Wednesday, March 04, 2009

McCaw Writes Paterno A Check

The way I figure it, journalism professor Susan Paterno now belongs to an exclusive club: those who have not only won an award of money from Wendy McCaw but have actually gotten her to pay it.

You may recall that Paterno, who also works as a free lance writer, was sued by McCaw's Ampersand publications for libel over an article that Paterno wrote for the December 2006 edition of the American Journalism Review entitled, Santa Barbara Smackdown.

The article traced the events leading up to the meltdown at McCaw's Santa Barbara News-Press.

Paterno succeeded in getting the lawsuit dismissed and the court ordered Ampersand to pay Paterno's attorney fees in the amount of $159,436.

To my surprise, it only took about six weeks for Wendy to pay up.

Show me the money!

On Tuesday I spoke on the phone with Paterno who confirmed that the attorney's fees had been paid as of approximately December 15th of last year (and yes, this is officially "old news," but as far as I can tell, not heretofore reported). According to Paterno, Ampersand has also paid an additional $12,500 to LA-based attorney Howard King who initially represented Paterno before Charles Tobin of Holland & Knight took over defense of the case. So the full amount McCaw paid for Paterno's attorney fees approaches $175,000.

Paterno also mentioned that McCaw's attorneys had tried to get her to agree to a confidentiality/nondisclosure clause as a condition of paying the fees, but that her own attorneys had told McCaw and company, "nothing doin'."

Although Ampersand chose to sue Paterno individually and not name American Journalism Review (AJR) as a defendant, AJR immediately stepped up to the plate and stood behind Paterno meaning she was never out of pocket in terms of funding her own legal defense.

I asked Paterno, who teaches at Chapman University in Orange, whether she would be attending the upcoming hearing where the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on whether a judge's order denying immediate reinstatement of eight fired News-Press reporters should stand. The hearing will be held on Thursday March 12 at the moot courtroom of Chapman University's law school.

The fact that the hearing is being held on the campus where she works was news to her, but now that she knows about it, she told me that she definitely plans to be there.

* * *

Latest to be let go at the News-Press is DeWitt Smith, a longtime editor on the night desk. She was let go this past weekend. She showed up to work her shift, having driven in from Ojai, only to be told that her services were no longer needed.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and