Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Thursday, July 05, 2007

News-Press Mess One Year Anniversary

With 6 resignations on July 6, 2006 -- the News-Press Mess began a year ago today (for most of you by the time you read this). Posted between a tribute to artist Ray Strong and a description of what was soon to become the Indy Media Blog, little did I know that these six resignations would create the beginnings of a national controversy that is still playing itself out a year later.

A few days after reporting the resignations on BlogaBarbara, I ran a post about Travis Armstrong quoting civil war editor William Story:
"A newspaper's duty is to print the news and raise hell." We feel that we have achieved this in some measure and will continue to do so in the future.

TKA and company have certainly taken the 'raising hell' to heart (and more than in 'some measure') -- where, however, is our local news that we keep on hearing News-Press management holds so dear? And, why is 'raising hell' more important than delivering unbiased news; as well as, fair and honest editorial?

Just to be clear -- this means more than a reporter or two covering local news, telling the whole story even if it hurts (because you know it will be good for business in the long run) AND showing respect to public officials, non-profits, clergy and anyone that might hold a different view. Taking the high road and respecting the community you write for is good for business and sells subscriptions. MySpace is not edging out the News-Press, News-Press owners and management is edging out the News-Press.

Rightly so -- I hope the reporters keep up the good fight. I also wonder, however, how the workers from the News-Press printing plant and other non-reporter departments are doing as we tend to concentrate on the journalists. Where are they a year later?



Anonymous one of the reporters said...

Thanks for all the support S.B. !!!

7/06/2007 1:10 AM  
Anonymous jqb said...

Please read Lou Cannon's response to Wendy McCaw's tirade (pdf) -- link obtained from Craig Smith's blog.

7/06/2007 2:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to thank you for continuing the community dialogue during this difficult time for free speech in Santa Barbara. I had only heard about this blog in passing a year ago, and now I read it every day. I realize it is something you do completely without compensation and in your own valuable time, so thank you for serving your community. Santa Barbara is far ahead of most American cities when it comes to consumption of online news as a result of the N-P disaster, and I think that's something we should be proud of.

7/06/2007 8:54 AM  
Anonymous PaleWriter said...

As the one-year anniversary of the Santa Barbara News-Press meltdown is marked today, I can't help but notice how the situation has gone full circle.

It all started with a story about Rob Lowe wanting to build an oversized house on a lot in Montecito, which would have impeded neighbors' views. A typical planning commission story got blown out of proportion because Lowe called News-Press owner Wendy McCaw and told her he did not want the address disclosed.

All other media outlets were reporting the address of this vacant lot, but McCaw tries to appease her wealthy, celebrity friend by preventing it from being reported in the News-Press.

Too late. It got published anyway and from far, far away on a yacht in a distant region of the world came a phone call from the "local" absentee publisher and co-publisher, chastising the reporter and editors for allowing such blatant biased reporting.

And the volcano erupted, the lava flowed and the meltdown began on the watch of befuddled acting publisher, Travis Armstrong.

And now, all this has come full circle as child pornography has entered the picture and McCaw wonders publicly who downloaded 15,000 images of child porn on a newsroom computer used by three of her former top editors and who knows who else.

What's ironic about all this is McCaw has now declared war on child pornography.

But in July 2006, however, McCaw was extremely eager to cater to an actor who had participated in child pornography with a 16-year-old girl, Jan Parsons, in a 1988 videotape.

Perhaps McCaw should have placed a nonbylined "staff report" front-page story linking Rob Lowe to child porn, and sued him for $25 million instead of her former editor, Jerry Roberts.

But in McCaw World, telling the truth is biased when she disagrees or is in denial.

And that is essentially what has led up to nine journalists standing their ground on ethics, with the support of the National Labor Relations Board, as the News-Press faces unprecedented prosecution on Aug. 14 for illegally firing them, along with committing other alleged violations of the law.

On a positive note, while McCaw has heartlessly devastated the lives of many of her former employees, no animals or trees have been harmed in the making of the News-Press meltdown.

7/06/2007 9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Best local news to be had."

