Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Once more, with feeling

Update: Wendy, Wendy, Wendy, what has happened to your mind? Suing the reporter (and a hair stylist) does not make you look good.

For those of you who love deja vu -
Santa Barbara Smackdown, a long, thorough AJR article documenting owner Wendy McCaw's abuses of power at the Santa Barbara News-Press. Because it's a standalone paper rather than a chain*, the management and staff had little reason to leave silently, so her actions were widely reported.

In her few public pronouncements, McCaw has blamed the turmoil on "disgruntled ex-employees" ...
...after buying the paper from the New York Times Co. in 2000 and promising to have no role in newsgathering, McCaw began whacking away, her lieutenants firing one editor after another, presiding over the dismissal or resignation of five publishers in five years...
Under McCaw, a Libertarian, News-Press editorials evolved from respectful, cautious, reasonably argued pieces to raucous assaults. ...

and more: 11-year veteran who lost her column in August after publicly declaring her support for the newsroom and the union...gave Scott Steepleton her resignation letter, said, "Fuck you" and walked out. Huff issued a press release scolding [her] for her "use of profanity"...

(via Tom Abate)

Doc Searls toured the News-Press in 2003, in a better time:
Our tour guide, the photo editor of the paper, talked about how hard it is to get new subscribers when so many readers were getting their news elsewhere, or just seemed to give too small a shit. Yet he remained no less motivated, for the simple reason that daily papers remain highly civilizing forces for the regions they serve, and he felt privileged to be part of one.

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