Thursday, November 30, 2006

Chron's page 1 has more features, culture

The current issue of the SF Weekly has a 5,350-word story by Michael Stoll on how the Chronicle is transitioning from a printed newspaper to a multimedia company. Breaking news is moving to the paper's SFGate Web site while the print edition's front page now has more culture and feature stories. The number of page 1 stories has been reduced to make room for bigger graphics and bolder headlines -- headlines that contain more powerful words and phrases like "death plunge." The moves come as the Chronicle, suffering from declining circulation and advertising, is losing $1 million a week, according to Stoll, citing court testimony.

It's worth noting that while alt-weeklies typically trash their town's local daily newspapers every chance they get, Stoll's article has lines such as: "In 36 years, Bronstein has risen to the very pinnacle of the region's news hierarchy with a combination of talent, charm, pluck, and luck." In fact, the article says that Bronstein stopped an interview with the SF Weekly because he smelled a hit piece coming. "Assured a fair hearing, he resumed enthusiastically when asked to discuss his own passion, investigative reporting, most prominently the investigation of performance-enhancing drugs used by professional athletes ..., " Stoll wrote. The article has some criticism, but "... journalists in and around San Francisco were reluctant to go on the record with their true feelings about the Chronicle," Stoll wrote. "Many have ongoing relationships with the paper, its editors, and its reporters, or hope to write, edit, or consult for it one day. Other journalists we talked with said they didn't want to be seen as kicking the paper when it was down."

Lawyer: Letter was more than a smoking gun

A day after U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered two rival Bay Area newspaper companies -- Hearst and MediaNews -- to stop collaborating on advertising and distribution, both sides in the case offered their spin on her ruling.

Illston said she was influenced by a previously undisclosed April 26 letter from a Hearst executive to MediaNews that said the two companies would work together on selling national advertising and newspaper distribution. She issued a temporary restraining order to stop the companies from working with each other -- saying it might constitute an antitrust violation. The case goes to trial in April.

Attorney Joe Alioto, representing San Francisco developer Clint Reilly who is suing to stop the consolidation of the newspapers, told E&P that the letter "isn't just a smoking gun -- it's the bullet coming out of the gun."

MediaNews President Jody Lodovic told E&P that critics are reading way too much into the letter. "If it truly was a quid pro quo for your investment, wouldn't you want more than a letter saying that you're willing to talk about (collaborating)?," he said.

Lodovic said the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Justice Department saw the letter, "and they weren't troubled by it." DOJ, which granted MediaNews permission to buy the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times four months ago, has yet to rule on whether Hearst can give MediaNews $263 million as part of the deal.

Lodovic denied the judge's ruling would cause Hearst to back out of the deal. But Alioto said he thinks the deal will unravel as a result of the judge's decision.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

NY Post coming to Bay Area

The Press Club has learned that Rupert Murdoch's New York Post will begin distribution in the Bay Area next week. The Post is a true tabloid, heavy on crime and celebrity news. It also has a conservative editorial page. The New York Post has been printed and delivered in South Florida for many years. This year, it expanded into Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. The Post will be printed in San Francisco on the presses of another conservative newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner.

Judge temporarily blocks newspaper deal

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston today temporarily blocked any attempts by Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group, owner of the Mercury News and Contra Costa Times, from jointly selling advertising or distributing newspapers with Hearst's San Francisco Chronicle. [Click here for a PDF of the 14-page ruling.]

The newspaper companies can contest the ruling at a Dec. 6 hearing. If the judge isn't persuaded to change her mind at that time, the restrictions will remain in place until the case goes to trial in April.

The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by San Francisco real estate developer and political insider Clint Reilly (left), who contends that the two companies are conspiring to fix ad rates and divide up the market. Reilly pointed to Hearst's decision to buy the Monterey Herald and St. Paul Pioneer Dispatch for $263 million and then give those papers to MediaNews in exchange for a 30% interest in MediaNews's holdings outside the Bay Area.

Evidence cited by the judge in her ruling included an April 26, 2006 letter from Hearst senior vice president James Asher to MediaNews President Jody Asher that Reilly's lawyers showed to the judge. Asher says in the letter that the two companies have agreed to "offer national advertising and internet advertising sales for their San Francisco Bay area newspapers on a joint basis, and to consolidate the San Francisco Bay Area distribution networks of such newspapers ..."

Illston suggests that, after reading the April 26 letter, she was misled by MediaNews and Hearst. "First, the Court accepted defendants representations that Hearst's involvement in the transactions was solely that of a passive equity investor. Though defendants offered no explanation why Hearst was willing to help finance an acquisition that would only make its competition stronger, the Court did not understand that Hearst expected, or would later receive, any quid pro quo. ... However, the April 26 letter suggests, at the very least, that Hearst's investment was specifically tied to an agreement by MediaNews to limit its competition with Hearst in certain ways."

Illston later writes, "... the April 26 letter casts doubt on the Court's earlier finding that 'The San Francisco Chronicle is a strong source of competition for CNP's (California Newspaper Partnership, majority owner MediaNews) newspapers, even after the MediaNews acquisition is finalized.'"

The judge also said it might be possible that the plan of the two companies to sell national advertising together is illegal.

Illston rejected a request by Reilly to stop MediaNews' consolidation of the Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and other papers the company owns in the Bay Area. Those papers are laying off workers and shutting down offices. Reilly argued that these changes would be irreversable and the judge needed to stop it. The judge disagreed. "While consolidation of some aspects of the papers may make divestiture more difficult, it will not make it impossible. The San Jose Mercury News and the Contra Costa Times continue to exist despite recent events, and could be divested."

Coverage:

Monday, November 27, 2006

Free Josh Wolf event on Dec. 7

Journalists, political activists and elected officials are scheduled to appear at an event on Dec. 7 to call for the release of Josh Wolf, the blogger and freelance news photographer who has been jailed because he refuses to provide a videotape he shot of a political protest to federal prosecutors. Speakers at this event will include Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, San Francisco Supervisors Chris Daly and Ross Mirkarimi and SF Bay Guardian Publisher Bruce Brugmann. An independent filmmaker, Kevin Epps, will screen a short documentary about Wolf. The event takes place Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Balazo Gallery, 2183 Mission Street at 18th Street, San Francisco. Sponsors are SF Bay Guardian, The Free Josh Wolf Coalition, League of Young Voters, Reporters Without Borders and Youth Radio. A $10 donation is requested.

Recent stories about Wolf include:

Radio's Dennis Erectus suffers heart attack

Former KOME host Dennis Erectus suffered a massive heart attack on Thanksgiving and remains unconscious at the San Mateo County Medical Center, All Access reports today. Erectus, aka Dennis Netto, was one of the radio industry's earliest shock jocks. He worked for legendary San Jose station KOME in the 1970s, was fired, rehired in the 1980s and fired again in the early 1990s. More recently he has ben at KBAY and KEZR. All Access quotes KBAY/KEZR program director Dana Jang as saying, "I first started working with DENNIS in 1977 AT kome. He is one of the more creative air personalities I've ever worked with. He took mass-media and tied it into the music and the content of his show. All his friends -- current and former employees -- are wishing the very best in his recovery."

Number of newsgathering subpoenaes soars

Hearst Corp. general counsel Eve Burton, second from left, tells The New York Times that she has seen a staggering increase in newsgathering subpoenaes -- from maybe four or five a year for all of Hearst's publications and broadcast stations to 80 in the last 18 months. In a story printed today, the Times says, "Within the news business, there is a consensus that the roof is caving in on the legal protections for working journalists." The story notes that Burton is preparing an appeal that will be filed Friday on behalf of Chronicle reporters Lance Williams, right, and Mark Fainaru-Wada, left, who face up to 18 months in jail for their refusal to reveal who leaked grand jury information in the Balco steroids case. The appeal hearing will be held on Feb. 12 and the pair faces longer prison terms than any of the actual Balco defendants. (Sept. 21 photo by Darryl Bush of the Chron. Also pictured is Editor Phil Bronstein.)

