Monday, September 20, 2010

Roberts Says "Adios" to the Gauchos

I almost thought I had showed up at the wrong place. Last Friday afternoon I stuck my neck into one of the capacious meeting rooms at UCSB's Mosher Alumni Center and initially saw a few rows of chairs set up with about a half-dozen college students primly sitting in them as if they were waiting for a presentation to start. This hardly looked like anybody's going away party.

It is only when I glanced to the back of the room that I saw the blogger's best friend, the buffet table. Milling around it were the "adults" including the guest of honor, Jerry Roberts, the former editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press, who on the day before students were to start moving in for a new school year, was moving out of his job as Publications Manager for Storke Publications at UCSB. In other words, 'the adult" overseer of the aspiring journalists who staff the school's newspaper, The Daily Nexus.

After three years, six months and 25 days at UCSB (as Roberts dutifully reminded anyone who asked how long he had been there) he is moving on to pursue writing, travel and to attend, and most likely finance, the upcoming weddings of two of his daughters. Given that last factor, I'm surprised the guy can afford to quit a steady job. But, far be it from me to be putting my hand on anybody's wallet.

About two dozen people attended the going away party including UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang, Vice Chancellors Michael Young and Paul Desruisseaux and Alumni Association Executive Director George Thurlow as well as former News-Press colleagues and now current UCSB employees, George Foulsham, Andrea Huebner and Keri Bradford.

Chancellor's Yang's experience in attending these going away events was evident as he showed up after the speeches had been given but just before the chocolate cake was cut and served.

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When the presentations came and those students who comprised the Nexis staff stood up to express their gratitude to Jerry, I couldn't help but think how reserved they all looked in both their demeanor and dress. Were these the same students who will in a little over a month be raising hell at Halloween in Isla Vista or next spring be hitting the beer bongs at Floatopia? Was the author of "The Wednesday Hump" in this group?

As you would expect, Jerry had the last word when he thanked the UCSB administration for giving him the opportunity to work with the newspaper and yearbook staff. He also recalled the worst day of his life, April 22, 2007, when shortly after he started working at UCSB his former employer, the News-Press published a scandalous and false story about him. The circumstances surrounding which most of us know all too well.

On that Sunday morning Roberts called Vice Chancellor Young at this home to inform him of the article. Young's reply to him was, "Yeah, I read that story. It all sounded like a bunch of BS to me."

Indeed, the article sounded like a bunch of BS to a lot of us.

* * *

I will be part of the "Journalism Q&A" at Borders bookstore in Camino Real Marketplace (Goleta) at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21. This is a FREE event! I will join sports writer Mark Patton, best-selling author Jane Heller, Independent columnist Starshine Roshell and veteran newspaper editor Jerry Roberts (see above) to talk about the changing world of media and journalism.

Come on out and holler at your boy!
© 2010 by Craig Smith and