Monday, September 15, 2008

At The News-Press "V" Is For Vengeance

News-Press editorial page editor Travis Armstrong has a memory like an elephant. He never forgets an old grudge.

On Friday, I mentioned his source of enmity towards the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce: the fact that the Chamber cancelled their subscription to the News-Press.

On Saturday, he used his op-ed page column to once again put KEYT-TV in the News-Press pillory.

Of course, KEYT has been a charter member of the so-called cabal "of rival media that aim to exploit" ever since the News-Press' enemies list made its debut over two years ago.

The recent departure of the station's general manager Cathy Jacquemin, provided an excuse for Armstrong to make the claim that "more turmoil" has hit the station.

Which brings up the question, why does KEYT's firing of a single employee rise to the level of "turmoil" when the News-Press has axed dozens of its own staff yet Armstrong consistently dismisses that purge as merely part of a "transitional period" at the newspaper?

Armstrong points to the fact that KEYT is rumored to have drastically cut its advertising rates on its local newscasts as a possible sign of the station's overall health.

I guess he should know. From what I've heard around town no business wheels and deals more than the News-Press when it comes to selling advertising.

He also claims that KEYT dropped the ball when it came to coverage of July's Gap Fire.

Why is it that the No. 1 priority fire in the state is being carried by major national news, not being broadcast by the 'local station' so that all of the citizens of our community can be informed of the latest information?

That's an odd question to be raising when you consider that the News-Press was slow to get up to speed on covering the Gap fire and when they did cover it, their articles on the fire were hidden behind their notorious "pay wall" and only available to subscribers to the paper, which as we all know is a group that falls far short of including "all of the citizens of our community."

In any event, Armstrong offers the following as an answer to his question of why KEYT's fire coverage lagged.

One reason, as last April's column mentioned, is that insiders or former insiders say Channel 3 is a shell of what the station was under the ownership of the late Bob Smith.

Funny he should bring that up. A lot of people around here would say that the News-Press, under Wendy McCaw's ownership, is a mere shell of what the newspaper was when it was owned by the New York Times Company.

* * *

Also in Saturday's News-Press, "The Investigator" had a lengthy column in which he wrote about a 10 year old New York lawsuit alleging dirty tricks on the part of the Teamsters International.

Why should this be of interest to readers in Santa Barbara? After listing a half-dozen smear tactics that the lawsuit claimed were employed by the Teamsters Eringer writes:

Gee, that sounds like part of the playbook for a campaign deployed by the Teamsters against this newspaper, possibly to include a recent nationwide forged check scam that neatly evaded wire or mail fraud - by utilizing UPS drivers who are Teamsters - and FBI scrutiny.


Maybe they should stop calling this guy "The Investigator" and start calling him "The Speculator."

Or given the fact that the union "playbook" reference is one that first appeared in a News-Press editorial, maybe we should call him "The Sycophant."

* * *

Sunday's edition of the News-Press had another one of those full-page anti-Teamster ads on the back of the "A" section.

Among the claims made in the ad I found this one interesting:

In addition, the News-Press has filed 12 Unfair Labor Practice charges against the Teamsters. The Unfair Labor Practices include bad faith, refusal to bargain, coercive statements, threatening statements, actions of picketers, lawsuits, violence, assaults and harassment.

What the ad doesn't bother to point out is that so far, every Unfair Labor Practice charge the News-Press has filed against the Teamsters has been dismissed save for the charge complaining about the union's handbilling which is being reviewed by the NLRB' General Counsel's Office of Advice in Washington D.C.

As union attorney Ira Gottlieb, who represents the Graphic Communications Conference of the Teamsters, put it, "I don't know how the number of charges the (News-Press) has filed proves anything other than the (News-Press) is willing to file them, and does make a habit of filing them, without evidence and/or legal support."

Evidently, that gavel that is depicted in the ad is being struck to mark the dismissal of each of the News-Press' allegations against the Teamsters.

Another dubious claim that is made in the ad is that: "Today, the majority of reporters in the newsroom are happy employees content with their extensive benefits, salaries, paid vacations, bonuses and general working conditions."

I'm sure the two sportswriters the paper recently tried to hire, but who ultimately turned down job offers because the positions they were offered were as temps with no benefits, will be surprised to hear that.