Four quotes from Burton tell the story:
    • “The government is apparently willing to spend three years and millions of dollars putting two reporters in jail."

    • “The culture of the press as an independent body is now under attack and if this continues, will come to be seen as an investigative arm of the government.”

    • “My 15-year-old is constantly reminding me that no one cares about this stuff but reporters, but I don’t think the public understands what is at stake here ... Everyone knows that what was revealed in that story about Major League Baseball and steroids was important, but I don’t think that they understand that they could lose that. That story could not be told today.”

    • “In terms of the public’s right to know what the government does and doesn’t do, it is huge. If the government wins in this case, every reporter’s notebook will be available to the government for the asking.”

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Journalists should take Wolf case seriously

Thomas Peele, a Contra Costa Times investigative reporter and winner of numerous awards, writes in a column printed today: "It is time for all journalists and the people who value them to take the U.S. government's imprisonment of Josh Wolf much more seriously and call it what it is: a blatant assault on the First Amendment." Peele notes that some journalists think less of Wolf because he's a blogger and freelance video photographer: "Journalists have always been mavericks and independents, the best among us raking muck and raising hell."

• ALSO ON THE OP-ED PAGES SUNDAY was a piece in the Chron by William Bennett Turner, a San Francisco lawyer who teaches a course on the First Amendment and the press at UC Berkeley. He says he used to tell his students on the first day of class that America had the freeest speech and press in the world. Now, he says, he can't do that anymore -- he says press freedom has been slipping away since 9/11.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

KGO-AM drops noon news, adds lawyer

KGO NewsTalk 810 has canceled its noon-hour news program, anchored by Bret Burkhart and Lynn Jimenez (both at right). It will be replaced with a legal advice show hosted by Len Tillem (at left), whose weekend shows have strong ratings. KGO made the announcement during Friday's noon news. Starting Monday, Len "The Lawyah" will be heard Monday-Friday 12-12:45 p.m. and Sunday 4-7 p.m. Chronicle consumer columnist David Lazarus, who has been substituting for vacationing hosts at KGO, will replace Tillem on Saturday 4-7 p.m. Tillem has been a host at KGO since 2000 and the station says his show has consistently topped the ratings among Bay Area listeners on weekend afternoons, with almost twice as many listeners as the No. 2 station. Interviewed about the switch on Friday, Tillem said: "Everybody says, 'I love the information you give us.' To hell with the information, I like to make 'em laugh, too." KGO has aired a noon-hour newscast for six years. Burkhart and Jimenez will remain at KGO, doing stories for both the morning and afternoon news. ABC Radio's Paul Harvey will remain at 12:45 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Editor, columnist Thomas Fleming, 98, dies

Thomas Fleming, a columnist and editor for San Francisco's Sun Reporter, the African American newspaper he helped start in 1944, died Tuesday at a retirement home in San Leandro of congestive heart failure at age 98, the Chronicle reports. He died just a few days before he was to have celebrated his 99th birthday. His friends plan to turn his planned birthday party on Saturday into a celebration of his life, according to the Chronicle obit, which gives details. (Chronicle file photo, 2004, by Paul Chinn.)

Judge may halt plans of Singleton, Hearst

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston (left) said Wednesday (Nov. 22) that she may temporarily halt MediaNews Group and Chronicle owner Hearst Corp. from collaborating on national advertising sales and newspaper distribution in the Bay Area, according to a report by Karen Gullo of Bloomberg News. Illston said she may grant a temporary restraining order to real estate investor Clint Reilly, who claims in a lawsuit that Dean Singleton's MediaNews and Hearst are conspiring to fix newspaper ad prices and eliminate competition in the Bay Area. The companies deny the claims. Singleton acquired the Mercury News and the Contra Costa Times, the No. 2 and No. 3 Bay Area papers, from the McClatchy Co. in August. The $1 billion deal included at least $263 million from Hearst in return for a 30 percent interest in MediaNews's assets outside the Bay Area. MediaNews and Hearst plan to attract national ad revenue by offering one contract for all three papers, lawyers said. The two companies have also said they plan to collaborate on delivery of newspapers.

Before Wednesday's hearing, Editor & Publisher Online carried an interview with Joe Alioto, the attorney representing Reilly, who said that he would submit a new motion for a temporary restraining order that was based on new evidence he uncovered since a previous hearing, when Illston shot down his request for a TRO halting the $1 billion deal. Alioto said he would like to reveal the new evidence publicly, but Hearst and MediaNews obtained a court order in September sealing all documents in the case that had not previously been made public. "[W]e're very upset about and that we can't understand why media companies are not coming to the court and advocating for making public these documents just as they are in any other case," Alioto said. [Chronicle's version of the story] [MediaNews/Mercury News version]

Reynolds named ME of Oakland Tribune

Martin Reynolds has been named managing editor of The Oakland Tribune, replacing longtime ME Leanne McLaughlin, who moves on to a new assignment at the Contra Costa Times, according to the California Newspaper Publishers Association bulletin. Reynolds, 38, was formerly assistant city editor and special projects editor for The Tribune. He is a Berkeley native, Berkeley High School alum and West Oakland resident who began at The Tribune as a Freedom Forum Chips Quinn Scholar in 1995. After attending San Francisco State University, he was hired as a reporter. He was promoted to assistant city editor in 2000, and in 2005 was elevated to special projects editor for ANG Newspapers, which also includes The Daily Review in Hayward, The Argus in Fremont, the Tri-Valley Herald and the San Mateo County Times.

Local papers part of Yahoo deal

The Chronicle, Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and the other chain-owned dailies in the Bay Area are apart of an advertising partnership with Sunnyvale-based Yahoo, according to numerous media reports. The partnership will let newspaper advertisers place recruitment ads on Yahoo's HotJobs site and in return Yahoo will provide search software for newspaper Web sites and distribute their stories.

"Newspapers never jumped into technology with both feet,'' Andrew Swinand, president of Chicago-based Starcom Worldwide, a media-consulting firm, told Bloomberg News. "What newspapers have is local advertising relationships that a company like Yahoo cannot match.''

"Newspapers are essentially saying, 'We haven't done a great job moving online, and therefore, we can't do this on our own,'" UBS analyst Benjamin Schachter said. "Yahoo sees itself more as a media company than Google, so it makes sense they were able to do this."

MediaNews, owner of the most of the dailies in the Bay Area, is a partner along with Chronicle owner Hearst Corp. and several other newspaper chains. The country's two largest newspaper publishers, Gannett Co. and Tribune Co., aren't taking part. Along with McClatchy Co., the three companies jointly own CareerBuilder.com, the country's largest help-wanted Web site.

Google earlier this month announced a test of advertising sales for 50 newspapers. The Mountain View, California-based company is taking bids for advertising space in newspapers owned by New York Times Co., Washington Post Co., Gannett, Tribune and McClatchy.

