Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fire at old KNTV studio destroyed more than an abandoned building

Scott Herhold of the Mercury News says the fire that roared through the old KNTV building in San Jose on Sunday not only gutted an aging and empty structure, but it destroyed the last remnants of the early era of local television — a time that was more fun and less calculated than today’s broadcasts.

“From the weekday 'Record Hop,' which drew its inspiration from 'American Bandstand,' to a kids' show called 'Hocus Pocus,' to the used-car ads late at night, the KNTV building served as host for shows that marked a generation in San Jose,” Herhold writes.

“The early days were, well, funky. At the corner of Park Avenue and Montgomery Street stood an old house, left in place by the Gillilands (former KNTV owners), that became the station's first newsroom. Things were so crowded that one of the editors sat on a commode with a plywood board on her lap to edit the day's film.” [MORE]

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Judge to allow laptops, tablets during proceedings in the Yee case

Bay City News says U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco will allow reporters and members of the public to use laptops and tablets during hearings in the case of Leland Yee, Raymond Chow and others, provided that the laptop users agree to abide by court rules.

The rules are that laptops and tablets can be used only to take notes and transmit stories. They may not be used for photography, audio recording or broadcasting of proceedings.

In addition, cellphones may not be used for any purpose in the courtroom and any phones brought into a hearing must be fully turned off. Reporters wishing to bring laptops and tablets into the courtroom must submit an application stating that they understand and agree to the rules.

They will then receive a court-issued badge indicating they have court permission to use the equipment. Laptops may not be used unless the court has accepted an individual's application and issued a badge.

The next hearing in the case is a status conference before Breyer at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Further information and the application form are available on the courts website for the case: http://cand.uscourts.gov/USAvChow.

High school journalists on the Peninsula win national recognition for school's website

The Carlmont High School website.
Student journalists at Carlmont High School in the Peninsula city of Belmont won a prestigious award over the weekend at the National High School Journalism Convention in San Diego.

Carlmont’s www.scotscoop.com was honored with a Pacemaker Award by the National Scholastic Press Association.

“It’s significant for a lot of reasons,” Justin Raisner, an English and journalism teacher who is the adviser to the journalism program, told the San Mateo Daily Journal. “One is the recognition of what we do and just the affirmation that we are doing it right; but not only are we doing it right, but we’re doing it as well as, or better than, anyone else in the country.”

“For high school students, this is really exciting because a lot want to pursue media or journalism in college. So we’re hoping this will open a lot of doors that some students might get recruited from colleges and maybe get some scholarships,” Raisner said.

Students update the website daily with news stories, and the site attracts 6,000 unique visitors a month, according to Raisner.

The site is currently run by student editors-in-chief Sarah Klieves and Shira Stein.

The students post online content on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as CarlmontHighlander.

Out of 1,112 participants, the following Carlmont students were honored with awards:
    Justine Phipps, sports writing, “superior” (a.k.a. top ranking) 
    Dana Benelli, news writing, “superior” (a.k.a. top ranking) 
    Shira Stein, news editing and headline writing, “excellent” (a.k.a. second best) 
    Karissa Tom, graphic design: advertising, “excellent” (a..ka. second best) 
    Jessica Adair, feature writing, honorable mention 
    Isabella Paragas, editorial cartooning, honorable mention

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Press Club to award $1,500 scholarships

April 25, 2014 is the deadline for submitting entries to the 2014 scholarship competition sponsored by the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club.

Competition is open to high school, community college, college and university students from the 11 Bay Area counties who are planning a career in print, broadcast or photo journalism.

The San Francisco Peninsula Press Club typically selects one high school student and one college student to receive the $1,500 scholarships named for Herb Caen, the late San Francisco Chronicle columnist.

Scholarship funds will be paid to schools the recipients plan to attend, or are attending, to defray college-related expenses.

Work published, broadcast or webcast from fall 2013 to the April 25, 2014, submission deadline is eligible. This is a change from previous competitions Print and photo entrants should send:
    • A one-page resume. 
    • Three to five clippings mounted on letter-sized white paper; photos on CD; and video on DVD-R. Print entrants must include at least two clippings of news writing and may complete the submission with examples of opinion and feature writing. 
    • A letter of recommendation from an instructor in journalism, communications or English.
Entries should be sent to:
    San Francisco Peninsula Press Club Scholarships
    Attention: Darryl Compton, 
    Executive Director 
    4317 Camden Ave.
    San Mateo CA 94403-5007
Finalists will be interviewed in person by the Press Club’s Scholarship Committee. Winners will be honored at the Press Club’s 36th Annual Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards Dinner on May 31 at the Crowne Plaza in Foster City.

