Roasting Roberts, Cold Shouldering, and More

Jerry at Bat: If you’re going to roast someone, why not take over a ballpark to do it? So Jerry Roberts, the former News-Press editor who’s facing a $25 million lawsuit from newspaper owner Wendy McCaw, will be at the mercy of San Francisco roasters at AT&T Ballpark on March 13.


The idea is to raise money for the Santa Barbara Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech Rights, which is helping journalists hurt by the News-Press mess. The roast, featuring Jerry’s old boss at the S.F. Chronicle, Phil Bronstein, will be 6-9 p.m., in the park’s club level, with seating around 250 or so. Tickets are going fast, I hear. (Invites go out today.)

Speakers will include Santa Barbaran Lou Cannon (Ronald Reagan’s biographer), various VIPs from the Bay Area, and no doubt a few ink-stained journos from San Francisco, where Jerry worked at the Chronicle, man and boy, as a political writer and managing editor for three decades.

No word on whether Barry Bonds will show, Jerry being a die-hard Giants fan.

It’s Only 25 Mil: Friends of Jerry Roberts, who is also battling stomach cancer as well as Wendy’s $25 million arbitration claim, have put together a website seeking donations to the Lawyers Alliance. I haven’t seen the claim (it’s supposed to be secret but N-P is leaking innuendos faster than a Bay Area rainstorm) but apparently Wendy is blaming Jerry for the whole disaster, including but not limited to the 1925 earthquake, 1969 channel oil blowout, and global warming.

“Amid the ongoing exodus of dozens of professional journalists from the News-Press, the paper’s owner has filed a flurry of legal threats, claims and lawsuits against people who dared to speak out or report about what was happening in the newsroom,” Roberts wrote on the Cookie From Heaven website and in an email this past weekend.

“In response, a group of prominent local attorneys formed the Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech Rights, to help level the playing field for journalists who found themselves bludgeoned by legal attacks by Ampersand Publishing, owned by billionaire Wendy McCaw. Colleagues and friends put together a web site — — to help the Alliance help me and other journalists fight back.”

You can send donations to: Lawyers Alliance, PO Box 22557, Santa Barbara, 93121. Make checks payable to Lawyers Alliance.

Half & Half: Michael Doucet, leading the Cajun band BeauSoleil last week at UCSB’s Campbell Hall, described Louisiana, known for its corrupt politics: “Half under water, half under indictment.” Doucet, singing French most of the time, pointed out that, “This is American music,” created right there by descendants of French people forced out of Canada by the British in the 1700’s.

Bermuda Schwartz: That’s the title of a funny new novel about a floating body and missing money on Bermuda, written by Bob Morris, former staffer at Islands mag when it was located hereabouts. barney%20book.jpg He’ll sign books at Chaucer’s this Wednesday, February 21, at 7 p.m. “Cheerfully twisted,” is author Carl Hiaasen’s blurb and he ought to know.

Hot Dog: Despite warnings that more than 300 people may show up for Wednesday’s noon protest outside the News-Press, Carpinteria hot dog vendor and service veteran Bill Connell promises to serve frankfurters (all-beef and turkey) and lemonade to protesters.

“He’s hoppin’ mad about John Zant’s dismissal,” says rally organizer David Pritchett. Speakers will include city councilman Brian Barnwell, KCSB radio and community TV journalist Elizabeth Robinson, and Connell as well as sports fan Kathleen Rodriguez and recently fired, 38-year veteran sportswriter John Zant. Other newsroom employees will also share personal stories, updates, and announcements, Pritchett said.

He also announced the Operation Cold Shoulder campaign, which he said includes cancellations of newspaper subscriptions, urging advertisers to stop buying ads in the newspaper and at the News-Press-controlled radio station, KZSB-AM, finding the news in other newspapers and media, such as radio, TV, websites, and blogs, suggesting that individuals, public agencies, community organizations, and political leaders stop sending news releases and announcements to the News-Press, and stop giving interviews and returning calls and emails. Operation Cold Shoulder also includes asking the public to stop placing classified ads, calendar listings, garage sale notices, wedding announcements, and obituaries in the News-Press and instead place them in other publications, he said. Cold Shoulder is also requesting non-profits not to invite the News-Press society-page writers to their charity events, encouraging news sources, individuals, and organizations not to participate in any of the KZSB radio programs, activities, or public service announcements, writing “letters to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) expressing concern that the News-Press controls a radio station and a newspaper in the same town,” raising awareness that the News-Press owns and controls three other publications — Goleta Valley Voice, El Mexicano, and Blue Edge Magazine, and picketing every Wednesday at noon through the end of March.

Our Ship Scrapped: Maggie Munro, former journalist second class, USNR, reports that the town’s namesake, the ammunition ship USS Santa Barbara AE-28, “is no more.” The ship’s scrapped remains are headed for China and no doubt will be returning in the form of TV sets and computer games. Adds Maggie: “My old office at the Naval Reserve Center is now a bar. Some would say it’s very appropriate for a sailor and a journalist.”

Zant Interview: Larry Nimmer’s 20-minute interview with John Zant, shortly after he was fired from the Santa Barbara News- Press, is posted on YouTube. In it, Zant talks about the firing of himself and others, the world of local sports reporting, and how reporting and newspaper publishing has changed over the last 38 years he’s spent at the News-Press.

Here’s part one:

And here’s part two:

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