Yahoo's willingness to help the Chinese government prosecute journalists apparently did not play any role in the decision by the newspaper companies, or at least it wasn't mentioned in any of their stories about the Yahoo partnership.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Judge denies Thanksgiving release for Wolf

Bay City News reports that U.S. District Judge William Alsup has turned down a request by freelance news photographer and blogger Josh Wolf (pictured) to be released from jail on a Thanksgiving furlough. Wolf, 24, has been imprisoned at the Federal Correctional Institution in the East Bay city of Dublin for 93 days on Alsup's order for refusing to give a federal grand jury unaired portions of a videotape of an anarchist demonstration in San Francisco last year. Prosecutors say the unaired tape might show who torched a police car and injured a police officer. Wolf says the tape doesn't show that, and he has offered to screen the video for the judge. Before denying Wolf's bid for a Thanksgiving release, the judge said: "I hope you'll take to heart that judges, no matter how sympathetic they may be to you, are sworn to uphold the law ... Consider that this great country that has allowed you to be a journalist sometimes asks for something back." (Photo by Luke Thomas of Fog City Journal)

A couple of sidebars:

Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame event Dec. 6

The Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame's first class of inductees will be celebrated as part of the Broadcast Legends' Annual Holiday Party on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the Doubletree Hotel & Executive Meeting Center at the Berkeley Marina. The event is open to the public. Organizers say they are expecting a terrific turnout -- many of the notable stars of local radio and TV have already RSVPed -- so they're urging people to make reservations now online or by calling (650) 341-7420. For more information, go to the Broadcast Legends luncheon page or download the PDF flyer. Here's a complete list of inductees. Also, Ben Fong-Torres discussed the Radio Hall of Fame in his radio column Sunday.

San Mateo County Times building to be sold

The San Mateo County Times building at 1080 S Amphlett Blvd., which has an orange sign that can be seen from Highway 101 near the Third Avenue interchange, will soon be for sale, employees of the paper have been told. MediaNews Group will begin testing the printing of the Times at its Hayward plant at 3317 Arden Road, 15 miles across the Bay. If the tests are successful, the printing will move to Hayward in December. After that, management plans to move the news and sales offices to a Peninsula location that has yet to be identified. At that point, the Times building will be put up for sale.

The news follows another round of layoffs at the San Mateo County Times and other MediaNews properties in the Bay Area. The number of layoffs wasn't disclosed, but more than 20 graphics jobs at the Contra Costa Times are being outsourced to India.

As the PPC reported Nov. 4, the MediaNews-owned Oakland Tribune is leaving the Tribune Tower in downtown Oakland. The Tribune's news, sales, IT and internet staffers are moving to the Airport Corporate Center on Oakport Drive on I-880 across from the Oakland Collesum. MediaNews will lease about 15,000 square feet there compared to the 65,000 square feet it now has in the Tower. MediaNews is also setting up a "shared services" office in San Ramon to handle business functions for its papers.

The Wave launches visitor guide

The Wave Media, publisher of The Wave Magazine, has introduced a second publication, City Guide South Bay | San Jose, which will focus on the needs of South Bay tourists and business travelers. The City Guide will be distributed to more than 20,000 hotel rooms. The publication promises the "most comprehensive up-to-date information about the culture, lifestyle, and events in the Greater San Jose Area. It will be the savvy visitor’s most used resource when deciding where to eat, where to shop, and how to entertain themselves while in the South Bay." B. Peter Brafford, President and Publisher of The Wave Media, said: "We recognized the need for this type of resource and thought we were well-positioned to produce it, considering our understanding of the market and our vast archive of information about San Jose and the South Bay ... And from the overwhelmingly positive response we've received from the business community, it looks like we were right on target."

South Bay papers drop cartoonist DiCenzo

After 14 years, Silicon Valley Community Newspapers has dropped staff editorial cartoonist Steve DiCenzo. SVCN management cited cost-cutting as the reason for his termination last week.

Griffith may do documentary on TV news

The Chronicle's Matier & Ross report that Leslie Griffith, who resigned Friday as co-anchor of Channel 2's "10 O'Clock News," is buying property in Colorado and has been talking to colleagues about doing a documentary on a subject she knows well: "The state of television news today." After 20 years at Channel 2, Griffith wanted out for a variety of reasons, according to previous reports, including frustration over the station's changing newsroom personnel, the pressures of added broadcasts and shorter news stories, and greater news control being exerted by the station's ownership in Atlanta -- plus tensions with longtime co-anchor Dennis Richmond.

Correction on Centanni ransom story

We need to correct an item on this blog Nov. 15 that stated a story by World Net Daily claimed Fox News paid a $2 million ransom for two of the network's employees, photographer Olaf Wiig and reporter Steve Centanni (pictured), a former Bay Area journalist. The World Net Daily story by Aaron Klein didn't say that Fox News paid the ransom. It only says that money was paid to organizations such as Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees, but the source of the funds was not identified. Several news outlets jumped to the same conclusion as we did, and Klein has written a follow-up story in which he says he is "horrified people have falsified and misrepresented my article to attack Fox News." Klein also says that since his original story was posted online, other sources have confirmed that money was paid by somebody to obtain the freedom of Wiig and Centanni. "As outlined in my article, the indications are the exchange was brokered by a government or political party since certain quid pro quos were reportedly made, such as assurances against further kidnappings of Americans," Klein writes.

Merc names interim business editor

The Mercury News has appointed Maria Shao was interim business editor and hired three reporters to replace those who have left in the past few months, according to the Society of American Business Editors and Writers Web site. In addition to being appointed interim editor, Shao was promoted to deputy business editor/enterprise. She has been at the Merc since 2000 after previously working at the Boston Globe, Business Week, Asian Wall Street Journal and the Wall Street Journal. Todd Woody resigned as business editor in May after seven months on the job to become assistant managing editor of Busines 2.0.

Despite the fact that the Merc has announced that it will cut 40 jobs from its newsroom by December, the paper has hired three business reporters:
    • Constance Loizos, who previously worked at the Venture Capital Journal and Private Equity Week, will cover venture capital and startups, succeding Matt Marshall, who is leaving to write his blog VentureBeat (which the Merc will syndicate).

    • Ryan Blitstein, formerly of SF Weekly and Red Herring, will become a general assignment business reporter.

    Troy Wolverton, formerly of The Street.com, will cover consumer electronics and entertainment, succeeding John Boudreau, who will now cover globalization, a new beat.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ch. 4's Folsom described as sexy, loud

On the air four hours a day, five days a week, there's probably no other Bay Area TV anchor who gets more air time than KRON 4's Darya Folsom, a Novoto resident who was profiled in this morning's Marin IJ. "Cute, sexy, bright, articulate, funny and, by her own admission, loud, Novato's Folsom, who is 41 and perhaps 5 feet tall, walks into a room and takes it over. If not always by volume, invariably by a presence that turns heads and stops conversations," writes the IJ's Don Speich. Besides her work on TV, Folsom has become a fascination to some on the Internet. In 2004, she did a full-body photo shoot for a cover article in San Jose Magazine, and the shots are all over the Internet. Several sites and blogs show multiple frames from her newscasts as well as comments from bloggers that are unseemly, Speich writes. (Marin IJ photo by Jeff Vendsel.)

Clear Channel boots several SF employees

Ben Fong-Torres, in his radio column in today's Chron, reports that Clear Channel has terminated about a dozen employees including Star 101 program director James Baker, KNEW program director Clark Reid, KNEW news director Ellen Hyatt and KQKE promotions director Mike Capozzola. CC's local president and market manager, Kim Bryant, says the company isn't cutting jobs, pointing out that she's added new sales and Internet jobs.

Fong-Torres also notes that CC's KQKE 960 has dropped Al Franken (left), the biggest name on the financially-troubled Air America network, and replaced him with syndicated host Thom Hartmann (right) in the 9 a.m.-to-noon slot. KNEW program director Bob Agnew described Hartmann as a rising star. Other changes at the progressive station including moving Randi Rhodes from afternoons to the 9-11 p.m. slot. She's being replaced in the 3-6 p.m. period by Rachel Maddow and a new "Progressive News Hour" with John Scott from 5 to 6 p.m. Also on the move is Betsy Rosenberg's "Eco Talk," which will now be heard at 11 p.m.

News organizations step up outsourcing

The news (first reported on the Press Club blog Nov. 9) that the Contra Costa Times would be outsourcing most of its graphic design department overseas might have surprised some people. But outsourcing is becoming increasingly common in the news business as newspapers and wire services look to cut costs, according to this story in today's International Herald Tribune. The company getting work from the Contra Costa Times is KCS in India, which bills itself as the "world's media back office," according to the IHT story. The Los Angeles Times also uses KCS for its graphics. Reuters opened an office in Bangalore two years ago, initially with 340 employees and 13 journalists, to write about corporate earnings and conduct research on U.S. companies. Since then, the Reuters staff has grown to 1,600 with 100 journalists working on stories about U.S. businesses.

