Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Stop Covering This Mess? Not On Your Life!

Yesterday, I wrapped up my post with an e-mail, sent to me anonymously, suggesting that I abandon the News-Press Mess as a topic. It wasn't the first time I've received a message of this nature and I'm always amused because the last time I checked it took some type of affirmative effort on the part of the reader to find this blog and I haven't been putting guns to people's heads forcing them to bookmark me as one of their "favorites."

I usually don't respond to such e-mails because I figure if an artist never explains his work then why should I? I can't help it if people love a soap opera, which one year later is exactly what the News-Press has become. Santa Barbarians aren't unique in this regard. Down south in L.A. the citizenry is affixed on its own telenovela. As you may have heard, the Mayor of L.A., Antonio Villaraigosa, has admitted to having an affair. What could be worse? The co-respondent is a correspondent, for a TV station's news operation, who is assigned to cover the mayor. At least the Mayor's lover, Mirthala Salinas, can't be accused of not being "on the story."

According to The Times' media columnist, Tim Rutten, as of last Friday, accounts and comments about the mayor's difficulties are the most viewed stories on latimes.com. The Times even has a special page of its website devoted to all aspects of the affair. Everybody loves a train wreck, or a sex scandal.

While L.A. residents are enthralled by their "Summer of Love" here in Santa Barbara we remain fixated on our "Winter of Discontent." There is a universal fascination with any story where someone with money, as in McCaw's case, or power, in the case of the L.A. Mayor, is willing to go against what should be their better judgment and risk squandering it.

Certainly the tone and tenor of McCaw's missive of last week shot off to Lou Cannon and posted on the News-Press' website leaves one with the impression that indeed the circulation numbers and advertising dollars must be on the decline too much for McCaw's liking. As one wise observer pointed out to me, Wendy's MO is to "sow the soil with salt, then complain nothing will grow."

Wendy and Arthur aren't as telegenic as the the Mayor and Mirthala and the News-Press Mess isn't a sex scandal. But I'll continue to write about it because you have to play the cards that you were dealt. Who would have ever imagined that one year later I would still be sitting at the table holding a hand that started out with a couple of jokers?

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Cristina Wilson, an advertising representative for the McCaw owned Goleta Valley Voice, was fired Monday. Her employment with the paper predated McCaw's ownership.

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