Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Community Post: Reflections on My News-Press Experience

by Bob Guiliano, former assistant city editor, SBN-P, 10/30/06-1/26/07

Now that my share of the testimony at the NLRB hearing is over, I feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can continue on with my life.

I am not happy, however, that I failed to accomplish my mission, which was to help Wendy McCaw fix the News-Press, and help resolve all the various conflicts taking place between her and past and present news staff and members of the community.

This controversy caught my attention while I sat at my desk at the North County Times in Escondido, Calif., peaceful and secure in a position I had held for eight years, editing stories and designing pages. I had just received a good annual review and raise, and my vacation time increased from two to three weeks. And I had also been substitute teaching about three days a week for five years in local high schools, something I enjoyed doing as I considered making a permanent career change to teaching.

What particularly caught my attention about the News-Press was not all the controversy about the Rob Lowe land story, or the Travis Armstrong DUI story, or even the mass exodus of editors and reporters, but that a group of remaining reporters bonded together and risked their financial well-being and careers for something they believed they were fighting for, journalistic ethics and integrity.

Opinions may vary on whether they have been justified to stand up to the owner/publisher of the newspaper, who possesses the right to determine the paper's philosophy and choose what areas of coverage she would like prioritized in Santa Barbara County.

Of course, a newspaper must be a champion and community leader demonstrating ethics and integrity to maintain its credibility. And, a truly non-biased newspaper would not only require a variety of comments and all sides to be reflected in any story, but it would cover all the news, and publish readers' letters to the editor or op-ed columns, whether they agree or disagree with the publisher's, or editorial page editor's or other readers' viewpoints.

Now, back to my case in point. How often in your lifetime have you seen a group of American co-workers show the courage to risk all in their fight for what they believe is right? Troops have experienced such bonding in combat to the extent that they regard each other as brothers or sisters, and remain close for their lifetimes.

I figured that if Wendy McCaw could recognize the courage in her team of reporters and harness their energy, she could have propelled them and her newspaper to excel in covering Santa Barbara County and perhaps there would have even been Pulitzer Prizes down the road!

Giving up the security of my jobs at the North County Times and the Escondido high school district to enter this mess in Santa Barbara was something I wanted to do. I felt there was such potential, with the combination of an individual, financially independent owner who is not beholding to anyone, and a group of reporters who have the guts to fight. Hell, don't fight them, get in front of the line and lead them! Give them direction, build their confidence, appreciate them and set them loose!

Besides typical news and feature stories, there are always social issues to investigate. The ones I've been involved with or interested in over the years include political and police corruption, illegal drug dealers (you'd be amazed where the kingpins live and what country clubs they belong to), human trafficking, sex & domestic slavery (the best investigative report I read about this was done by El Universal newspaper in Mexico City several years ago, focusing on North San Diego County), child pornography, gangs, and real estate fraud.

One thing about being on the night shift at the News-Press, you field calls from a variety of people giving you tips for breaking news or possible investigative reports. That was always one of the most interesting parts of my job at a newspaper, developing sources, determining if they were credible, and then investigating and writing the story myself, or hooking the source up with a reporter.

In conclusion, I hope the Santa Barbara News-Press can resolve its many situations and get back to focusing on being a real newspaper and serving the community. And I wish the best for the courageous eight fired reporters involved in the NLRB hearing, remaining copy editors and other staff I had the pleasure to work with at the News-Press; community members and religious leaders I've met; my late-night tipsters who kept me company when I was alone in the newsroom, and who provided some really solid leads for stories; and Sara De la Guerra, for allowing all voices to be heard on Blogabarbara!

Labels: ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has this guy lost it? He got caught lying on the stand and writing emails like a ninth grader who just broke up with his girlfriend. They say WM is a nut!! Someone should demand he give up his teaching credential. I hope his employer is reading about his testimony at the NLRB hearing.

8/26/2007 6:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 6:13 Thanks for saying what most have been thinking,after the emails were released and BC caught him in a lie regarding the sexual harassment issue. This guy is pathetic. He should have told McCaw he watched "Bridges of Madison County" as well. Hey Bob, she is still single.

8/26/2007 6:57 AM  
Blogger Citizen Stringer said...