Three journalists lose election bids

Perhaps journalists have an inflated view of their own popularity. Whatever the reason, the three journalists who ran for office in this months election were defeated. In two races, they lost by big margins.

    • In Berkeley, former Berkeley Daily Planet columnist Zelda Bronstein was trounced by incumbent Tom Bates in the race for mayor. Bates, who four years ago admitted stealing free newspapers containing the endorsement of an opponent, was nonetheless reelected with 62.7 percent of the vote. Bronstein got 31 percent.

    • In Pacific Grove, the editor and publisher of the twice-a-month Home Town Bulletin, Lee Yarborough, came in third in a three-person race for mayor. The winner was Dan Cort with 60.6 percent of the vote. Yarborough got 18.6 percent.

    • The cloest race involving a journalist was in San Benito County, where former Hollister Pinnacle owner Tracie Cone (pictured) came within 81 votes of defeating incumbent Reb Monaco in the race for San Benito County Supervisor, according to the Hollister Free Lance newspaper. Monaco outspent Cone $10,188 to $1,282.

    Cone, 48, quit her job as a Mercury News staff writer in 1999 and bought The Pinnacle in Hollister. She sold it in 2004 to MainStreet Media, which has acquired other nearby papers including the Gilroy Dispatch.

    Today's Mercury News has a story that prominently features Cone and her efforts to slow development in San Benito County.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Chron printers to vote on contract Sunday

An update to yesterday's item about the Chronicle's plans to shut down its pressroom and outsource its printing to Montreal-based Transcontinental, which will build a $200 million plant in the Bay Area.
    • New union contract. The Chronicle's 230 printers, who have been working without a contract since July 1, 2005, plan to vote Sunday on a new contract proposal from management, according to a story in this morning's Chron. The contract with the the Web Pressmen and Prepress Workers Union Local 4, a unit of the Teamsters, allows for termination of the workers when the Transcon plant opens on May 1, 2009. The agreement provides for severance payments in the amount of two weeks for every year of service up to one year and up to one year of health and welfare contributions, the Chron said. A worker re-training fund and productivity bonuses are also in the new contract.

    • 10-15% cost savings. Replacing the Chronicle's existing press wouldn't be "cost responsible," Publisher Frank Vega said. Previous reports have said that the Chronicle in 2005 was losing about $1 million a week, though the losses have been reduced this year. Most U.S. newspapers can save 10 percent to 15 percent on their printing by outsourcing, said newspaper analyst Paul Ginocchio of Deutsche Bank North America, according to a Canadian Press news service story about the Chron deal.

    • A new trend. The Chron will be the largest U.S. newspaper to outsource all of its printing, and the switch may start a trend. "I absolutely think it's a trend," Ginocchio said. He said the agreement will be the talk of the U.S. newspaper industry over the next six months.

    • Who is next? The Merc? What the Chron didn't say in today's story, but the Canadian Press noted, is that the Transcon plant will likely have excess capacity to print other newspapers. One analyst, who was not identified by name, said the Transcon deal will work best if 45 percent of the plant is used for non-Hearst business. Transcon CEO Luc Desjardins is quoted as saying that discussions with another "large American publisher" have been underway for 16 months. The Merc's pressroom is unionized, the other major press operations in the Bay Area are non-union.

    • No location yet. The location of the Transcon plant in the Bay Area has not been decided.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Leslie Griffith resigns from KTVU

Veteran news anchor Leslie Griffith resigned from KTVU today after 20 years at the station and eight years as co-anchor of the "10 O'Clock News." She has been off the air since Aug. 22 in what the station called a leave of absence. Every night, co-anchor Dennis Richmond would say at the top of the news that Griffith was off that night. During the leave, negotiations took place a departure settlement since three years remained on her contract. KTVU announced her resignation this afternoon after a story saying she had resigned first appeared on the blog of Contra Costa Times TV writer Chuck Barney this morning.

"I've had some unbelievable times at KTVU and the Bay Area has watched me grow up from a girl with pig-tails down to her waist to a woman who was able to travel and report on stories all over the world," Griffith said, when reached at her second home in Steamboat Springs, Colo., today by Barney. "I never imagined I'd do as much and see as much. But I felt like I needed a change in my life. It's time to move on."

Ironically, Griffith replaced Elaine Corral, who also resigned under mysterious circumstances in 1998.

Over the past year, Griffith, 49, had privately expressed dissatisfaction with KTVU's management and the direction of the news department. Barney said she was also upset that the station's management did little to support her after she was slammed in an anonymous column called "The Grump" in the Oakland Tribune.

History [PPC, Oct. 25: Reasons given for Griffith's exit from Ch. 2] [PPC, Oct. 8: What happened to KTVU's Leslie Griffith] [PPC, May 6: Pam Moore, Leslie Griffith sound off about TV news]

Coverage [Charlie McCollum's column in the Mercury News] [Chuck Barney's column in the Coco Times (now MediaNews Group)]

Chronicle to outsource printing

Chron Publisher Frank Vega (pictured) announced today that his paper is getting out of the printing business and has signed a 15-year contract with a Canadian company to print the Chronicle at a new plant in the Bay Area in 2009. Transcontinental Inc., the seventh largest printer in North America and the largest in Canada, will build and own the presses.

The story didn't say how this switch will affect the Chron's 237 unionized printers, who have been negotiating for a new contract after their last one expired on July 1, 2005, or other pressroom employees. Including the printers, the Chronicle's pressroom employs 400 to 450 people. The Web Pressmen & Prepress Workers Union Local 4N held a demonstration in front of the Chronicle on Aug. 11 to complain that the paper had not been bargaining with them in good faith and was attempting to gut their previous contract.

Transcon, in a press release, said the contract with the Chronicle plus the printing of other products at this new plant will surpass $1 billion in total revenues over the 15-year period. Transcontinental said it plans to invest $200 million in the plant and presses. A physical location for the new plant wasn't disclosed.

It's unusual but not unprecedented for a contractor to print a daily newspaper. Last year, the 70,000-circulation Daily Breeze in Torrance, Calif., shut down its printing operation and outsourced to Southwest Offset in Gardena, Calif. Southwest also prints the San Mateo Daily Journal and the Daily News Group (Palo Alto Daily News, San Mateo Daily News, etc.) at its plant in Redwood City. The Chronicle is believed to be the biggest U.S. newspaper to outsource all of its printing.

[PPC, Dec. 19, 2005: Chron may outsource printing] [PPC, Aug. 8, 2006: Chron pressmen's union to picket] [PPC, Aug. 12, 2006: Chronicle union faces Tuesday deadline]

Jailed freelancer loses bid for new hearing

Josh Wolf (pictured), the blogger and freelance photographer who has been jailed for refusing to give the government outtakes of a political protest he shot, will remain behind bars until July. Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected his motion for a re-hearing before a panel of 15 judges. The decision to jail him was oringally made by a three-member panel. With yesterday's decision, it appears Wolf will remain in jail until July, when the term of the grand jury that sought his videotape expires, the NY Times says. If that happens, Wolf will be the longest-incarcerated journalist in recent American history, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Vanessa Leggett, a freelance journalist from Houston, served 168 days in 2001 and 2002 for refusing to surrender information about a murder case, according to the Times. The Times says Wolf has already served 88 days in jail. He's being held in a federal detention facility in the East Bay community of Dublin. [Bay Guardian: Analysis of recent ruling in Wolf case]

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Plante: Mainstream gays into the news

In an interview with the Bay Area Reporter, KPIX CBS 5 political editor Hank Plante says he's on a crusade to integrate gays and lesbians into news stories about everyday life. "When a network does a story on credit card debt, why shouldn't it be a lesbian couple profiled? It is criminal we are excluded from these stories," said Plante, who is gay and a founding member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. "I don't know how to make that happen. We are part of the fabric of this nation. We need to be included in these non-gay stories. It is a crusade of mine."