For further information, call the Press Club office (650) 341-7420. e-mail: penpressclub@comcast.net.

The deadline is April 25, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Appeals court says officials' private emails, texts are exempt from open records law

A state appeals court in San Jose has ruled that text messages, emails and other electronic communications sent and received by public officials on their personal devices are not public records regardless of the topic.

The ruling on March 27 by the 6th District Court of Appeal means the California Public Records Act (CPRA) doesn't extend to public officials' private devices.

The decision sets a legal precedent for South Bay counties but the issue is likely to remain unsettled until the California Supreme Court weighs in, the Mercury News said.

According to the National Law Review, the suit was brought by activist Ted Smith, who sought public records about a downtown San Jose redevelopment project.

The city complied with most of his request but refused to turn over “all voicemails, emails or text messages sent or received on private electronic devices” used by the mayor, members of the City Council, or their staff.

Smith sued and won a summary judgment ruling in superior court that found the CPRA extends to any official communication, regardless of where the record originated or how it is stored. The city appealed and the League of California Cities filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the city.

The appeals court on Thursday found in favor of the city. The appeals court ruled that, under the CPRA, communications “prepared, owned, used, or retained” by individual city officials on their personal electronic devices using private accounts were not equivalent to communications “prepared, used, owned, or retained” by the city.

The appeals court acknowledged the “serious concern” that city council members would conceal their communications on public issues by sending and receiving the communications on their private devices from private accounts, but it declined to re-write the CPRA, saying that was the job of the Legislature.

Smith’s attorney said his client will seek review of the decision by the California Supreme Court.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Thieves take equipment from KTVU van

The Chronicle is reporting that thieves broke into a KTVU news van parked in Oakland's Fruitvale District on Sunday and stole camera equipment. It was the latest in a series of crimes targeting the media in Oakland. The theft happened after Reporter Katie Utehs and photojournalist Jacob Unger parked their van in a lot at 35th Avenue and East 12th Street at about 10:45 a.m. Sunday to cover an event. When they returned to the van, they found that someone had smashed the locks on the passenger side and stolen a LiveU portable camera-backpack system used for live broadcasting, a laptop computer, a tripod and other gear.

Metro Newspapers buys papers in Santa Cruz, Gilroy, Morgan Hill and Hollister

Metro Newspapers, publisher of the Metro alt-weekly in San Jose, is buying four MainStreet Media Group newspapers: Santa Cruz Good Times, the Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Free Lance and Morgan Hill Times.

Terms were not announced.

Metro principal owner Dan Pulcrano told the San Jose Business Journal that there were multiple bidders for the properties and that his group paid for the purchase with private investment and other financing that he declined to describe. He said the papers he bought are profitable.

"We believe the South County is a very good area to be in, with a lot of potential growth," Pulcrano said.

Pulcrano said he plans to seek local investors for each of the titles to create additional bonds with those communities.

In Santa Cruz, Metro, which already owns the Santa Cruz Weekly, is acquiring its primary competitor, the 39-year-old weekly Good Times. Starting next week, the Weekly and Good Times will be combined into one publication under the title "Santa Cruz Good Times, incorporating the Santa Cruz Weekly."

Pulcrano told the Santa Cruz Sentinel that he would be retaining "the majority of both staffs," but declined to state who would be the editor of the new product.

Currently, Greg Archer is the editor of Good Times, which has a staff of 19; Steve Palopoli of the Santa Cruz Weekly. Good Times publisher Ron Slack told the Sentinel that he would "probably" not be retained.

"We're actually excited about the future of print," said Pulcrano. "It has shown tremendous resilience. Even during the last 20 years of digital media, weeklies seem to have been the survivors."

Slack told the Sentinel that once MainStreet Media sold its papers in San Diego in late 2013, he knew that Good Times was also on the market. He said that he tried to put together a local investment group to purchase Good Times, but was unsuccessful, partly because the Gilroy and Morgan Hill papers were to be part of any sale.