Wendy McCaw, January 1, 2007

Bulls@*t, Wendy, Bulls@*t

7/06/2007 11:37 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

8:54 AM -- Thanks for your kind words...and thank you for reading our blog.

11:37 AM -- wierd email address :) You were close....but left enough to the imagination.

7/06/2007 7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to Craig this morning, 72 employees have left the NP in the last year. That is 1/3 of the employees that work for the paper. This number doesn't even include mailroom, distribution or circulation employees. Those departments have a traditionally high turnover, so that number could be close to 1/2!. I also know of employees chomping at the bit to get out should they find another job. This is just more evidence that blasts huge holes in Wendy's B.S. letter. I don't know where she thinks the happy employees are. Either she is lying through her teeth or her paid lackies are doing what they are paid to do, tell her what she wants to hear. What a sad and sick situation. It reads like a fictional novel but unbelievably it is real!

7/07/2007 4:42 AM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

Today is Sunday, the traditional day for the most quality and quantity of news stories in a daily newspaper.

According to my octagenerian neighbor's recycling bin, what "local" news is in the News-Press today, (Sunday 08 July 2007)??

1. Cover article about a greatly expanding wildland fire in the County, written by ASSOCIATED PRESS.

2. Preview about an ethnic festival that starts in a week. Not really news, but a Life feature. Will they actually report on the event when it happens, besides more big photos?

3. Preview of the County Fair in Santa Maria that starts in 3 days. Also not really news, but a Life feature filling space days earlier.

4. An editorial columnist slamming a letter to the editor, that went unpublished, for actually having a different conclusion that Mayor Blum is responsible for gang crime. That editorial column appeared twice at the website today, under the section on "local news" my other source says. This seems to be the tenth or so reduntant rant of the same faux outrage under the excuse to slam Marty Blum for something, anything. Again, not news but opinion.

5. Another editorial columnist whining about how even Republican Senators do not agree with Bush, but it was "local" apparently because the comment originated from the spouse of the writer. Not news, but opinion and not classified that way.

6. Lots of nice, big photos of the dog statue on Garden Street in a new costume.

If this is all "news" please bring back the "bias". But we know that will not happen as the vanity rag dwindles.

Smearing Roberts and terminating labor union members for lawful activity may be good enough reasons to shun the News-Less, but the contunual lack of actual news, "biased" or not, also should be as big a reason.

7/08/2007 10:08 AM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Davey, er, David...a lot of us still subscribe and read the News-Press. And a lot of us agree with the editorial opinions. A lot. Many. Mucho.

Just thought you'd like to know this very important fact.

7/08/2007 6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sunday Travis editorial - he is right on about the gang issues.

He has been hitting home runs on many local issues lately. Don't know why he has changed so much, but he is getting things very right lately. Stupid to not recognize this, and to only blindly continue smearing him. He is speaking for a lot of people these days and you need to pay attentiont to them.

Yes, conservatives are finally getting heard so it should scare some of you who were deluded into thinking they did not exist and comprise a heck of a lot of the electorate here by the bias of the old NewsPress.

You got duped into thinking they did not exist. And that is not fairness in newsreporting. We are here and we are getting angrier and angrier with what has been happening to our city.

We cut the liberals some slack (out of sheer laziness and succumbing to Olde NewsPress bias) and all they did with the city check book is make problems worse, while claiming they would make them better. And that is what is darn scary.

Time for adults to get back into running this city before the liberals run it into the ground and then walk away from it with term limits leaving someone else to clean up their huge mess.

That ain't pretty. Wendy and Travis, keep leading the charge and get some responsible people to run for city council and back them good. We need the change. ASAP.

7/08/2007 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many of us never read the NewsPress for the features and local stories anyway.

We read (reeed) it for news stories off the wire, the nationally syndicated columnist (love Trudi Rubin) the legal notices, the ads, the real estate section, the sports scores, the obituaries, the divorces and marriages, the want ads, the comics. All good. All intact.

The local reporting was so biased it was an unfortunate irritant, and is definitely not missed. It got in the way of the facts as if the reporter had attended a very different meeting than ones I had from time to time attended.

I was always stunned when I read the later NewsPress "news" report from many public meetings. None is better than the former bias.

