Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Let's Help Jerry Roberts!

Fellow Blogger Cookie Jill has posted a fundraising letter for Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech Rights who want to help Jerry Roberts. Those of you that are willing...this looks to be a good cause.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of the long, long list of dramas that Wendy McCaw and Arthur von Weisenburger have staged over the past seven months that have messed up the lives of many who had dedicated years of service to the Santa Barbara News-Press, it's hard to think of any more bizarre than suing her former Editor-in-Chief for $25,000,000.

For what, other than a vendetta to drive him and his family into bankruptcy?



It's lunacy.

Santa Barbara isn't a war zone, Ms. McCaw, this is a beautiful community of committed residents that once had an exemplary daily newspaper.

Go back to Seattle. Please. Take the Baron with you.

2/18/2007 4:19 AM  
Anonymous Where's the tofu? said...

"The best local news to be had."

--Wendy McCaw, Page 1, January 1, 2007

Instead, the lowest of the new low?

The "A" section of today's Sunday paper -- the local news section, that is -- does not have ANY local news stories.

The main editor Scott Steepleton writes a fig leaf feature piece about a TV nanny's upcoming visit to Santa Maria, accompanied by the usual HUGE photo, this one a stunner from a Santa Maria shopping mall.

A column graces page 3 about --you guessed it, saving the whales -- and there are some local photos.

That's about it. No local news stories in the local news section of the Sunday newspaper about anything from the southern one-half of Santa Barbara County, unless one counts the whales and some non-news photos.

Not even a basil crisis story or a fake fire story.

Other sections are the same. Nothing local in the business section, for example.

Who, really, should be sued, eh?

2/18/2007 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2/18/2007 9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Mission Statement for Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech Rights states "Functions: The Alliance will screen applicants for financial support and will assist applicants in identifying and engaging legal counsel. The Alliance will not provide legal advice or representation, although individual Alliance members are free to provide legal services to any recipient of Alliance funding. Alliance deliberations and decisions will be confidential."

I am disappointed to see they do not provide legal advice or representation. If they are strictly a fund raising group, why a bunch of lawyers?


2/18/2007 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I keep wondering 'Where is Jeremy Gordon?'. The Daily Sound is being dealt a winning hand with the Newspress making itself irrelevant. Admitedly the DS has come along way in it's short existence but the time has come for an aggressive business plan. Hire a top notch editor (Jerry Roberts comes to mind), staff up with the best reporters in town (most are available) and print Saturday and Sunday editions. Do that and this town will happily support you. Ms McCaw will soon be forgotten until she shows up someplace in diapers.

2/18/2007 10:40 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

10:40 AM -- despite the astronaut love triangle -- not sure that reference was necessary here. Battle on the high ground please. Great comment otherwise!

2/18/2007 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the blog of the president of the Society of Professional Journalists:

"Stand up to She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

Former Santa Barbara News-Press editor Jerry Roberts is one nice guy who deserves tremendous respect, and what he has had to endure in the last year is utterly ridiculous, shameful -- and idiotic.

Though I could go on, I'll stop there lest someone -- such as, oh, say, Wendy McCaw, the P-I's publisher (also known among some journalists as "She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named") -- files suit against me.

Etc. Etc.

2/18/2007 9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Former Santa Barbara News-Press editor Jerry Roberts is one nice guy who deserves tremendous respect, and what he has had to endure in the last year is utterly ridiculous, shameful -- and idiotic."

JR has some gross criminal charges pending against him. He is a shameful member of society whose victims outnumber the NP mess expodentially.

2/19/2007 7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a $25 mill claim against Roberts -- far from criminal or shameful -- NP supporters keep on trying to drop a bomb on us. Explain or let it go.

2/19/2007 7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the excellent writers who visit this blog should post a diary on Daily Kos with a link for donations. They should especially have a very attention grabbing headline. Probably the diary would get a good result, especially from all the SB people who read that blog. I would do it but can't write my way out of a paper sack.

Also should link to the smackdown article, etc. and also speak of the personal aspects. I'll donate but leave the diary to a better writer.

2/19/2007 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask him. Bet he gets his lawyer to GAG you too.

2/19/2007 8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are you talking about? Shameful member of society? Uh-oh, paid shill warning. Yuck!