In the interview, Plante said he isn't interested in writing an opinion column or hosting a talk show, pointing to the controversy that erupted over KGO anchor Pete Wilson's criticism of gay Supervisor Bevan Dufty's decision to raise a baby girl with a lesbian. "This is the danger when you have someone who is supposed to be a journalist doing a column or radio talk show. Eventually your true feelings are going to come out," said Plante. "If you want to be a journalist you give some of that up. I am sorry but that is the way it is. You shouldn't know whom Katie Couric is voting for. Besides the fact, I thought what he said was ridiculous."

The occassion for the interview was Plante's induction into the Silver Circle of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences of San Francisco/Northern California Chapter. Along with Plante, this year's inductees were KTVU's John Fowler and Ross McGowan; CBS 5's Sydnie Kohara; Mark Hedlund with KXTV in Sacramento; and Bob Long from Fresno's KSEE.

In the picture above, Tim Didion, left, CBS 5 special projects producer and Terry Lowry, awards committee chair, congratulate Hank Plante, CBS 5 political editor, upon his induction to the Silver Circle. (Photo by Rick Gerharter, Bay Area Reporter.)

Ailes denies $2 million hostage payment

Fox News boss Roger Ailes (left) is denying a report by World Net Daily that his network paid $2 million ransom to gain the freedom of two FNC employees, Olaf Wiig and former Bay Area journalist Steve Centanni. In an internal memo leaked to Drudge, Roger Ailes says: "I just saw an article on the internet from WorldNetDaily.com by Aaron Klein which claims we paid $2 million in hostage money during the Centanni & Wiig kidnapping crisis. The story is absolutely 100% false. Not a cent of hostage money was paid, and it was never considered."

MediaNews Group reports $13 million profit

MediaNews Group, headed by Dean Singleton (left), reported net income of $13.3 million in the previous quarter and revenues of $295.3 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Those figures were a significant improvement compared to the same quarter a year ago when the company had revenues of $196.6 million and net income of $982,000. The increase is due to the Aug. 2 purchase of the Mercury News and Contra Costa Times for $736.8 million. MediaNews Group already owned several other Bay Area papers including the Oakland Tribune, San Mateo County Times and Marin Independent Journal. In a complex deal, Hearst Corp., owner of the Chronicle, purchased the Monterey Herald and St. Paul Pioneer Press on Aug. 2 for $263.2 and then turned over the management of those papers to MediaNews in exchange for a 30 percent stake in MediaNews's operations outside the Bay Area. The U.S. Justice Department is reviewing the Hearst part of the deal, and a civil suit challenging the transaction is headed for trial on April 30. Since the deals closed, MediaNews announced it would cut 101 jobs from the San Jose Mercury News, and undisclosed number of jobs at the Contra Costa Times and 40 positions from the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

ValleyWagger refused to tone it down

The NY Times' DealBook blog edited by Andrew Ross Sorkin and the blog 10 Zen Monkeys by Jeff Diehl each give the low down on why the editor of ValleyWag, 22-year-old Nick Douglas (right), was fired this week by Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton. Both blogs obtained an internal memo in which Denton gives his reasons for giving Douglas the axe. Denton seemed distressed that Douglas was giving media interviews in which it seemed he wanted the Web site to get sued. Denton cited one interview in which Douglas was quoted as saying, "We haven’t gotten a serious legal threat so far. Well, a couple of minor ones, but we’re still waiting for a good solid cease-and-desist and a good lawsuit. We’re really trying to get News Corp. to sue us." Denton also said the editor got too close to the subjects he was writing about which led to "favor trading and an elevated sense of one's own importance." Denton is now running ValleyWag out of San Francisco while he looks for a new editor. [PPC, Tuesday: Valleywag editor gets the boot]

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

FCC probes local news reports

A story in this morning's Chron quotes Democratic FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein (pictured) as saying he wants an investigation into stations that have been using corporate video news releases (VNRs) without telling viewers. However, the Radio-Television News Directors Association says such an investigation has already begun by the FCC's Enforcement Bureau with 77 stations receiving letters in October about their use of VNRs, including KPIX CBS5 and KGO-TV ABC 7.

The news peg for the Chron story was the release Tuesday of a report by the Center for Media and Democracy entitled "Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed."

The group claims:
    • KGO-TV used tape from an Allstate VNR in a story about rental cars without identifying the source of the tape. News Director Kevin Keeshan told the Chron that the use of the tape was a violation of station policy and the segment producer was disciplined. Keeshan said Channel 7 has now changed its policy on VNR usage, requiring the approval of an executive producer before airing properly identified material from a VNR.

    • KPIX used a VNR from Pfizer in a report about the first inhalable insulin treatment approved by the FDA without attributing the source of the tape. News director Dan Rosenheim told the Chron that "this was a legitimate news story," but that the station failed to attribute the material used to a VNR, which "was a departure from our policy."

The Chronicle's story fails to mention that the Radio-Television News Directors Association reviewed each of the group's allegations and found most of them to be unsupported by a review of the video of the newscasts in question. RTNDA called the study biased and inaccurate.

The RTNDA says, "The investigation has had a chilling effect on the dissemination of newsworthy information to the public" and the association strongly opposes government intervention in the newsroom.

The Center for Media and Democracy is seeking a number of new regulations regarding VNRs including continuous "frame-by-frame" identification of all VNR material (possibly with the words "Footage provided by X") as well as a verbal introduction identifying the VNR's source. The Center also wants the FCC to require broadcasters to list all use of VNRs in the station's public file.

Report: Fox paid $2m for crew's release

World Net Daily, a conservative Internet news site, says Fox News paid $2 million in ransom to Palestinian groups in Gaza in order to obtain the release of two of its employees, photographer Olaf Wiig and reporter Steve Centanni, a journalist with Bay Area roots. World Net Daily reporter Aaron Klein quotes the leader of the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees as saying his organization's share of the money was used to purchase weapons that would be used "to hit the Zionists." Fox News paid the money to Preventative Security Services, Fatah's main security organization in the Gaza strip, which distributed it to various groups and organizations, Klein says. The story says a spokeswoman for Fox News Channel wouldn't comment on the report, but a source at the cable network admitted such a payment was possible. Before working for CNN and later Fox News, Centanni was a producer at KRON-TV for eight years and worked at various Bay Area radio stations.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Despite layoffs, Singleton may buy more

His papers in the Bay Area, purchased in a highly leveraged deal three months ago, are laying off employees and outsourcing work to India. Yet, according to the Wall Street Journal, Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group is in the running to buy some of the Tribune Co.'s newspapers, which are up for sale as that company sheds its assets much like Knight Ridder was doing earlier this year

Rival says Valleywag is just a copycat

Chris Nolan (left), former Mercury News tech gossip columnist and founder of the SF-based commentary site spot-on.com, says the newly redesigned ValleyWag gossip site appears to be a copy of her old site right down to the Courier typeface. "[T}he most sincere form of flattery: Imitation. They're trying to look like us! How sweet." [PPC: ValleyWag editor gets the boot]

A proposal that might save newspapers


Peter Scheer (pictured), executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, has come up with an idea that might save the newspaper business. In a commentary posted on the CFAC Web site, he suggests that newspapers keep news stories off of their free Web sites for 24 hours in order to make their print (and paid Web) editions more valuable. A few years ago, newspaper executives who were trying to develop their Web sites might have scoffed at such an idea. But now that newspapers have discovered that they won't be able to replace most of the revenue they got from print ads with Internet ads, this idea might fly. After Scheer posted this commentary on his site, the Chronicle ran it as an op-ed on Sunday.

