Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Sunday, January 21, 2007

TKA's 5-Year Anniversary

I saw a pass along copy of the News-Press today at my friend's house and see that it's been five years since Travis Armstrong came to the Santa Barbara News-Press. I could ask you, like Ronald Reagan, if the newspaper is better off than it was five years ago -- but I think that would be a bit too obvious and mean that I have in his words "no other life".

Opinion is opinion -- but do the great editors of our time call politicians they dislike hypocrites and malcontents as he did in his column today? Do the great editors of our time really think that a complaint to them is the same thing as returning a call to a reporter in a newsroom? That is exactly what "the wall" is all about. And, how would you like working for someone who thinks you are an "eeyore" -- especially if you constitute a majority of the newsroom and this is your boss? No, the great editors of our time would not say things like that to their employees, their local public officials or the public.

I wish Travis Armstrong a happy anniversary with the newspaper but hope that he will take on rebuilding the wall between opinion and the newsroom, patching up his relationship with the leaders in the community (whether he agrees with them or not) and trying both fairness and telling the whole story on for size. There is a way to have a different opinion and have people still respect you for it -- it even happens here where there are plenty of comments I disagree with but respect the fact that they are well written and come from a civil, community-minded place.

I would love to look back a year from now and say -- things are better at the SBNP than they were a year ago -- and promise I will if the circumstances warrant.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to see the News Press gone in a year, replaced by the Daily Sound, which is doing a much better job.

Out with the old...

1/21/2007 6:40 PM  
Anonymous donaldo de santa barbara said...

In a years time, or much sooner, I hope that the News Press will recognize and negotiate with the lawfully elected union.

What both sides, but especially the management side needs to recognize, is that the News Press would be a lot better off with constructive negotiated rules.

In a years time, what I hope to see is something constructive so I can re-start delivery of obituaries dammit!

p.s. I don't think I'll ever be able to read Travis again. Travis is exactly as he is reported to have called politicians in Sara's post... "hypocrites and malcontents." Someone please put a mirror up to Travis face.

1/21/2007 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

One thing that rung true in his anniversary piece is that Travis Armstrong is indeed lucky to have a well-paying job in Santa Barbara. I would hope that his sense of gatitude would imbue his columns with a humility that they sorely lack. There is more than one side to every issue and Travis would be well advised to seek a deeper understanding of the complexity of public policy than he does. He appears to filter all issues through a lense that allows in only a narrow band width and then he potificates based on what he saw. It is perfectly fine to have opinions, but when they exhibit ignorance and narrow-mindedness, people just don't want to hear (or read) them. Good luck Travis. However, it does not sound like you have learned anything new in the last five years; such an extended drought of learning is simply sad.

1/21/2007 8:58 PM  
Anonymous harping said...

It almost seems like Travis is writing stuff like that just to get a rise out of bloggers because he "gets a kick out of it," to use his words. From what he wrote in today's "editorial", it certainly sounds like he is obsessively monitoring the local blogs--else how would he know "they make such statements then proceed to dissect everything we write, down to obsessive detail, as if they have no other life." (Hi Travis! Hope you're having fun!)

1/21/2007 8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I saw the headline of Travis' editorial, I was naive enough to react by saying to myself, "Maybe he's going to be uncharacteristically warm, fuzzy and sentimental in looking back." Wrong! The man's got more sourness, bitterness and crankiness -- and he's a liar who to boot, who enjoys staring down the staff when he's not pretending to be intimidated by employees acting in a group -- than any one person should have. And then he sucks up to Wendy in print; what a sickening rant on all counts, without a whit of cleverness. I know the paper, the atmosphere and that mini-universe can be changed for the better, just as soon as management shows some sign of willingness to engage in a true dialogue, not a "cease and desist" dialogue. It's really that simple.

1/21/2007 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the editorial and what a sad, sad comentary on, among other things, the work environment at the NP.

1/21/2007 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Al Bonowitz said...

Travis is correct in sucking up to Wendy.

When he is no longer of use to her — just wait, it's only a matter of time — he will be forced to seek a new line of work as he would never be hired by any self-respecting newspaper.