Here's the press release from Metro Newspapers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

San Jose City Council offers incentives to lure Mercury News to downtown

The Mercury News, which has sold its building at Brokaw Road and I-880, is looking for a new home for its newsroom and business departments, and San Jose officials are trying to lure the paper to move downtown.

They're hoping a parking incentive program that would save the paper $864,000 over five years will do the trick.

Mayor Chuck Reed said the Merc would be a "marquee tenant" downtown.

"They do buy ink by the barrel, still," Reed said.

The Merc said in today's edition that it is still exploring other office space around Silicon Valley and hasn't yet committed to a downtown move.

Under the offer approved by council Tuesday, the Merc would get 160 of its 200 spaces for free for four years and at half-price in the fifth year, while all the spots would be the full $100 monthly price in the following 2½ years.

College backtracks on policy restricting employees from talking to reporters

Skyline College in San Bruno is backing off a policy that required employees to go through the public relations department before answering media questions, the San Mateo Daily Journal reported Wednesday.

The student newspaper, The Skyline View, complained in an editorial that the policy restricted all faculty and staff from speaking to reporters for any reason.

“This stops the flow of information at the very place we need to access it, our teachers and our mentors,” the editorial stated. “Without being able to ask questions we are losing the edge that makes us journalists. In this new system we would have to e-mail our questions to the Office of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations.”

The Daily Journal reported Tuesday that the head of the teachers union, Teeka James, objected to the policy, too.

“It’s a perfect example of prior restraint on employee speech,” she said. “An employee has the right to say their experience in the college. … It still has the effect of chilling conversation and making employees feel like they’ll be in trouble if they speak to the press. It’s unclear if it’s just a recommendation, but that’s the way people are perceiving it.”

A memo sent to employees last week said, “Please do not agree to conduct an interview with a member of the media. If you are asked to be interviewed, please gather information on what the nature of the interview is, get the questions the reporter plans to ask in writing and consult (Marketing Director) Cherie Colin.”

The memo advised employees not to “talk off the record with a reporter. Nothing is off-record when speaking to the media.”

Colin told the Daily Journal that the policy was designed to protect the brand of Skyline College, which is part of the tax-funded San Mateo County Community College District.

The college said last week’s memo simply restated a policy that had been in effect since 2006, though union head James said the policy was news to everyone she knew. After the Journal’s story on Tuesday, college administrators sent out an email apologizing. They said they would reevaluate the policy.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Jack Russell, San Mateo Times reporter, columnist, editor, Press Club co-founder, dead at 87

RUSSELL
John Henry "Jack" Russell, who worked for the San Mateo Times for 39 years and was co-founder of the Peninsula Press Club, died Saturday (March 15) at age 87, according to an obit in the San Mateo Daily Journal.

Russell was born in San Jose, graduated from Fremont High School in Cupertino and served in World War II as an infantry Sergeant. After the war, he enrolled at San Jose State University and became editor of the Spartan Daily newspaper, where he met the love of his life, Marion Summers. They married in 1951.

He started at the San Mateo Times in 1952 where he was a reporter, columnist and editor. He retired in 1991.

"He was a wealth of knowledge," said Micki Carter, who worked with Russell at the paper. "He was really such a sweet guy. He had an excellent sense of news."

Carter, former managing editor of the Times, described Russell as a people person, saying that he would always look for "the story behind the story."

"He was in the newspaper business back in the days when it was fun; when people actually depended on print for their information," said Carter, who taught journalism at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont from 1996 to 2012.

John Horgan, a columnist for the San Mateo County Times who worked with Russell for almost 30 years, echoed Carter's sentiments.

"That generation, by and large, existed in completely different era for journalism," Horgan said. "I guess you could call it the golden years."

Horgan said Russell was well versed on a variety of different subjects, which is one thing that made him a good editor.

Russell was on scene for some of the biggest news stories of the last half century, including the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, child star Shirley Temple Black's bid for Congress in 1967 and the 1964 Republican National Convention at San Francisco's Cow Palace.

Horgan remembered Russell as a sports enthusiast who loved boxing long after the sport's heyday had come and gone.

"He was very bright, he was very well read," Horgan said. "He appreciated art, he appreciated good writing."

