Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One of Those Journalism 101 Things...

Associate Editor Scott Steepleton of the News-Press continued his effort of defending his paper's jihad against bias by showing even more bias for management today during the second day of proceedings against the Santa Barbara News-Press. An article at The Santa Barbara Independent describes him being shown pictures of the signs used in the "overpass protest" and continuing to deny that that the reporters were fired for union involvement. He then went on to paint Melinda Burns as biased even though he knows full well that republishing articles in political mailers is a common practice by lobbying firms everywhere.

The Independent went on to describe how the amount of "do not recalls" decreased as News-Press attorney Barry Cappello questioned him and suggested that business owners can do whatever they want with their products. I'm not sure when reporters or the news became a product in America but I guess I was sick that day. Here's what Steepleton said about TKA's DUI not being covered and Rob Lowe's address being published showing bias:

She owns the newspaper, and I think she has every right to be a part of whatever she wants to be a part of.

He says later that reporters are supposed to be well aware of their publishers views and "That's one of those Journalism 101 things". Wow, that's rich coming from an Associate Editor and probable Staff Reporter. SO, as the logic goes, reporters are supposed to hold back because of what their publisher believes in? Where's the "wall" they talked to you about in Journalism 101? Orwellian in delivery, Steepleton and Cappello, continued in their effort to rewrite history by taking on Starshine Roshell.

Cappello projected a few sarcastic letters from her onto a video screen, making much ado about the presence or lack of "smiley faces". Not to outdo himself, Cappello then tried to discredit Linda Strean who lectures at UC Berkeley's School of Journalism and has worked for the SF Chronicle and Examiner. She also happened to work for the News-Press and defended Melinda Burns correctly characterizing her "bias" evaluations as normal for a newspaper and not worthy of termination.

There was an almost-live blog post by Craig Smith today and I am posting just about the same time he usually does so there may be more on this tonight over at his blog. No matter what, you can always talk amongst yourselves here at BlogaBarbara.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NewsPress is not a governmental agency. It is not supported by tax dollars. It is a private business enterprise and the owner can do what she wants.

There are no rules besides the ones now inflicted by the NLRB over right to unionize.

There are no rules over content or editorial influence or business decisions. This is what I don't get. If you don't like the way the NP is run, get a job somewhere else.

But stop thinking you have superior rights to direct this business you don't own. You can like your version of journalistic ethics and guidelines as you see them, but Wendy pays her writers to do things the way she wants, not the way you want.

Did the freeway banner have all the union protections one sees on picket signs so that people know who they are dealing with?

No, it was a crude homemade banner hung by a pack of amateurs, well-meaning but badly misled by their union bosses. It was not a union picket sign to any passerby. It was an act of economic sabotage or as Wendy properly interpreted, and act of employee disloyalty.

Please respect the rights of the owner who gets to run this show the way she wants and should never be forced to work with people who actively work against her.

So what if you get your "jobs" back when she still gets to tell you what and how to write your stories? Your rights do not include running this paper the way you would like it run. Do you understand this? I keep sensing everyone is missing this critical point.

And if all you have been doing is sitting around complaining, don't expect "damages" for lost wages because you have the duty to mitigate those damages and everyone else seems to have moved on and found other jobs.

Either you take Wendy as an employer as is, or you find a job somewhere else. Wendy can't own you as slaves; nor can you own her if she is not selling. This is a voluntary at-will relationship on both sides. You can leave and she can fire you. End of discussion.

The NewsPress is doing fine and becoming the new voice for the new majority in this town -- and that is a number one news story you missed while you were cutting off your nose to spite your face. (as my grandmother would always say)

8/15/2007 11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Journalism 100 teaches you if you don't own the paper, you don't get to call the shots.

Journalism 101 teaches you what you can do, when you do.

8/15/2007 11:32 PM  
Anonymous anon a rama said...

You know, this is going to sound crazy but I want to thank Wendy for being hell bent on doing things her way come hell or high water.

If she hadn’t stomped all over a basically good newspaper and from all appearances disregarded the input of her experienced employees and local community leaders I wouldn’t have expanded my reading of online newspapers from one to several and I wouldn’t have discovered the quirky world of blogs. Maybe I would have discovered them but I probably wouldn’t have jumped in whole heartedly and become such an enthusiastic online reader. I still really miss holding in my hands and reading a local daily NEWSpaper, but *sigh* I’ll live.

I've done my usual middle of the night reading of an assortment of newspapers and blogs finishing up here at Blogabarbara. I don't recall (get it) in which one I first read about Scott Steepleton's reference to Journalism 101 but it made me laugh out loud.

Did Wendy or Nipper take Journalism 101? I think I read something about Nipper working on a school paper.

For all I know Wendy could be a fabulous business woman but just maybe, I did say maybe since I’m just stating my opinion, she might have chosen badly when she purchased an established newspaper. Possibly she and many of the residents of Santa Barbara and the surrounding communities would been happier if she spent her millions on something a little less glamorous, oh I don’t know, say a business that used machines to crank out widgets.

