Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tighter and Brighter Reporting

In my effort to give all sides of the story -- and you are welcome to give a contrary opinion -- I've got to make a post out of Nelville's "inside and outside forces" comment tonight. I can't, however, without brief comment....There are subversives -- worse than Saul Alinsky or even Abbie Hoffman -- that the News-Press must purge. They are programming their improvements and engaging their layouts. Today they removed bias from the news room by publishing their press release verbatim on page 3 -- without comment from The Organized or anyone else who might have a different view. It's McCarthyism all over again but in the news room (I know Craig, Ed and I are on their black list). "Tighter and brighter" reporting? Is the News-Press emulating USA Today? And what's up with the Patriot-News having such a great affect on how our news is reported and whether or not reporters unionize? This is what's wrong with America....

From Nelville Flynn:

The News-Press is continuing its program of top-to-bottom improvements, including more engaging page layouts, tighter and brighter investigative reporting, and most importantly, the removal of bias from news reporting.

Unfortunately, forces both inside and outside the newspaper are trying to thwart these goals for their own reasons. Inside the newspaper, subversives have been identified and dealt with appropriately -- in some cases removed from employment while other cases are pending. For some reason, a few critics and bloggers seem to expect the News-Press to tolerate subversives while any other company is free (indeed expected) to terminate employees who work from within to sabotage the company.

Make no mistake: This has nothing to do with "bias" at the News-Press or working conditions. The unionization campaign began shortly after employees of another midsized newspaper, the Patriot-News in Pennsylvania, voted to decertify their union. The Teamsters then sensed an opportunity to avenge this loss by teaming with developers and politicians with their own narrow agendas against the News-Press. They succeeded in creating an atmosphere of mistrust and continue to push their agendas, sometimes with the complicity of News-Press employees.

Although steps have been taken to deal with this problem, it remains to a small extent. This is obviously unacceptable to News-Press management and will continue to be addressed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work in the newsroom and I voted for the Teamsters. I don't know what the f---
Nelville Flynn is talking about!

12/12/2006 10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neville, "top-to-bottom improvements" at the paper??


12/12/2006 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So was Randy Alcorn considered a "subversive"?

12/12/2006 10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


And I thought the people I work with — most of whom have college degrees and prior experience at other newspapers — were seasoned journalists.

I just didn't know.

Thanks, Nelville.

12/12/2006 11:17 PM  
Anonymous anarchopenletter said...



Please bring the Ferrari around again. It was sweet (yawn).


Dear Wendy,

The government you hate is but a crutch. You thrive and fall at the mercy of its courts. Your power derives from the money it prints.


12/12/2006 11:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally bizarre. I'm afraid Nelville has been spending too much time in his dark, cold warren this winter, or hasn't modulated his meds. Because of some union loss in PA, the Teamsters scoured the country looking for "revenge" and somehow arranged for the discontent to arise in Santa Barbara, but only after combining with "politicians and developers"? That analysis could only be the product of hallucinogens. Truth is that another union, the Newspaper Guild, got decertified at the Patriot News in June, but in any event, this is another example of managerial "blame (and suppress) the victim" infallibility syndrome. But this is also evidence that the syndrome has sunk in pretty deep.

12/13/2006 7:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessing then that "top to bottom improvements" include not reporting major news items. On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara City Council voted 5-2 in favor of the controversial Veronica Meadows project (Schneider and Williams opposed it). This project has been in the works for almost 10 years - where's the reporting?

12/13/2006 7:41 AM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Is their example of "tighter and brighter" reporting a choice to run stories about the Medicare Bus and the Weinermobile instead of the Santa Barbara City Council meeting outcomes from yesterday afternoon?

The Council made some big decisions yesterday, and the meeting ended at 5:30 PM, plenty of buffer to press time.

Daily Sound got the story and ran one of their typical 80-point font headlines.

12/13/2006 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(I know Craig, Ed and I are on their black list).

