Monday, July 06, 2009

Three Years and Counting

Today marks the third anniversary of the News-Press meltdown. Long-simmering tensions between owner Wendy McCaw and the editors and reporters in the newsroom over McCaw's blurring of the line between opinion and fact, editorial page and news page, prompted editor Jerry Roberts; managing editor, George Foulsham; deputy managing editor, Donald Murphy; metro editor, Jane Hulse; business editor, Michael Todd; sports editor, Gerry Spratt; and columnist Barney Brantingham, to all resign within a 24 hour period that began on July 5, 2006.

Other resignations quickly followed. By the time the first anniversary of the meltdown rolled around, 72 employees, from virtually all departments of the paper, had departed. Most of them left of their own volition. Others were fired.

More have left since then. Quite frankly, I've lost count of the exact number, but I estimate that it now approaches 100.

The story made national headlines. There was an article on it in Vanity Fair. It is the subject of a full-length documentary film, Citizen McCaw.

Three years later, readers continue to desert the paper. At the time of the meltdown the News-Press daily circulation was reported as being 41,000. Now it's down to 31,575.

Many are undoubtedly unhappy with the product, which costs 50 percent more Monday through Saturday but delivers considerably less. Others are offended by the nasty and vindictive tone of the editorials and op-ed page columns written McCaw's trusted confidante, Travis Armstrong.

That's not to say that Wendy doesn't have her defenders. It's just that most of them happen to draw a paycheck from her and the first words to come out of their mouths are most likely to be, "cease and desist."

Yes, the rancor continues. The paper maintains its own enemies list, which keeps getting longer all of the time.

Over the last three years, any number of people have approached McCaw seeking a truce. She has rebuffed them all. The cold war between Wendy McCaw and the community continues. And, there is no end in sight.

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Best place I've found to avoid the non-stop reporting of Michael Jackson's death and still get news is NPR radio, which locally means KCLU.

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Our lame duck assemblyman Pedro Nava's competition for attorney general may be San Francisco DA Kamala Harris who has been raising a lot of money in L.A. among the Hollywood crowd.

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Sarah Palin's announcement that she will not finish her term as governor of our 49th state but rather, will step-down midway through it, merely confirms what I suspected during the fall campaign; she's a half-baked Alaskan.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and