The Wrong Fence

N-P Puts Up Scary, Ugly Fence

(Photos by Paul Wellman)

Seems like someone over at the News-Press got confused by all the chatter about walls between the newsroom and the editorial opinion at modern American newspapers. So instead of actually re-installing that wall within the halls of the newspaper, the paper’s top brass (namely Arthur von Wiesenberger, we hear) decided to erect a wall outside of the building, further separating the paper from its increasingly disenchanted and dismayed audience.

SBNP%20Fence.JPGThis new wall, which is actually a green mesh fence that blocks off the newspaper’s main parking lot from Anacapa Street (not to mention what must be a public easement shortcut to Ortega Street), was installed last Friday, just as the embattled newsroom staff was digesting their turkey dinners. That’s when The Indy‘s photog-about-town Paul Wellman captured these thrilling puttin’-up-the-fence shots. The one above is what the building now looks like with its fancy green perimeter, while the one below features Martin Duran of Fence Factory installing a chain link fence with “privacy mesh screening” along Anacapa Street.

SBNP%20Fence1.JPGAccording to shocked N-P insiders, no one on the staff was warned about the fence. The Indy‘s newsroom is currently investigating whether the newspaper even went through the proper city planning hoops in erecting the ugly green eyesore; our early reports suggest that the fence may not have been legally permitted, but we’ve got a few more of our own journalistic hoops to jump before confirming that. (Look to Thursday’s print edition for our update on that.) But if we find that the N-P did go through the proper hoops, what was the city thinking in allowing the paper to block views of the paper’s beautiful and historic, if forever tarnished, building? Don’t we have planning laws in place to allow citizens to comment on such publicly placed fences?

But the biggest question is, of course, why? Why did Wendy McCaw and her cabal go for a fence? Was it to block out the pro-objective journalism placards displayed by so many newsroom employees? Was it to shut out the rest of the world, which clearly isn’t looking so favorably on the newspaper these days? Was it to stop photogs like Paul Wellman from getting shots like these? Was it to further hide from the truth? Or most frighteningly, was it to shut the union-enlisting employees in?

Whatever the answer, it’s obvious that the paper will stop at nothing to make itself the ugly duckling in the middle of Santa Barbara.

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