Valleywag editor gets the boot

The snarky editor of the Silicon Valley gossip Web site valleywag.com, 22-year-old Nick Douglas, has lost his job. The site's owner, Nick Denton (right), said Monday that he is temporarily taking over as editor of Valleywag, which has also been redesigned. Denton had this to say about Douglas: "Nick Douglas, the kid we plucked from college to launch Valleywag, will be a great journalist. And we will look stupid for letting him go." Denton -- who also owns blogs like Gawker (Manhattan gossip), Wonkette (Washington gossip) and Gizmodo (tech gadgets) -- said he is looking for a new editor: "We're now looking for someone with, ideally, some background in reporting. An old-media career, useful in the sparkling new world of blogs. Who would have thought? We're also in the market for a junior writer, who could be anyone from purebred blogger to frustrated publicist."
    What's the new focus of Valleywag? Here's a clue from Denton: "[W}e're going to tone down the personal coverage of civilians, because they haven't done anything to seek out attention, and their personal lives aren't that interesting. Unless they are. Anyway, more money, a little less sex: that is Valleywag's new gossip mantra."
[Web Pro News: Nick Douglas Gone From Valleywag] [[MarketWatch's Bambi Francisco: Denton hopes to triple ValleyWag's traffic]

Bush praised reporters facing jail

At a private reception in 2005, President Bush twice praised the two Chronicle reporters for their stories on the use of steroids by professional athletes, the LA Times reported today (Nov. 14). "You've done a service," Bush twice told Lance Williams, right, and Mark Fainaru-Wada, who are now facing the possibility of jail time because they will not reveal their source of a grand jury transcript to a federal grand jury. Ironically, it is Bush's Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, who authorized the prosecution of the two reporters. Bush, former owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, in his 2004 State of the Union address called on baseball team owners, players union representatives, coaches and players "to get rid of steroids." (Photo by Robert Durell, LA Times.)

Monday, November 13, 2006

New Yorker staffers will speak in Berkeley

New Yorker editor David Remnick will discuss his magazine with UC-Berkeley journalism school Dean Orville Schell tonight (Nov. 13) at 7:30 at Zellerbach Auditorium. Tickets are $10 through Cal Performances. The discussion is one of several the magazine's staff will have through Wednesday at the university. Other lectures include an election analysis with senior editor Hendrik Hertzberg and contributor Mark Danner; a discussion on "Reporting from the Center of the Storm" with staff writers Jeffrey Goldberg, Jane Mayer and Lawrence Wright; and a preview screening of the new Jack Black movie "Tenacious D in 'The Pick of Destiny.' '' Many of the lectures are free, but others cost a nominal fee. Go to www.newyorkercollegetour.com for details.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

More layoffs -- production jobs go to India

The Contra Costa Times is confirming a report that appeared on the Press Club web page two days ago that a large part of its graphic design department will be outsourced to a foreign country. Production artist, typist and proofreader operations will be eliminated between Dec. 8 and March 30, and would be handled by Express-KCS, a U.S. company with operations in India.

The report also said that the MediaNews Group papers in the Bay Area will be laying off more employees, although management is refusing to provide exact numbers. A story written by George Avalos said that Publisher John Armstrong described the cuts as "broad but not deep."

While Armstrong refused to give a figure of jobs lost, he said that previous Internet-based reports that the cutbacks would be massive were a "gross exaggeration." Armstrong was probably referring to the East Bay Express blog written by Bob Gammon, a former ANG reporter and union organizer, who quoted a previous memo by Armstrong that warned of layoffs.

Armstrong said the cuts were made in news, advertising, circulation, production, finance and administration. "Walnut Creek, Pleasanton, Oakland and San Mateo" were the primary locations for the job cuts, Armstrong said. [Armstrong's memo to his staff, via Romenesko]

Retirement isn't boring to Leigh Weimers

One year after he retired as a columnist at the Mercury News, Leigh Weimers is keeping busy by doing radio commentaries on KLIV-AM 1590, writing a monthly column for San Jose Magazine, becoming president of the San Jose Police Foundation and traveling with his wife Geri. "I'm still doing many of the same things I did ... I just don't have to take notes," Weimers told Merc columnist Sal Pizarro this week. In his travels, Weimers said he was struck by how little San Joseans appreciate their role as residents of the nation's 10th-largest city. "A lot of people don't realize how important this city is,'' he said. "Sometimes we're concentrating too much on the potholes rather than prestige.'' Weimers was a columnist at the Merc for 47 years.

Wolf, Fainaru-Wada and Williams honored



A journalist who is in jail and two who might soon join him have been named Journalists of the Year by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists "for upholding the principles of a free and independent press." Blogger and freelance TV photographer Josh Wolf, whose mother is seen above accepting the award from presenters Al Hart and Belva Davis, has been jailed for 83 days now (as of Nov. 11) because he refused to provide outtakes of a video he shot of a political protest to a federal grand jury. SPJ's decision to name Wolf is significant because there has been a debate as to whether he should be considered a journalist. Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada are the Chronicle reporters who are refusing to identify their source of grand jury transcripts that shed light on steroid use by baseball players. The three were honored at SPJ's awards banquet at the Yank Sing Restaurant in San Francisco on Thursday. The featured speaker was Jerry Roberts, who resigned in July 6 as editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press and was previously managing editor of the Chronicle. SPJ presented a number of awards, which are detailed in this news release. (Photo by Scott Braley via www.indybay.org) [Bay Area Indymedia: SPJ Honors Grand Jury Resisters, Wolf, Fainaru-Wada and Williams]

Friday, November 10, 2006

KQED workers authorize strike

Workers at public broadcaster KQED have voted "overwhelmingly" to authorize their union to call a strike as negotiations over a new contract have become tense. One of the biggest issues on the table is whether the union can represent workers at San Jose's KTEH and Monterey's KCAH, according to the Mercury News. Last month the three public broadcasters merged to form a new parent organization called Northern California Public Broadcasting. According to the union's bulletin board, a group of workers at non-union KTEH are seeking to be represented by the union and an election is planned.

“We have been working without a contract since Oct. 24 and have been faced with a management unwilling to adopt any urgency in our negotiations,” said Kevin Wilson, president of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers of America (NABET-CWA) Local 51, which represents KQED employees in technical and non-technical units. “The willingness of our members to authorize a strike demonstrates their frustration at the slow pace of talks," he said.

The NABET bulletin board indicates that the last negotiating session was on Tuesday, Nov. 7, and no future negotiating dates have been set. "[W]e have been unable to agree on negotiating dates past today [Nov. 7] because the management continues to resist scheduling on a realistic basis," the posting by the negotiating committee said. "Working without a contract inspires a sense of urgency on our side and ought to inspire a similar passion on the other side of the table. So far it hasn’t."

The bulletin board also noted on Thursday, "The vote today was overwhelmingly in favor of giving this Committee authority to call a strike at KQED should it become necessary. It is important to remember that no strike is imminent and our intention is to avoid one if at all possible."

Leslie Griffith Watch: Colleagues puzzled

Bill Mann, the media writer for the Montclarion and other Hills Newspapers in Alameda County, wonders if Channel 2's Leslie Griffith has become the Judge Crater of local TV news? He says her absence from the anchor desk since August is as much a mystery to her colleagues as it is to viewers of "The 10'O Clock News." Mann points out that nobody really knew why Elaine Corral suddenly disappeared from the same anchor desk almost a decade ago. To this day, Corral won't talk. Mann noted that on Corral's last night on the air, the station's general manager and attorney were in the control room "making sure she read from a carefully prepared script." Mann says that budget cuts have made the Channel 2 newsroom a less happy place than it was back in the day, and he assumes Griffith shares that feeling. Meanwhlie, Griffith remains under contract to Channel 2 and everynight the co-anchor replacing her says "Leslie Griffith is off tonight." [PPC, Oct. 25: Reasons given for Griffith's exit from Ch. 2] [PPC, Oct 8: What happened to KTVU's Leslie Griffith?]

