Monday, May 21, 2007

A Week of Bought-Lines

Last week I concluded a post with the following:

Seven people quit since the last charge against Roberts. If another seven don't quit over the next few weeks, it's time to start calling writers out by name. Starting next Sunday, INOTBB will list every freelancer and writer on staff in the paper the previous week and then all of us in the blogosphere can ask these somehow still News-Pressers--why do you think Jerry Roberts should be attacked this way?

So I missed my schedule, but here we go, all the folks with bylines in the News-Press from May 15 - May 21 (based on what you can see on the website without paying for the paper). I realize some of these folks are still part of the 33-6 vote, fighting the good fight. But many are management (no union vote, no matter their sympathies, which are enough to get some folks fired--see Huebner, Andrea) and many are freelancers, who one would hope could find other places to make a buck.

Daniel Alef
Dennis Bateman
Tyler Blue
Karen Bridgers
Joseph D
Tynesha Daniels
Blake Dorfman
Sam Edelman
Hannah Guzik
Bethany Hopkins
Karna Hughes
Al(an) Hunt
Tom Jacobs
Marilyn McMahon
Ted Mills
Richard Mineards
Frank Newton
Alelia Parenteau
Mark Patton
Barry Punzal
Kendal A. Rautzhan
Dale Rim
Laura Schlessinger
Mindy Spar
Staff Report
Scott Steepleton
Justine Sutton
Mike Takeuchi
Chris Trenchard
Marty Wadsworth
Nora K. Wallace
Lorraine Wilson
Buddy Winston
Josef Woodard
Maria Zate

Then of course, there's:

Wendy McCaw
Arthur von Weisenberger
Travis Armstrong

The folks listed in Business:

Yolanda Apodaca
Graham Brown
Kathy Knobbe
Steve Nakutin
Bob Yznaga

The folks listed under Newsroom without bylines this week:

Charlotte Boechler
Keri Bradford
Charles Bucher

There might be others I've missed. For instance one emailer wrote "a couple people who are easy to overlook are Anthony Peck and Marcia Heller, who work for Travis laying out the editorial pages and vetting the letters." If there are other people like that, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Oh, and I am ignoring the Goleta Valley Voice, Blue Edge, and El Mexicano for now, as McCaw bought those up, so it's a bit harder to determine how connected any of them are to the Ampersand Empire. But, it is fascinating to see that while it seems the N-P only has a tiny handful of reporters, it certainly has a lot of writers. Make of that what you will.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Listing those still inside really isn't fair. As one of the reporters who was fired in February, I know how hard it is every day to walk into that building under these conditions. It's not easy! The fact is, we need those people, many of them union supporters, on the inside. We need them to stick this out so we can get a working contract. Many of those people are horrified by what Wendy did to Jerry Roberts, among other things. The Freelancers who quit weren't part of our bargaining unit; I support what they did wholeheartedly (and I certainly wouldn't blame anyone who does decide to leave).
Let's just remember who is to blame here; it's certainly not the people who are walking into the News-Press every day to take a stand for labor rights and journalistic ethics ...

6:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This challenge -- at least insofar as it calls out the newsroom staff -- is, with all due respect to the good advocacy you've done to date, not remotely appropriate. As many of the people who quit have noted, it takes courage both to resign and put one's livelihood at risk for the cause, but also to remain, because under these conditions, that, too can be a way to effectuate change (through the union). The perps, like Travis, Steepleton, Apodaca, and of course Wendy and Nipper (not to mention the Wendy Lawyer Brigade), should be held responsible, but those in the newsroom don't need or deserve this pressure or unwarranted "moral" scrutiny. Frankly it is too easy for those on the outside to judge. If we really want the SBNP back, it is going to require people on the inside pulling for it just as it will require people on the outside pushing for it. Many of the people on the inside are no doubt appalled at the April 22 Roberts smear job, but walking out only strengthens the hand of those responsible for it. It is understandable that some who were on the inside have given up, but it is still more than comprehensible, and indeed, commendable, that there are many who still hold out hope and are acting on that. They should not be criticized for that tenacity and persistence -- I daresay Jerry Roberts would not join in that criticism and would disavow it -- but should be applauded and encouraged to continue the struggle.