He said Russell was a Democrat back in the days when the majority of voters in San Mateo County were Republicans. "When he was a younger man back in the 50s and 60s, San Mateo County was very conservative. It is nothing like it is now," Horgan said. "A Democrat couldn't get elected back then."

In April 1963, Russell co-founded the Peninsula Press Club (now the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club). He was the first president of the club. Other founding members were vice president John Kane from the Redwood City Tribune, treasurer Vince Mager from the South San Francisco Enterprise Journal, secretary Mary Jane Clinton from the San Mateo Times, and program chairman Bob Foster from the Times.

He served as vice president of the San Francisco-Oakland Newspaper Guild.

Russell, a Belmont resident, was a member of the Sons in Retirement Branch 90 and a 10-gallon blood bank donor at Peninsula Memorial Blood Bank.

He is survived by his children Kevin Russell, Valerie Russell, Tracy Stoehr and his grandchildren Caleb Hanscom, Catherine and William Stoehr.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Belmont at 10 a.m. Friday, March 21, followed by a private interment. Due to Lent, no flowers please.

A public visitation will also be held on Thursday, March 20 from 6-8 p.m. at Crippen and Flynn Carlmont Chapel in Belmont. (Photo credit: Micki Carter)

Friday, March 14, 2014

March 2014 Press Club board minutes

March 12, 2014, San Mateo Daily Journal Offices  

PRESENT: Kristy Blackburn, Peter Cleaveland, Darryl Compton, Laura Dudnick, Antonia Ehlers, Jon Mays, Melissa McRobbie, Dave Price, Ed Remitz, Marshall Wilson, Special Guest Jim Watson

OPEN BOARD SEAT: Jim Watson from the Foster City Islander is our special guest Board members met Jim Watson, who bought the Foster City Islander in January 2013 and is interested in becoming a board member. Board members explained purpose of club is to promote a sense of press community, as well as help with the transition into the online arena while recognizing the value of print. Board also outlined the major Press Club undertakings (awards contest/h.s. boot camp/h.s. awards contest/scholarships).

Jim told the board about his journey from studying engineering and going into sales, to working for The Boulder Shopper in Nev and then moving to CA and taking over the Foster City Islander. Plans for the Islander include expanding it to 12 pages (if not more) and making it more profitable than it currently has become. The board approved the motion to regretfully accept Melissa McRobbie’s resignation because she is moving to Grant’s Pass, Ore. (Jon Mays motioned, Peter Cleaveland seconded). The board also approved the motion to move Dave Price from Director to Secretary (Peter Cleaveland motioned, Melissa McRobbie seconded). The board currently has two director positions open, and discussed various people to approach.

FINANCE/MEMBERSHIP: Darryl Compton provided an update on the state of the club’s finances. We had a large drop in entries for the awards contest, mostly because the Mercury News pulled out and did not pay for their reporters to enter the contest. Many categories had a decrease in the number of entries, except for the Broadband/Web category. The idea of offering a free entry was good marketing, but did not really net us that many new members. Even though we have $12,000 in savings account, we need to figure out a more sustainable model for the contest for next year. Darryl also reminded board members to pay their dues as well.  

AWARDS BANQUET: We have a hold on the Crowne Plaza for Saturday, May 31. Keynote speaker? The board approved a motion to reserve the Crowne Plaza for Saturday, May 31 (Marshall Wilson moved, Laura Dudnick seconded). Darryl informed the board that due to the open call option for the contest, some independent reporters submitted entries to categories that may not have existed for a certain medium (for example, putting a sports column in broadband even though it should have been in writing). Board agreed to leave the entries as is for the judging.

The board discussed Ideas for a keynote speaker and if the lifetime achievement award was a one-off or an annual presentation. Possibilities for keynote speakers: Jon Mays suggested some of the Wall Street Journal/All Things D reporters who are in the Bay Area: Reed Albergotti, who wrote a book about the Armstrong doping scandal and has the Facebook beat; Scott Thurm; and Jonathan Krim. Laura suggested Marcia Parker, who is currently working with Slate, as well as her husband Bob Porterfield who’s won a Pulitzer. Melissa McRobbie suggested Vic Lee as a possible Lifetime Achievement Award winner in the future. Jon Mays offers to follow up with Reed Albergotti to see if he is interested/available.