2/19/2007 8:23 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

My thoughts exactly - 8:23 and 7:37 am.

2/19/2007 8:27 AM  
Anonymous park park park said...

This morning I read the News-Press paper edition for the first time in weeks.

Then I read the online Daily Sound, with their odd interface.

The Daily Sound was far more interesting to read. Several local stories, and a nice one on the upcoming Amgen bike race, coming to town at the end of the week.

News-Press... one local article on beach volleyball.

2/19/2007 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Jerry Roberts said...

I have never posted on Blogabarbara, or any other blog, before. But the cowardly statement posted anonymously at 7:29 a.m. requires me to do so: The statement is utterly false, defamatory and malicious. It is yet another example of a desperate attempt to smear me and to damage my reputation and credibility through vicious personal attacks.

2/19/2007 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The statement made about JR was VILE and defamatory.

2/19/2007 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

Jerry Roberts is not a vile or contemptible person, but he let down the readers of the News-Press during his tenure as editor.

Complaints about bias soared, the quality of journalism in the newspaper declined and Roberts' own management style became erratic, emotional and fiscally irresponsible.

He damaged both the newspaper as an institution and the careers of many people who worked there. In both cases, the damage is ongoing.

Although Jerry Roberts brought disgrace on the News-Press and clearly was not fit to be its editor, I do not endorse the scurrilous personal attack in the anonymous post of a few hours ago.

2/19/2007 11:40 AM  
Anonymous susano said...

The anonymous comment posted at 7:29 made me put some money into the Lawyers Alliance For Free Speech fund. Thanks for the kick in the pants! I'll be sure to add as much as I can to the fund every time I see a similar post.
I went through cancer a couple of years ago, Jerry. You're in great hands at The Cancer Center. They're an example of how wonderful this community is, despite this current mess caused by an arrogant and selfish few.

2/19/2007 12:25 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

I'm not interested in pursuing this line of thread -- sometimes, however, blog readers need to self-police and I am glad all of you (even Nelville) did. At the same time, it occurs like a concerted effort at 'pinging' local blogs with false or misleading info over the last week or so. People need to see this for themselves and I think this did it.

BlogaBarbara doesn't need to be in the middle of accusations like this and I won't be posting any such comments any longer. It's just better if all of us stay out of it. Thanks.

2/19/2007 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I know we are not going to pursue this thread, that comment by Nelville should not stand.

So, the theory is that it is all someone else's fault that the Newspress is ruined? Ridiculous. Why not just accept that the inexperience and emotional behavior of the co-publishers has caused this mess. That is only common sense. If Wendy had acted only as an owner and were hiring other people to run her newspaper and she received resumes from herself and her boyfriend, I seriously doubt she would have met her own criterion.

They just made a big mess of everything because they were incompetent and mean-spirited. Duh!

2/19/2007 2:06 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

I understand where you are coming from and the anger associated with it -- but please know that It's hard for me to point out irrelevant asides and name calling on detractors when it is done on both sides -- Nelville clearly has a thick skin but let's be more careful about what we say! 'Incompetent and mean spirited' isn't too far out of bounds but this thread has a potential to get way out of hand -- thanks in advance for understanding.

2/19/2007 2:57 PM  
Anonymous Still on the inside said...

Hey Folks,

I know everyone's pretty upset at what's happening at the News-Press.

There's a community rally at noon Wednesday at De la Guerra Plaza.

Please be there.

2/19/2007 3:06 PM  
Anonymous park park park said...

I think Nelville and the current regime are from the Orwellian school of management... `Freedom is Slavery' `Arbeit macht frei' etc.

For them, bias is what they say it is. From their view, Jerry Robert's News-Press was biased, because any newspaper that would publicize the drunk driving conviction of its own editor is biased.

Biased in their view is doing anything they do not agree with. Freedom is slavery. Arbeit macht frei.

I too wrote out some checks today for Jerry Roberts and for the Journalists fund. Everyone who doesn't want Wendy to turn SB into Animal Farm should do so too.

2/19/2007 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Scott Hadly said...

