Monday, July 07, 2008

The Fire Wall at the News-Press

It seems as though it wouldn't be summer in Santa Barbara without smoke darkening the sky and ash falling. At least that's the way it's seemed the past two summers.

Last summer I was in Canada while the Zaca fire raged. This year I'm in Northern California for a family gathering.

Keeping abreast of the situation back home has been a challenge. There's no TV in the room at the bed and breakfast where we're staying. There's no cell phone reception either. Fortunately there's an Internet connection which is my only link to the outside world.

You would think that the News-Press, which needs to cultivate all of the good will that it can, would consider making its fire coverage free to non-subscribers.

So far it hasn't. Visitors to the paper's website need a password to read the articles on the special fire coverage page.

Fortunately the other media in town have stepped up including Edhat, The Independent, The Daily Sound, Noozhawk and the Santa Maria Times.

So I know that the fire hasn't burned through Goleta and down to the sea and that there will still be a Santa Barbara to come home to.

Ever since the meltdown at the News-Press two years ago, people have said that the toll it has taken would become most apparent when there is a disaster to be covered. That has certainly proved to be true.

What no one predicted was the ability of the alternate media to step in and close the gap with non-professionals providing photos, videos and first person accounts of what it's like being evacuated.

Do Wendy and Arthur really believe they can compete against this?

Oh I forgot. It's about time for their annual vacation to the Continent.