So the big stuff is still there and the formerly biased local reporting is welcome to be gone. The bulk of the NewsPress value remains solid and intact.

The features and local columns were only filler fluff of little consequence, which I am sure is hard to hear. But that is why the NewsPress will survive regardless of a few wounded egos let go. The Independent more than makes up for all that feature and filler stuff and has long done a far better job.

Agreed, DrLaura will never replace Barney, which even she admitted today in a pout. But we get him in the Independent and a lot more of him so all is well.

I like being a multi-paper town and I like the emerging voices in the Daily Sound. And I love the Independent for seeing the other side of the story as well. We are blessed in this town to have many good newspaper resources. That is the happier ending of all of this - choice.

7/08/2007 10:49 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

To My Buddy Bill -- I think you know better about calling our friend David -- Davey...didn't we settle that a few months ago? Only his mom gets that honor!

Is the value of the NP in comics and marriages? I guess that's what keep the subscriptions going....I have to admit I miss Get Fuzzy and have no idea who Bucky is mad at today :)

Is that worth a paper where I do not get the whole story? No offense, but unfortunately, many would agree with you.

7/09/2007 12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow the paid by Wendy bloggers are out in force today. Since when was the old NP so liberal? I worked there for over 25 years and I would never have called it liberal. A little to the right of middle of the road, but never liberal. Since when is it "liberal" to present a MOR stance and allow opinions from both sides? Frankly I remember the biggest complaint about the old NP being that they tried to hard to be UN-biased and the stories were rather blah at times because of that.

7/09/2007 4:40 AM  
Anonymous worker bee said...

Us supporters of the so called "biased" reporters are still waiting for one - just one - bit of evidence supporting this claim. Come on Anon 10:49. One. I dare you. And for every one you find, I'll give you ten laughable actions McCaw has taken to turn the paper into the finest local birdcage liner to be had.

See, the difference between you and the fired jouralists is the journalists aren't inventing their side of the story. I suggest you organize the facts before insulting these honest people, lest you look the fool.

7/09/2007 6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If one is a conservative, it was easy to see how liberal the NewsPress was. If you are liberal, you cannot. And that remains the problem. The Independent is liberal. Nice have a choice of opinions in this town. Daily Sound has filled another vacuum in viewpoints. If you want liberal daily, keep supporting SB Newsroom.

7/09/2007 7:41 AM  
Anonymous snarky said...

Could the NP actually do some research, and look into it's own archive (or do they get charged for archive access, too). Go to the website, and show a timeline.

There was a gang unit, and it worked (or the economy worked).
Then, the grant funding ran out, and it was disbanded because "there is not longer a gang problem".

And Mr Armstrong, please stop having one sided conversations in the paper. Please reference articles in the dead trees publication, aka, please publish letters to the editor which are counter to your papers editorial board ;).

We would like to have a conversation, in your publication, but can't.

7/09/2007 8:02 AM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

Never fear, Sara, you can get your Bucky & Satchel fix anytime, anywhere (and for FREE) at the following site:

7/09/2007 9:54 AM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

Apparently to some, an agreement with the editorial position of the NewsLess is reason enough not to care about the lack of actual local news in a supposed newspaper. That is fine, but no one should pretend this is anything but that.

I would like to read how the conspicuous evaporation of local news based on original reporting is somehow a good thing for the alleged daily newspaper "of record". None of the spin here and contiued repeats of mythical Bias ever address that point.

Also amusing or whatever is this spin that the publication is now for "conservatives" or with a Conservative editorial point of view, and maybe also a Conservative news bias implied. I suppose the enemeies of their enemies are now their friends there. Think of who is left to be editorial contributors and guests: COLAB, CAPS, Armendariz, Earle, Ebenstein, Firestone, etc. Then think of who is not a contributor.

The NewsMess editorial position for past few years has been whack, but hardly "conservative" with plenty of Bush-bashing for content.
But if some want to imagine that it all has changed, feel free to believe that just like you all believe the actual news content once was biased.

The answer to "biased" local news clearly for the NewsLess is just not to have any local news except what Nora K. Wallace and Maria Zate can squeeze in rarely.

