Fired Reporters Rally Outside News-Press Building;
More to Come All Week

News-Press%20Protest%202-6-07.jpgIt was the first of what will be a daily
affair: former News-Press reporters — including the six

fired within 24 hours on Monday
— stood together in solidarity and marched in front of
the newspaper’s headquarters while chanting “McCaw
Obey the Law
” repeatedly. This will be repeated, and they’re
hoping for more community support, for the rest of the week, from 3
to 5 p.m. in De la Guerra Plaza. (Noisemakers are encouraged.)

Before the intentionally disruptive marching, however, a handful
of media outlets and some community members watched as the
employees delivered heartfelt speeches about their recent
terminations and plans for the future. Dawn Hobbs,
the eight-year courts/crime reporter and outspoken union advocate,
said in angry tones, “McCaw can fire us—yes she can—but she
cannot get rid of us
…We want our jobs back and we want
back pay!”

Tom Schultz, who’s covered a variety of beats
in his nearly nine years, spoke next. Though more subdued that
Hobbs, he was clearly flustered, flabbergasted, and frustrated by

his firing Tuesday morning
. “Santa Barbara,” he said, looking
directly into the TV cameras, “ this is about you. What
kind of paper do you want representing your town?

He was followed by Melissa Evans, who was

also fired this morning
. She made a comment about preparing her
words, because she’s never really done this before. (And that is a
very poignant point here, in that reporters are usually the ones
who give voice to those under attack by people with money and
power. Now, in this thoroughly bizarre, ultimately sad twist of
fate, the reporters are the aggrieved and are using tactics
that they most likely learned while reporting on the protests of

“I never thought that I’d be standing in front of this building
saying that I’d been fired,” Evans explained very eloquently,
adding, with poignancy, “and saying that it was the proudest day in
my career as a journalist.” Evans said that she was holding her
head high, but that, “We deserve better. This town deserves

Perhaps the saddest speaker was John Zant,
who’s covered sports for the News-Press for 38 years and
was the paper’s most senior employee after Barney Brantingham left.
Distraught with a shaky voice, Zant, who
was fired Tuesday morning
, said, “This is a very sad day for
me.” He said that it was funny that disloyalty had been brought up
as a reason for their termination because “these are very loyal

Melinda Burns, who was
fired last October
after her staunch union support, took the
loyalty thing further. “We’re loyal to our jobs as
,” she said, “and we’re loyal to telling the
truth and we’re loyal to the art of newsgathering and reporting.”
Burns called the firings “shameful” and explained that they
would be targeting advertisers
and asking for them to stop
spending money at the News-Press. Though the notion of an
advertiser boycott has been bouncing around for months, this was
the first official announcement by the union supporters that the
advertisers would now be targeted.

Before turning around and starting to yell at the building,
Schultz added, “We’re not unreasonable people. All we want is to
meet face-to-face at a table and talk about the issues at our
workplace….Let’s sit down and have a conversation—I don’t
think that’s too much to ask for.
” And then Hobbs jumped
up, still incensed, and said, “This is just the beginning…Help us
take our newspaper back! You take your newspaper

Then the group, which also included
Rob Kuznia
Barney McManigal
, and
Anna Davison
, turned around, walked directly at the
News-Press building, and began chanting “McCaw Obey the
Law.” mccaw%20obey%20law.jpg They were supported by a Teamsters
affiliate who yelled through a megaphone. This went on for 10 to 20
minutes, causing windows in the building to open and close and some
faces to appear for brief periods behind the blinds. (It was not
McCaw’s office area, however.)

After awhile, a security guard came around from the parking lot
and watched. He made a cell phone call, and a few minutes later, a
bicycle cop arrived to watch. Meanwhile, a parking cop was giving
tickets to cars parked in front of the building. After some time,
the chant turned to “We’ll Be Back” and then it ended.

Expect much more in the days to come. All are invited to
attend these rallies, which start at 3 p.m. and go to 5 p.m. every
day in De la Guerra Plaza.


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