It pains me to say it because I'm fond of his wife, but the same goes for Scott Steepleton.

1/21/2007 11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

perhaps next anniversary this whole NP mess wll have ceased and desisted, but what am I thinking.... nevermind

1/22/2007 12:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frankly, TKA's writing is so juvinile - something I would expect out of a middle school paper. Sad.

1/22/2007 3:12 AM  
Anonymous big fat fan of travis said...

There is more than one side to every issue and Travis would be well advised to seek a deeper understanding of the complexity of public policy than he does.

Travis does tell the "other" side. That's his strength. And that's why he hasn't been popular with those who prefer to follow the crowd.

1/22/2007 9:27 AM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

I am still wondering about the touted Transition Period when the Newspress supposedly will be getting better.

Today's "transition" in what has become a growing AP and McClatchy reprint service was one original news article about the underpass drainage that was relevant for plus or minus two weeks, and two news briefs rewritten from police news releases.

The A-section today was 8 pages long, shorter than the Daily Sound.

The "transition" that the Newspress editorials always boast about clearly is a transition into making the Newspress just a print edition of any number of a dozen national and world news services line or

1/22/2007 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, if the SBNP saw fit to publish letters taking issue with its editorials, like any decent paper, perhaps it would not be subject to such an examination of its editorials in the blogosphere. But, as another poster said, nevermind. Clearly, McCaw, Armstrong et. al. do not see any responsibility in the SBNP to act as a forum for community discussion that disagrees with their agenda. Happily, notwithstanding their extension of this policy to an effort to eliminate dissent in forums not under their control, free speech still prevails.

1/22/2007 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I read the blogs, I almost wish that they didn't exist. "harping" has it right I think in that Armstrong and others enjoy the attention even though it is so negative. If the SBNP became an irrelevancy and was simply ignored by the town, I feel that this would be more difficult for its owner and its court jesters to deal with. I have seen the kind of behavior exhibited by Mr. Armstrong before and it is stereotypical. Petty, whiny, petulant, and insecure. He talks about "reasons" for leaving the San Jose newspaper. I wonder what they were? What did that paper think of him? The comments in his Sunday column about the NP staff breathing a collective sigh of relief as malcontents leave. His hope that more do. Incredible statements for the Editorial page editor of a newspaper to make. Simply incredible. What a sad spectacle.

1/22/2007 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having given up my subscription, I didn't read Sunday's NP - perhaps I'll take a look at the op-ed section in the library.

However, those who praise The Sound should take a look at today's version. It's smaller by 4.5 inches and is really nothing but a medium for advertising. There's a story on the UCSB paper, The Nexus; a story on the damage to crops of the last weeks; another about student films at the SBIFF and another about the "City, school mull(ing) options for vacant property."And that's it for news.

There're a couple of columns of personal opinion. The Sound of the Town is apparently paid advertising, as is the "Community Calendar".

The news stories are almost always superficial. Apparently, the aim is to have readers concentrate on the ads. Maybe nothing happens in this south coast area of 200,000 plus or minus ....

Disappointing, even shameful - and reflecting on all of us....Blogs, although they could be news sources, maybe, simply are not, at least not here. The best news source around is because they gather links from areas others - except from the News-Press which apparently doesn't want most to read what it publishes and refuses access to non-subscribers.

1/22/2007 11:38 AM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

So now bashing Daily Sound is the rant du jour??

With only two full-time reporters, Daily Sound routinely gets the story first, and factually correct, before NewsPress ever does, if at all.
Do we now need a list to verify that??
At least their archives at their web site are free and permanent.

Yes, they sell ads. So what?
The sale price is free for a reason.

1/22/2007 11:57 AM  
Anonymous big fat fan of craig said...

For those wondering why Craig Smith's Blog hasn't been updated since Thurs.--his server has been down.

1/22/2007 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Journalist said...

11:38 a.m., give the Sound a break.

The paper isn't even a year old and has a really small staff.

Advertising -- not news stories -- bring in the revenues that keep newspapers going.

The Sound just made a smart move by hiring John Leonard, former ad exec for the News-Press.

