Leana Orsua, fresh off quitting the Santa Barbara News-Press two weeks ago, is now working as the Santa Barbara bureau reporter for KSBY television, which is based in San Luis Obispo. Orsua, who resigned from the paper May 3, started work for KSBY on Wednesday, May 16, but is yet to appear onscreen. The station is giving her a chance to get used to writing for television before she gets in front of the camera. She used to be a television reporter previous to her stint at the News-Press, including a part-time gig at KEYT in Santa Barbara. Orsua replaces Matt Cota, who had worked as the Santa Barbara bureau chief for KSBY for the last nine years before moving to Vermont last month to take a position as head of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association.

For the sake of keeping the Santa Barbara Media Blog record thorough and straight, here are a bunch of short blurbs about the News-Press and other media-related happenings over the past two weeks. We’ve already reported on most of these either in Barney Brantingham’s On the Beat or Nick Welsh’s Angry Poodle Barbeque, but here they are again for your review

NEWS-PRESS TV LAUNCHED: We reported it a couple weeks ago, but this week the News-Press officially celebrated the launch of newspress.tv, their new adventure in online video-based journalism. It’s not too shabby, production-wise, and it’s actually free, unlike their website. It’s being run by videographer/radio voice Dale Ernest, who’s been with the newspaper’s radio station as a weekend reporter for awhile.

Here’s the bulk of the press release issued on Monday by News-Press PR rep Agnes Huff. (Bolding is added by us.)

“The Santa Barbara News-Press continues its commitment to being the premier source for local news and information on the Central Coast and a leader in the publishing industry by launching News-Press TV today. Provided free of charge, News-Press TV will stream 24-hours a day on the paper’s Web site, newspress.com, to provide viewers with local, accurate and unbiased news.

“News-Press TV is an innovative enhancement to our Web site content, and will enable us to provide online Internet users with high quality, local video news reports,” said Arthur von Wiesenberger, Santa Barbara News-Press co-publisher. “We are in the process of transforming our existing business model to better meet the needs of our consumers as they increasingly demand 24/7 access to news and information,” he added.

Current and archived News-Press TV news videos will be available around the clock at newspress.com, providing users with increased flexibility and freedom of choice to obtain their news when they want it and in the format they prefer.

Seasoned videographer and producer Dale A. Ernest, brings extensive television news production experience to News-Press TV. His previous positions have included production responsibilities with several local affiliates and work with the County of Santa Barbara. Mr. Ernest is also the weekend news reporter for KZSB-AM 1290.”

That’s all fine and good, but the one obvious suspicion arising in the community is the web broadcast’s tagline, which appears at the end of each clip. It announces, “Local. Unbiased. Accurate. 24 Hours a Day. This is News-Press TV.” It’s a lot like FOX television’s old “fair and balanced” motto, which was basically a clue that what you were about to see was anything but “fair and balanced.” Needless to say, everyone is waiting to see whether the TV portal ignores the newspaper’s ongoing labor dispute as well as the printed publication has done.

And that raises two other questions: 1) What about making the newspaper itself better, with more of the local content that owner Wendy McCaw promised so long ago? And 2), why is the website still subscription-only?

BOOK REVIEWERS LAMENT: It’s already been widely reported that the News-Press‘ three book reviewers quit because they were disgusted by the front-page article that linked former editor Jerry Roberts to child pornography. But the words of Lin Rolens and Fred Klein (Susan Miles Gulbransen was the third) in their resignation letters are worth publishing everywhere. So we’re doing it here.

Rolens wrote, “I elect to stop reviewing books for the News Press with a heavy heart. My commitment to the paper for the last dozen years has been both a pleasure and an ongoing attempt to continue the tradition of quality journalism in Santa Barbara. It has become an increasingly difficult matter of conscience to write for Ampersand Publishing and for a paper ever thinning in substance and relevance; for some time only the advice of one former columnist to “write as long as they’ll let you” has kept me going.

I am grateful to my editors, who have been consistently supportive and professionally inspiring, in particular Linda Bowen, Melinda Johnson, Gary Robb and Andrea Huebner. I’m also grateful to readers of my reviews for their helpful feedback, and, of course, it has been a delight to be on the books page with Susan Gulbransen and Fred Klein.

Two things have brought me to this point. The first and more obvious was when the News Press stepped over the line and used an unsigned article on its front page to insinuate that Jerry Roberts downloaded child pornography on a company computer; they did this apparently in full knowledge that local authorities had decided there was no basis for filing charges.

The second element in this decision was an 800 page book on the Holocaust that I reviewed several weeks ago. It was a painful read and a difficult review, and one of the chilling points of the book was how much the German people clearly knew about the genocide undertaken in their name; the only heartening portions of the book chronicled the several occupied countries that took responsibility and stood up to successfully protect their endangered populations, as they did in Denmark and Belgium.

The obvious lesson is that, when we encounter a direct affront to decency and what we value, we have two choices: we can be part of the problem or part of the solution. As a correlate, if we assume we don’t possess power, we’ll quickly be correct. As writers, readers, advertisers, even liners of bird cages, we need, each of us, to make choices that honor our conscience and the very nature of the place we live.

Let us not be indifferent or intimidated: we must work toward a press that represents us as a community and reflects our values.

And in a letter to Life editor Mindy Spar, Klein wrote, “It pains me to make this decision to leave the paper now. I admire you and the Life Department for its commitment to promote the reading and writing experience. And you represent a long line of Life Section editors who have done such a good job in this important endeavor. I also have great regard for the work of my friends in other departments of the paper. However, the latest attack on the reputation of Jerry Roberts is something I cannot accept. I can’t work for an owner who could stoop to such tactics. So it is with regret that I leave the paper after more than ten years as a correspondent.”

THE INDY‘S BIG CITY SPLASH: While newspapers from New York City to San Francisco have referenced The Santa Barbara Independent‘s reporting and writing over the past 20 years, we’re pretty sure that last weekend’s opinion piece in the L.A. Times by Lou Cannon was the first time that a big city paper has published the cover of our weekly newspaper. If you don’t recall that week’s issue, then here it is again to jog your memory.

Have You No Shame, Mrs. McCaw?

And we aren’t the only ones impressed: veterans from the “alternative” media industry are equally surprised that a big city daily gave such prominent visual props to a weekly. All we can say is thanks to Cannon for his cogent rundown of the past year in Santa Barbara’s media mess, and thanks to the L.A. Times for showing millions of readers the community outrage that continues to grow in out town.


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