Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Update on SBNP Layoffs and Voice Over

There wasn't too much new information early today about the SBNP layoffs today other than Craig Smith reporting how it all went down at De la Guerra Plaza. Apparently, security was present but there were not any awkward moments like with the May Day Massacre. Apparently, there was no severance given and laid off employees were left wondering how they were going to celebrate the holidays.

Although the newsroom at De la Guerra Plaza was saved from more blood letting for now -- several columnists were laid off from the Voice. There's a picture of the Voice's Rebecca Carol at EdHat showing the quality time she is now spending with her child. She wrote the Police Blotter -- one of my favorite columns. Other columnists who were laid off are not yet widely known but I would wager there are a few.

Matt Kettman at The Indy wrote a good article where, as I predicted yesterday, the News-Press blamed the economy as what drove this spate of layoffs and the death of two community newspapers. Don Katich was quoted as saying the economy and "out of town" union protesters were responsible for their woes.

Perhaps more telling of what the future holds for the Santa Barbara News-Press was his quote on how the newsroom now works. To the point, he was specifically asked how many reporters remain in the newsroom but could not come up with a number for Kettman's article.

“We don’t necessarily have people who just report, or have people who just do copy, or who just do management, because we all kind of jump in and do what is necessary depending on who is working that day and what stories develop….It’s a tough question to answer in today’s digital world. In the past, 20 years ago, [newsroom roles] were much more defined.”

Antithetical to union organizing and protecting the craft of journalism, I guess that means that anyone can write a "staff report"? Feigning surprise to the "digital world" when the News-Press website is a closed system -- when even the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times offer their content to the world -- is irresponsible considering today's economy. Also, his statement is ironic considering the slow speed of their website and how hard it is to navigate. If they were to make even a small effort in this area -- I would be more open to hearing him discuss the challenges of a "digital world". Clueless are they.

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Anonymous The Brylcreem brigade said...

Perhaps the co-publishers are hoping that a fresh face — younger, goodlooking, and with broadcasting experience — can help improve the News-Press' image in the community and with advertisers.

Too bad this "director of newsroom operations" seems to know so little about how his newsroom operates.

I'm not surprised.

12/04/2008 11:00 PM  
Anonymous patrick said...

I can't believe that the economy and the nationwide decline in newspaper readership didn't have a serious impact on the NP and its affiliated weeklies. However, I do think that the NP's mode of operation did hasten the decline of the weeklies; Most people I know quit reading the VV after the NP meltdown, when we no longer trusted Wendy to dispense news to us. Something ain't right when one one company publishes almost all of the available print news outlets. Maybe someone else will fill the voids.

12/05/2008 7:08 AM  
Anonymous This is not news said...

The longer everyone indulges in Blame Wendy for everything, the less time there will be to look at real issues and real changes in our local economy. Empty rentals, empty storefronts, declining tax base, job loss, tourism turned off by increasing and aggressive homeless who seem to be Santa Barbara's only growth industry, and all signs pointing a long decline.

Yet the city is demanding more and more subsidized housing as the be-all, end-all solution for every possible local problem. The market is solving the housing problem.

When you can get market rate condos for the same price as city "affordable" with all their resale restrictions and equity losses, why is the city demanding we keep building more and more city controlled housing when market rate housing competes and provides a far sounder investment. Who is really running this city?

City affordable housing does not mean you get a 3 bedroom home in the suburbs for the price of a one bedroom condo. You get a city mandated one bedroom condo (usually grim and dark) for the price of a market rate one bedroom condo, but you lose out on all the benefits of private market rate ownership. This is no deal.

Please will someone tell the city of Santa Barbara to get the heck out of the housing business before they ruin this town for good.

12/05/2008 9:29 AM  
Anonymous youmeandstupidity said...

Matt Kettman's article was junk - pure unadulterated propaganda aimed at a rival paper. He should be ashamed for failing to play the story straight when his own economic interests were in play.

And let's see; Rod Lathim makes a propaganda flick about the N-P that attacks the paper and uses the editor of the Indy as 60 pct. of its content. Then the Indy names him a 'hero." Hip hip hooray.

Idiot lemmings.

You should all be ashamed.

12/05/2008 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Adding it up said...

Story today about 30 local daily papers across the nation looking to be sold, but few buyers. They are bleeding red ink because of the huge drop off in classified advertising.

Apparently that brought in 50% of a paper's revenue. Funny, in Santa Barbara we were led to believe the Duct Tape Team of hack writers were bringing in 100% of it for the NewsPress.

Free sites like Craig's List and have changed how we do classified advertising and that is one of the major reasons for local paper's free fall. I hadn't known this. It puts "journalism" in a whole new perspective.

Store front retail will be dramatically changing in Santa Barbara because of online sales. Print newspapers are relics now too. We need to adjust rather than tear down what we still have left of former important elements of our community.

Sorry Duct Tape Team, you were not necessary for the success of the NewsPress. I wish you had not worked so hard to destroy it and its advertising potential for your own selfish egos. You never were all that important.

12/05/2008 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Coleman said...

Adding it up, last time I looked, a newspaper helped maintain and even gained readership -- just as most commodities maintain and gain customers -- by providing quality. Even today, McCaw will mouth those words, even as she continues to thoughtlessly destroy her product through vindictiveness and venom. Yes, no question, newspapers are hurting for reasons other than Wendy's endless malice, both general economic reasons right now, and reasons specifically tied to newspapers. But to suggest that the quality and reputation of those responsible for actually writing, reporting and editing the paper doesn't matter, is superstition at best.

12/05/2008 6:20 PM  
Anonymous Sorry, Adding It All Up said...

No, the Duct Tape Team did not bring in classified sales. Most readers understand that.

What the Duct Tape Team brought to the paper was balanced news reporting trusted by readers. This balance was destroyed by Wendy&Co.

When readers could no longer trust what was being reported, they left. And so did advertisers.

Mrs. McCaw still hasn't figured out what readers want. She hasn't replaced the staff who left, and by leaving up the pay wall on the N-P Web site, she abandoned future subscribers during the South Coast's devastating fires.

When Santa Barbara residents needed their local paper the most, it wasn't there.

12/05/2008 8:28 PM  
Anonymous PaleWriter said...

Typical press conference at the Santa Barbara News-Press:

Moe, played by Don Katich, a former broadcast director at KEYT and onetime realtor.
Larry, played by Travis Armstrong, editorial page editor.
Curly, played by Scott Steepleton, associate editor.

Curly: "Woob woob woob woob woob, Hey Moe, Larry, our staff are victims of circumstance!"
Moe: "You knucklehead, it's the economy, stupid!"
Larry: "What's our spin, guys? I have to write an editorial making Wendy's lies sound truthful."
Moe: "When did you learn how to write, you moron? And only idiots would think lies are the truth."
Curly: "Woob woob woob woob woob. What do you think Wendy's supporters are, nuuk, nuuk nuuk?!"
Moe, getting Curly in an affectionate headlock and grinding his knuckles into Curly's head, giving him a noogie: "You're right, kid, don't let anyone say you're stupid!"
Curly, smiling: "Nuuk, nuuk nuuk!"
Craig Smith, blogger, making a cameo appearance: "Hey, you guys would make sharp attorneys, like Barry Cappello. Ever think of going to law school?"

12/07/2008 6:09 AM  

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