As the Daily Sound boosts its revenues, it will grow into a bigger, better paper, with more reporters who will have more time to spend covering stories.

Be patient. Give the Sound a chance.

And no, I don't work there.

1/22/2007 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went back and read many of Travis' columns at the Mercury News... I thought they were pretty good! Way better than his News-Press work... perhaps he had a better editor at the Mercury News.

He has written some good stuff at the News-Press, but he's also allowed himself to indulge his personal whines and paranoias. I think the greatest writers transcend that, and have pretty big hearts and intellects.. they can allow their personal history to influence perspective, while not allowing in too much distortion.

Barney has a pretty big heart, but he's a little lazy. With him, his good columns made me tolerant of his more numerous off-days.

Nick Welsh can whine big time, but he has a sense of self-deprecation and humor far superior to that of Travis. Travis seems unable to step outside himself and lighten up. It's like he things being a gay American Indian makes him infinitely heavy and beyond reproach.

Pretty much everyone has had some measure of woe and hardship in their life, particularly if they are over 30. I like writers who still find humor... thinking of Buchwald, who just died, who was such a fine one. Travis could still redeem himself.

1/22/2007 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to see the News Press gone in a year, replaced by the Daily Sound, which is doing a much better job.

Wow. Such animosity. Do you know how many people this would put out of work?

Thanks so much for wishing my daughter to hunger and uncertainty.

1/22/2007 1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I'd heard about how nasty TA could be (I have read few of his opinion pieces). Now I see why people say he is mean spirited. Can you imagine disparaging your fellow employees like that in public? The guy has no class.

1/22/2007 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Marc McGinnes said...

I wonder whether anyone around here will remember Travis Armstrong five years from now. Also whether the paper for which he works will still be in business.

1/22/2007 2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I support the Daily Sound as an alternative to the SBNP.

I don't see how you can say a "Community Calendar" is "apparently paid advertising." Is it so wrong a newspaper lists events taking place in the area for the week. I appreciate the listings, as some of the art exhibits I wouldn't know about otherwise.

And, perhaps this isn't a fair comparison considering the situation at the SBNP, but the two or three reporters at the Sound seem to be able to publish more local stories day to day then the newsroom staff of what, 30? at the NP. Are they perfect? No. But at least there is somewhere I can read about what is going on in the community.

1/22/2007 3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, the Daily Sound is better than nothing. But it is NOT a quality newspaper as far as news is concerned. Mr. Gordon has said at public meetings that his model for news coverage is quick bites; he has specifically compared it to the Readers Digest.

It is true that the Sound has scooped the NP but that speaks primarily to the fact of the decline of the once proud paper of record.

The op-ed pieces are fluff columns and that's fine but there is simply no in depth coverage or columns of city politics or planning or whatever.

Sure, there have to be ads and that's how most, if not all free papers survive. And, of course, some of those ads are free, hoping to draw in other ads. Having worked for such a freebie (in another part of the country) I know well that the news is secondary to the ads. As for the Community Calendar, I believe that many, if not most of those postings are in fact paid for.

If that weren't so, if were a true calendar, it would be much larger. I know people who tried to get their events listed and would get no reaction on several tries from the Sound.

And its 16 page edition is almost 5 inches shorter today.

And as noted it less than a year old --- but certainly, disappointment or not, it is good to have more than one daily paper here, even if it is still a slight publication.

That we have no serious paper any more remains - to me - a sadness and a disgrace. ...Sort of interesting that any criticism of the Sound should elicit such vehemence from NP haters!

1/22/2007 3:29 PM  
Blogger George said...

I have to admit that I'm one of those whiny bloggers, but at least I don't talk poorly about my co-workers to all of the public (left reading the N-P that is).

Here's my take on Armstrong's latest editorial, "Shooting a Heffalump."

1/22/2007 4:06 PM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

The Daily Sound print edition is shorter, but also wider. How many of us have become as we age.

A scoop is a scoop, even if the opponent is lame. Their news articles are just fine for depth and breadth for only two full-time reporters.

And the Indy still seems like a "serious paper".

