Protest Will Wrap Around the Paper’s Building on Public

(Photos by Paul Wellman)

The protest bells shall be ringing in downtown Santa Barbara
once again this week. On Wednesday, December 6, from noon to 12:45
p.m., the journalists who remain employed at the
News-Press will be gathering with their supporters,
including fired reporter Melinda Burns (pictured), to march on State,
Anacapa, Ortega, and De la Guerra streets, encircling the
newspaper’s headquarters. Melinda%20Burns%20Web.JPG “The Organized Newsroom,” as they’re
known, will march with signs and strength around the
News-Press block, starting and ending in De la Guerra
Plaza where speakers will provide the community with an update on
their demands and plans since the newsroom voted overwhelmingly to
join the Teamsters union.

It is being billed as a “lunchtime march against Wendy McCaw,”
the paper’s owner who is now known internationally for causing the
bulk of her experienced, award-winning staff to quit. Others, such
as Burns, were fired or had their roles reduced due to their union
support and criticism of the owner’s increasing influence over what
was supposed to be objective news.

The march will be yet another attempt to persuade McCaw to
“build back the wall between opinion and news,” according to a
press release available at newspress%20group.jpg The lack of that wall has fostered an
“atmosphere of intimidation and betrayal” that’s clearly not
conducive to healthy news reporting: over the past few months, the
paper’s output has dwindled to at times embarrassingly low levels
and stories have been entirely missed that the paper would have
otherwise broke. And in one case, a fire drill was reported to be a
real fire that was described as occurring within a couple blocks of
the News-Press building.

One of the march’s main demands will be the reinstatement of
Melinda Burns, who was fired by McCaw after 21 years. Nearly 700
people have signed a petition to bring her back, and is intended to
bolster that support. news%20press%20duct%20tape.jpg But most importantly, the march is
designed to make McCaw begin negotiating an employment contract
that the newsroom considers fair.

Meanwhile, McCaw, who does not do interviews, has challenged the
union vote and, despite worldwide criticism and community ridicule,
has not budged on her stance of doing as she pleases. The only sign
of compliance with anyone other than herself was the recent
tear-down of the green chainlink fence that the paper had erected
around their parking lot. Critics claimed that the fence was to
block the pro-newsroom signs in cars of employees, but the paper
said in an odd editorial that it was to block improvements
underway. In any case, the paper did not apply for the correct
permits, so the city threatened with fines and the fence was taken


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.