Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, January 05, 2007

Suggestions for the News-Press

We had a great suggestion from a reader to have a place "where the community can offer McCaw constructive suggestions about how she can turn around her continuing Mess? She probably won't listen, but let's see what we can come up with. Not initiating meritless new litigation -- and dropping the old -- might be an opening suggestion".

I agree and the meritless litigation ending would be a great first step -- second might be bringing the News-Press web site into the new century as a recent reader suggested as well. The subscription-based model will not actually get them more subscriptions of actual newspaper -- will it? Formatting, as Doc Searles has pointed out on his blog, for mobile phone use would also be a great addition. Finally, huge ads that are not relevant to the content in the middle of a thoughtful article just doesn't work. Anything else?


Anonymous harping said...

Speaking of "huge ads that are not relevant to the content in the middle of a thoughtful article"--whenever I visit the N-P site the most annoying pop-up ad comes up with a whiny voice saying "Congratulations! You have been selected to receive a free Xbox" or something like that. I have a popup blocker but for some reason this ad always manages to slip through. Considering that it's mainly a subscription site it seems pretty bizarre that they'd want to alienate subscribers with stuff like that. So my first suggestion is: get rid of those popups!

1/05/2007 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Start by punting Travis right through the proverbial goal posts. The guy can't make a point with out sounding mean sprited, unless it's to save some kind of island pig or something. I think Wendy could send a really positive message to the community just by doing that. He could go and help run COLAB with Andy Caldwell. They seem to like whiny sounding bomb-throwers representing them.

1/05/2007 5:53 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

This suggestion solves everything:

Sell the newspaper.

The web site problems will fix themselves that way.

1/05/2007 5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd guess that Ms. McCaw originally bought the News-Press because she wanted to play a role in the community, and influence it toward her viewpoints. Some of those viewpoints I agreed with; some not! She was initially welcomed by the community and the News-Press staff, which she probably enjoyed. At this point she probably realizes, or at least is coming to realize, that punitive measures and firings aren't helping her program.
Could we achieve a situation where she understands that we listen to her viewpoints, but where she also lets us disagree?

Could she possibly offer jobs back to the fired writers? That would be big!

1/05/2007 10:02 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

For what it is worth (which is not much):
Hire an experienced publisher to oversee the day-to day operations of the paper.
Have the publisher hire an experienced and talented editor to run the news room.
As the owner, stay aloof from the reporting of the news.
Find an editorial voice that resonates with Santa Barbara. This voice does not have to be a voice with which everybody (or even most people) agree. But it should be a voice that no reader can resist every morning.
Lose Laura Schleshinger (sp?), she is a bigot and a one-note-Johnny whose readers consist of only those who agree with her.
Give up on the piggies and turkeys on Santa Cruz Island, no one cares except the naturalists and they want the non-natives gone.
Quit giving COLAB a break. The organization is a shill for the oil indsutry and developers.
Finally, treat your employees with respect. Journalists are a quirky lot, but we need them. Get out of their way, and they will bring your paper many awards.

1/05/2007 10:07 PM  
Anonymous city watcher said...

I agree with both of 10:07, 10:02, which come down to hiring capable journalists (and editors) and keeping out of their way.

Keep up the news coverage of area wildlife; there's too little coverage (generally) and it is one of the few high points of the N-P. What's going on on the Channel Islands is in our backyard and is news of interest or at least value to us here, but there should be balance, as I think there was to a certain extent under Roberts. Cover the schools and education much more. Ditto for the all-important planning commissions, the ABR/HLC and the PC.

As for the editorial pages, tone down Armstrong's personal vendettas against city government or at least the mayor and a few others. His stuff is unreadable or at least I won't read it expecting to find some personal trash. Since there is not space to run all letters, how about a column once/day listing all those that arrived by topic - have never seen this done in a paper, but it would be interesting to know what interests the area newspaper readers.

If changes aren't possible by the present ownership to bring it up to being a quality paper, then sell it......

1/06/2007 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hands off the news!

Run the story about the NLRB prosecution of the News-Press.

Run the story about ex-husband Criag McCaw buying the place on Park Lane.

Don't censure letters to the editor.

If she can't restore trust in her product, then get out of the business.

1/06/2007 8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read on Edhat the press release from The Organized about the January 9th court proceeding.

Undoubtedly, McCaw will issue a dueling press release or editorial.

A constructive suggestion: How about, from the News-Press, our daily newspaper of record, a balanced, fair and accurate article, outlining the issues to be addressed by the judge in the January 9th hearing and the possible outcomes and consequences?

As with most responsible journalism, there could be local quotes from each side: say, from McCaw herself (not a Los Angeles spokesperson or a San Francisco lawyer) and from a local leader of The Organized, say, Melinda Burns or Dawn Hobbs (not the L.A. union official or the L.A. lawyer).

It would be a step towards the "values" that McCaw said in her January 1 letter she would work "tirelessly" to achieve: "truth, excellence, ethical journalism and the best coverage of local events that can be had."

Neville says "the community" has responded to the paper NOW being bias free and credible. Let's see if McCaw and her food writer can prove it.

1/06/2007 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well put, Eckermann, well put.