So should Blogabarbara start a new subject posting entitled: "Does the Daily Sound Suck?"

1/22/2007 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When was the last time anyone saw a daily newspaper start up? It just doesn't happen. So who's to say the News-Press didn't start the same way the daily sound started. I think for a bunch of kids it's pretty impressive to tell you the truth. Weather it's a quality product or not, which I believe it is, you have to appreciate what these guys are doing. The founder's like what? 25? When I was 25 I was still living with my mommy and daddy trying to figure out how the heck I was going to pay my student loans. Wendy McCaw is the last person I'd ever want to compete against.

And, btw, I work for a non-profit here in town. The daily sound routinely publishes our events in their calendar and has never asked for money. Have any of you actually paid for a calendar listing? Get over yourselves people! Honestly!

1/22/2007 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Jeramy Gordon said...

I just thought I would post and clear the air on the paid calendar listings. The claims that the Daily Sound charges for its community calendar are completely false. We try our best to include every event in the calendar, sometimes events slip through the cracks, but they're all free.

1/22/2007 4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to see The Sound gone in a year! It's distracting us from our goal of bashing the News-Press. The Sound is so small that it looks like it was printed on a cocktail napkin. It's making the News-Press look good. Even if the News-Press is actually good, we need to be able to not draw comparison to other papers. We risk the chance of the News-Press looking like it hasn't skipped a beat with all of the really important people that were executed, (I mean left of their own accord).

1/22/2007 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Travis Armstrong has transformed into a frothing attack dog, and a witless, fang-baring, snarling one at that. Only writers like H.L. Mencken could get away with so much venom, because there was content, a voice, and not nearly as much patent personal interest. It is unbecoming a serious newspaper to get into what are really either institutional or even personal beefs on its editorial pages, and then to top it off, not let anyone with an opposing view respond in the paper. Totally unprofessional, cynical, childish and indicative of a "circle the wagons", yes, "cease and desist dialogue" mentality.

1/22/2007 5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least the Sound is TRYING to serve its community!

I work at the N-P, and all Baron Arthur/Travis Armstrong/Scott Steepleton care about is serving Wendy McCaw.

1/22/2007 6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats Travis. Don't listen to these bitter old boomers, they'll be dying off soon enough.

1/22/2007 8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Travis welcome anywhere in the Santa Barbara Area?

1/22/2007 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sit corrected and apologize for the error about the D.S. Calendar. I certainly appreciate Jeramy Gordon's clarifications --- and appreciate the effort and work that he and his staff are doing in putting out a daily paper!

BUT it should not get a free ride on quality, even if its publisher is 25 or whatever as others have written. It is a great effort and maybe will be a fine paper. It isn't there yet. That's all. (side note: I wonder how old the writers/editors, etc. are at the Nexus --- is age relevant? No, imo, it isn't.)

David Pritchett's comment about shorter but wider, sent me measuring. Today's DS page was 12" x 11" with text 10" wide. Prior size page was 17" x 11" wide by text of 10". That's more than 29% smaller page size. Fine, no problem. Readers Digest (is that the model, Mr. Gordon?) and National Geographic, etc. etc. are all small-sized pages.

I'd be interested to hear from Mr. Gordon why the page size reduction. Perhaps it fits more easily in racks? There's no uniformity in newspaper page sizes: Hope Dance, for instance, is 13.75 x 11; the Indy is 13 x 10; I don't have a copy handy of the Montecito Journal or the Valley Voice --- all freebies, but none of them dailies with the stress there is at putting out a daily.

David Pritchett, like Travis Armstrong, is too ready to spring to attack. No one said the Indy wasn't a serious paper or at least its news writings. I am sure that the owner/publisher of the Sound would agree that publicity and discussion is MUCH better than none at all. He's running a business not a love fest and would expect reaction and comments, not all of which will be or should be positive.

I suspect that he is very happy at the meltdown of the News-Press. It proves the point of that old saying, It's an ill wind that blows no good --- since the Daily Sound has without doubt benefitted from the ill wind at the NP. No way would Mr. Gordon's business plan of a year or more ago have predicted such good fortune. Travis's anger and bitterness brings readers to the Sound. As one of those readers, unlike David Pritchett who's satisfied with the present "depth and breadth", I would like there to be more to read. ...