Guiliano clearly has an email sending addiction problem, but his professional principles are why he was Wendinated.

He backed his news reporter staff, based on true journalistic credibility and not the Party Line. He stuck to his professinal standards instead negotiating with the Terrorists so he could keep his job another month.

8/26/2007 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup, Guilano wrote some weird e-mails, but they were just weird, not threatening.

McCaw also rambles in weird articles, like this one.

That McCaw associates only Jerry Roberts with child pornography and not the other editors who used the computer with apparent child porn on it is way more threatening than anything Guilano has done.

In addition, McCaw/Ampersand/News-Press quoted Rob Lowe during the fire, and suppressed publication of the address of his empty lot during a planning dispute about his empty lot.

Rob Lowe is an actual child pornographer, having appeared himself in videos with children having sex with children. His address should be public record as a sex offender.

8/26/2007 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Two wrongs a right does not make said...

I am repulsed as much as the next Santa Barbararian by the NEWSPRESS mess, but I must say, Guiliano's ego seems to precede him.......I can't stomach this guy's bluster....

8/26/2007 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are sitting in New York, trying to explain the NewsPress drama to my relatives. After hearing about the situation, they have basically concluded that you guys sound like a bunch of namby-pamby panty whiners, and that's coming from some very blue-state people.

Oh, and citizen stringer sounds like a borderline idiot. The whole Al Qaeda metaphor is ridiculous.

8/26/2007 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't Guiliano a good, solid McCaw/von Whatever/Steepleton hire in the first place?

8/26/2007 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think he was a Bush/Rove plant trying to distract the community away from the threat of Global Warming...

8/26/2007 5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, thanks for filing this rebuttal so we could learn more about your situation and motivations.

I wonder how those who have rudely criticized you here would behave if faced with similar circumstances. They wish to bludgeon anyone whose testimony seemingly didn't get a knife into McCaw etal. It seems like the Judge will follow the law and be fair to both sides.

Anon w/ relatives in NY, thank you for a dose of reality.

Citizen Stringer, again, I find the use of the word Terrorist very offensive and inappropriate, to the point that your posts will ultimately be ignored if it continues. I believe that you should select another metaphor.

Fred Sanford.

8/26/2007 8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what he's smoking, but can I have some?

8/26/2007 8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robert Guiliano is an absurd man. He either possesses the guilelessness of a 3-year-old or is lying when he claims that he went to the News-Press on a mission of restoring journalistic integrity.

The same nitwits responsible for destroying that integrity - McCaw, von Wiesenberger, Steepleton and Armstrong - were still in power and still Bob's bosses. So how did he think he could march in an make everything better? By allying himself with an ill-advised union effort? By writing silly letters to Wendy?

No, the record shows that Bob jumped into a cage with a tiger, then professed shock and outrage when he got bitten.

8/26/2007 8:44 PM  
Anonymous nomdecrayola said...

Dude needs to step away from the keyboard and avoid clicking "send."

8/27/2007 8:00 AM  
Anonymous snarky said...

Partially offtopic, but at the same time, of interest.

Is Yonlanda the next fall person?
There are 6 reporters. If Barry takes apart one more using something thought private from the HR records, then the NP may have a different issue.

How many ways will can one come up with this firing was not related to union participation? On the other hand, Barry is paid for his expertise, so it will be interesting to see.

8/27/2007 8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wasn't just Guiliano. Wendy conned us all.

8/27/2007 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is Wendy's paper. She conned no one. She never told you it was yours. You employee. Wendy boss. Keep repeating this until you get it.

8/27/2007 11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It what you got out of this NP stuff is a bruised sense of entitlement, you lost what you needed to lose. Take your lesson well to heart and be grateful for it, because in the real grown up world there is no free lunch.

8/28/2007 12:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:59- this comment pops up everywhere & it is the same old cowpucky each time- about how this is Wendy's paper & she can do whatever she wants. This is not true, there are labor laws which is why there is this hearing going on.

