Editorial Raises More Questions, Prompts “Be-a-Reporter”

Since most of the Santa Barbara community seems to be avoiding
the News-Press these days, you probably missed the
editorial in today’s paper that explained why the paper’s
management has repeatedly avoided talking to “certain media trying
to exploit the transitional period at the newspaper.” (For those
who do still subscribe, see it here.)

It’s clearly a response to yesterday’s article in the New York
that explained the current situation; in that story, the
writer indicated that she tried in vain numerous times to contact
Wendy McCaw, Arthur von Wiesenberger, and editor Scott Steepleton.

For those who cannot see today’s editorial online, or simply
can’t stomach another out-of-touch-with-reality bomb by Travis
Armstrong (pictured) or those lame pop-up ads that appear everytime
you visit the website, here’s the gist: Travis%20Armstrong.jpg N-P management is not talking
to reporters because the meltdown involves personnel issues (a
common, though legitimate, cop-out by employers), but also because
management believes that certain media outlets’ “pattern of
coverage has made it clear that understanding the complete story
only gets in the way of sensationalism, defamation, and their

By certain media outlets, they must mean the New York
, Vanity Fair, The Santa Barbara
, the Los Angeles Times, and every other
media company under the sun that’s covered the story, from
international television and countless blogs to London tabloids and
smalltown dailies. Basically, since there has not been one single
story written that casts Wendy McCaw and her actions in a positive
light, every media company in the world is now a suspect. The
editorial confirms as much, for it also states, “People employed by
newspapers or broadcast stations also have a built-in bias when
covering their colleagues.”

If that’s an answer, why does it leave the reader with more
questions, such as: Does that mean we should have accountants,
engineers, and others not involved in the profession of journalism
cover the story? Since no one from the newspaper gives interviews,
should reporters simply imagine a rational reason why McCaw and her
team would get rid of a great staff and then write that as a
counterpoint to all of the evidence and sources willing to talk? Or
should we just not cover it at all?

For the sake of an experiment, let’s pretend that the
News-Press is right.

Let’s pretend that the firings and mass resignations of more than 30
esteemed and established professionals
were merely part of a
planned clean-out of the newsroom to remove reporter bias.

Let’s pretend that the Society of Professional Journalists, who awarded the first nine to flee with ethics
, is a hack organization.

Let’s pretend that the National Labor Relations Board, which has
filed charges against the N-P for labor
such as killing a columnist’s column and firing a
reporter as revenge for leading a unionization effort, is a crooked
federal agency.

Let’s pretend that every newspaper, TV broadcaster, radio
station, and internet blogger got the story entirely wrong and that
all of their numerous sources were lying through their teeth.

Let’s pretend that former employees are fighting against the
newspaper because they want to silence the newspaper’s
anti-development stance. (Another lingering question: If the
editorial stance of the paper is so anti-development, how come
Travis and crew are so friendly with the pro-development forces of
Andy Caldwell’s COLAB and other generally pro-growth Republicans
throughout the county?)

Let’s pretend that, as the editorial claims, the professional,
well-educated, and usually quite intelligent people employed by
newspapers and broadcast stations simply cannot deliver a fair
story when it comes to covering their colleagues.

And, lastly, let’s pretend that common sense and conventional
wisdom are neither sensible nor wise.

Now, let’s make this experiment fun: Pretend you’re a reporter,
write a 100-500-word story from this pretend perspective, and post
it below.

Unfortunately, if you need to get more perspective on the
News-Press‘ version of events, they’re still not talking.
But you can check out editorials like the one from today, the legal
documents filed in the case against the American Journalism
‘s Susan Paterno
, and the careful words of PR maven Agnes Huff, who basically testified to
making up McCaw’s quotations in court last week.

Let’s see what we can come up with. If you’re lucky, the
News-Press might even want to buy one of your stories
since it will fit their two main criteria: 1) It’s not written by a
professional journalist, and 2) It tells the story entirely from
their (rather unexplained) point of view.

We’ll publish the contest winner under the Santa Barbara Media Blog as “satire” in the days
to come.

Have fun. And if the News-Press ever wants to chat with
someone actually inside the journalism field about their version of
events, consider this another open invitation to call The
. We’ll do a straight Q&A and let the words speak for


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