Sara - Who is Ed, and where can his blog be found?

12/13/2006 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Veronica Meadows passed? Great news!!!

12/13/2006 11:13 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Ed is EdHat -- daily news and musings, it's a fun daily email, quasi-blog....

12/13/2006 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And as if Wendy hasn't done enough damage to Santa Barbara already, now she's given Andy Caldwell His own radio show every Thursday at 2pm on AM 1290. IT NEVER ENDS!!!

12/13/2006 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Neville Chamberlain said...

I am sure that all of the good vibrations emanating from Ms. Wendy McCaw's recent memo and Nelville's missive will be extremely helpful in recruiting a pool of talented reporters and editors to make the News-Press tighter and brighter. Most people I know really enjoy working for an employer who flogs them like greyhounds at a dog track, and treats them to the bolt gun when they are unruly or don't run fast enough. There are doubtlessly thousands of eager people who would happily work for a boss who throws around the word "disloyalty" with the zeal and paranoia of Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Red Scare. I, myself, look forward to demonstrating my loyalty to the News-Press ownership and management by being tattooed on my neck with my employee number and barcode, since all of the security and HR people kind of scare me. I just hope they don't pull a Pol Pot and start executing employees who wear glasses.

12/13/2006 6:13 PM  
Anonymous donaldo de santa barbara said...

Andy Caldwell on his own radio show...isn't it enough that we have to hear Harriet Miller!

All we need is more Pro - Business propoganda preaching jobs jobs jobs, business busness business, housing housing housing and in the end grow grow grow and over and over again until we become as overdone as L.A. or O.C.

Then we get to hear Harriet Miller preaching "community matters" give money, donate time to yet another one or two, of what is already, several hundred low wage paying and property tax evading non profits operating in Santa Barbara, to pick up the peices of unregulated and irresponsible polluting business organizations.

Allah, please spare us all and save us from the Reagannazis who always degrade someone else's environment while moving far far away to a more secluded and exclusive environment.

Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar

12/13/2006 9:28 PM  
Anonymous tight said...

If you give them time, it will be tighter and brighter! Who won't love the fresh new thinkers? The engaging page layouts and investigative reporting! It's about time to remove bias from news reporting. With the right advice our Andy Caldwell will be groomed for radio, granted his voice is a problem, that will be tighter. All problems will be solved with united management running a tight ship!

12/13/2006 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

What's important to remember is this: There are employees drawing paychecks from the Santa Barbara News-Press while conspiring with outside forces to destroy it.

Tell me again, why should Wendy McCaw tolerate this?

At any other workplace, these subversives would be released from employment with nary a protest. But if they work(ed) for the News-Press, they are treated as heroes.

Ampersand Publishing is morally in the right, and the recent National Labor Relations Board ruling shows it to be legally in the right as well. The critics believe their only hope is through a campaign of sabotage and subversion, but they are mistaken if they think Ampersand will sit idly as this happens.

12/13/2006 11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelville Flynn: Yikes. I am so glad I quit my job at the News-Press this summer. The mindset of the people running that paper is beyond belief.

Has anyone noticed that the reasons for firing certain employees seems to have changed? Now they are "subversives" being rooted out like truffles dug up by management pigs. But previously, flawed reporting and editing was the rationale for firing dedicated journalists. If the quasi-official Flynn is admitting that union support factored into firing these dastardly saboteurs, perhaps a few labor lawyers would be interested in that tidbit.

12/14/2006 1:12 AM  
Anonymous anarchopenletter said...

Tighter and brighter. As in scooped by the Daily Sound. On a city council vote.

The recognized paper of record. Beat on a meeting agendized and publicly noticed last week.

Tighter and brighter. Fewer stories and more white space.


Dear Wendy,
Even widgets gain reputations.

12/14/2006 1:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am SOOOOO looking forward to the NLRB hearing in Santa Barbara next month.

Will the News-Press be sending Agnes Huff to cover it?

