Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Thanks to an avid reader -- I saw a couple jobs at that piqued peaked my interest. First -- this anonymous listing got me curious as to where it would be:

Effective leader who will be the hub in the wheel of our newsroom wanted immediately. Requisite abilities for the city editor's position include keen news judgment, a knack for teaching a young staff, sharp editing skills and an understanding that incorporating new media practices into the traditional newsroom is the key to survival. The setting is a community newspaper near the central California coast. Please e-mail a resume and cover letter.

Hmmmm. Then I had to wonder what a "Sports Designer" was at the new News-Press:

The Santa Barbara News-Press is seeking a creative, self-motivated, detail-oriented designer and copy editor for its SND-award winning Sports section. Ideal candidates will have superior design skills, solid copy-editing skills, a keen awareness of deadline and experience on a daily sports desk. Duties will include designing C1 at least twice a week, designing inside pages, editing local and wire copy, writing local roundups from coaches' calls and handling agate.

Never mind that the award-winning writers have been gone for some time now -- is this a "tighter and brighter" reporter? You are only allowed to call coaches? You have to be a graphic designer as well as a copy-editor? Guess it's a lot cheaper than Barry Punzal and company....


Anonymous In there said...

Um, you're showing your ignorance of how it's always worked in sports, under Barry Punzal, previous editors, and in fact at probably all sports sections on papers of this size. There aren't enough staff to cover ALL games going on out there, so coaches call in. That happens at all papers. Some sports staffers double as writers, and all copy editors these days double as designers, not quite the same as a graphic designer.
This posting describes what the person who is leaving did (he was the lead designer), under Barry as well as after Barry was very rudely forced out by the wackos in charge.
The question is not that there's anything untoward about the ad, in fact it's pretty standard. The question is, who the hell is going to want to move to expensive Santa Barbara to take a job at a paper that has a proven record of abruptly getting rid of people who are doing a good job (such as Barry, Mindy Spar, many others).

7/20/2008 8:12 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Fair enough -- my ignorance also shows how I was never a journalist! I knew that there was phone work here -- but didn't realize that it was supposed to be all the time. I often saw Barry in the press box at UCSB soccer games for instance -- and I know Ampersand has told many reporters to report from their desk. That's where I was coming from...

7/20/2008 8:41 AM  
Anonymous just asking said...

Couldn't the first ad be from Santa Maria or SLO? I mean, isn't it doubtful that Wendy and Arthur would want to add a journalist to the NP newsroom when they have the powerhouse duo of Steepleton & Armstrong reporting our news? And what's a "new media practice" anyway (sounds anti-coyote)?

Is the second ad for a "temp employee" not protected by the Teamsters?

7/20/2008 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Native Son said...

Just curious ...

If anybody out there with inside information can answer this:

Why did they lay off Punzal? He was the sports editor, right? He worked hard, was loyal and put out a pretty good product, right? And he was not part of the union effort, right? And he didn't write about cutting down trees on State Street or shooting feral pigs, right?

And if he didn't do any of those things, why wouldn't they bring him back now that they have a need in their sports department?

I try to understand those people over at De la Guerra Plaza, but they defy understanding. Or maybe somebody knows something more?

7/20/2008 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Wait... there's more said...

The N-P has some other openings posted. Here's my favorite, as it appears on

Earn$500 - $1000per weekHave you ever soldnewspapers, water,long distance, cableor magazines door-to-door?WANTED!We are looking for serious salespeople who want to earn what they are worth! Are you professional,experienced, outgoing and determined?Come join us and solicit new customers forThe Santa Barbara News-Press...

7/20/2008 12:46 PM  
Anonymous let us know if the food writer escort gig opens said...

The NP's "Sunday editorial" hit an unprofessional low today: some amateur photos from Travis Armstrong and the usual “the city is an idiot” prose. Is there another daily in the country that's as strange? At least he didn’t accuse the mayor personally of having spray paint on her hands – yet.

Given the thoroughly heartless way the NP terminated loyal 20 plus year employees this year, few will be rushing to fill those job ads.

7/20/2008 2:14 PM  
Blogger Persephone said...

Thanks for mentioning CareerSite, Wait. I went there, and did a search for "Santa Barbara News Press." There are actually four ads:

Classified Paginator
Distribution Mailer/Driver
Earn $500 - $1000 (the one you mentioned)
Outside Sales Rep

The full descriptions can be seen here:

7/20/2008 4:53 PM  
Anonymous Chickens coming home to roost said...