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever one thinks of its owners and managers, the News-Press is still the top source of news and information from and about Santa Barbara. Asking the people who inform us to resign is irresponsible. The News-Press has been crippled by inept management and firings/resignations, but it's still an important voice and news source on the region. If everyone walks out, it would be irreparably damaged. We need to keep the News-Press alive and keep hoping for better days

8:01 AM  
Anonymous kusala said...

This is unrelated to the question of listing all these names, but in regard to the following comment:
the News-Press is still the top source of news and information from and about Santa Barbara

It most absolutely IS NOT. Better and more thorough information can be gleaned from reading The Daily Sound and/or Santa Barbara Newsroom online and picking up a weekly Independent. There is absolutely NO local news or information that I am missing without the SBNP, and I consider myself better informed than most. Stop believing that SBNP is relevant whatsoever in its current form.

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How the heck can it take so many people to produce such a poor paper. George, the next time you do this list, I'd love to know who these people are? What do they do? I rarely see more than two local by-line stories on a daily basis (and half the names listed, I've never heard of). It confuses me as to why tight-wad Wendy has so much excess dogwood?

8:30 AM  
Blogger theaverageman said...

Hey, how about picking one major advertiser a week, and hitting them with letters and phonecalls?

I don't get the paper anymore, but I remember seeing Cox and Lazy Acres in the weekly thing that comes in the mail.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous snarky said...

Gabe Saglie

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Idea: send those News-Press "weekly things that come in the mail" right on back to the News Press......return to sender.......or to the advertiser(s). I did. (I don't want their publication. I certainly do not want their clutter. Talk about wasting trees!)

8:53 AM  
Blogger Jami said...

George, i have to agree with your anonymous posters who are busting your chops for naming those still on the NP staff. While many may be scabs, Im sure others are just trying to accomplish what your posters are referring to. Muscle on the inside will be necessary if they are all to get the paper back. My opinion: screw that fishwrap and screw Wendy McCaw. Let the whole thing go down in flames, get some capital, and start a new paper if that's what the community wants. I think newspapers are on their way out and internet news is the future, but it's still nice to grab the sunday papers and sit out on the patio with a coffee, even if the Sunday News-Press sports section is consistently a disappointing four page affair of ap and mcclatchy reports.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Numfar said...

What's next, George, scarlet Ws?

And pardon the cheap shot, but it's awfully easy to be the voice of moral authority from your civil service job on the bluffs.

As I've said before, it's unspeakably distasteful to take Wendy's money. We know she's evil and a probably not even human. We get it. But those who stay have their own reasons. It doesn't mean we -- yes, myself included -- are part of Wendy's flying monkey army. The last thing we need is to be called out as weak-willed quislings.

Don't you think one moral scold in SB is enough?

8:58 AM  
Blogger George said...

To be honest, I wasn't sure this post was the right thing to do, as I know--in fact I wrote that in my intro--there are still folks who are hoping against hope the paper can be saved. My concern is, can it really? Exactly how? If all the people now at the Newsroom get their jobs back will things suddenly be right?

I guess it's a good sign to see people respond as they have--perhaps my lack of hope is just my usual pessimism.

I do need to add that many of the folks on this list are freelancers who have no union say and no union rights and can't really change things one way or the other at the paper. As someone who has only ever worked as a freelancer in the parts of my career associated with journalism, I can sympathize, but at times you have to choose who you will write for (I'd never work for the Washington Times, say, or, for that matter the Montecito Journal).

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Busting George's chops on this is not helpful. He's provided some valuable information that needs to be out there.

Dozens of people have given up Santa Barbara because of the News-Press debacle. We ALL have families, history, career dreams and love of this community in common, but some of us were more willing to take a risk than others.

I cannot respect my former colleagues who continue to take money from Wendy McCaw, because I know that they are all capable of doing something else that doesn't benefit a ruthless regime of terror. They have no obligation to stay there, and they shouldn't for one more minute. Life is too short to waste it working for someone like that.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Queen Whackamole said...

I second The Average Man's suggestion to call out advertisers... I suspect Wendy will continue to publish the paper with NO writers if she has to, but she won't do it without advertisers...

And also second the observation that the N-P is no longer the top source of news and information in Santa Barbara. Those days are long gone...

wv: ymust

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Bong Hit said... said...

"News-Press is still the top source of news and information from and about Santa Barbara."

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:36 AM  
Anonymous We Shall Remember said...