The board also thinks that having someone from YouTube or Facebook present at the next Boot Camp would be worth following up on at a future meeting. High School Journalism Contest: Entry Deadline is 3/14 (Judges needed) Darryl Compton reported that we currently have entries from Carlmont, Aragon, Gunn and Convent of the Sacred Heart High School in San Francisco (Tracy Sena).

He asked for board members to help judge the contest once all the entries have been submitted. Depending on the number of features entries, they may be split among different judges to faciitate the judging. The board also set a date for the High School Awards Ceremony — Marshall will contact the Old Courthouse in Redwood City to see if May 1st or May 22nd are available for the awards ceremony.  

HIGH SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP DEADLINE: 4/15 Darryl Compton asked for assistance in getting the scholarship info out to the college students. Ed Remitz offered to send him some contact info for local advisers at the college level. Ed Remitz suggested that the board make it clearer in the scholarship application that students should submit a variety of articles, including news articles. Darryl Compton recommended that Ed Remitz revise the language and send it to the board for approval so that the new requirements could be instituted this year. The board agreed this was a good course of action.  

HAYWARD HIGH GRANT/KARSTEN BARNES: The board revisited the grant from Karsten Barnes submitted in the fall of 2013. Marshall Wilson will follow up with Karsten about what the money will be used for. Darryl Compton suggested that we limit the grant to $500. Marshall Wilson will report back to the board via email with the information that he gets from Karsten Barnes.  

JUDGING: Milwaukee Press Club Judging Due This Friday. Ed Remitz reported that he had issues accessing the system but that they got resolved. Marshall Wilson reported that he followed up with the contest organizer because of the inconsistent entries in his category.  

NEWSLETTER: Laura Dudnick requested materials ASAP for the newsletter so that she can send out another newsletter soon.  

OTHER BUSINESS: Ed Remitz brought up the student intern issue and whether we would be able to offer a stipend to a student who could help with the website. The board agreed to return to this issue in September.

The meeting was adjourned at 8 p.m. Respectfully submitted, Kristy Blackburn

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Joel Brinkley, former NYT reporter, Pulitzer winner and Stanford teacher, dead at 61

Brinkley
Joel Brinkley, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who spent 23 years at The New York Times and moved to Palo Alto in 2006 to teach journalism at Stanford, died on Tuesday (March 11) at age 61.

He died at a hospital in Washington, his wife Sabra Chartrand confirmed to the AP today. The cause of death was acute undiagnosed leukemia which led to respiratory failure from pneumonia, Chartrand said.

Brinkley, who began his career at the AP in Charlotte, N.C., in 1975, won the Pulitzer Prize while a reporter at The Louisville Courier-Journal. He and photographer Jay Mather shared the prize for stories about the fall of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime.

He was also a Pulitzer finalist in 1982 in local investigative specialized reporting.

Brinkley left Stanford late last year to become a tactical adviser to John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

Brinkley's father, TV news anchor David Brinkley, died in 2003. A brother, Alan Brinkley, is a noted American History professor at Columbia University.

According to the Times, Brinkley was aware of his father’s long shadow and the questions it might raise in the minds of people first meeting another journalist of the same surname.

“I am not related to Christie,” he would volunteer.


Deadline near for high school contest

Friday, March 14, is the deadline to enter the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club's high school journalism contest, sponsored by Hillsdale Shopping Center. Awards will be presented at a reception in early May. Here's a link to the Call for Entries (PDF) (Word).

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New newspaper planned in Los Angeles

The owner of the Orange County Register, Freedom Communications Inc., plans to launch its latest venture, the Los Angeles Register, on April 16.

AP reports that the new publication is part of an ambitious expansion driven by Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz, who bought Freedom in 2012. The pair bulked up on newsroom staff at the Orange County Register, launched a new daily newspaper in Long Beach in August and bought the Press-Enterprise in Riverside in October.

Freedom said that the "community building" newspaper will cost $1.50 on weekdays and $2 on Saturday and Sunday and be distributed at 7,500 locations around Los Angeles County. That's roughly the same price as the Times.

Freedom also said it will launch more than a dozen monthly newspapers serving specific towns along the coast and as far east as Pomona, about 30 miles from Los Angeles. It said details on the monthlies will be available in the coming weeks.