The toughest challenge any Santa Barbara business faces is hiring and retaining great people. Even in a business like newspapers, with shrinking job opportunities, few outstanding people -- not desperate for a job -- will join the News-Press. McCaw not treating employees with dignity, or worse, will hurt her recruiting and her business for years to come. The long-term loss of enterprise value will dwarf any short-term boost in profits.

7/20/2008 9:48 PM  
Anonymous don't bogart that joint, Travis said...

Noticed that the Career Site job descriptions didn't mention drug screening...good choice for the NP. You'd have to be on some serious dope to even consider applying (or is it you would have to BE a serious dope?) Can you imagine the $#!+ you'd need if you got hired? Wow, man.

7/20/2008 10:44 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

These employment ads might be more direct and attractive published in Scabs Are Us and Naive Temps Weekly.

7/20/2008 10:58 PM  
Anonymous Al Bonowitz said...

I didn't do sports at the News-Press, but I worked in the sports department at the Ventura County Star in 1999-2000 and at the South Bend (IN) Tribune for four years prior to that. It's going to be interesting to watch this from afar.

They have about a month to get the sports department ready for the busiest time of the year. Friday night football is crazy enough with a full staff ... covering it well with a skeleton crew of newbies will be next to impossible.

1) Will they be able to find enough freelancers to cover five or six area games? Even if they do, there is at most 90 minutes between the end of a game and deadline. That's not an assignment for a rookie.

2) The copy editors and designers will be trying to edit and lay out the section while taking calls from coaches (not just for football, but for other fall sports such as water polo and soccer. Can they find enough clerks to answer the phones? If not, then the editors and designers will have to take up the slack, which will delay them in completing their other tasks. It is impossible to simultaneously lay out a page and take a game report. Both activities require full attention.

3) This operation depends on coaches cooperating to phone in the results ... if they don't, the results don't make the paper. Just sayin'.

4) Even if they get the bodies, they have lost an incalculable amount of institutional knowledge. I expect the corrections section to get bigger ... a lot of dumb mistakes that Barry Punzal or John Zant might have nipped in the bud are going to see print. It's the nature of the beast: It's very difficult to do this well with a full staff of seasoned pros.

Like it or not, I bet a significant number of remaining subscribers take the paper because they are alumni and/or have family fiends or relatives who are high school or college athletes. If the N-P blows this assignment, expect even more circulation losses.

It will be readily apparent that it was a tough night on the sports desk the previous evening if the section has lots of big photos the next day.

7/21/2008 1:59 AM  
Anonymous friday night lights said...

Yeah, what are Wendy and Arthur going to do about Friday night lights? It's the one section where the News-Press still had some juice over the competition.

Has the Red Queen even been to a local football game? Even set foot on a local high school campus?

Does she even know (or care) that thousands subscribe because of local sports? And will go elsewhere if coverage lags?

Are there enough players left at the News-Press to man a winning team in the fall?

7/21/2008 8:38 AM  
Anonymous won't happen said...

That a "paper" has to advertise in electronic employment classifieds shows why the News-Press won't "survive" unless McCaw suddenly gets smart about "new media practices."

7/21/2008 9:15 AM  
Anonymous christine! said...

I didn't recieve my copy of INSIDE SANTA BARABARA as promised in my Sunday paper yesterday? Neither did my MIL who lives on the other side of town....It was broadly advertised on the cover yesterday. I still have my copy from May '06- it is still relavent- which is good since the last issue put out was 1/4 of the size and all ads.

I want my paper back!!

7/21/2008 9:52 AM  
Anonymous In there said...

Sarah, sorry I was snarky in my post yesterday. I need a day at the spa.
You're right, there's going to have to be more phone work now with the reduced staff. But I think the specific position advertised is for someone who normally rarely went outside the office even with a full staff, being the person keeping things organized at ground control, including a share of the phone work.
And al b. raises a ton of good points, I'll just second what he said.

7/21/2008 2:45 PM  
Anonymous said...

Here’s another anonymous listing that got me curious as to where it would be:

“Co-publisher” who doesn't cause community eye rolling wanted immediately. Requisite abilities include food writing experience, a knack for escorting rich blond women without becoming bored, sharp nightclub management skills and an understanding that high school editing doesn't impress. The setting is a community newspaper near the central California coast that was once respected. Please e-mail a resume and cover letter to McCawville.

7/21/2008 10:32 PM  
Anonymous Tumblin' down said...

