This first appeared on Newsmakers with JR.

On March 7, 2008, more than two thousand people packed a sold-out Arlington Theatre for the premiere of a historic documentary telling the story of the aughts-era newspaper war that shaped Santa Barbara’s media landscape of today.

Co-produced by Santa Barbara–based filmmakers Rod Lathim, Charles Minsky, Peter Seaman, Brent Sumner, and Sam Tyler, the documentary titled Citizen McCaw depicted in detail the remarkable media, legal, and political brawl dubbed the “Santa Barbara Smackdown”; significantly, it also provided a prescient look at the future of the news business here and across the nation, as the internet, social media, the Great Recession, and billionaire owners reshaped the ways Americans receive, consume, and define “news.”

The film stands up, both as a singular record of a watershed period of Santa Barbara history, and as a harbinger of what was to come for the entire industry of local news coverage, with costly consequences for journalists and citizens alike.

The documentary, which has been shown at journalism schools across the country, may be viewed via this link or on YouTube.

In a special “Press Clips” edition, Newsmakers TV takes note of the 15th anniversary of the movie with a roundtable discussion including five local journalists who were in the middle of the controversy and contentious events it depicts, as Starshine Roshell, Melinda Burns, Josh Molina, and Nick Welsh join the genial host for a conversation about the generation of transformational change, both personal and professional, that has followed.

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