State Supreme Court leans toward naming police officers in shootings

The Los Angeles Times reports that the California Supreme Court appeared inclined during a hearing March 4 to rule that the public has the right to know the names of police officers involved in shootings. During oral arguments, most members of the court seemed skeptical of contentions by police agencies that officer names must be kept secret because disclosure could jeopardize officer safety and involve protected police personnel matters.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, whose husband is a retired police lieutenant, suggested that the California Public Records Act contains a presumption in favor of disclosure and does not provide for blanket exemptions.

Justice Marvin R. Baxter questioned whether police agencies would refuse to release the names of officers involved in acts of heroism. And Justice Goodwin Liu noted that officers wear nameplates indentifying them to the public.

The case stems from a 2010 Public Records Act request by Los Angeles Times reporter Richard Winton to the city of Long Beach. Winton wanted the names of officers involved in shootings during the prior five years. The police union fought the request, losing at trial and at the appeals court.

The union was joined by other police unions across the state, saying state law bars disclosure of the names of officers involved in on-duty shootings.

A ruling by the court is expected within 90 days.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Judge rejects bid to bar photograph

A Marin County judge has turned down the request of a suspected bank robber who wanted a court order barring the Marin Independent Journal from publishing photographs of him.

According to the IJ, the judge earlier in the case denied the paper’s request to photograph Christopher Jay Wootton in the courtroom. Woottoon’s lawyer, public defender Michael Coffino, said publishing such a photograph could taint witnesses and prospective jurors, thereby depriving Wootton of his right to a fair trial.

However, the IJ’s Frankie Frost got pictures of Woottoon as he was being wheeled out of court in a wheelchair on Dec. 19.

Woottoon had been in the wheelchair at the time because of injuries he suffered after being shot by a deputy sheriff following a bank robbery.

Woottoon’s lawyer also argued that allowing the photograph to be published was a form of discrimination against the disabled. Normally inmates are escorted between the jail and court through interior passageways that aren’t accessible to news photographers. But because of a design quirk at the Civic Center, Woottoon had to be transported in a public area, where he was photographed.

The newspaper’s attorney, Duffy Carolan, opposed the request for an injunction, saying it amounted to prior restraint and the case did not come close to justifying the suppression of an American newspaper.

Judge James Chou denied Woottoon’s motion, saying his previous order only pertained to courtroom photography and didn’t apply to the courthouse’s exterior. He said the newspaper had lawfully obtained the photographs in a public place.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Robbers take news photographer's cameras

The Chronicle reports that another member of the media has been robbed at gunpoint in Oakland today (Feb. 18).

    Veteran Bay Area News Group photojournalist D. Ross Cameron had finished taking pictures of a lead-abatement project at a home near the corner of 29th and West streets in West Oakland when he was accosted by two men about 11:30 a.m. 
    The men stole two cameras and a lens from him at gunpoint before jumping into a car, described as a Lexus or Jaguar. 
    “I’m OK,” Cameron said as he sat in the front seat of an Oakland police SUV giving a statement to Officer Michael Morse. “I’m angry — and embarrassed.” 
    Cameron has been an East Bay photojournalist for 24 years.
The robbery is the latest incident in which a journalist has been robbed or attacked in Oakland, including one incident in 2012 where a KPIX camera was taken during a live shot. In response, TV stations have hired security guards to escort news crews.

Monday, February 17, 2014

SPJ honors high school journalists who debunked false claims in Audrie Pott case

Cristina Curcelli, 17, Samuel Liu, 18, and
Sabrina Chen, journalists with the Saratoga
High School Falcon newspaper.
The Society of Professional Journalists has honored students at the Saratoga High School whose reporting disputed reports that semi-nude photos of Audrie Pott had gone “viral” before her suicide, according to KCBS and the Mercury News.

When the teen’s sexual assault case first broke in 2012, local and national media reported that photos of the half-naked, 15-year-old girl had been posted on Facebook, which contributed to her suicide.

The student journalists at Saratoga High’s Falcon newspaper decided to investigate those claims.

They interviewed Audrey’s friends on the condition of anonymity and found that only 10 people had seen the pictures and that they were never posted on social media.

