Monday, August 04, 2008

With Fiesta Over, News-Press Wastes No Time Hitting New Lows

I've put my sombrero away. The last cascarone has been cracked. The mariachis have moved on.

No one got shot, nobody got stabbed and, as far as I know, no one choked on any churros.

Photo courtesy Larry Nimmer

Now that the party's over, I think it can be said that this year's coverage of Fiesta by the News-Press was among the most anemic in memory.

Yes, there was a page one article every day accompanied by a big nice photo, but that was about it.

No inside pages of extra photos and, for the second year in a row, no special section on the Sunday before Fiesta to kick-off the celebration.

Also missing from this year's News-Press Fiesta coverage: the perennial editorial condemning the rodeo.

In past years the News-Press could be depended upon to run an "Our Opinion" piece saying something like: Animal cruelty has no place in Fiesta or Fiesta rodeo disgraces Santa Barbara. Not this year.

And, as I mentioned on Friday, the News-Press ran at least one ad, last Thursday, that promoted the rodeo. The ad was sponsored by Jedlicka's, the western wear store whose owner, Si Jenkins, has done a number of testimonials extolling the benefits of advertising in the News-Press.

Perhaps Wendy doesn't want to offend one of the members of her ever dwindling roster of advertisers?

* * *

How dumb does the News-Press think its readers are? On Sunday there was an op-ed piece in the Opinion section of the News-Press, submitted by Norman Jaffe, that ran under the headline: Teamsters' tactics against small businesses rekindle memories of Nazi oppression.

The op-ed page article focused on the Teamsters recent overtures to local businesses to convince them to stop advertising in the paper, and the leafleting by union representatives asking customers of local businesses to boycott the News-Press.

For those who have been wondering how low the News-Press would go to stir up anti-union sentiment, you may have just gotten your answer.

* * *

The mainstream media has, by and large, laid off the story. The L.A. Times went so far as to tell its bloggers not to touch it.

But on Friday, the News-Press ran a page one article, under the by-line of associate editor Scott Steepleton no less, asking the question, "was Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital the birthplace" of the John Edwards "love child?"

Of course the source of that allegation, and I should emphasize that it's an uncorroborated allegation, is the National Enquirer, thus explaining why most of the mainstream media have steered clear of this story.

Yet, there was the News-Press dipping its big toe into the pool of sensationalistic journalism.

Apparently the only "investigation" Steepleton undertook was to obtain a copy of the birth certificate in question showing that no father was named on the document.

I have no idea if the allegation is true but I do have a couple of questions.

Shouldn't you have some facts that have been corroborated before you repeat something that was in the Enquirer?

And I wonder whether Edwards' stance as an advocate for unions and working people had anything to do with the News-Press running this story?

By the way, the article on Friday was not the first allusion in the News-Press to the purported Edwards scandal.

Earlier this year the paper's gossip columnist Richard Mineards ran a "blind item" alleging that one of the presidential candidates was seeing a woman who lived in Santa Barbara.

Maybe Wendy will be changing the name of her operation to the "Santa Barbara Enquirer?"