Thursday, November 9, 2006

More MediaNews layoffs; outsourcing eyed

The Press Club hears that the MediaNews-owned Contra Costa Times laid off about two dozen graphic designers yesterday and the word is that some of their work will be outsourced to India. Meanwhile, Robert Gammon of the East Bay Express reports on his blog that MediaNews's ANG papers have laid off two photographers, a staff writer, a business writer, a graphics designer, two part-time copy editors, and a high school sports writer. Gammon writes:
    "MediaNews originally planned to lay off the eight ANG employees on Friday, but union officials convinced the company to delay the move until Monday. That way, employees who wish to be laid off could volunteer — as per the union contract. But these volunteers must currently hold one of the eight positions that MediaNews plans to eliminate. Union official Josh Richman saidThursday that they have identified one 'potential' volunteer already. 'We would have preferred that they gave us two weeks notice so that we could caucus with our members,' said Richman, who also is ANG’s political reporter. Nonetheless, he said reporters, photographers, and copy editors had been bracing for a much bigger layoffs, noting that MediaNews plans to layoff 40 newsroom workers at the Merc. 'While we’re never happy when we’re getting downsized, we’re cognizant that things could be worse.'"

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

November 2006 Press Club board minutes

Present: Micki Carter, Peter Cleaveland, Dave Price, Jack Russell, John Kane, Jamie Casini, Exec. Dir. Darryl Compton

Absent: Aimee Lewis Strain, Ed Remitz, Jon Mays

Guest: Diana Diamond

Called to Order at 6:28P.M. by President Carter

There were no minutes to report on as they had previously be distributed electronically.
There was no Treasurer's Report for which Mr. Compton took responsibility.

Old Business:
Nothing really new regarding the old.

Rosters are in the works and are likely to be ready by early 2007.

One scholarship winner has still failed to contact the club regarding his money.

Ms. Carter indicated her willingness to involve herself in Bench, Bar, Media activities after her term ends.

New Business:
The state of High School journalism programs continues to be a concern. Mr. Price referred to a recent article dealing with the growing migration of H.S. newspapers from print to electronic formats. He said he'd try to locate the article and distribute it to the Board. More information on the current H.S. journalism can be expexcted via email.

Ms. Carter reported that the California College Media Association with which she's involved will be holding its Awards dinner at San Simeon and she promiosed a full and complete report on the evening's festivities.

Annual Meeting is set for 7:30PM on Dec. 6, as part of the annual Holiday Party. Ballots and Membership forms were distributed to those in attendance. Among items to be determined at that meeting will be any possible rule changes and a date for the 30th Annual PPC Awards Competition.

Ms. Carter also stated that as of the January meeting the Board will no longer be locked in to conducting its meetings on the second Wednesday of the month.

Mr. Price reported that the PPC website has recently seen a dramatic spike in hits, due, it is evident to the recent posted stories about Ms. Leslie Griffiths continuing saga at Ch.2.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:56PM.

Temporary Scribe: Peter W. Cleaveland

New Press Club newsletter, ballot available

Click here to download the newest Peninsula Press Club newsletter which has the ballot for the club's board of directors election. Jamie Casini, managing editor of the Daily News Group, has agreed to run for president to succeed Micki Carter, who has already overstayed her term by a year. The newsletter identifies others who are hoping to become officers or join the board. And of course the newsletter all of the latest gossip and details on the Christmas party.

Merc seeks to cut pay of new hires by 30%

Three months after Dean Singleton's MediaNews acquired control of the Mercury News, management is now proposing to cut the pay of new hires by 30 percent and raising the wages of existing employees by 1 percent next year and 0.5 percent in 2008, according to a Bargaining Bulletin from the union. The last pay raise Merc workers got was in January. Under the proposal, new reporters and photographers would earn a minimum of $43,509 a year when they reach three years' experience. Under the current contract, the same employee would make at least $63,941. In addition, MediaNews wants to require current employees to pay up to $7,362 more a year for health care and retirement. The company also is proposing that employees work for one year without earning vacation time. MediaNews has told the union that if it doesn't accept the proposal by Nov. 30, 101 employees will be laid off on Dec. 5, including 40 people from the newsroom. In addition to the 101 positions already on the block, MediaNews has said it will eliminate another 116 jobs -- these in advertising and in the business office -- in March if the union doesn't accept the proposal. "[T]he company has now framed the discussion to say that any attempt by the Guild to avoid concessions translates into more layoffs," Guild leader Luther Jackson wrote in the Bulletin. [East Bay Express: Big Wage cuts at MediaNews 'Crown Jewel'] [MediaNews threatens more job cuts in California] [PPC, Oct. 20: Merc to layoff 101 employees, 8.5% of staff]

Monday, November 6, 2006

Imprisoned Josh Wolf says he is a journalist

Josh Wolf, the San Francisco blogger and TV photographer who is sitting in a federal jail cell because he won't give authorities a videotape he shot of a political protest, is taking issue with a couple of journalism profesors who questioned whether he was a "professional journalist." Professors Karen Slattery and Mark Doremus argued in a piece they wrote for The Digital Journalist that for a shield law to work, there should be a test to determine who is a journalist and therefore worthy of a shield law's protections. Here are a couple of quotes from Wolf's response, published in this month's Digital Journalist:

    "At best, the suggestion of narrowly defining who qualifies as a protected journalist will result in an elite class of professionals who work for mainstream media outlets, while reporters for the alternative press would be given no choice but to practice their craft without a net. More likely, I anticipate that this approach would establish a state-sanctioned journalist license, and anyone would be subject to having [his or] her license revoked should [he or] she stray from the party line. At worst, independent voices could be subject to prosecution for practicing journalism without a license."

Wolf also sheds some light on his own case. He said that while the feds claim they want his videotape because it shows protesters burning a police car, he claims he didn't capture the incident on tape. He also said that his lawyer offered to screen the complete tape for the judge, though he is refusing to surrender it to the grand jury. Apparently the judge refused the offer.

Ratings fall after KRON drops 9 p.m. news

KRON Channel 4 has lost viewers and advertising revenue after dropping its "Nine O'Clock News" in favor of primetime soap operas from Fox Broadcasting's MyNetwork TV, the chairman of KRON owner Young Broadcasting told financial analysts today. However, Vince Young said that the spots the station is selling in primetime are "dramatically" more profitable than before because MyNetworkTV is free to KRON. Producing a news show obviously costs a station money. While the ratings are down, Young said KRON is still often the No. 1 most-watched MyNetworkTV affiliate nationwide, he said.

Young Broadcasting owns 10 TV stations, nine of which are in small markets. KRON is the company's biggest asset and it dominated the conversation during today's conference call. Young Broadcasting announced that it narrowed its net loss for the third quarter to $15 million compared to $21 million in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue rose 13 percent to $53 million during the quarter.

One reason revenue increased was political advertising. The company expects it will sell $30 million in political advertising this year, which is double what it was expecting, Vince Young said. The company's stations are selling so many political ads that other customers are being pushed aside.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Merc hires reporter for the video game beat

Troy Wolverton, who recently worked at the Street.com, has been hired by the Mercury News to cover the video gaming industry, according to a blog by the paper's former gaming reporter, Dean Takahashi. Takahaski moves up to the position of tech columnist. The move to hire a gaming reporter was well received by at least one gamer Web site, kotaku.com, which said: "You might not think this means anything to you, but for every newspaper that invests in covering the video game industry, it means that there will be less nonsense said companies can get away with. It also, of course, continues to validate an industry we all know is worth the daily coverage."

