want to read. Sports sections that refuse to retool themselves as the smart supplement to ESPN can kiss their pages goodbye.

If newspapers think they're primarily in the advertising business, they could take Mark Cuban's sharp advice from this week and redeploy their ad staffs to broker Web advertising wherever they can find a place for it, not just on their own Web sites. What they'll probably do instead is form a new intra-industry Newspaper Readership Project.


To paraphrase Samuel Beckett, the day you die will be like any other—only shorter.

12/01/2006 1:39 PM  
Anonymous piranha love said...

"Employees are to serve the whims of their employers, for that, they should expect no more than a paycheck." and only the elite can watch television in Santa Barbara. Has doctored Laura recommended reading Newt's recent free speech"ideas"?

12/01/2006 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that Travis (w/o success) has tried to interfere with the SB Channels programming is exactly why we need public TV! I like some of the shows because they are not polished, over-produced and they are a nice change from the moronic commercial fare aimed at couch zombies..besides, there is nothing stopping Wendy and co from producing their own public show (except fear of not being able to control everything)

12/02/2006 6:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:21 ...besides, there is nothing stopping Wendy and co from producing their own public show (except fear of not being able to control everything)

She is already doing so. It's a reality show called Trashing, as in How to trash a newspaper and stir up a whole city like a windstorm in a dump.

The billionaire Stanford graduate must have known there would be an outcry but what does it matter to her since what's really important is the value of the real estate on which the newspaper sits, so to speak.

Maybe it's probably all part of a game plan to get rid of the paper entirely and convert the real estate into its highest and best use, especially as the paper declines in value, mixed use condos.

Although the City would not countenance adaptive re-use for the St. Francis, this present Council probably would look much more favorably, cya-ing, so to speak, on plans to convert the NP building into rentals.

12/04/2006 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To: Our Friends
From: The Organized Newsroom Staff

Re: Invite to Santa Barbara News-Press Protest

Join the organized News-Press newsroom employees in a MARCH AROUND THE NEWS-PRESS BLOCK

When: Noon to 12:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6

Where: Meet in De la Guerra Plaza in front of the Santa Barbara News-Press. We will walk out of the plaza to State Street and around the block. Back in the plaza, several speakers will provide updates on our demands.

12/05/2006 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another parade of losers.

12/06/2006 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As sad as this News Press Mess is, I'm beginning to find this obsession with it a bit tiring. There is lots of actual news happening in this town, folks. Look at the absolute waste of the perfectly good St. Francis building that could have served this community for many years (elder care, transitional care, medical clinic, etc.), and the creation of a medical monopoly in the process. Then there's the de-evolution of a commercial space on State Street from the long-ago days of the late, great, locally owned Earthling, to the now-bankrupt Copeland's mini-chain, culminating for now in the crass mega-chain of Old Navy. Something is wrong in America's Riviera, very wrong. And that has nothing to do with the mess created by McCaw & Co., it's just happening with no one watching at all.

12/06/2006 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Missouri said...

GREAT EVENT! It sounded so good. The crowd is really growing. More folks are waking up. I'm glad aon 10:01a has free speech. More people will be getting invovled.

12/06/2006 3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ 2:02 P M A daily newspaper could help?

12/06/2006 11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have one - the daily sound

12/07/2006 10:50 AM  

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