12/14/2006 2:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelville, the only people conspiring to destroy the News-Press are you and Wendy. You've turned it into a national joke, a disgrace to journalism. It's dying because of your hubris and incompetence and Wendy's vindictiveness. You know nothing about running a newspaper and demonstrate it every day.

As for your being "morally in the right," that's absurd. The NLRB dismissed one complaint and the Teamsters withdrew three others. All -- except, perhaps, the termination of Colby Frazier -- were fairly weak. But the big ones -- especially the firing of Melinda Burns -- are still out there. Does the Sword of Damocles mean anything to you?

You can snivel all you want and spew your surreal conspiracy theories, but nobody is buying it.

12/14/2006 4:09 AM  
Anonymous Petrak's Choice said...

Neville is right. Insiders at all organizations should be totally loyal to the organization.

And here at the News-Press, when we want to do a story on City Hall or County Government or on any private business, we make this pledge: first we will sign an agreement with any source and their lawyer. If the source does not have a lawyer we will recommend one. That agreement will state that only information that expresses total loyalty to the sources employer will ever be published in the News-Press.

This is new, proper, loyal journalism. Only information that reflects positively on employers will ever find its way into the News-Press. We will ban the bias against employers from now on out.

12/14/2006 5:28 AM  
Anonymous worker bee said...


That you can even spell the word moral astounds me. Your defense of lying, incompetence, greed, and vindictiveness betrays your apparent morals.

To read your words, "What's important to remember is this:" nearly made me vomit. The nerve of such a fool to imagine his words carry any weight; that his thoughts bare any shred of imagination, clarity or point, is enough to make one dizzy.

You pose a question: Why should Wendy McCaw tolerate paying a staff that is attempting to organize a union? Because it's the law, Nelville.

Now tell me this: why should the staff tolerate Nipper von Mountebank and Bizzah McCaw's gross mishandling of a local institution they once respected?

You continue to argue as if von Socialclimber and Captain Calixe orchestrated this "transition." If you'll recall, this all started when highly respected editors walked off the job because McCaw repeatedly asked them to skew the news in favor of her views. You probably didn’t see the walk-out coming, did you Nelville? I know von Pigburger and Wendy McSue!Sue!Sue! didn’t – they were literally adrift at sea.

Their reaction is akin to Bush not finding WMD: just pretend you went to war for other reasons. We're not buying von Chickensalad and The Wendy McCaw International Lawyer Relief Fund's new reasons for avoiding union bargaining.

So dust off your union bargaining hat, Nelville, because this isn't about anything being restructured. It's about employees standing up for what's right in the face moral bankruptcy and utter incompetence.

12/14/2006 7:20 AM  
Anonymous Neville Chamberlain said...

Nelville's function is to explain that it is raining when Ms. Wendy micturates on the public at large.

With McCaw's apparent grasp of the newspaper business, including the expectation to make scads of money, it makes one wonder why she didn't just buy a Subway sandwich franchise. But then again, the Subway corporate office would probably be a bit concerned if Wendy and her food assemblers started substituting cardboard for meat in the name of improving quality.

What is missing in all of this talk of loyalty is this: Where is Wendy's loyalty and committment to her readers and advertisers? What can readers and advertisers expect if they give her money? She signs a paycheck and expects an employee's absolute and unquestioning loyalty. You pay for her newspaper, or an ad insertion, expecting local coverage or wide circulation and get something that would insult the intelligence of a sub-literate adolescent, and would leak if it was used to housebreak a Chihuaha. Oh, and a lot of excuses, finger pointing, and conspiracy theories.

So, Nelville, when is Wendy going to run a letter on the front page demanding that Santa Barbarans buy her paper, and purchase expensive display advertising, so she can continue to afford to fuel up her yacht and fund more malicious lawsuits? What Supreme Court decision will she cite that guarantees her right to compel the hoi polloi to purchase a shoddy product completely devoid of quality and merit? Or will she just start delivering the News-Press to everyone in Santa Barbara, whether they want it or not, and then send them to a collection agency when they don't pay up?

