Friday, April 18, 2008

Citizen McCaw Plays Berkeley

Citizen McCaw had its Northern California debut last night being screened at the Graduate school of Journalism at UC Berkeley.

The audience of 100 or so consisted mostly of faculty, students and alumni of the school, as well as many of the staff of the San Francisco Chronicle, where former News-Press editor Jerry Roberts worked for many years immediately before heading south to Santa Barbara to join the News-Press.

The audience included a number of journalism heavyweights such as Tom Goldstein, former dean of the journalism schools at University of California, Berkeley, and at Columbia.

Reportedly the film was well-received with the audience laughing at many of the same points in the film as did the audiences in Santa Barbara. Nick Welsh's comments were favorites with the NorCal audience. The crowd of mostly journalists or aspiring journalists seemed stunned when the names of the staff who had departed the News-Pres began to fill the screen towards the end of the documentary. As one observer put it, to a newspaper person those names form a "Vietnam memorial of journalism."

The documentary's screening was followed by panel discussion that lasted about half an hour featuring the film's director Sam Tyler, Roberts, San Francisco Chronicle editorial page editor John Diaz, and UC Berkeley journalism professor Cynthia Gorney. There were questions directed towards Roberts about how he's holding up and the audience showed lots of interest in obtaining DVD's of the documentary.

Most often repeated comment heard from those attending: "I had no idea that was really going on."

Making the trip to Berkeley from Santa Barbara were co-producer Rod Lathim and the film's cinematographer Brent Sumner. Brent shot footage of the panel discussion to be included in an updated cut of the documentary. (More on that below.)

Also in attendance from Santa Barbara was former News-Press reporter Scott Hadly, who is a graduate of Berkeley's journalism school. Hadly reportedly drove up to Berkeley on Thursday, attended the reception and screening, then turned around and drove all the way back to Santa Barbara immediately afterward. He's working on a major story on the brewing police scandal in Oxnard for his current employer, the Ventura County Star.

* * *

Well, you've seen the movie. Now get ready for the "Making of Citizen McCaw." The producers of the documentary are working on a behind-the-scenes look at their film project on the News-Press controversy including out-takes from the finished film. They plan on a local screening in May or June with the proceeds being used to pay the debt racked up in making the film. They are about $30,000 in the red at this point.

The producers also plan to start shooting additional footage for the original film. This will include perspectives on the federal judge's consideration of the reinstatement order, interviews with some of Travis Armstrong's recent targets, and at least one more national voice, who can speak on the question of publisher's rights vs. journalistic ethics.

Armstrong, who was not covered in the original version as a major character has emerged as one recently and the filmmakers want to portray him in a bit sharper focus.

They are hoping to show the recut version with the additional footage (Citizen McCaw 2.0?) the weekend after Labor Day.