Hey 7:29 a.m.,
Go back to the hole you crawled out of you coward. The only thing criminal in all this is the kind of creepy spying and character assassination that's being paid for by the thugs at the News-Press.
You want to accuse people of bias. Fine. You want to whine about how there's a media vendetta against you. Fine. You want to tell everyone how you're cleaning house and creating a better paper. Yeah, maybe somebody out there believes you, but when you stoop to this kind of sick libel you have gone too far.
Jerry Roberts has engendered such loyalty from reporters not just because he’s a stellar journalist but because he’s a great human being. Something you obviously can’t relate to.
Whoever you are get a life and get off this blog.

2/19/2007 4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would someone clarify a point for me. Writing a check to the Lawyer's Alliance is for just Jerry Roberts or all fired NP employees or for all emmployees who have resigned or been fired? I definitely want to contribute (even more so because of some of the attacks I've seen here) and I want my $ to go to as many people as possible.


2/19/2007 4:47 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

4:30 pm/Scott -- that comment was misposted earlier today -- letting it be duplicated....

2/19/2007 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doc Searls comments on the Mess today, including the lawsuits against journalists Jerry Roberts and Susan Paterno:

An excerpt:

"I've never heard what "their agendas" are — at least not in a way that makes sense. It's mighty hard to take the high road with the News-Press when they speak only through lawyers, flacks, lawsuits, firings and linkproof editorials (nearly everything the paper publishes is behind a paywall) that strain credulity to the max.

The behavior of the paper and its brass is so bizarre and self-defeating that it serves as a model for nothing any other institution is likely to do. But it has real victims. Jerry and Susan are just two of them. And their cause deserves wider attention."

2/19/2007 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I know this thread makes you uncomfortable but this is exactly where the battle is fought. These people will go to the darkest, most awful places, places that make normal people very uncomfortable. This garbage against Jerry is nothing new. They tried to go there last year with the local Police who told them they were out of their minds. But it does give us on the outside an idea of what type of pressure Jerry and the rest are under. All these clowns have done is make me write a check.

Sal Si Puedes

2/19/2007 7:15 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Thanks Sal -- you are correct on that. I'm trying to balance things here as well as I can...

2/19/2007 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is not the first time that NF has posted that bias complaints rose "soared" during Roberts' time at the News-Press.

How about showing some documentation on that? Number of complaints and substance of the complaints, year by year, month by month, including this year? ...It would be a nothing paper that had no complaints but if there were a soaring number, that graphed would be interesting to see.

And how did Roberts bring "disgrace" upon the paper? That strikes me as a total absurdity that statement.

As for the quality of the journalism, I thought that under Roberts and with some exceptions (notably the huge, San Franciscoesque coverage of the Michael Jackson trial, the journalism was much improved over the previous 10 or so years.

Only a long time reader and a once subscriber, I can't speak to the management style Flynn mentions. But it strikes me that if it was so bad, how is it he has so many supporters among the journalists and staff?

2/19/2007 8:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There’s something dark going on here that those of us without formal training in psychiatry can’t quite put our finger on.

A woman is physically healthy and attractive, receives a fine education, moves to one of the most beautiful cities in the world, through marriage receives enough money to make her one of the richest people to ever walk the planet, and, then, she spreads terror and insanity. It’s the human equivalent of cruelly pulling wings off flies.

She unfortunately brings out the very worst in others, as some comments on this blog show.

What is it that makes her want to hurt others? Something tragic in her childhood? An inability to love others? Rejection from her husband? Being frightened of being happy? Megalomania coupled with terrible insecurity? What?

The scene where the memo to her employees, telling them her wacked version of events, read by her boyfriend while she sits there mute after firing six employees, is just bizarre. Craig Smith reports it’s the first time many of her employees had even met her.

She needs professional help on a number of levels.

2/19/2007 8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is possible that the number of complaints of bias rose because of the editorial page. I certainly was aware of the bias against positions that were not in accordance with the views of Travis Armstrong and the publishers. Before Travis I always used to go straight to the Letters to the Editor to read the lively debates, but those disappeared.

Familiar "liberal" voices were no longer heard. Students used to publish letters on all sorts of issues and those were gone.

Also, increasingly Marty Blum and Susan Rose were attacked and sometimes very unflattering pictures were published. I especially remember one of Marty Blum with her mouth open. Editorials blamed them for all sorts of things that seemed very far fetched such as fewer ethnic festivals. Articles favoring Dan Secord or the most right-wing politicians were front and center on the editorial page. That kind of bias was upsetting and I cancelled my subscription four months before the July resignations.

