Tuesday, July 17, 2007

News-Press Shut Out In Awards Competition.

It was just about one year ago that News-Press owner Wendy McCaw, in the midst of her annual European vacation on her yacht, took a few minutes to attend to some business and fired off a brief memo back to the States congratulating the "whole team" for their great work in receiving two first, and five second-place awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association.

No need to drop whatever it is she's doing over there this year in order to send off another memo. This year's awards were announced over the weekend and the News-Press got shut out. Surprise, surprise!

For the first time in memory, the News-Press came up empty -- a big fall from the last six years where the paper either won or was a finalist for general excellence in its circulation category (which went up to 75,000, meaning the News-Press won over much larger papers). Each year the paper also won more than its fair share of individual awards.

This year The Santa Maria Times won a first place award for Breaking News Photo and two second place awards for Editorial Comment and Page Layout & Design.

Of course the executive editor of The Times is Tom Bolton who held that same position at the News-Press early on in the McCaw regime before he was unceremoniously let go. There are a slew of other former News-Pressers who are now working there as well including, Chuck Schultz, Gary Robb, Sally Cappon, Dave Bemis and Len Wood. John Lankford, who was formerly the editorial page editor for the News-Press is a contributing editor to the Times, although he does so from Tampa Bay, Florida. Must be a coincidence that The Times won three awards to the News-Press' none.

The Santa Barbara Independent received a first place award for Sports story, and two second place honors for Writing and Arts & Entertainment writing.

Congratulations to both The Times and the Indy.

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Meanwhile, back at De la Guerra Plaza, the News-Press has finally hired some new reporters.

In the sports department there are two new editors /writers both recent grads of USC.

In the news department there are two new reporters, but get this, they come from a temporary agency! One of them, Angel Pacheco has already had a few by-lined stories appear in the paper. The other new reporter just started yesterday. They both just graduated from college and neither reporter is from Santa Barbara. (Update, 12:46 p.m., I've learned from Jeramy Gordon of the Daily Sound that Pacheco is from Santa Barbara. He attended SBCC and Cal Poly SLO.) Reportedly the temp agency won't allow them to go out in the field and conduct interviews for stories they write. Those ads the paper's management placed on journalismjobs.com and craigslist apparently came up empty. Who would have guessed that there's an agency out there that is presumably called "Hire A Hack?"

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If you've gotten this far I assume you had no trouble finding the new location of my blog.

So why did I make the switch? Several reasons. Number one is efficiency. Creating each day's column is a two-step process. The writing process and then publishing what I write to the web. I can't save any time on the writing process but by moving the blog to Blogspot I can greatly streamline the publishing process.

Secondly, with a summer vacation trip to Canada coming up, and at least two trips this fall to the east coast to visit my son, I don't want to get caught in the position I found myself in back on April 22nd. That's when the News-Press ran the un-bylined story about Jerry Robert's computer and I was in Las Vegas without my laptop. I wasn't able to post anything about that outrageous stunt until I got back to town 36 hours later. With this switch, I can blog from anywhere I have Internet access. I don't need to do it from my own computer. I can update the blog from my WiFi enabled PDA. In a pinch I can even publish a post using my cell phone. (Can't wait to try that out!)

Lastly, but just as importantly, I've heard from readers who have complained that my web page loads too slowly and from those who feel that the text and fonts are difficult to read. The redesign has addressed both of those problems. To the right, under my picture, you'll see two links to click that will enable you to adjust the size of the text. Go ahead and tweak it until you get it just right.

There are also some other new features in the right hand column that you can play around with.

If you have any questions or comments about the functionality of the redesigned blog or find any bugs, please let me know.

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