7/09/2007 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Efforts to retroactively shoehorn the NP mess into liberal vs. conservative terms don't work. The ethical breaches of Wendy, Travis, et al weren't about that, and their spin on events hasn't been about that either.
Politically Wendy and Travis are a mixed bag, and are very pro-environment and anti-development, which don't sound conservative to me. Travis for awhile was writing about a pro-development cabal behind the mess.

7/09/2007 11:59 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

allegro805 -- thanks! You've handled a fix I need :)

7/09/2007 6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liberal is feel-good affordable housing for all -- and that in fact is pro-development. Get it?

Development in this town is therefore liberal. The News Press is conservative - or rather more libertarian - they don't like the government messing with many of their private property rights.

Liberals like free for all zoning. Conservatives like protecting some the status quo, that benefits them.

Maybe the issue is between the hoarders and the free-for-allers. Inclusionary housing mandates suck.

7/09/2007 8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wendy and Travis are anything but "conservative": pro-gay marriage, pro-Native American rights, anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war, pro-environment, pro-medical marijuana, pro-animal rights, ...

Incompetence and whack can't morph into liberal vs. conservative bias.

(What was the "bias" anyway??)

7/09/2007 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudo's again to Travis for blowing Helene Schneider's back room deal with the planning department today. Shame on her. That is the sort of investigative journalism this town needs. TA hit this one out of the ball park.

7/10/2007 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Development in this town is therefore liberal. The News Press is conservative - or rather more libertarian - they don't like the government messing with many of their private property rights.

Absolutely, patently false.

Liberals who know their salt like responsible, sustainable, smartly regulated development. That means building on areas that are already developed, not developing area that should be kept green.

Conservatives (like Donald Bren) would build unsustainable suburban sprawl throughout Los Padres National Forest if given an opportunity.

7/10/2007 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exposing Helene Schneider's little planning department approval ruse is not a bad way to celebrate the NewsPress's First Anniversary. Kudo's Travis - keep it up.

This is what this community needs -public accountability and showing no favor to friend or foe.

7/10/2007 3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember those days fondly, when I would repeatedly ask what, beyond Rob Lowe's address and a second article on Travis' DUI, was the big deal. It's great to know that after a year, nothing else has come up.

Having a sign on an overpass discouraging people to by your product is still a very good reason to be fired. Especially is you are collecting a paycheck at the time. Cry me a river. I would take pleasure in firing people that stupid.

I have especially enjoyed the shifting arguments. What are we on now? Travis is mean to some women?

What is the purpose of this blog?

7/10/2007 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 3:31 and 5:18. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Not reporting the facts, lying to the community, publishing lifestyle stories as news, not covering important community meetings and events, and trashing anybody who does not agree with TKA and Wendy are pleanty of reasons to continue this blog! They talk about keeping the politicians honest but cry when the community attempts to keep them honest. I sure hope Wendy pays well for having you park your integrity at the door.

7/11/2007 4:26 AM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

Spin. Spin. Spin. The history of the NewsPressMess is fully documented and no whimsical questions in anonymous comments here are going to change the facts. The Federal prosecution by NLRB is coming up in a month.

Will these Anonymous breezy spinners still pretend that did not happen too?? Will they report the score of a game but only for the team that lost??

Travistorials are "investigative journalism"??? Incomplete and selective facts are not journalism, starting with not even publishing the name of the target of the smear.

If Helene Schneider really got some favors as insinuated by the Editorialist who had not the courage to name the target of his attack, then why not first write up this as a news article?? Even Hannah Guzik, the closest person to a reporter they have for city issues, would know to ask the accused what really happened, ask the City staff what the rules and policies really were about how to report the property owner name into the database, and then write up a few facts into a news article.

Should the Schneider house have been built upward into a big box behemouth, without Zoning modifications, instead of outward as one floor level, hidden behind a tall hedge on a dead-end street no one but the residents there ever travel on??

Maybe Guzik did that reporting but the outcome did not meet the pre-determined conclusion that the NewsLess Editorialist wanted? Thus, no article was published.

Yet again, that is why The Wall between news and opinion is so critical, because without it neither is believable.