Native son asked some good questions above to which there are no sane answers. And the NP "brain trust" (I use the term loosely) is in the process of getting blindsided by the result they didn't see coming.
Barry worked at the NP for 25 years and for the last two worked very hard at training and inspiring a young staff in the face of everything going on in other departments, with the result that for the past two years sports coverage carried the paper. Then they laid him off with absolutely no warning and no package of any kind. People who were working so hard look at that and make their own judgments whether they want to keep working for a paper that treats loyalty and hard work that way, and that makes the job they were doing so much harder, and they realize that the brain trust really has had no idea what they've been doing from day to day to make it all work.
Travis, Yolanda, Scott ... I know you're reading this. How could you possibly be surprised at the results you're just beginning to reap?

7/22/2008 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Foolish is as foolish does said...

Management at the News-Press is still in denial that it is at all responsible for the debacle. They blame it on Jerry Roberts, the union, the city government, the clergy, those who aren't sufficiently enamored of coyotes or wolves, etc. No, it's normal for literally half your total staff to depart in two years, including staff that have been around forever, and not only in editorial departments. Autocracy and vindictiveness are the bywords, sycophantic loyalty is all that matters, forget competency, intellectual curiosity, ethics, employee morale, or just plan job satisfaction. There is still a way to turn this around, but it means dumping the agents of belligerence and more importantly, changing the "war against the employees" attitude. Until then, more negativity is in the future.

7/23/2008 12:36 AM  
Blogger Yojimbo said...

The News-Press is looking worse every day. The vegetable front page was a new low. How hard up are these people that they would publish such drivel? I used to subscribe to the News-Press, but now I'm more than content with the weekly arrival of the Independent. Honestly, daily newspapers are sort of dead, aren't they? I get my news from the Net a day before it appears in the NP. And the local content at the NP -- in business, the arts and news -- is fragmental and without substance. The whole paper just looks sad anymore. The Independent is a great looking magazine. The News-Press looks like it put together by slobs. Somebody should shoot it. I hate watching things suffer.

7/26/2008 1:51 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Just so you and other readers know, I try to stay away from comments that refer to anything that might be construed as advocating a violent action. You and I can see, however, that it is just a metaphor and I want to be clear that I read it that way!

The News-Press does seem to be suffering and the vegetable home page is a new low...I wanted to publish your insightful comments but be clear that I'd rather stay away from "shooting" metaphors, similes and the like.

7/26/2008 6:21 AM  
Anonymous Native Son said...

Interesting but sad to see the News-Press be reduced to nothingness, section by section.

Sports was one of the last areas with any substance, but with the firing of Zant, the layoffs of Punzal and Jahner, the resignations of Merfeld and Dvorak, and the certain departure of a few others, it will also be full of nothing but wire service stories that are already available on the internet.

The high school football season is going to be a shock to those holdout readers who expect to read about their teams in the News-Press. Many readers live for that stuff, but they ain't gonna get that in the News-Press anymore. Expect a huge rash of cancellations. I mean, the News-Press will be totally irrelevant by then.

Apparently, nobody with any business sense seems to be advising Wendy and Arthur, so maybe they should just throw up the white flag to the Daily Sound and the Independent and Nooz Hawk and some new local web sites that are about to debut. Unless they come up with some kind of surge strategy and reinforce their troops, they're going down to certain defeat.

Well, at least they can sell the building for a nice chunk of change. They've got that going for them, which is nice.

7/26/2008 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Not whistlin' in the dark said...

Wendy and Arthur have a solution available to them, but it requires swallowing their pride and dropping their animosity toward what is truly the lifeblood of their enterprise: their employees. If they would authorize their representatives at the bargaining table to reach a decent deal with the union instead of maintaining the unacceptable status quo, bring back some quality reporters, and offer them tolerable working conditions, the paper could do a turnaround, attract more quality talent in reporting and management, and I'd bet the union itself would be willing and able to tout the paper just as it now justifiably slams it.

7/27/2008 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Native Son said...

Not whistlin' — I admire your optimism, however ...

The day that Wendy swallows her pride, even for the best interests of herself and the entire free world, is the day that feral pigs fly.

She has snuffed out all of her newspaper's talent, both the loyal (Punzal, Spar, Jahner, etc.) and the allegedly disloyal (Zant, Hobbs, Schultz, etc.), because she gets her jollies by keeping others under her thumb, watching them squirm and then squashing them.

That is the thrill she gets from owning the News-Press. That's why she bought it. Nothing else matters. I kid you not. I've been inside that building and I've seen it with my own eyes. I've also talked to those who've worked at her estate, and it is the same there. They are treated with the same perverse contempt.

She will giggle with delight with each day that she drags this out at the negotiating table. Have you not paid attention to her approach to litigation?

