Blowout Planned for February 21 News-Press

CORRECTION: The date of this protest, which is being
organized by the community and not the former employees, is
February 21, not February 14 as first reported. There will be a
Valentine’s Day protest on February 14, but it will be the normal
sort of protest that’s been happening for the past

For many Santa Barbarans who once enjoyed reading an informative
daily newspaper called the News-Press, next Wednesday,
February 21, will be the day to have their voices heard. That’s
because that Wednesday, February 21, at noon,
there’s a large protest being planned for
De la Guerra Plaza
, directly in front of the headquarters for
the once esteemed, now
internationally tarnished newspaper

The protest, if you haven’t heard, is being organized by
community members to support the former News-Press
newsroom staffers
who have been fired or resigned since July 2006
, the month that

owner Wendy McCaw
(pictured) allegedly began infiltrating the
newsroom with her wacky opinions and protecting her rich friends.
WendyMcCaw.jpg Since then, more than 30 reporters,
editors, designers, and other newsroom staffers have left or been
forced out of the paper, and there are another 20 or so employees
from the business side and other departments of the paper who have
also left in disgust for the way McCaw has treated her staff. As
well, the
newsroom voted 33-6 in September to unionize with the
, but the
paper’s management continues to fight that vote
. A judge’s
verification of that vote is expected soon.

Specifically, the Wednesday, February 21 protest is the result
of the firings of the
fifth protest
six journalists were terminated last week.
np%20protest.jpg The journalists (Dawn
Hobbs, Rob Kuznia, and Barney McManigal went down on Monday

Melissa Evans, Tom Schultz, and 38-year sports writing veteran John
Zant went down on Tuesday
) were fired for “disloyalty” because
they admitted to participating in a union-related protest the
Friday before. That protest, which was followed by similar morning
commute actions last week, consisted of the reporters
hanging banners over the 101 freeway
telling motorists to
cancel their newspaper subscriptions. The related firings of the
journalists have been reported to the National Labor Relations
Board as “unfair labor practices,” as have the
alleged threats issued by McCaw’s attorney Barry Cappello

The Wednesday, February 21, protest at noon
will feature much of the
same noisemaking, marching
, and
of the last four protests. mccaw%20obey%20law.jpg There will also be many signs, such as
this one, urging McCaw to reconsider her tact and begin acting
responsibly and within the limits of the law when it comes to
running her newspaper.

The organizers are asking for as much support as people can
offer, whether that means full-fledged marching and yelling or just
showing up in De la Guerra Plaza to watch. And this time, the
Surf Dog
will be there to provide free hot dogs and lemonade to the
protesters, because like many who followed John Zant’s nearly 40
years of sports reporting, Surf Dog owner Bill Connell is
that his main sports man got the axe this

As many as 300 people are expected by
organizers to show up to the Wednesday, February 21 protest, which
would be about 10 times as many supporters who’ve shown up at the
previous protests. And while the News-Press issue is a hot
topic for journalists and media watchers around the world as well
as those who follow the news on Santa Barbara’s increasingly
pervasive blogosphere, Wednesday, February 21’s protest
will be a test of how many Santa Barbarans do actually
that their newspaper is being stripped of its staff
and turned into nothing more than a place for puff pieces, wire
stories, and a decreasing amount of advertising.

Currently, the News-Press only has three news reporters
fountain entrepreneur Leana Orsua
, North County’s Nora
(a true pro liked by all who meet her), and the
recently named “staff writer” Hannah Guzik, an
apparent Westmont grad who penned most of today’s
News-Press issue. Amazingly, that gives The Santa
Barbara Independent
the biggest news staff in town!

So if you care, turn out on Wednesday, February 21, at noon, in
De la Guerra Plaza to show your support for the newsroom staff and
your disdain for how owner Wendy McCaw is running a once proud
institution into the ground.


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.