The NewsLess editorials can whine all they want, but because the whole publication has zero credibility and is just a personal vanity rant, the only response it will ever receive that hints of a rebuttal is through blog comments like this.

Because the NewsLess is so pathetic, no one but the same 30% of the population who think Bush is a fine President ever will take that ghost of a newspaper seriously even to bother with a response.

Keep spinning, but I keep spewing my morning coffee every time I read it here at Blogabarbara and I am running out of glass cleaner for my computer screen.

7/11/2007 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Helene Schneider should have remodeled her house within the existing zoning ordinances just like everyone else in the city follows and filed the application under her own name, if she in fact is one of the owners - she should be now that she is paid full time wages for her partime city work.

Granted, this should have been a news item, not an anonymous smear leading to her identity by innuendo. But the facts are public information. And the approval process smells.

7/11/2007 8:50 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Let's get away from the Helene Schneider comments...they aren't relevant to the post.
There was an early morning comment I had to not include as it questioned who a reader/commenter might be. I appreciate the intent but it is part of my guidelines.

7/12/2007 5:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because the NewsLess is so pathetic, no one but the same 30% of the population who think Bush is a fine President ever will take that ghost of a newspaper seriously even to bother with a response.

I'm a democrat and I take the News-Press seriously. Spin. Spin. Spin.

7/12/2007 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 3:31 and 5:18. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Not reporting the facts,

Be specific.

lying to the community,

About what?

publishing lifestyle stories as news,

My God, we should have them hanged for that. Build back that wall between lifestyle and news.

not covering important community meetings and events,

Are they missing stuff because of a lack of reporters or are they missing stuff on purpose?

and trashing anybody who does not agree with TKA and Wendy


They talk about keeping the politicians honest but cry when the community attempts to keep them honest.

I agree that there should be a mechanism that should keep them honest but you guys are way over the top in your reactions.

I sure hope Wendy pays well for having you park your integrity at the door.

Nope. Don't get paid by Wendy.I do appreciate the work that Travis has done however. Without him, I wonder how many more new condos would have been built by now. And how many articles would we have to read on how developers are local heroes because they spend a very small fraction of their millions on high profile local charities.

7/12/2007 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 3:37 -- you are not alone in your observations. The Daily Sound is sounding off too. Finally, a sane voice is emerging in Santa Barbara journalism.

Read Loretta Redd's column on Tuesdays and Cherie Rae's column on Thursdays and you have the beginnings of effective city leadership staring you right in the face. Finally.

7/12/2007 9:10 PM  
Anonymous mr. moreno said...

It's pretty clear that Wendy & Co. have finally figured out that the blogs, and not the News-Press, are driving the debate in this town.

The N-P is dead; these Wendykin ditto heads are just the squeals of a seizing machine. No amount of grease will change things.

7/12/2007 10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's pretty clear that Towbes & Co. have finally figured out that the blogs, and not the Independent, are driving the debate in this town.

The development machine is dead; these Marty-Blum-kin ditto heads are just the squeals of a seizing machine. No amount of grease will change things.

Wheeeee! This is fun. BTW: don't work for the News-Press. Never met Wendy. Don't really desire to either. But it is fun messing with you misguided drama queens.

7/13/2007 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's too bad the Daily Sound has stacked the deck with voices like Cheri Rae and Loretta Redd. Not that I think their voices should not be heard but I truly hoped that when the DS started editorializing that it would have a much more balanced group on their editorial board.

I fear that all we're going to here from Cheri and Loretta is more "Travis-speak" under a different disguise. Too bad.

Perhaps if enough of us contact the publisher they can correct this error before it's too late.

7/13/2007 9:24 AM  
Anonymous big fat fan of travis said...

9:24 anon is showing the true colors of this entire anti-NewsPress campaign. Hmm...let's see...Cheri Rae opposed the Cottage Housing Project and Loretta Redd seems to appreciate the south coast for what it is, not for the potential profits of developers who feign compassion for low-income workers.

Hmm...could it be that the attack on Travis and his dollar-drenched employer is really an ambush by the hungry development machine that has been chewing up the south coast?

So, now it's being suggested that the Daily Sound be under scrutiny for its editorials.


7/14/2007 10:49 PM  

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