While many of those still there are scab opportunists gaining at the personal expense of those who resigned or were illegally terminated, others are good people who are stuck with no other job and trying to survive in the brutal housing and job market here.

THE BIG TARGETS are those who keep granting interviews to the Newspress and sending in material for publication.

THAT would be a far more illuminating list of who openly and deliberately condones the beyond-sleaze behavior of this abomination.

Council member Roger Horton, we're noticing.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

George is right to put the names of the NP employees out there. Also right are the defenders of union employees fighting for a better paper. That leaves the freelancers and non-union managers, at least those who have a conscience, with no defence for selling their souls.

Kudos to those who want to broaden the call-out to include the advertisers and publicity hounds.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Drew said...

I, for one, would love to see the prolific Staff Report hang up his press hat.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should really take Jerry Roberts off this perceived pedestal; I've been in this business for 30 years, working at some of the biggest metro dailies, and NO ONE I've worked with ever heard of Jerry Roberts. This town is really brainwashed. However, this is not my point: for one writer who quit recently because of the Roberts story, he/she was never even thanked by Roberts. The only correspondence this writer received was the union lawyer wanting to ask this person questions. Oh, and go see the Oscar-nominated documentary titled "Capturing the Friedmans" -- you never know who your neighbors are ...

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Al Bonowitz said...

Many of the people listed are freelancers. I hope they are being paid. I know of a freelancer who is still waiting to be paid for work that was published almost a year ago despite repeated calls to Steepleton. Of course, his contract was approved by Jerry Roberts and his assigning editor wore a tuxedo when he resigned in October, so %@$@% him.

Trust me, some of the others on that list would leave if they could, but circumstances beyond their control force them to stay. They are still doing the best work they can, so you have to respect them for that.

Unfortunately, while some of the remaining staff are people of quality — and integrity — the News-Press ceased to be a credible source of information on July 6, 2006, and arguably several months before then. And that will be true for several years even if McCaw, Van Waterboy, Travis and Steepleton left tomorrow.

Finally, the reason that the News-Press is able to publish is because of people who are not listed but are every bit the equal of other newsroom staffers. It's rare when a copy editor or designer gets his or her name in the paper. But if the desk ever decided to quit en masse or stage a job action, the News-Press would be in a world of hurt ... and it would be readily apparent to the untrained eye.

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Still in the newsroom said...

I wish I knew what the community wanted us to do.

12:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and go see the Oscar-nominated documentary titled "Capturing the Friedmans" -- you never know who your neighbors are ...

Yes, everyone should see "Capturing the Friedmans", and see how false allegations of child molestation can destroy an innocent person.

And to the person who suggested that film in conjunction with Jerry Roberts - you should be ashamed of yourself.

12:31 AM  
Anonymous kusala said...

Yeah, really sleazy association, Anonymous 7:43pm.

And I don't think anyone is trying to imply that Jerry Roberts is The Messiah.

So, who the heck are you if you've worked at "some of the biggest metro dailies" for 30 years? With that kind of resume, you should be happy to toot your own horn by providing a byline. My guess: blowing smoke.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Numfar said...

I'd like to thank my former colleague Al Bonowitz for noting the folks on the copy desk. He's absolutely right; without them the paper would look as bad as it is.

They're also union stalwarts, mostly, and I suspect that a good chunk of them are sticking around for that reason. But I can't imagine how awful it must be to go into that putrefying building day after day. They're making a real sacrifice, and it's good to see that somebody gets it.

Thanks, Al.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Tessitura said...

that paper is toast...I wouldn't even use it for my cats litter pan. Those people are quickly running out of excuses to stay and really they just shouldn't. I like the call out to advertisers as I am someone who would like my employer to stop spending thousands of dollars putting ads in the paper. to the person with the capturing the friedmans comment you should be ashamed...and get over yourself. lastly don't bust georges chops too hard he didn't put these names up here lightly, he has invested alot of time and effort on this not because he is an a-hole but because he cares...he has friends and colleagues that have been touched by this mess. I think its time to lay that paper to rest.

WV: rzvytj
WV: ichdfyto

9:20 AM  
Blogger George said...

All of you who rightfully jumped on the Capturing the Friedmans comment, thanks for saving me the trouble of pointing out how inappropriate that suggestion was.

Al, thanks for the truly insider prospective. As I explained over at Craig Smith's Blog today, I'm really trying to help people see how the paper works and why. Figure transparency is a good thing, especially since it's something the N-P wants none of.