Goodbye Danville, Hello Pleasanton

While Dean Singleton's Bay Area papers are opening a "shared services" office in San Ramon, his papers based in nearby Danville, the daily San Ramon Valley Times and the weekly Danville Times weekly, are closing their downtown offices and will soon be operated out of Pleasanton.

"I liked having our newspaper right in the downtown in the hub of what's going on," Danville City Councilwoman Candace Andersen told the Contra Costa Times.

"This is simply a reorganization. It in no way means we're abandoning the coverage of Danville or surrounding coverage," said Contra Costa Times editor Kevin Keane, whose authority includes the Danville and San Ramon Valley papers. "We will continue to cover San Ramon and Danville as aggressively as we always have."

MediaNews plans to sell the paper's building, which is valued at $2 million to $2.5 million, according to a real estate expert quoted by the Coco Times in its story about the move.

Reporters for the San Ramon Valley Times and the Danville Times weekly will remain at the Danville office until the building is sold. After that, the staff will work out of the Valley Times headquarters on Spring Street in Pleasanton, Keane said.

Oakland Tribune leaving Tribune Tower

As part of Dean Singleton's plan to consolidate the suburban dailies he has acquired, the Oakland Tribune will leave the Tribune Tower in downtown Oakland when its lease expires next year, according to a report in the East Bay Express (which was later confirmed by the San Francisco Business Times. The plan is to move all of the business and most of the advertising functions of Singleton's Bay Area papers (Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, San Mateo County Times, Palo Alto Daily News, etc.) into a building MediaNews will lease in San Ramon at the Bishop Ranch Business Park. MediaNews is calling its new San Ramon facility “The California Newspaper Partnership Shared Services Center," a name familiar to former Knight Ridder employees, whose paychecks were mailed from Knight Ridder's Shared Services Center. The massive consolidation will likely result in fewer jobs, though numbers haven't been given. Some 116 advertising and business positions at the Mercury News will move to the San Ramon office. It is not known how many other business side jobs will move there from Singleton's other Bay Area papers. Meanwhile, Robert Gammon of the East Bay Express reports that the Oakland Tribune's news staff will move to an office building the company is leasing along I-880 across from the Oakland Coliseum. (Photo from VirtualTourist.com) [PPC, Jan. 21: Oakland Tribune Tower sold}

Friday, November 3, 2006

Court to rule on Examiner distribution

The Examiner's method of distribution -- throwing newspapers on driveways and hoping somebody picks them up -- has resulted in a lawsuit from a lawyer in Baltimore. The Baltimore Sun reports that attorney Joel L. Levin is seeking a temporary restraining order to stop deliveries of the conservative paper.

The Examiner launched in Baltimore in April. It is one of three Examiners owned by billionaire oilman Phil Anschutz (pictured) of Denver. Like the Examiners in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., the Baltimore edition is free and is thrown on the driveways of people who haven't asked for the paper.

Levin said he has called The Examiner repeatedly to stop the paper from being thrown on his driveway. "There's no way to get through to these people," Levin said. "The girl who answers the phone says it'll be taken care of, and it doesn't work. Then they don't call back."

"It's not just me," Levin told the Sun. "A lot of people around me are very frustrated. There's some irritation that we can't control the paper." In Baltimore's Federal Hill neighborhood, residents have put signs in windows warning carriers to stop leaving The Examiner, according to both the Baltimore Sun and the alt-weekly City Paper (which printed the photos above showing the signs people have put out in Baltimore attempting to stop the Examiner). "We have enough battles keeping our streets clean," Keith Losoya, former president of the neighborhood association and a candidate for state Senate, told the Sun. "This periodical gets blown around and just adds to our trash issues." [PPC, Sept. 30: Stopping Examiner delivery isn't easy]

Sweeps start, Griffith is still MIA

TV columnist Susan Young of the ANG Newspapers offers these words today about missing KTVU anchor Leslie Griffith:
    "Tonight marks the first night of sweeps ... This would probably be a good time for KTVU-Channel 2 to plop Leslie Griffith back in the anchor chair, if only to explain where the heck she's been since Aug. 22. The least KTVU could do is show us where the body is buried.

    "The situation of the no-show anchor has become ridiculous. Each weeknight on "The 10 O'Clock News" we hear either Dennis Richmond or subs Sara Sidner or Julie Haener casually say, 'Leslie Griffith is off tonight.'

    "As the adage goes, it isn't news when dog bites man. It's news when man bites dog. Viewers have already said their good-byes to Griffith.

    "Rumors surfaced last March after a column by this newspaper's The Grump went off on Griffith and prophesied that her days were numbered. Management was already unhappy with her, unnamed sources said. And having that column come out during some troubled times for Griffith sent her over the edge.

    "Both Griffith and the station have been quiet about her disappearance. As readers of this column have asked, why can't the station just make an announcement?"
[PPC, Oct. 25: Reasons given for Griffith's exit from Ch. 2] [PPC, Oct. 18: Griffith expected to leave Ch. 2 soon]

Bay Area No. 3 in TV political ads

The election is proving to be a big money maker for local TV stations. Nielsen Monitor-Plus reports that there were 942,000 campaign ads on local TV stations across the country between Aug. 1-Oct. 15, and the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market drew the third most ads, up 31 percent compared with 2002. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Nieslen said the top markets are Tampa-St. Petersburg (19,730 units), Los Angeles (17,257), San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose (15,768), Boston (15,556), Providence-New Bedford, R.I. (15,217), Columbus, Ohio (14,681), West Palm Beach, Fla. (14,534), Phoenix (14,172), Washington (14,028), and Green Bay-Appleton, Wis. (14,012). In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger placed 4,895 TV units compared with distant challenger Phil Angelides' 2,490.

Merc offers to reduce layoffs

According to a bulletin from the Newspaper Guild, management at the Mercury News has agreed to spare 27 union jobs from layoffs if the Guild accepts all of company's contract concessions by Nov. 30. The Guild says those concessions would include higher health insurance premiums for workers, elimination of the pension plan for new hires, loss of accrued vacation, a six-month pay freeze (beginning July 1, 2006), and elimination of most contract language that now reserves certain jobs for union members. Of the 101 jobs the Merc announced it will eliminate by Dec. 19, 69 are union positions. The offer would reduce the union positions to be eliminated to 42. According to the Guild, management said it could make no assurances that the 27 jobs that would be saved -- or any others -- would be protected from future layoffs.

Merc moving 116 jobs to San Ramon

MediaNews Group, the new owner of the San Jose Mercury News and several other newspapers, plans to move 116 jobs to a new business support cener it is opening in San Ramon, according to the San Jose Business Journal. The 116 jobs are now held by members of the Newspaper Guild but they would not be union positions after the move. Union leader Luther Jackson is quoted as saying, "We are concerned that they are moving jobs out of Silicon Valley ... This is going to hurt our customers." The Guild and Merc are in contract negotiations. The move comes less than two weeks after the Merc announced it would lay off 101 employees by Dec. 19.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Palo Alto paper gets a 'dart' from CJR

The Palo Alto Daily News made the new issue of the Columbia Journalism Review, but not in a way that the paper's staff would have preferred. CJR has a column called "Darts and Laurels" where the good and bad of American journalism is highlighted. Here's what the column said:
    "[A dart] to the Palo Alto Daily News for blindly toeing the local line. 'Everybody,' as was noted on Slate'’s August 11 roundup of Today'’s Papers, 'leads with the big, foiled terror plot in which twenty-four British men, mostly of Pakistani descent, were arrested and are suspected of plotting to bomb multiple airliners with liquid explosives.' Everybody, that is, but the Palo Alto Daily News, whose policy keeps its front page bound to strictly local news, hand and foot. There the lead story on August 11 was not the terrorist plot --— which did eventually show up on the paper'’s page eleven --— but rather on some proposed new rules to strengthen the sanitary standards for pedicures."