12/14/2006 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhh, Andy Caldwell has had this same show on 1440 (the sister station to 1290) in the Santa Maria Valley for years. Not much new in sharing formats, sorry folks.

12/14/2006 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

Certain commentators here are deliberately confusing the issue. The News-Press recognizes the legal process for organizing a union. It does not, however, recognize sabotage and subversion as legitimate tactics -- regardless of any union campaign. In the absence of a union campaign, tactics such as false and defamatory statements, boycotts, and disrupting charity events would be unacceptable. The existence of a union campaign does not make them acceptable.

12/14/2006 10:43 AM  
Anonymous jqb said...

Nelville must be a parodyist; no one can be that dense and ethically and intellectually corrupt, can they?

"Tell me again, why should Wendy McCaw tolerate this?"

If for no other reason, so that she doesn't alienate every single person with any integrity or sense of self-worth.

12/14/2006 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The News-Press emphatically does not "recognize" the legal process for organizing a union. What it does is exploit the procedural delay inherent in it, by filing totally bogus objections so it can keep away from the bargaining table. Nelville seems to think that any opinion not in accord with Wendy's and his is by definition "subversive".

Nelville is lying about "disrupting charity events." That did not happen and was never intended. The Teamsters' lawyer had every right to be there, and his presence would not have disrupted the event. The candlelight vigil was peaceful and was over before the dinner got rolling. Apparently McCaw felt frightened by the mere peaceful presence of an adversary. Well, stuff happens when you treat your employees like crap, and treat the community like crap, and then you appear in public and expect people to kiss your ring. There are consequences to being a labor and journalistic outlaw, and McCaw is as thin-skinned as they come, so any degree of disloyalty, resistance, protest, or disagreement is offensive and threatening to her. So she lashes out at others, doing them real, not imaginary harm, with firings, threats, defamation and litigation.

As reflected in Nelville's comments, it's clear that he (and Wendy) considers just the legally protected fact of union organizing to be subversive, and if he had his way, he'd fire the whole lot of union supporters. That's still illegal in this country, so management tries to come up with reasons. It works for those supervisors who are not legally protected, but it won't work with Melinda Burns.

12/14/2006 1:13 PM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

"Subversives"?!!!?? What. The. F***?

I am convinced that (like so many of the melodramatic set with too much time on their hands) Nipper, McCaw, and Travis are probably enjoying their paranoid delusion that they're engaged in some super exciting cloak-and-dagger intrigue... Fighting the DLG Plaza Forces of Evil.

You'd think from reading their rants that there's some kind of dangerous Fifth Column sitting up nights under a bare bulb in Dawn Hobbs's basement assembling a cache of molatov cocktails and churning out agit-prop flyers on a hand-cranked press.

Note to all three of these megalomaniacs (as well as "Nelville"): rent The Aviator and pay good attention to what might happen if your unchecked paranoia continues to encroach on the tenuous grasp you seem to have on reality.

If The Aviator is too complex, maybe you can just pick up a Little Golden Books edition of The Emperor's New Clothes. Seriously.

More money than sense, as granny used to say.

12/14/2006 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding Neville Chamberlain's comment:

"Or will she just start delivering the News-Press to everyone in Santa Barbara, whether they want it or not, and then send them to a collection agency when they don't pay up"

My subscription lapsed well over 3 months ago and I'm STILL having my front lawn littered with the new-press every morning.

12/14/2006 4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neville, as to the first, main post by you above … the Patriot-News didn’t even have the same union. The Teamsters didn't have a "loss."

Plus, at the Patriot-News, reporters were not pushed into a union by ethics violations by inexperienced “co-publishers,” instead they voted to QUIT the union. In other words, reporters there were treated ethically and properly.

And, as the Patriot-News story below shows, it was the LAST union for the Patriot-News, unlike this FIRST union for the News-Press, with others certain to follow, especially the pressmen.

