Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, February 02, 2007

Community Post: Community Access TV

Here's a community post from David Pritchett:
In his by-line editorial or opinion piece published on Thursday, 01 February 2007, Travis Armstrong of the News-Press hits several topics but concludes with more accusations --long on innuendo and short on fact-- against the local community-access TV station (cable channels 17 and 21). This actually is a non-profit organization, with a variety of funding sources, by the name of Santa Barbara Channels, and sometimes is known by its older name, Community Media Access Center.

Here is an excerpt from that editorial:

CHANNELS 17, 21: I've been contacted about the operations of Channels 17 and 21, the channels that are in essence publicly supported through cable franchise agreements with local governments. Complaints include concerns about possible favoritism and inconsistent broadcast policies that allegedly might reflect the whims, grudges or politics of a few. Hap Freund, at the channels 17 and 21, responded to one question about the management by saying, in part: "Our attorney believes that the personnel matters you alluded to are privileged.

Of course, one could imagine that the editorial writer just has a grudge against our local community-access TV, and its Executive Director, Hap Freund, because several local videographers have produced nine or ten independent video documentaries about the travails of the News-Press, and the rise of the Teamsters Union, since the meltdown at the newspaper that started last July 6th. The schedules when those videos are shown on channel 17 often is posted as a comment at Blogabarbara as information for readers.

The irony with Travis Armstrong criticizing community-access TV is that he and/or the News-Press publishers always have been invited to provide comments in any of the videos produced in the past and in the future. The phone numbers and email addresses of the producers or TV station are no secret, and most of the events in the videos happened conspicuously in Plaza De La Guerra immediately outside the News-Press building. The most recent video about the NLRB hearing last month even had the videographer outside the Court yelling to request a comment from the News-Press representatives walking away, including Travis Armstrong himself.

Because it is all about non-commercial access, the News-Press management might even be able to get their own show on Channel 17 if they felt their own radio station and newspaper were not enough ways to spin their message. Maybe they would bump into Starshine Roshell there, who hosts a show on 21 called SB Connections.

Another irony, or hypocrisy, is that the editorial jab at Hap Freund implies some conspiracy about him not releasing the personnel records requested by Travis Armstrong. Followers of the News-Press mess might recall past incidents, reported in Santa Barbara Independent and elsewhere, where News-Press attacks on its former employees Jerry Roberts and Melinda Burns included a disclosure of information (true or false) from their confidential personnel files in an attempt to boost the public perception of the newspaper and apparently gain some leverage in a lawsuit against Roberts.

What say you all, readers? Any comments?
  • Should the News-Press complain about community-access TV as the "rival media"?
  • Are they just jealous and envious that more and more people are getting their news and culture from these TV programs?
  • Is Hap Freund just part of the "cabal" and not revealing personnel records simply because the News-Press dropped Channels 17 and 21 from the printed Sunday TV listings?
  • Does anyone really care what Travis Armstrong writes any more?


Anonymous community TV watcher said...

I think the writer in the post here meant DEMISE rather than "travails" about the Newspress. I've seen those videos.

That editorial also was phishing for dirty stories about those TV channels with even the email of Travis Armstrong given as a place to send the accusations and innuendo. Are we all back in 7th grade again?

Nevertheless, people can email their opinions about what they like or dislike about Channels 17 and 21 to both Travis Armstrong and Hap
Freund at the same time but in separate messages. That way, Hap and the access-TV supporters will know what is not getting published by that newspaper, if anyone really indeed cares any more as the question asks. And, Travis can publish the crap that is factually incorrect and then SB Channels will have grounds for a lawsuit of its own for defamation. Besides, they need the money as a lean nonprofit organization.

Send those emails, but in separate messages, to:

2/02/2007 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

Travis Armstrong has every right, maybe even a duty, to comment on the content of publc access TV. However, as is his habit, Mr. Armstrong tends to attack persons rather than ideas. Why does he do this? Philosophy 101 teaches of the weakness and vacuity of the ad hominem argument. Of course, many posters on this blog engage in this despicable rhetoric, but Mr. Armstrong is supposed to be a professional and above all such sniping. A war of ideas is interesting and didactic. Personal attacks are just petty gossip. If Travis Armstrong has issues with the content of community-access TV, then let's hear (or read rather) his reasoned arguments. If he just wants to trash talk, well he and Laura Schlesinger should go on the radio together to entertain the folks that like that sort of stuff rather than sully the editorial pages of the newspaper with such drivel.

2/02/2007 8:26 PM  
Anonymous Al Bonowitz said...

1. Should the News-Press complain about community-access TV as the "rival media"?
The News-Press continues to write chapters in a "How Not to Do Public Relations" textbook. When Goliath beefs about David, it lends creedence to whatever David is saying.

2. Are they just jealous and envious that more and more people are getting their news and culture from these TV programs?
More likely the News-press is nervous that its product is becoming less relevant every day. The News-Press has no one to blame for that but itself.

3. Is Hap Freund just part of the "cabal" and not revealing personnel records simply because the News-Press dropped Channels 17 and 21 from the printed Sunday TV listings?
Sarah's comment about Travis' clean hands is apt. Hap Freund is obeying the law by not revealing personnel records. The "cabal" is a News-Press creation. Again, the News Press revealed its pettiness by removing the listings. It would do well to remember the schoolyard taunt "Sticks and Stones" before its next move.

4. Does anyone really care what Travis Armstrong writes any more?
Hey, the guy has to fill 20 inches every day. But his more outre pronouncements make it difficult to take him seriously when he writes a well-reasoned piece such as his editorial about Duncan Hunter.

2/02/2007 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if these NP folks weren't so serious, I'd think it an wonderful inside joke and pretty soon someone would say ... NEVERMIND ! Forget the message, attack the messenger ! Is the Mccaw cabal really thinking that what they say is the last word and anything that disagrees with that 'version', is all part of a bigger plot against their interest? I know two news/doc crews, one from Norway and an Aussie group, making plans to 'cover' this.when they arrive, will they actually hear in person from the NP, or will they get a cease and desist communication? Or will this be another part of us vs them cabal too ? If TA runs out of more plotters, he can always investigate himself. there's a MA or PhD thesis here: media, or psychology? It's all so sad, but at least the lawyers are getting paid. freedom isn't free !

2/02/2007 8:49 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Just for the record Al -- I didn't write the post, although I agree with your comment.

2/02/2007 9:10 PM  
Anonymous think blue said...

Every time I read your posts, Al, it grieves me that you're gone. You were always one of the sanest guys I knew.

2/02/2007 9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ! Hasn't it been apparent that any Crazy eyed wacko, of any stripe, can get a show on public TV? Travis or First District Dude, got a gripe? Get a show. Good God. Let your light, however enlightened or demented, shine. Perhaps you could fit in a show with clay puppets, representing the Union, the Baron and Wendy, each bizarrely shaped head talking about the how they feel. I can feel the acid kicking in!!!!!!!!!

2/02/2007 10:51 PM  

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