Friday, June 12, 2009

This Candidate Is Running An Ampersand Free Campaign

On the day after David Pritchett, a charter member of the News-Press "enemies list," formally announced his candidacy for Santa Barbara City Council, I was curious to see if the newspaper would have a story on his announcement.

They didn't and I was immediately thinking that a news blackout had been imposed following orders from on high.

Turns out I was wrong. To be sure, there was no story, but Pritchett told me, via email, that he purposely didn't send a copy of his press release, which contained info on the date and location of his kick-off event, to the News-Press. "I am running an Ampersand-free campaign," he explained. (Ampersand Publishing, is the privately held parent company of the News-Press and is wholly owned by Wendy McCaw.)

Although they missed the announcement, the News-Press tried to follow up. City Editor Scott Steepleton emailed Pritchett on Thursday morning asking to be kept on the campaign's mailing list and inquiring as to Pritchett's availability for an interview that afternoon.

Pritchett agreed to an interview, on condition that it be through email. A seemingly persistent Steepleton followed up by leaving a voice mail message on Pritchett's home phone. Later in the day, Assistant City Editor James Zoltak left another phone message for Pritchett.

Pritchett stood firm on his insistence of only responding to questions via email. Zoltak, politely indicated the paper would pass on that and wished him luck in his campaign. Pritchett sent a final reply that set forth his position on talking to the News-Press.

This is my official statement to your request.

My history of questioning the integrity of News-Press management has been documented for years. Therefore, my convictions prevent me from participating in a verbal interview because my comments can be distorted, twisted, or taken out of context. I also stand by the newsroom staff I believe have unfairly lost their jobs.

My offer remains open for an interview via email.

Please refer to my campaign website for further information about my positions and candidacy.

Thank you for your interest.

It looks like the originator of "operation cold shoulder" is sticking to his guns.

And the News-Press, does have a story on his candidacy in Friday morning's edition.

* * *

With daily newspapers across the country folding faster than cheap lawn chairs, many people are wondering, where will we get our daily in-depth news? How much longer will we hold a paper in our hands? Who will do the hard work of investigative reporting?

Next Wednesday, June 17, Santa Barbara Community Action Network and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are sponsoring a panel discussion on the survival of the news.

"The Future of Journalism: Keeping the Watchdog Alive in Santa Barbara and the Nation," will take place from 7 to 9 pm in the Faulkner Room of the main branch of the Santa Barbara Public Library located downtown.

The members of the panel are Susan Paterno, who directs the journalism program at Chapman University and successfully fought a libel suit that was filed against her by the News-Press; Jerry Roberts, the former News-Press Editor and Publisher, now a columnist on California politics for the Independent and; Nick Welsh, the Independent’s longtime reporter and editor and man behind the "The Angry Poodle" column; James Rainey, the media columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a 27-year veteran in the business; and Dick Flacks, a UCSB professor emeritus of sociology, a radio host and a community activist.

The moderator of the panel is none other than, yours truly.

Hope to see you there.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and