2/19/2007 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part of the reason the NP and NF have constantly touted their (bogus?) "survey" and otherwise referred to but never substantiated claims of public dissatisfaction is that the complaints -- if they ever were made -- were aimed at the cherished childish Travis and his petulant rants. One of the constant threads for NP supporters over these many months has been, "Wait for all the facts to come out." Well, the NP has lied and produced very few "facts" in its primo opportunity in its lawsuit against Sue Paterno, and will soon be SLAPPed out of court. It produced zippo against the union in the NLRB hearing January 9 and 10 (despite its efforts to show a Teamster "conspiracy" that preexisted July 6), and of course, with all of its p.r. campaign in its very own megaphone -- the newspaper [not to mention Agnes Huff] -- we are still waiting for actual proof of any of the alleged offenses committed by any of the growing numbers of management-disfavored former and current NP employees.

The News-Press plays a pretty weak name-calling game, is excellent at intimidation and meting out unjust punishment to undeserving people, but actually justifying its position? Fuhgeddaboudit.

2/20/2007 6:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:20: could be --- no question but the editorial pages were biased, and that is fair enough, perhaps, although the tone got increasingly nasty and impossible to read.

But if there were "complaints" soaring, as Nelville Flynn and others keep saying, let's see a list and of what they were complaining. A listing of the last 10 years. I'd eat my virtual hat if the news sections received many such complaints.

If there were rising complaints, as has been alleged, then why wouldn't the paper do as others do, and have an omnsbud there for the readers? ...I don't believe there were any bias complaints about the news sections.

2/20/2007 7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for understanding Wendy McCaw, it sure would be interesting if someone could wangle an interview with Craig McCaw. Of all people, he has perhaps the deepest knowledge, the means to defend himself, and no particular reason to stay quiet. Quite the opposite, I should think.

2/20/2007 7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Besides the usual rants back and forth could someone answer a simple question I put forth about the actual subject here - it's getting lost:

Would someone clarify a point for me. Writing a check to the Lawyer's Alliance is for just Jerry Roberts or all fired NP employees or for all emmployees who have resigned or been fired? I definitely want to contribute (even more so because of some of the attacks I've seen here) and I want my $ to go to as many people as possible.


2/20/2007 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara, why did you publish the Roberts post @7:29? and why don't you take it down? If it is true, we will all find out soon. If not, why destroy someone.

2/20/2007 8:04 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

I would consider taking it down but at this point there have been so many posts in response, the thread wouldn't make sense. I don't think it destroys Jerry at all -- in fact, it shows just what some people will do to destroy others and makes his case stronger.

As I've said above, it is also important for our readers to self-police comments. This is an example of how it can be done.

2/20/2007 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to 6:32 and 7:29a:

Yes, a survey was taken a couple of years ago.

Its methodology (which I considered somewhat suspect) was to ask respondents to make two lists of rankings: the first was to rank the things that the News-Press did well and the second was to rank those things in order of importance.

The two lists would then be compared and changes would be made based on any discrepancies. In other words, if readers ranked, say, environmental concerns as a 7 on both lists, that would be taken to mean that the News-Press was allocating appropriate resources to that topic. If, however, the rankings diverged by more than a few points, resources would be added or taken away from a topic as the case may be.

A lot of importance was attached to this survey and its subsequent ramifications for the newsroom. As someone who stood to benefit from its results (my area's importance was given a higher ranking by readers than its ranking for how it was being covered), I was anticipating the increased resources and was even asked to formulate a plan for improving coverage.

Ultimately, the survey data was never put into play. Why? According to several sources who obviously can't be named, the survey indicated that while the News-Press did its best work in covering the social and fundraising aspects of the community (a favorite, if not the favorite McCaw topic), that very subject was the thing that survey respondents cared about the least.

This is the survey to which Nelville and other News-Press apologists refer. In that changes suggested by readers wouldn't be implemented because they didn't match the owner's opinion, it's pretty obvious that they won't be releasing its results anytime soon.

2/20/2007 8:40 AM  
Anonymous truth machine said...

