Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Exhibit 199, Wendy Lays It Out

Yesterday I presented part one of the memo that News-Press owner Wendy McCaw gave to publisher Joe Cole upon her return from a newspaper publisher's convention in Chicago. Today, the rest of the story.

One recurring theme in the memo is McCaw's penny-pinching and the extent to which she apparently scrutinized expenditures at the paper. For example, one of her complaints was that: "Reporting is not being done on LOCAL issues and LOCAL news, yet, a business reporter was sent to China at a cost of $1200."

She's complaining about spending $1200? Heck, I'll bet her attorney Barry Cappello bills her for more than that before he takes his morning coffee break every day.

So, who was the reporter and what was he doing there?

It was business reporter Frank Nelson, who had been sent to Beijing to cover the visit of a contingent from the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce.

Maybe Wendy, the animal rights advocate, wouldn't have questioned the visit if Nelson had filed a report from China on endangered Panda bears.

But then again, maybe not.

Of course, if it wasn't money, it was celebrity, or the absence of it, from the pages of the News-Press that was on McCaw's mind.

Numerous profiles have been requested, Alyce Faye, Pamala Oslie, are the two most recent, work submitted for possible LOCAL writers and columnists, and there has been absolutely no response. This is not only rude to be treated in this fashion, it's insubordination at its worst, which is cause for firing. In addition I have been lied to. Alyce Faye NEVER said she didn't want a profile done on her, yet you told me that she didn't want a profile when I asked why a profile was never done. Lying is another cause for firing. What have you done about this?

"Alyce Faye" is Alyce Faye Cleese, psychotherapist and wife of actor John Cleese, who like psychic (excuse me, renowned psychic) Pamala Oslie, had a radio show on AM 1290, KZSB, the News-Press radio station.

But I'm sure that the missed cross-promotion opportunity had nothing to do with Wendy's exasperation with the lack of a profile on either of the two.

But then again, maybe not.

Lest you get the idea that Wendy was only upset with what wasn't finding its way into the paper, she was also displeased by what she did read:

Mindless and stupid headlines. See 3/28/06 front page large type above the fold "A victory for immigration". Who wrote that and why? It's not only misleading it's just not true. I want to know who wrote this and why, I also want some accountability here."

OK. Which one of us is going to tell her that it's the copy editors who write the headlines?

Wendy's complaints weren't limited to what was happening at the News-Press. One of her other publications, the Valley Voice, was also a target.

Apparently someone on that staff felt it was important to have an article about Susan Rose's website taking on the News-Press editorial page AND a letter to the editor complaining about the News-Press editorial page, see the letter "Who Speaks for Goleta" which includes the sentence 'recalling how vehemently the News-Press opposed Goleta cityhood, the coordinated diatribes against the majority of the Goleta council members . . .' Is anyone thinking there???"

I'm sure somebody was thinking. They're just weren't thinking like Wendy.

And for those of you who have been wondering why letters to the editor that oppose positions taken in News-Press editorials seldom if ever are published, I think you have your answer.

So how did Wendy wrap up her memo?

I shouldn't have to remind you or anyone else at the paper what my goals are, it would be a waste of time anyway, since they will undoubtedly continue to be ignored and worse thwarted. With that in mind, I am going to be making some major changes at the paper in the very near future.

So did she make good on her threat, or did Cole and Roberts preempt her?

Presumably Cole saw the writing on the wall, or in this case the memo, because within a month he had stepped down as publisher of the paper.

And McCaw had reportedly offered Jerry Roberts' job as editor of the paper to at least one person before Roberts resigned on July 6, 2006.

And yes, the paper has changed in a major way. I'll leave it up to you as to whether that change has been for the better.

* * *

The candidates are coming! To the Mesa that is. The La Mesa Neighborhood Association is sponsoring a City Council Candidate Forum this Thursday, October 25 at 7 pm. Location is the Shifco Building, (418 Santa Fe Place, cross street is Cliff Drive) on the Mesa.

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