Monday, June 14, 2010

The Good, The Bad, The Coyote Ugly

Was it Rudyard Kipling who once said something about meeting triumph and disaster and treating them just the same? That never has been the case with Wendy McCaw and her Santa Barbara News-Press when it comes to reporting on the paper's legal battles.

Those occasional triumphs usually get front-page treatment. The frequent disasters get tucked away on the inside of the paper, if reported on at all.

Take the case of its most recent defeat where an administrative law judge found that McCaw's paper had committed numerous violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

Although I was the first to report on the ruling on Wednesday June 2, the News-Press did not publish its own story on it until Saturday, June 5. And by the way, Saturday's are typically the lowest readership day for a newspaper.

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That story, that appeared under the byline of City Editor Scott Steepleton and relegated to the inside pages of the "A" section, didn't mention the fact that Steepleton had a personal role in the case.

Steepleton was the person responsible for discharging sports writer Dennis Moran. The judge found that firing to be illegal and recommended that Moran be reinstated with back pay. Steepleton testified as a witness in the case and the judge found him not to be credible as to several key points.

The Steepleton article also omitted a number of the key findings made by the labor law judge, among them: that the News-Press had engaged in "surface bargaining," in other words, going through the motions without any real intent to reach an agreement with the Union; used temporary employees to undermine the Union bargaining unit; had illegally fired Moran and gossip columnist Richard Mineards. Nor did it include any comments or perspective from those who were on the side of the Union in this now longstanding battle.

Following the publication of the Steepleton article, Union bargaining representative Nick Caruso, wrote a letter to Don Katich, the paper's Director of News-Operations pointing out these and other shortcomings in the article. Caruso asked that his letter be published as a counterpoint to the Steepleton article.

So far, the News-Press has not published the letter (surprise, surprise!) and I'd bet the house that they won't. Therefore, here's the letter so you can see it for yourself.

In addition to that letter, here's another item that I'll bet you won't ever see in the News-Press.

Last Friday, UCSB sent out an e-mail to those of us who use alternative transportation to get to work, warning us about an incident in which a coyote chased a cyclist as he travelled along the Goleta bike path. The coyote, reported by the cyclist to be a "full sized adult seemingly in good health," pursued the cyclist at 20 mph for a distance of nearly 50 yards.

The cyclist, also apparently in good health, was able to ride away from the coyote.

Back in 2004 an article appeared in the News-Press, written by Barney McManigal, describing a coyote problem in Hope Ranch. Sounds non-controversial enough right? Wrong! Wendy McCaw would later criticize the article as being, "anti-coyote."

Hmm. I wonder what Kipling would have thought?

© 2010 by Craig Smith and