Tessitura, you are right--there are many things I do because I am an asshole, but I don't think this is one of them.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous kusala said...

I actually thought about this quite a bit in the day since you posted it.

I particularly don't know why freelance writers would still contribute to the SBNP, unless they really have no moral problem with what's going on there. I don't see any good reason for a freelancer to continue the relationship.

In thinking about one Arts/Entertainment freelancer in particular, and I wondered if anyone knows the difference in the per word rate that SBNP pays for contributions vs. The Independent?

Unless this particular writer has an even bigger axe to grind with the Independent for some reason, I can't imagine why he/she is still submitting to the SBNP.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...





10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not think that the people still working at the News-Mess should be victimized anymore than they already have been. Sure, those on "the list" help fill the paper's pages with words, but without the folks driving the printing press, the paper wouldn't be littering your driveway.

It cannot be easy to get up in the morning and go to work for an employer who could give a rat's ass about you. To make matters worse, they work for a newspaper that could give a rat's ass about printing the unbaised truth too. If employees aren't already out there looking for a new jobs to support their families, then they are probably hanging on, holding out hope that pending litigation will finally move forward and be settled in favor of the fired employees so they can get back to doing their jobs.

Give the employees a break. Let them decide for themselves whether they write or not, fix the press or not, stay and fight the fight, or jump ship.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Curious Cat said...

I'm actually pleased to see this kind of discussion about the remaining newsroom employees, freelance or otherwise. It shows that we are still very much caring humans, looking to balance morality, ethics and empathy with survival. Unlike the NP management.

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Al Bonowitz said...

For Anonymous 10:04:

There may be a scab element at work in the newsroom, but I think it would be a distinct minority. To paint everyone with that brush is unfair.

Your contention that media jobs are ripe for the picking is just plain false. The L.A. Times and Denver Post are among several newspapers to announce staff buyouts, so they won't be hiring anyone, much less people with 10 to 20 years of experience. Right or wrong, media companies are tightening their belts.

Of course, I would love it if more News-Press staffers voted with their feet. But I don't think any less of them for not doing so.

For me, leaving was the right choice (and I only stayed as long as I did to cast a vote for the union). That doesn't mean it was easy. I was giving up lucrative and enjoyable drumming work on the side and a sweet Summerland crib. But the bottom line is that as much as I loved living there, I didn't have family or financial ties to Santa Barbara. Think about that before accusing all remaining staff of tacitly approving what Wendy has done.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Just wondering said...

To the fired reporters:

Even if you win your jobs back, it could still take years to get a contract with Wendy.

And you'd be stuck working for people like Travis Armstrong and Scott Steepleton, among others, who've clearly sold out their journalistic ethics.

So, those union supporters in the newsroom waiting for you to come back -- aren't they just enabling Wendy to degrade the News-Press even further?

Wouldn't the best strategy at this point be for everyone to leave?

What's to gain by staying?

2:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm confused here, you want the remaining pro-union writers to quit? So then wouldn't your logic also say that the fired journalists, if they were to be reinstated by the NLRB, would also be immoral for taking their jobs back (since they'd also be taking money from Wendy McCaw)?! Let us all remember that they WANT their jobs back. They want their jobs back because they care about Santa Barbara and don't want the likes of Wendy McCaw ruining their profession and trampling over all that is supposed to be ethical in journalism. By all means go ahead and target the non-union scabs who have taken jobs after the meltdown and especially management, but I think you all should lay off the pro union workers who are still there and are keeping up the fight. Your solution is for them to quit too? That's exactly what Wendy WANTS them to do. She'll just replace them with more scabs and there will be no one left who cares anymore. That's your solution?

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the reporters get their jobs back. Then Scott Steepleton creates beats and tells you what he wants covered and how he wants it covered. Lots of stories about animals, the environment, and Rick Caruso's renovation of the Miramar. Industry "experts" will be advertisers. While Mary Blum is mayor, city hall will get covered only in Travis' opinion pieces. You can't tell Scott that you're the City Hall reporter -- it will be his determination if City Hall even gets covered! A contract won't dictate what stories get covered or how they're written, or force Travis Armstrong to stop censoring letters to the editor.

It's great that the fired reporters want to return, but what will they be returning to?

And how can they help rescue the News-Press?

12:45 AM  

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