The staff worked around the clock through that first weekend and into spring break, posting stories online with headlines saying "only 10 students" saw the photos, and "Pott case twisted to fit anti-cyberbullying agenda."

SPJ honored the teenage reporters for both their reporting and for protecting their sources by defying a court subpoena from a lawyer in the case by invoking California’s Shield Law. (Photo credit: Karl Mondon, Bay Area News Group)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Accused bank robber's lawyer wants to stop paper from printing defendant's photo

Bank robbery suspect Christopher Jay Wootton
leaves court in a wheelchair on Dec. 19. This is
one of the photos his lawyer does't want published.
The lawyer for an alleged serial bank robber has asked a judge to stop the Marin Independent Journal from publishing photographs of the defendant taken outside the courtroom.

Public defender Michael Coffino says publishing the photos, which have already been printed in the IJ and distributed by the AP, would jeopardize his client's ability to get an unbiased jury. And since the defendant, Christopher Jay Wootton, is now in a wheelchair after he was shot by cops, Coffino says the photographs represent discrimination against Wootton's disability.

On Jan. 29, Coffino filed a motion to enjoin the IJ and other media from publishing photos of Coffino being transported to and from court. A hearing is set for Feb. 21 before Marin County Superior Court Judge James Chou.

Attorney Duffy Carolan, a First Amendment expert representing the IJ, said both the federal and state constitutions provide strong protections against prior restraint of the media by the government, and that Wootton's case does not come close to overcoming them. Here's the IJ's report on the controversy. (Photo credit: Frankie Frost, Marin IJ)

Monday, February 10, 2014

KRON to sell building, move in with KGO-TV

KRON's home at 1001 Van Ness Ave.
KRON’s owner, Media General, announced today that it is listing its 1001 Van Ness Ave. building and moving in with Channel 7 at the ABC Broadcast Center on Front Street.

“KRON will remain an independent station with its own staff and separate broadcast facilities. No staffing changes are expected as a result of the move, which is expected to be completed in the next six to nine months,” a statement from Media General said.

The statement doesn’t say whether the two channels would enter into a shared services agreement. KGO already produces newscasts for KOFY. But media blogger Rich Lieberman, who broke the story about the move, said he expects a consolidation to occur. Lieberman goes on to talk about the idea of Gary Radnich appearing on KGO.

The new space will provide a separate studio that Media General CEO George Mahoney called “a significant upgrade from our current studio,” and said the setup will better foster staffer collaboration.

The Van Ness building was designed by Gardner A. Dailey, a leading Bay Area architect from the 1920s to 1960s. It was completed in 1967. Prior to 1967, KRON operated out of the basement of the Chronicle building at Fifth and Mission. At the time KRON and the Chronicle had the same owners.

Young Broadcasting bought the four-story structure on Van Ness in 2000 for $8.4 million, or $185 a square foot.

Lieberman said that the building has multiple mortgages.

Time to enter the Press Club's contest

It's that time of year to submit entries for the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club's annual Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards. Here's a link to download the form that gives the rules and entry information (PDF) (Word doc). The deadline to enter is Friday, Feb. 28, 2014.

The entry fees are $15 members, $55 non-members, $30 same company with 25 or more, per entry.

However, your first entry is FREE with a 2014 Paid Membership. Each additional entry only $15. Here's the link for a membership form.

Entries can be uploaded, so contestants don't have to submit paper entries. As in previous years, the entries will be judged by press clubs in other cities. No members of the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club will participate in the judging.

Awards will be presented at a banquet in June.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dana King to run for Oakland City Council

King
The Chronicle's Matier & Ross reported this morning that former KPIX anchor Dana King has taken out papers to run for Oakland City Council this November. They reported:
    "I'd been working on issues in the neighborhood for a while," King, 53, said Tuesday. "When I heard Pat was retiring, it just came in a flash: 'I can do this.' " 
    Since leaving KPIX-TV in 2012, King has moved from a houseboat in Sausalito to a shared artists building in Oakland's San Antonio neighborhood. 
    She has been pursuing her sculpture art, teaching journalism at Dominican University in San Rafael and volunteering with the Alameda County Probation Department. 
    Like a lot of Oakland neighborhoods, the San Antonio area has its problems: crime, graffiti, illegal dumping and the like. 
    But at the same time, King said, "it is about to explode with development in the next five years. You can't stop it, but you can argue that it be equitable so that the people here don't get pushed out."
(Photo credit: Russell Yip, Chronicle)

Monday, February 3, 2014

2 convicted in murder of photographer Ray Fluker

The AP reports that an Alameda County jury today (Feb. 3) convicted two men in the shooting death of an ex-Oakland Tribune freelance photographer who was hit by a stray bullet.

