More Mess at the News Press

As of today, Thursday July 6, every senior editor in the paper's news department had quit, five in all. Resignation tendered.

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For those waiting for the other shoe to
fall at the Santa Barbara News Press, it has. But in this case,
it’s more like all the shoes from Imelda Marcos’s closet. As of
today, Thursday July 6, every senior editor in the paper’s news
department had quit, five in all. Resignation tendered.

Wendy McCaw
Paul Wellman (file)

Executive Editor Jerry Roberts returned from a vacation in Crete and turned
in his resignation about 9 am. He was then escorted out of the
News-Press building by Human Resources chief Yolanda Apodaca. On
the way out, tearful reporters and editors hugged Roberts and
wished him well. As this happened, Travis Armstrong, Roberts’s
nemesis at the News-Press, emerged from his office to make sure
that Roberts left, reportedly saying something to the effect of,
“Roberts you’ve got to go.”

According to one report, Armstrong—who
appointment as publisher of the News Press last Friday precipitated
Roberts’s resignation—clasped his hand around Roberts’ arm to help
escort him from the building. This was greeted by a chorus of “Fuck
You, Travis!” from the News-Press employees bidding Roberts good

The chorus reportedly continued for some time; one of the
louder voices in that choir belonged to Metro Editor Jane Hulse,
who likewise had submitted her resignation that day. After
Armstrong escorted Roberts—the former editor of the San Francisco
and who’d worked for the News-Press nearly four years—he
came back to escort Hulse from the building too..

The day before longtime newsroom editor Don Murphy–a 19-year veteran of the
paper–walked out, and at some time so did managing editor George
Foulsham, who’s been with the News-Press now just less than a year.
Business Editor Michael Todd, who’d been placed on indefinite
unpaid suspension last week, also resigned. Persistent but as yet
unconfirmed accounts indicate that News-Press columnist Barney
Brantingham, a 46 year fixture at the News-Press, also quit. Early
Friday moning, Sports editor Jerry Spratt also quit.

The melt-downof the newspaper’s editorial leadership reflects long simmering
differences between the news room and the paper’s owner, reclusive
billionaire Wendy McCaw. For many who resigned, the final straw was
McCaw’s appointment of editorial page writer and editor Armstrong
to the position of acting publisher. Armstrong, who is intensely
disliked in the newsroom, has managed to infuriate and alienate
almost all of Santa Barbara’s often warring political tribes. Many
who resigned objected not just to Armstrong himself, but that his
appointment consolidated authority over news, editorials, and
business functions in the hands of just one person, thus violating
the so-called separation of church and state that is supposed to
exist at any self-respecting newspaper. For more background see
this week’s Angry Poodle column.


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