Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mayor's Race Coverage: So Far, Bigger Is Not Better

I thought the way that the Santa Barbara News-Press and the Daily Sound covered Monday's announcement by Iya Falcone that she is running for mayor made for an interesting contrast.

Both papers ran the story on their front page. The Daily Sound article not only noted who was present for the announcement to support Falcone but also noted who was absent; all six of her fellow city council members. That was a fact that the News-Press reporter evidently found not noteworthy.

The Sound, in an apparent scoop, also reported that Chamber of Commerce President Steve Cushman is considering entering the race.

The News-Press article, written by Angel Pacheco, read like little more than a press release for Falcone, which is no surprise considering the fact the only people quoted in the article, except for Schneider, were supporters of Falcone who showed up to provide a crowd for the photo-op that the announcement presented.

The Daily Sound article also noted that with the only other announced candidate, council member Helene Schneider, being a Democrat, like Falcone and each having their own strong base of support, the race figures to be fought in the middle.

The News-Press article contained no analysis and little reporting beyond what took place at the kick-off announcement. And it contained no mention of the possibility of Cushman standing in the wings.

The Daily Sound article carried a familiar byline, that of Josh Molina, the former News-Press reporter who once covered the city beat for the paper and now occasionally freelances for the Sound.

At this early stage, who will emerge from the November election as the next mayor is anyone's guess, but as far as coverage of the race goes, the Daily Sound has gotten out of the gate with an impressive start.

But what about those headlines in the Daily Sound? "The Mayoral war is on," is what ran above the story.

What's next? "Showdown in San Roque!" "Candidates mix it up on the Mesa." "Samarkand Smack Down!"

I think the race should be interesting enough without the necessity of sensationalizing it.

So who did show up Monday to be the first to jump aboard the Falcone bandwagon? Former mayors Harriet Miller and Hal Conklin, county supervisors Janet Wolf and Salud Carbajal. Former supervisor Naomi Schwartz and Goleta council member Michael Bennet, Deputy DA's Joyce Dudley and Lee Carter.

Other than Conklin, can anyone out there name another male who has served as mayor of Santa Barbara?

How about David Shiffman, who, if memory serves me, was the mayor when I came to town in 1976.

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For the record. In response to my post yesterday, L.A. Blogger TJ Sullivan wrote in to point out that it was he, and not Walter Issacson, not Time Magazine and certainly not the Santa Barbara News-Press, who first proposed the idea of a week without newspaper Web sites.

According to Sullivan, the point of the exercise is to get people's attention and "make it impossible for anyone to deny where the majority of news content comes from."

Sullivan has recently launched a blog dedicated entirely to the effort.

I'd be interested in hearing from any of you who click on the links to see what TJ has to say, as to whether you think we should give a week without newspapers on the net a try.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and