8/16/2007 3:22 AM  
Anonymous snarky said...

Journalism 101: repeat yourself?

NP Article Day 1:
A. Barry Cappello, attorney for Ampersand, said in his opening statement that the six reporters were fired legally, not for union activity, but for engaging in disloyalty that could harm the product of their employer.

NP Article Day 2:
A. Barry Cappello, attorney for Ampersand, contends that the paper fired the six employees legally, not for union activity, but for disloyal conduct that could harm the product of their employer.

8/16/2007 8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of those Journalism 101 things is to not let people you interview -- especially when they're trying to drum up clientele for a new business -- take jabs at the competition.

But new News-Press reporter Tom Risen let Ruben Rey do just that in a story on Aug. 14.

Was it bias? Was it just inexperienced writing? Isn't there a business editor who looks over Risen's stories before they go in the paper?

8/16/2007 1:00 PM  
Anonymous slanted and enchanted said...

Anyone read Armstrong's rant today? By his logic, the only way to have unbiased journalism is to have no journalism at all. I'm sure billionaires and politicians would appreciate that.

8/16/2007 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The News-Press has been far more biased in the past year than it ever was... reporting only 1 side of the NLRB process, giving child pornographer Rob Lowe a voice without noting his two child pornography films, and only publishing letters to the editor that support their side.

I went from canceling my subscription to occasionally reading the library copy; I like the Santa Maria Times a lot better at the library.

I also boycott adverisers who adverise in the News-Press, and I direct visitors to other newspapers for events.

No-one in my neighborhood takes the News-Press anymore.

I think a healthy tax should be placed on car delivery of news papers; the News-Press delivery staff contributes to traffic, pollution, and noise in the morning. I think a $1/ delivered issue delivery tax would be appropriate.

8/16/2007 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would Melinda Burns want to write for the very low-class Wendy McCaw? I know the L.A. Times is buying out reporters, but I'm certain Burns could get hired on there. She is a top-notch reporter. Working for such a mediocre paper, which the News-Press has become, is way beneath her. I wish she would move onto a more appreciative employer. The News-Press is dead and McCaw killed it.

8/17/2007 12:56 AM  
Blogger jqb said...

"There are no rules besides the ones now inflicted by the NLRB over right to unionize. "

Well, yes, all the rules she broke and is now being tried for, and will lose on.

"If you don't like the way the NP is run, get a job somewhere else."

Some people don't like to be stepped on, and so they form unions, as is their legal right. People had long term jobs and liked what the paper had been, liked their jobs and their colleagues ... perhaps they were naive, but they had good reasons to want to stay at the NP. Obviously those reasons have dissipated, but McCaw shouldn't be allowed to break the law without some sort of consequence, even if it's only symbolic at this point.

"Did the freeway banner have all the union protections one sees on picket signs so that people know who they are dealing with?"

You're reaching -- it didn't need to have any such "protections". Funny how McCaw et. al. knew that people cancelling their descriptions and putting up signs was a result of union activity, and even accused the union of vandalizing NP boxes, but somehow didn't know that these union members hanging this banner were engaged in a union activity. The dishonesty of McCaw, Steepleton, and yourself is quite transparent.

"The NewsPress is doing fine and becoming the new voice for the new majority in this town"

And there goes what little credibility you might have had.

8/17/2007 4:56 AM  
Anonymous Worker Bee said...

Anon 11:30:

What's the new majority? Rich idiots?

Also, you're right about Wendy's right to be an idiot and a jerk. But what about Steepleton, Mad Dog Armstrong (who I see at 24 Hour Fitness periodically. They should set out chew toys for that guy) and Yolanda, etc.? Why all this lying about bias? It just holds no water. Are you following this ridiculous trial at all? Why are you proud of the stupidity of your "new majority"? What's wrong with you?

8/17/2007 7:13 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Anon with a question -- the person you mentioned isn't exactly a public figure like the other two you mentioned are.

8/17/2007 6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think there is any law anywhere that an owner has to bargain away the right to control content of a newspaper to union demands.

What exactly will union representation actually bring to NewsPress worker, reinstated or not -wage and benefits? - will they be any better than what they are getting right now?

Probably not, because since these wonderful union workers only want to reduce the paper's income by demanding readers cancel their subscriptions and boycott the advertisers, there will less and less income to bargain for in setting their salaries.

Can't squeeze blood out of turnip, no matter how well your union represents you in collective bargaining.

Working conditions? Nope, no changes there either.

Think you can demand tenure as a union benefit? Doubt it .Teachers only get this under state law.

Demand a firewall between ownership and management - folly to think any labor judge will ever support this. This is not a totalitarian state enterprise. It remains private industry.

Will a union be able to demand Wendy turn the paper over to its workers, lock stock and barrel .Nope, you won't get that either.

Looks like the only union benefit you will get is the privilege of paying union dues off the top of your take home salary and get more lousy advice from hack union lawyers.

But you still will not be able to control the content. So what the heck is all the fuss about.

How long will you be able to dine out on a "moral victory"? Sic transit gloria.

8/21/2007 8:57 PM  

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