I'll tell you how this tragedy ends: Wendy will shutter the News-Press for awhile as a failed business and declare, in words to satiate her appetite of paranoia, that Jerry Roberts and Dawn Hobbs and the union and Marty Blum and Brian Barnwell and all her other perceived enemies are the ones to blame. And she will get immense satisfaction from that.

Then, with the building cleared of the rest of those employees whom she has been caught referring to as "the natives" and "the enemy," she will reopen the News-Press at a later date to restart this sad circus for just more of the same.

I'm just glad that I got off this Titanic before it sank to such pitiful lows.

7/27/2008 10:27 PM  
Anonymous and I have a bridge to sell you as well said...

yojimbo, doncha think you're getting too personal by referring to Wendy's "braintrust" who put the paper together -- Arthur, Travis and Steepleton -- as overweight slobs? From all the photos I've seen, they look slim and trim, like well-conditioned athletes, being the personification of the new News-Press.

7/28/2008 12:03 AM  
Anonymous Everything Works in Theory said...


These people followed up the Broccoli Expose with the Lard Chronicles. The one-ply vs two ply controversy may be next. Wishful thinkin, Whistlin. None of them have the grey matter or the priciples to do the right thing.

7/28/2008 12:13 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Moreno said...

As long as the big advertisers like Macy's and Lazy Acres (whose fancy inserts the N-P prints) continue to patronize Wendy's crappy rag she can pretend it's a real newspaper and keep it afloat.

And let's face it: Wendy's history is that once she gets her fangs into something she doesn't let go. The circulation will continue to fall, Travis will spew his delusions and the N-P will become synonymous with "irrelevant," but she'll still be there terrorizing her minions for their perceived incompetence and disloyalty.

I have good friends still stuck there, and I just hope they can get out before they become more Wendy road kill.

7/28/2008 8:22 AM  
Anonymous whistlin in the dark with blowtorch said...

Well, if Wendy tries to shut it down in order to avoid the union, that ain't gonna work, unless she turns the place into a shoe factory! I understand the pessimism, but this isn't just about Wendy's personality. There are economics at play, and much as she does seem to enjoy inflicting pain on others and playing victim nonetheless, and obviously doesn't seem to care about how much she spends to frustrate her employees and defend her law-breaking,, the union will find her limits and someone will talk sense into her.

7/28/2008 9:08 AM  
Anonymous Native Son said...

Whistlin ...

If someone ever succeeds in making Wendy find her limits and does indeed talk some sense into her, it would be an absolute first.

She has spent millions on frivilous, unwinnable lawsuits. How about dem economics?

7/29/2008 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Still whistlin' said...

native son, I hear you, believe me. Wendy has complained, however, about her legal bills, which are only going to get worse in the next period, as she pays Sue Paterno's attorneys fees, and otherwise continues to pay Cappello, Zinser, et al to lose and be embarrassed. Her business contacts can't be happy about what's going on with her paper that they want to advertise in. She has laid off people blaming her legal bills, and at some point, may finally conclude that there must be some way out she can control. Perhaps she'll try firing her current set of legal curmudgeons and hire yet another group. But if that reshuffle doesn't work, then she can either sell the business, shut it down, or sign with the Teamsters.

7/29/2008 6:38 PM  
Anonymous Native Son said...

Still whistlin ...

I know what you're saying makes sense, but she has always been a non-sensical woman. I honestly think she'dd rather go bankrupt than ever give in on anything. I hope I'm wrong, for the sake of my former colleagues. But I haven't seen anything to suggest otherwise.

The newspaper is already a mess. It's almost too late to salvage anything anyway.

7/30/2008 1:55 AM  
Anonymous longtime whistler said...

native, it's hard to avoid the conclusion you reach about McCaw's proclivities, but it seems the Teamsters are dedicated to outlasting her by the proverbial one more day. It would take some doing, but given the interest in this local market, and the improvement in circulation other SB-area papers have experienced, a revived and revitalized SBNP can be achieved, IMHO, with a true collaborative spirit.

7/30/2008 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Why I quit said...

The front-page hit piece on the former executive editor accelerated the News-Press' downward spiral.

To the few veteran journalists remaining in the newsroom, it became clear that Wendy had put in place top editors who would abandon even the basic tenets of fair newspapering, among them:

-- Try to cover all sides of a story as objectively as possible.
-- Don't convict people before trial.
-- Provide attribution or a factual basis for all accusations.
-- Don't pander to advertisers with publicity disguised as news.

No contract with the Teamsters can instill ethics and integrity in people who have none.

I could no longer work for these editors.

7/30/2008 3:46 PM  
Anonymous Native Son said...

Why I quit said ...

Yeah, me too. And many others.

7/31/2008 10:53 AM  

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