8/28/2007 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's what Wendy told the public, in print:

"... I plan to leave the day-to-day management and editorial direction of our paper to the professionals who run it. An essential reason for buying the News-Press is to preserve its independence and integrity." 7-22-2000

"...I will continue to leave it up to the newsroom to make the news judgments on which you, our readers, depend." 5-27-2001

"We are in the process of hiring a new editor who is a strong journalist with impeccable credentials to be the buffer between the newsroom and the publisher." 7-25-2006

"While I don't believe that union representation is in the best interests of our employees, the paper or this community, I respect our employees' rights to make their own decisions." 7-25-2006

"I will personally continue to work in 2007 to ensure that you receive the best local coverage that can be provided, not only this year, but beyond." 1-1-2007

11:51 a.m. is right.

Wendy conned us all.

8/28/2007 11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:59 PM said...

It is Wendy's paper. She conned no one. She never told you it was yours. You employee. Wendy boss. Keep repeating this until you get it.

You're right but as a newspaper reader, I'd like to have some choices. As an SB resident, I would like it if another newspaper could come to town without her threatening to sue everyone in sight. It sounds like a case of quashing any hints of competition. Is Wendy telling us the NP is a product that can't stand on its own merit?

Does she have the right to a monoopoly because she can threaten to sue any competition?

Doesn't a free market mean anything to you? Shouldn't we allow competition so that the best product emerges? Maybe you should learn about the free market before you try to patronize me with your comments.

Or maybe I have to learn about the new America, -- make sure you have the financial resources to hire all the legal help needed to create and maintain a monopoly. That sounds pretty discouraging for any entrepreneur trying to create a new business.

Maybe we don't need new businesses, just bigger law firms.

8/28/2007 11:23 AM  
Blogger jqb said...

She conned no one. She never told you it was yours. You employee. Wendy boss. Keep repeating this until you get it.

She lied about her intentions with the paper (and continues to lie about "removing bias"), and she's not my boss or the boss of most of the people commenting about it. It doesn't matter how many times you repeat your silly mantra, only a crackpot would "get" it.

8/28/2007 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Daily Sound is doing just fine, so don't patronize me about Wendy controlling the market. She isn't and she can't.

Any one of you can build your own daily newspaper, deliver it to the door step and there is not a darn thing Wendy can do about it.

She can't control where subscriber dollars go. And right now lots of subscribers are happy to keep giving her their money and reading her paper.

You keep overlooking that the new NewsPress is making a lot of people in this town happy. Please process this.

8/28/2007 9:35 PM  
Blogger jqb said...

so don't patronize me about Wendy controlling the market

I believe the patronizing statement anon 11:23am was referring to was "Keep repeating this until you get it." S/he did not patronize you in return. Perhaps when you grow up you'll learn to use your own words. (That was patronizing.)

the new NewsPress is making a lot of people in this town happy

No one decent.

8/29/2007 3:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:23: Wedndy didn't do anything Cottage Hospital didn't do--squash the competition, deny every attempt for unionization, create a monopoly, lower standards, intimidate everyone who raises a voice of protest--or even asked for a fair evaluation of the monster new building on one side of town and the condo project on the other. It's the way of doing Big Business in SB. Only thing different is that Cottage owns the council and business community, and Wendy doesn't.

8/29/2007 7:55 AM  
Blogger jqb said...

"It's the way of doing Big Business in SB. "

So are you for that, or against it?

8/29/2007 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm forgainst it. If anything the NP implosion has fostered access to more local news outlets. The SBCH analogy is nonsensical and factually challenged.

What are you people complaining about anyway? You hated the NEWS SUPRESS before it became the daily clone of the Independent, or you haven't lived here very long (and you forgot what the real world is all about when you moved here.)

A comment on the Union thing, if you know anything about Unions in this era, Wendy is the BIG WINNER here - so big she doesn't even know it herself, yet. She will be double pissed about Barry's bill when she realizes she could have saved that too.

Context/Contest suggestion: How many of the people who've posted here can tell us what Nipper's was and where it was located?

8/29/2007 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

--Champagne bar for blond(e)s and cafe society dudes with names like "Nipper" (who edited their Swiss boarding school newspapers).

--Montecito's Los Arroyos

Bonus questions: Why did Nipper's go under, and what did Nipper do for a living between then and the Mess?

8/30/2007 2:25 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Ummmm, let's not go there -- some of us remember it too well and would rather forget.

8/30/2007 8:24 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home