The publisher at the Patriot-News probably never had an outside public relations person for the owner post a press release directly on the newspaper’s website as “breaking news.” Is that “tighter and brighter?” No, direct from Agnes to your news pages is “loose and unethical and appalling.”

At the News-Patriot, the experience of senior management goes back for decades, unlike six months of this disaster for you, Neville. Uh, don’t think you’ll be hired by anyone you’re not sleeping with.

By the way, the Patriot-News received the Pennsylvania newspaper of the year award.

Not too much porkburger at the News-Patriot, Neville, unlike what you’re frying in your own shop.

Here’s the story:

“Union for Patriot-News employees decertified

Date: June 15, 2006

The National Labor Relations Board has decertified the Harrisburg Newspaper Guild, the labor union that had represented newsroom workers at The Patriot-News.
The board's action followed a June 2 election, in which a majority of the reporters, copy editors, photographers and others voted to end their affiliation with the union.
The Harrisburg Newspaper Guild had represented newsroom employees since 1934. It was the last union to represent workers at the newspaper, said John...”

As you to your second post above, Neville, if you don’t know why your employees who defend freedom of speech and freedom of the press are treated as heroes by everyone in town, instead of Soviet style “subversives,” you’re truly out of touch. Defenders of speech and press freedoms would be celebrated in any workplace. Criticism of you and Wendy could be worse; instead, as the paper plummets daily in quality, most simply discontinue reading and then cancel. Veronica Meadows, uh, what's that??

As to your third post, the two of you are simply crazy. Always have been. Please go back to being a café society jester and ask Wendy to go back to being a recluse. We liked her better when none of us knew her.

See you at the party Friday night, boss. Dancing with Wendy will be cool, since she won't let me bring my girlfriend.

12/14/2006 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Paper Recycling Expert said...

for Anonymous at 12/14/2006 4:20 PM

Ditto experience on the daily newspress delivered even though the subscription lapsed months ago. Until the actual data are released about how many are paid versus freebies, they have a strong incentive to give them away and count it as part of the circulation totals.

My lawn is littered daily too.
Those tall plastic bags containing the folded parer are excellent for picking up my dog's poop every day.

12/14/2006 9:18 PM  
Anonymous susano said...

We stopped getting the NP over a YEAR ago and it just started showing up again. I suppose Wendy is now including us as subscribers when she reports the numbers to advertisers, despite our wishes.

12/14/2006 11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Might we, maybe, re-deliver those papers?

12/15/2006 12:14 AM  
Anonymous Lowerwestie said...

Amazing. My subscription expired in September and they keep coming! In the late 80's it expired and I got several bills and no more deliveries within the month.

12/15/2006 5:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A new string?

Is The News-Press Irrelevent?

I propose we revisit a subject last explored months ago: The Declining Quality of the News Press. A number of folks have noticed a perceptible drop off in the amount of local news in the SBN-P, and much less depth in the local news that is reported. With just a couple of reporters, the upstart Daily Sound has scooped the NP on a number of occasions (the Levy bankruptcy, Veronica Meadows). And the N-P editorials too often deal with issues with no relation to life in SB. Today's editorial is an example: It chastises certain religious extremists who argue that bottled water is immoral. Is this a big issue for Santa Barbara? Or is it just a big issue for the co-publisher who has a well known interest in bottled water issues? (Shouln't that interest been disclosed in the editorial?)

The people I know who are interested in local news, particularly politics, government, land use and environmental issues, now look to the Daily Sound, the Independent, and Blogabarbara to get their basic information.

Has the News Press declined to the point of irrelevency?

12/24/2006 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any company should be allowed to run their business in any way they feel they want. Labor unions are just another TAX on the working class. If you don't like your job leave it. The company is not your mom and dad. They do not have to give you more money so you can buy more. Grow up get a better job... but please don't think you are owed anything. If you can't afford to live here MOVE!

4/19/2007 7:16 AM  

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