Although Jerry Roberts brought disgrace on the News-Press and clearly was not fit to be its editor, I do not endorse the scurrilous personal attack in the anonymous post of a few hours ago.

Ah, but only your own scurrilous personal attack, eh? Actually, yours is far more scurrilous and than the ridiculous charge from the anonymous misspeller. You have made a number of serious charges; please provide supporting evidence and explain how you came by this information, "Nelville".

2/20/2007 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've railed about this before, but I think bears repeating: If you're going to allow posts like Neville's and 7:29, it's absurd to say "let's be careful" when we respond. This is your blog so you can do what you like, but posting defamatory statements about Roberts and others, then claim you're taking the high road when you decline to post rebuttals, is dishonest and weak.

2/20/2007 9:02 AM  
Anonymous truth machine said...

Would someone clarify a point for me. Writing a check to the Lawyer's Alliance is for just Jerry Roberts or all fired NP employees or for all emmployees who have resigned or been fired?

Just read their mission statement, at

2/20/2007 9:10 AM  
Blogger Just Someone said...

Anon at 9:20, said it best.
What happened to the conversations that should happen in the happen in the letters to the editor?
Or what happened to anything but the ego-stroking that goes on now?

Does blogabarbara have a copy-left in place? If so, will someone like neville extract a conversation, and challenge the NP to put up a page on dead-trees.

We can't have a conversation in the paper... So how about bringing the community into the paper. Edit away, but attempt to show both sides...
or Would someone like Neville be canned for even daring to propose a conversation, rather than a speech.

2/20/2007 9:17 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

9:02 AM -- thanks for the comment and believe me that I appreciate the sentiment. I think it's pretty clear, however, that there have been plenty of rebuttals to both 7:29 am and NF. Where I am coming from is that lowering ourselves to ad hominem argument does not further positive public opinion. Seeing what others will stoop to does.

Let's also be clear -- I haven't declined to post rebuttals. My comments above were after the comment had been published. I have declined to publish a few comments on this topic that were way out of bounds but they were not rebuttals. I also declined a comment that sought to identify another commenter which I do not allow.

2/20/2007 9:22 AM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

We all can be Sparticus, or Jerry Roberts, during the Wake Up Wendy rally Wednesday at noon.

Here is the full announcement for the Wednesday rally and a description of Operation Cold Shoulder.
(copy and past the URL)

2/20/2007 5:20 PM  
Anonymous Bruce MacKenzie said...

On behalf of the Steering Committee for the Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech Rights, I am responding to a couple of questions raised by Blogabarbara commenters with regard to “Let’s Help Jerry Roberts.”

One post asks : “If they are strictly a fund raising group, why a bunch of lawyers?”

The Lawyers Alliance was created by a group of local attorneys and former judges who believe that people committed to the rule of law should also uphold the principle of equal access to justice. As a practical matter, such equal access to courts or arbitration is expensive. It involves not only legal fees but also related costs for experts, arbitrators and support services. Litigation or arbitration is only affordable by people with significant financial means. The fund helps assure that former News-Press employees can defend themselves on a level playing field. Others stepped forward to create a separate fund to help with living expenses, so we are not alone in fund-raising efforts.

Another post asks : “Writing a check to the Lawyer's Alliance is for just Jerry Roberts or all fired NP employees or for all employees who have resigned or been fired?”

The fund is available for any former News-Press journalist's defense costs. We are not providing funds for plaintiff’s fees – e.g. to fund a wrongful termination lawsuit. At the moment, Jerry Roberts is the only one defending himself, in the arbitration mentioned by other commenters, and some donors have asked the Alliance to designate their gifts for him, a request we will honor. Unrestricted donations will go to help defend all former employees being sued, but we are unaware of any other defense needs at the present.

Donations may be sent to the Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech Rights, P.O. Box 5159, Santa Barbara, CA 93150.

--Bruce MacKenzie, Member
Lawyers Alliance Steering Committee

2/21/2007 4:38 PM  
Anonymous truth machine said...

I wrote

"You have made a number of serious charges; please provide supporting evidence and explain how you came by this information, "Nelville"."

Predictably, he hasn't done so. A reasonable conclusion is that, not only are his charges false, but he knows they are false. This should be kept in mind when evaluating anything he says.

2/21/2007 7:21 PM  

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