Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur Talks! Another Coup For Junior High Journalists

Although he's been pretty much unwilling to respond to questions or give interviews to anyone his own age, Santa Barbara News-Press co-publisher, Arthur von Wiesenberger answered questions, via e-mail, from the irrepressible journalism students at the Santa Barbara Middle School's Teen Press.

The middle school students, undoubtedly energized by the fine job they did covering the premiere of Citizen McCaw, asked not only von Wiesenberger, but co-publisher Wendy McCaw and editorial page editor Travis Armstrong for interviews as well. Only von Wiesenberger responded.

Getting "Santa Barbara's Best Kept Man" to answer questions at length was a real coup for the young journalists but the e-mail format (they actually wanted to do a video interview but he declined) meant there was no opportunity for follow-up questions or to challenge him on some of the assertions he made.

And believe me, there were a number of claims he made that needed challenging. For example, when asked "what was the News Press' reason for publishing the Jerry Roberts child porn story?" von Wiesenberger responded by claiming that the child pornography was the subject of a case filed in the Santa Barbara Superior Court. "Once the papers were filed they were public and to not report on it would be censoring the news."

Censoring the news? Wouldn't an example of that be not reporting in the News-Press about the sold out premiere of "Citizen McCaw?"

Of course the "case" he refers to was the one filed by the News-Press to try to compel the Santa Barbara Police Department to return the computer hard drive in question, even though the police wanted to retain it for further testing. So the only reason it was a "story" was because the News-Press chose to make it one by filing a lawsuit. One, I might add, they ultimately lost.

As for "Citizen McCaw," although he was never asked by the interviewers if he had seen the film, he seems to know a lot about it. He has a whole laundry list of specifics in the film that he takes issue with including the failure to mention the fact that the News-Press got a favorable ruling on the issue of whether the Independent was guilty of copyright infringement. (The favorable ruling was in fact noted in the film. However, a trial still awaits on the question of whether the News-Press is entitled to recover any money from the Indy because of the copyright violation.)

Von Wiesenberger claims that Citizen McCaw is "not a documentary but a clear example of propaganda."

Well, it is kind of hard to question Arthur's credentials when it comes to producing propaganda.

I asked Sam Tyler, director of Citizen McCaw for his response to Arthur's comments. On behalf of the producers of the film, here's what he had to say.

It appears from what he said in his interview that Mr. von Wiesenberger has not seen our film, so we invite him to the showings at Marjorie Luke Theater on Saturday, April 5 and Sunday, April 6. He can get his ticket at www.citizenmccaw.com or at the Lobero box office.

We urge the public to attend these added screenings and see what has been going on with our community newspaper.

* * *

In the "giving-credit-where-credit-is-due" department I was happy to see that the News-Press ran a news brief on page A3 of the paper Monday reporting that the NLRB dismissed the charges of unfair labor practices it leveled at former reporters Dawn Hobbs and Tom Schultz.

Of course, unless you subscribe to the News-Press you won't be able to view the story on their website, but both the Daily Sound and the Santa Maria Times, reported the dismissal as well.

* * *

Is the News-Press putting Second District County Supervisor Janet Wolf in its cross hairs?

Yesterday, the paper ran an editorial that questioned Wolf's commitment to a campaign pledge not to support rezonings in the unincorporated area of Goleta until the county updates that area's community plan.

The editorial had this ominous ending:

We do know that if Ms. Wolf turns her back on her promise and her constituents on Tuesday she will have a long and bruising road head of her during her remaining 33 months in office.

Extremely long and extremely bruising.

Sounds like the News-Press' version of an "E ticket" ride to me.

* * *

Hope that you voted early and often in that News-Press favorite movie poll that I mentioned on Friday morning. By 10:30 am Friday, the poll had been removed from the News-Press website. My guess is that "Citizen McCaw" was the leader in the early balloting.

* * *

The Indy has a photo gallery of the premiere night of "Citizen McCaw."

Radio station KCSB, out at the University, has audio coverage of the premiere posted at its website.
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Add one more place to the list of watering holes where one can get a proper Irish Coffee in Santa Barbara.

In response to the St. Patrick's day reposting of my Irish Coffee blog, I was contacted by Ken Boxer, owner of Palazzio, telling me that they had changed their Irish Coffee recipe since my visit there in October of 2006.

Ken invited me back to have another one, on them. Last night I took him up on his offer and visited the restaurant where bartender Garrett fixed me up. It was excellent. Hand whipped fresh cream floating perfectly on top of rich coffee and Irish whiskey. Their recipe takes its inspiration from the famous Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco. The cost for one is $7.