Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Words of the Prophets Were Written On the Walls

One look at the sign below and you’ll initially assume that it was tacked to a wall somewhere inside Wendy McCaw's News-Press building.

Given what we've been through here in Santa Barbara, who could blame you for jumping to that conclusion? But the sign was actually taped to a wall at the L.A. Times, where over 150 newsroom positions have just been cut.

And the carnage isn't limited to the newsroom. The publisher (yes, the publisher) was just asked to step down.

How tough are times in the journalism profession in Southern California?

One laid-off reporter at the Times has had to take a job working as a lawyer.

Three years ago, who would have thought that the situation at either the Times or the News-Press would have come to this?

The demise of The Times can at least be attributed to a business decision: the need to cut costs in order to service the massive debt that Sam Zell assumed in his heavily-leveraged buyout of the Tribune Company. The News-Press, on the other hand, is simply a victim of time: the amateur hour that calls itself the “ownership."

I'm sorry to see the L.A. Times, as you and I know it, start to disappear. But at least we know the Times won't try to nickel and dime readers who want to view articles on its website.

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Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum was given the day off by Travis Armstrong of the News-Press yesterday.

Instead of bashing Blum, which has become an almost daily ritual at the News-Press, Armstrong used his Tuesday op-ed page column to try to undermine Rick Caruso's Miramar Hotel project.

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In the "just wondering" department, if the County of Santa Barbara sends Caruso and his plans to develop a new hotel at the site of the old Miramar packing, will anyone step forward to eliminate that eyesore?

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Finally, while reasonable minds can differ over the mayor's recent performance in response to the Goleta fire and the Fourth of July gang stabbing, the merits of Caruso's Miramar proposal, and the wisdom of the Coast Village project, I suspect that the News-Press' opposition to all three is grounded in a desire to be able to claim victory for at least one of its editorial stances.

They're betting that at least one of the three – the mayor, Caruso, or Coast Village – will get taken out by public opinion.

If that happens, look for the News-Press to be taking the credit.