Jurors found 37-year-old Donel Posten and 38-year-old Joe McNeely both guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Lionel "Ray" Fluker.

Poston and McNeely were also found guilty of attempted murder and being a felon in possession of a handgun. Each could receive life in prison at their sentencing on March 21.

The 54-year-old Fluker was a passerby caught in the felons' crossfire when he was struck while driving home in East Oakland in April 5, 2013. Investigators determined the bullet that killed Fluker came from the gun of McNeely, who was known as Anthony Lister at the time of his arrest.

Fluker took freelance photos for the Tribune from 1995 to 2007.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Patch lays off hundreds of employees

Patch, a hyperlocal news website that had pages devoted to 900 cities nationally, yesterday laid off hundreds of its employees after an ownership change. A source told Jim Romenesko that 80% to 90% of Patch employees were fired.

In the Bay Area, The Alamedan website reported that one editor, Autumn Johnson, is now overseeing 20 local Patches in the East Bay. The names of other local editors on Patch sites have been removed, presumably because they have been laid off.

AOL sold a majority interest in the money-losing website to Hale Global, an investment firm that specializes in turning around troubled companies.

Hale plans to keep all 900 Patch sites open, but instead of providing local reporting the website will become a content aggregator, presumably using stories generated by newspaper and TV station websites.

The fired employees will receive their yearly AOL bonuses, a payout for accrued vacation time and two months’ severance, according to TechCrunch, an AOL property.

"Patch had long been a sore spot on AOL’s balance sheet," TechCrunch's Matt Burns wrote. "The outlet failed to become profitable after Aol acquired it in 2009. Patch is estimated to have cost Aol between $200 million and $300 million to run. In 2012 Aol CEO Tim Armstrong made a commitment to turn Patch around. In 2013, sites were consolidated or closed and staffing was cut. Still, nothing seemed to help."

Patch was the latest attempt by a company to crack the local news niche online. Before Patch, there was Microsoft's Sidewalk/Digital Cites/RealCities (late 1990s) and Backfence.com (2005-2007).

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January 2014 Press Club board minutes

January 8, 2014, San Mateo Daily Journal Offices

PRESENT: Peter Cleaveland, Darryl Compton, Laura Dudnick, Antonia Ehlers, Jon Mays, Kristy Blackburn. Absent: Melissa McRobbie, Dave Price, Ed Remitz, Marshall Wilson

WHAT’S WORKING? WHAT’S NOT WORKING? Board members brainstormed about ways in which to improve the board’s effectiveness. It was a unanimous decision to meet every other month, instead of monthly. We also debated whether to meet at a restaurant or the Daily Journal offices. The decision was to stay with the Daily Journal offices, as restaurants can be a bit loud and distracting. We agreed to refresh our mission, if needed, and to possibly host a spring social at Chevy’s to attract more members.

FINALIZING THE CALL FOR ENTRIES: The board discussed the new deal this year – with a $40 membership, each contestant’s first entry is free. This will hopefully generate more members and more entries. We also might need to find a new partner in the future for this contest. Right now, RTNDA charges $3,000. Board members discussed sharing this fee with another club, such as Bakersfield. Another financial decision approved by the board was to make second- and third-place plaques the same size this year, which will save several hundred dollars.

CHANGING THE BY-LAWS TO ALLOW THE PAST PRESIDENT TO VOTE: All were in favor of this amendment to the by-laws.

NEWSLETTER STATUS: Board members offered to assist Laura Dudnick with her duties, and we discussed sending shorter issues more frequently (every two to three weeks).

FINANCE AND MEMBERSHIP: Darryl provided an update on the state of the club’s finances. We are looking good, except we all agreed that we need to make an effort to gain more members. The decision to increase individual membership from $35 to $40 was a sound decision.

HIGH SCHOOL JOURNALISM CONTEST: The deadline for entries will be March 14, 2014. We are hoping for more entries from more schools.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.