Thursday, May 08, 2008

Guess Who Came To Lunch?

Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but on a day when five former journalists of the News-Press were being honored by the Santa Barbara Chapter of American Women of Communication at a luncheon in a lower level ballroom at the Canary Hotel, who shows up to put on the noon-time feedbag at the hotel's first floor restaurant? None other than News-Press lawyer Barry Cappello and two other attorneys from his firm.

The group was spotted by Brent Sumner, who is the principal photographer for Citizen McCaw, entering the hotel at the same time Sumner was arriving to shoot some additional footage for the next iteration of the documentary.

At one point one of the attorneys, who Sumner believes to be Dugan Kelly, was spotted hanging around the foyer outside the ballroom where the luncheon was going on. When Sumner turned his lens towards him, Kelly got camera shy.

I know it's a small town but is it really that small?

Melissa Evans, Dawn Hobbs, Jane Hulse, Melinda Burns and Anna Davison receive their Women In Achievement awards.

Meanwhile, back inside the luncheon, when the five former journalists came to the front of the ballroom to receive their Women of Achievement Awards they were greeted with a standing ovation.

Melinda Burns told the audience that the support that the former reporters and journalists of the News-Press are receiving from the community assured her that their battle with the paper's owner, Wendy McCaw, was "a just fight." She noted that the fate of the News-Press rests with the people of Santa Barbara.

Dawn Hobbs observed that it was a "fine line between courage and insanity" and assured the audience that the unionized reporters who are seeking a contract would refuse to back down.

Jane Hulse, the former city editor who quit along with several other key newsroom personnel back in July 2006 because of their disagreements with McCaw's dictates of how the paper was to be run, admitted to those in attendance that she was the one who uttered a certain four letter expletive that was directed towards Travis Armstrong, the paper's acting publisher, on that emotion filled day, as he insisted on perp walking the paper's beloved editor Jerry Roberts out of the building. Jane disclosed that the salty words were ones that she had managed to keep from her 88 year old mother for two years.

I hope mom isn't reading this blog.

Anna Davison noted that one of the inspiring things about the whole situation was that people were finding the strength to fight.

Melissa Evans, who is now working as a reporter for a newspaper in the Los Angeles area, observed that being recognized for their courage was "bittersweet" and that it was women, Burns and Hobbs, who were the leaders of the fight to unionize.

(By the way, since the meltdown at the News-Press, has Wendy McCaw been honored by anybody for anything? Just askin'.)

Also honored at the luncheon with a Woman of Achievement Award was Deborah Hutchison, CEO of Panther Productions and "Gutsy Gals Inspire Me" Animated Films.

When it was pointed out that in addition to her accomplishments in the film industry Hutchinson is also the author of "Bill Your Ex," a self-help guide on how divorced women could maximize the amount of money they collect from their former spouses, one of the people sitting at my table leaned over and said, "I thought Wendy wrote that book?"

* * *

Not everyone who left the News-Press last week was laid off. Resigning from the paper were Jeremy and Christina Bradfield, a married couple who held the respective positions of National Advertising Manager and Real Estate Director.

Jeremy handled a lot of the automotive advertising accounts and created and implemented many of the systems and procedures for the advertising departments' operations.

Christina was the Real Estate Editor. Each week she put together the Sunday Real Estate section, arranged the freelance and community contributors, and dummied and layed out the pages. Christina also served on the affiliate committee of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors serving as the liaison between the association and the paper. Reportedly the News-Press does not plan to replace her position.

Jeremy will be taking a position with Christina plans to take some time off before deciding what to do next.

* * *

Former KEYT meteorologist Hillary Andrews, who left Channel 3 and eventually landed on The Weather Channel, where she remained until September 2006, recently won her lawsuit against the cable network claiming sexual harassment.

I'm sure our local weather junkies would welcome Andrews back to TV Hill.

* * *

In a meeting with his staff, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal singled out the Los Angeles Times and Houston Chronicle for being too general and straying from hometown beats.

Are we sure he wasn't talking about the News-Press?

* * *

Today's last word comes from an anonymous reader who asks: "can't you come up with a nicer nickname than 'Larry The Cable Guy' for News-Press associate editor Scott Steepleton?"

How about "Two-and-a-Half Men?"