1/22/2007 10:21 PM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

While debating with a compulsive anonymous critic who cannot even make up a fake name may be amusing to a point, I do remind all that the Daily Sound is free, both in print edition and the web site. A free newspaper that still writes good stories and beats out all other news organizations much of the time is nothing one should complain about.

As for the Daily Sound size, I finally saw a print edition late today and it indeed is the same width but shorter, so the complaints that the space is reduced are initially correct. However, the page limit is now consistently 16 pages instead of the usual 12 pages. Thus, the same total page space is maintained.

Although Daily Sound publisher Jeramy Gordon claims the page size is not a way to avoid alleged confusion with NewsPress, the wider format does reduce potential confusion with Daily Nexus, the original 11x17 inch local newspaper. Avoiding confusion with Daily Nexus is getting to be quite important lately....

1/22/2007 11:44 PM  
Anonymous follower said...

Update on the apparent blog rules. Latest indicators show that:

1. Mentioning the collaborative skills of the Jewish community is NOT allowed.

2. Attacking this blog's favorite target for his race and sexual orientation IS ALLOWED.

3. Attacking this blog's favorite target by calling him "a frothing attack dog, and a witless, fang-baring, snarling one at that." IS ALLOWED.

1/23/2007 11:29 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Please....I took out several comments that had portions that I was concerned with. It happens in other forms of media all the time -- no one has a right to publish absolutely anything they want and there is no room for race issues here. I've never attacked anyone on their sexual orientation and never will. As for #3, I don't remember seeing that must have been early on and something Cannon said. let's get past this....

1/23/2007 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never attacked anyone on their sexual orientation and never will.

Falsely accusing someone of sexism to tarnish them, that's another thing.

As for #3, I don't remember seeing that must have been early on and something Cannon said. let's get past this....

Get past what? Are we past attacking Travis with nasty remarks.

All hail the double standard!

1/23/2007 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Attacking your own reporters is beyond the pale. When will it stop?!?!?!?

1/23/2007 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Park Park Park said...

Well, gosh, we've had the discussion about Travis's sexual orientation before... Travis himself wrote about it openly in his San Jose Mercury columns. I don't think anybody has bashed him over it, but the Ampersand lawyers and some posters here think even mentioning his orientation is a bash. That is phony and shows how twitchy and paranoid they all are.

Of course in today's public discussions, many folks try to run for cover of alleged victimhood to get their way. It can be a ploy, although it is not always so. But as John Robinson, the pastor to the Plymouth Pilgrims said, often those who take offense easily are the same people who cannot perceive it when they give offense.

As for Travis' American Indian background, he has trouble separating which criticisms of the Chumash are legitimate, and which are based on racism. Dialog on that issue would be really helpful to our community. Personally I'd be happy if all gambling were banned... off-track at Earl Warren, the State Lottery (which did not save our schools), Las Vegas, all internet gaming, and Indian gaming. Lots of lives are totally ruined by gambling and related addiction, and people with ruined lifes are a terrible drain on both themselves and our commonwealth. Sure, lots of people profit from gaming, but I measure at the base of the heap, not the apex.

1/24/2007 4:57 AM  
Anonymous they paved paradise said...

park park park is right on, right on, right on!

1/24/2007 1:07 PM  
Anonymous bark bark bark said...

Sorry, Travis, to reprint a harsh remark about you, but some people like PPP have selective reading skills, and need to be called out.

park park park said:
"I don't think anybody has bashed him over it, but the Ampersand lawyers and some posters here think even mentioning his orientation is a bash."

But here's just one bash from this very thread:
"Travis seems unable to step outside himself and lighten up. It's like he things being a gay American Indian makes him infinitely heavy and beyond reproach."

This looks like a bash to me. God (aka Allah) knows that if we replaced the phrase "gay American Indian" with another demographic group that I don't dare even mention, this post would be blocked.

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1/25/2007 3:59 PM  

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