Fired Editor May Hold Key to News-Press Bias

Unfair Labor Practice Complaint Filed

Two More NLRB Complaints Filed; More Rallying Ensues

With additional reporting and photography from the rally by
Barney Brantingham

On Tuesday, Bob Guiliano — the editor who was fired on Friday,
January 26 for “performance-related” reasons (not for attending

Anna Davison’s goodbye party after she was fired
, as was first
reported) — filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the
National Labor Relations Board.
hearts%20rally%201.jpg

But unlike the numerous other complaints filed on behalf of

eight other terminated News-Press employees
, Guiliano
is not claiming he was discharged for being involved in union
activities. That’s because he is not represented by the Teamsters.
As such, Guiliano believes that Tuesday’s NLRB filing has the
News-Press lawyers scratching their heads as to what
exactly he could be alleging. Guiliano is not able to speak about
the claim, because it remains confidential until a future
hearing.

But there’s ample buzz on the street about what Guiliano’s
affidavit might contain, for the former assistant city editor met
face-to-face with
owner Wendy McCaw
on multiple occasions and was involved on a
daily basis with churning out news stories. Additionally, he’s been
quoted on Craig Smith’s
blog
as saying, “I’m all for balanced reporting and giving both
sides an equal say in any story. But when reporters have to worry
about the fact-based nature of their article clashing with the
contrived nature of perceived controversy by an editorial writer
overeager to please his (paper’s) owner, and bend their reality to
conform to that fantasy, then that is not journalism.”

Given such experience with McCaw and concerns about bias, many
are starting to believe that Guiliano — who took the job to be
closer to his father and because he thought he could mend the
relationship between the staff and management — probably holds the
golden key to uncovering just how much power McCaw and editorial
writer Travis Armstrong are exerting over the newsroom. According
to the
memo leaked to The Independent yesterday
, McCaw and
company claim they are not exerting any influence on the newsroom.
Guiliano clearly sees it another way.

Although he was not at liberty to discuss the specifics of his
complaint, Guiliano did say this in an email: “I’d like to get my
job back too, along with all the reporters who have been fired.
This is the bravest bunch of reporters I’ve ever had the pleasure
to work with during my 30 years in this profession. There are so
many newspapers where reporters are afraid to investigate the news
beyond routine reporting, and fear speaking up to their editors or
publishers about being made to churn out assembly-line news stories
simply quoting public officials and community activists.

rally%20valentines%20day.jpg

“So, from my safe vantage point in San Diego [where Guiliano
previously worked at Escondido’s North County Times], seeing a
group of reporters standing up to their publisher, associate
editor, and editorial page editor when they know their journalistic
ethics and serving a greater authority — the public trust — hang in
the balance impressed me greatly.”

When Guiliano arrived to “make everybody one big happy family,”
he soon learned that “this is more a job for Dr. Phil than for me. It’s beyond my
capability to resolve the deep layers of dysfunction that have
permeated this newspaper.”

NO LOVE ON VALENTINE’S DAY: At a De la Guerra
Plaza rally today, Teamsters announced plans to file a federal
unfair labor practice complaint against a News-Press
attorney and to seek funds from “every union in the country” to
help struggling fired journalists.

Teamsters spokesman Marty Keegan said that
attorney David Millstein
(pictured with PR lady Agnes Huff)
broke labor law by crashing a union meeting Tuesday night,
interfering and disrupting it and engaging in surveillance.
Millstein%20%26%20Huff%20Web.jpg The meeting was between
News-Press advertisers, recently fired reporters, and
their Teamster reps and was intended to persuade advertisers to
convince McCaw that it was in her best interest to negotiate with
the reporters and return to ethical standards or journalism. The
journalists had rented the room, but Millstein and
accountant Norman Colavincenzo
apparently busted in, loudly
called the assembled journalists “liars,” and refused to leave,
citing the fact that it was a public building. At least some of the
News-Press advertisers were intimidated and left.

Keegan, who’s been trying to arrange a meeting between
Millstein, McCaw, and the journalists for months to no avail, said
to Millstein, “Now that you’re here, let’s talk.” Millstein then
left, according to Keegan, who told the small group of advertisers
that they had just witnessed the man who fired the reporters and
the kind of threats and intimidation reporters are subject to.

The complaint was filed because during an ongoing unionization
effort, the News-Press — according to NLRB law— is not
allowed to interfere with union meetings, Keegan explained. “Mr.
Millstein broke the law,” Keegan said at the rally on Wednesday .
“We are also considering obtaining some kind of injunction to stop
Millstein from breaking into future meetings. It’s still America
here.”

Reporter
Dawn Hobbs
, one of the staffers fired last week after
raising a banner on a freeway overpass
, said that a
News-Press ad today, backing McCaw, was signed by
only 60 of the 220 employees, many of them management
.
Others questioned how anyone could refuse to sign, given the
paper’s tyrannical tactics.

“Every one of (the fired journalists) are going to get their
jobs back,” Keegan vowed at the rally, which was decorated with
Valentine’s Day posters. hearts%20rally%202.jpg “We are sending letters out to every
union in America to help these people, to pay them their full
salaries and health care, and we’re planning fund raisers.” He
cited 17 million union families nationwide.

Also in the crowd was
Bill Pintard
, coach of the Santa
Barbara Foresters
baseball team. He asked, “How can you get
fired for holding a freeway sign reading ‘Protect Free Speech,’
which
sports columnist John Zant
was doing and which got him fired?”
After the rally, the journalists and backers marched in front of
the Canon Perdido and State Street office of News-Press
attorney
Barry Cappello
, chanting: “Hey, hey, Cappello. Union busting’s
got to go.”

Login

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.