It's not brain surgery; it's how any respected daily paper would operate.

1/06/2007 9:40 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

My two cents - Keep COLAB but find someone to voice a differing opinion - PRO v. CON on the editorial and opinion pages (I enjoy reading opposing points of view).

However, I believe FDS's suggestion is the best one! :-) dd

1/06/2007 11:50 AM  
Anonymous victoria said...

How about an ombudsman to investigate and report their findings about frustrating problems and runarounds encountered by readers. That, coupled with some big-time apologies, might begin some of the much-needed reconciliation work and show a real commitment to the community.

1/06/2007 5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey dd, How refreshing; someone who isn't intimidated by an opposing viewpoint. I'm fascinated by the vitriol spewed in the direction of COLAB a/k/a Andy Caldwell. Equally interesting is the fact that nobody on the vitriolic left has the cojones to debate him unless they can hide behind a silly pseudonym. As for FDS, "streetfighter"?? Yeah right.

1/06/2007 6:21 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Debating Andy COLAB is as productive as expecting rational discourse from Nelville Flynn or The Wendy.

The point is that COLAB is one of the few remaining and desperate friends the News Mess has left, especially as COLAB actually disagrees with much of the editorial stance of what is left of the news mess.

Desperate is as desperate does.

1/06/2007 8:00 PM  
Anonymous harping said...

I second Victoria's suggestion. An ombudsman would be an excellent first step toward fixing what ails the N-P. Of course many more steps would have to follow. I don't believe any will actually happen.

1/06/2007 8:08 PM  
Anonymous newsroomer said...

these suggestions are all humbling. a newspaper really can be so much more, as noted by so many of you. thank you.

1/06/2007 11:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An independent ombudsman or "reader's representative," like the New York Times uses, would be an important first step for restoring credibility.

It won't happen, however, for many reasons, including: (a) McCaw and her food writer don't understand the concept and certainly have never worked with one, having utterly no experience in journalism, other than his high school editing job; (2) it would be giving up "control" to readers, which she won't do to anyone, although through mismanagement she is losing more of it everyday anyway to "new media" like this blog; and (3) an ombudsman, if allowed to do his or her job, would regularly catch McCaw's hand in the cookie jar.

1/07/2007 7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An omsbud would be excellent. Actually, I thought about writing and applying to be such a couple of years ago. It wouldn't be only a reader's rep, but an independent voice that would also be a voice for the integrity of the paper, editorial as well as news teams, a watchdog, protective of journalistic integrity and a reader's voice.

However, on rethinking, I didn't apply since it was obvious the management had no intention of having any other voice than their own.

Very interesting column in yesterday's LAT "Regarding Media" by Tim Rutten on the changes in the WSJ and how (some) newspapers are moving towards greater connection with their readers and online access.

1/07/2007 10:44 AM  
Anonymous harping said...

I think Anon 7:47 am is right. Another potential mess scenario could occur if McCaw appointed a crony as ombudsman, a realistic possibility that would obviously make a mockery of the position.

1/07/2007 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Neville's Bastard Son said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/07/2007 4:41 PM  
Anonymous Of and by locals for locals said...

what if our local owner called a local meeting with her local readers and answered their local questions about what she plans to do with her local paper that doesn't have much local news anymore?

1/07/2007 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Neville's Long Lost Brother said...

Here is a suggestion for the News-Press, as bizarre as it may sound: If Wendy McCaw has a real or imagined beef with the Daily Sound, the Independent, KEYT or any other local business, instead of threatening a lawsuit, suing, or attacking them in an editorial, she instead calls the CEO and invites he or she to lunch, to talk things out and work towards a mutual, amicable solution. Not the new News-Press' way of doing business, I know, but just a constructive suggestion as a way to become less reviled in Santa Barbara, save lots of money on lawyers and, maybe, begin to build back her newspaper.

1/07/2007 7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In six months the Publishers of the Santa Barbara News-Press have destroyed a brand that had taken many people over 100 years to build successfully. The terrible publicity caused by Ms. McCaw's and Mr. von Wiesenberger's missteps (the Mess) bring to mind other scandals that ruined brands such as Exxon (the Valdez) or Richard Nixon (Watergate).

The steps necessary to rebuild the brand are not rocket science to anyone with business experience and topflight people skills, but, in this case, the restoration of the News-Press brand will require a change in top management.

1/07/2007 9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the website is very poor.

why don't they have blogs?

1/07/2007 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't Wendy and the Nipper BUY several of those 'market rate' condos at the new Whole Foods multi-use complex as a reward or perk for loyal employees,like Yolanda? Keep the help close in company housing. Nothing is better to start a good and open dialogue than a cease and desist order.

1/15/2007 3:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only solution that will work IMO is for her to sell the paper & move far away. She has shown herself to have no perception of reality & her place in it. The first many of us heard from WM is when she bought a house in HR & wanted to exclude the riff raff from walking on 'her' beach. The woman is in a league with Ms. Helmsly who felt that taxes were for the little people. I can't imagine she'll want to stay in this town after this whole thing is over. Maybe she'll do a Michael Jackson & move to another country.

1/15/2007 2:53 PM  

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