Wednesday, May 30, 2007

San Mateo County Times editor quits

John Bowman, who became editor of the San Mateo County Times earlier this month, quit the MediaNews-owned paper abruptly last week, the Press Club has learned. The circumstances of his exit weren't immediately known. He had replaced Jennifer Aquino, who has become assistant city editor of the San Jose Mercury News. Bowman had previously served as editor of MediaNews Group's Hayward Daily Review since December 2004. Before that, he was editor at the San Mateo County Times for two years.

Rosey leaves Chron without 2-weeks notice

Robert "Rosey" Rosenthal (pictured) says he's leaving Friday as the Chron's managing editor without giving the customary two-week's notice because "[t]he next two weeks are going to be so tumultuous there, for me to linger around when I could not be part of the future did not make sense." That's according to an interview he gave to Joe Strupp of E&P.

The article also says that executive editor Phil Bronstein declined to comment when asked if he had tried to keep Rosenthal on the job. Bronstein called that a personnel matter. Rosenthal said he was not pushed out by Bronstein or anyone else, but said the 100 layoffs announced May 17, including 20 management positions, will mean that Bronstein will have to take over much of the hands-on editing that he had delegated to others.

Rosenthal also told E&P he was not sure why Hearst had to resort to such measures — cutting 25 percent of the newsroom staff — given the quality of the work his staff produces. "I don't really understand it," he said of the Chronicle's poor financial situation. "I don't know why it has been such a difficult situation for the Chronicle on the business side." [See item below.]

Palo Alto, San Mateo papers get new leader

Michael Gelbman, previously business development manager at the Contra Costa Times, is the new leader of the division of MediaNews Group papers that includes the Palo Alto Daily News and San Mateo County Times. The previous head of the division was Carole Leigh Hutton, who was named executive editor of the Mercury News on May 14. While Hutton was publisher, Gelbman will have the title of general manager of the community publishing division of the Bay Area News Group, including the six "Daily News" publications, the San Mateo County Times, Silicon Valley Community Newspapers and the Pacifica Tribune. All of the publications are owned by MediaNews Group's California Newspapers Partnership.

Gelbman, 42, has been in the newspaper business for 17 years including three years as advertising director of the Boston Patriot Ledger. He's also worked at papers in Colorado Springs and San Diego. Gelbman is a graduate of Michigan State University and lives in the East Bay suburb of Pittsburg. Gelbman will split his time between offices at the Palo Alto Daily News and the San Mateo County Times.

Chron's Rosenthal leaves as part of shakeup

Two weeks after the Chronicle announced it was eliminating one-quarter of its newsroom, Managing Editor Robert Rosenthal (pictured) has resigned. In a note to the staff Tuesday, he said he was leaving "without rancor or acrimony," according to a story in the Chron. His departure, he said, would give Editor Phil Bronstein room to restructure the Chronicle's newsroom and take a "more hands-on approach" to running the paper. A replacement hasn't been named. Rosenthal, known as Rosey, had been at the paper since 2002 after 22 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Rosenthal said he had not yet decided what he will do next. (Photo credit: Chron's Brant Ward, 2005) [Sept. 14, 2002 Chron story announcing Rosenthal's hiring]

KGO-AM, KSFO sale will close June 12

The sale of ABC Radio and its 22 owned and operated stations, including San Francisco's KGO-AM 810 and KSFO 560, to Citadel Broadcasting will become final on June 12, according to a press release from the current owner, Disney. Disney plans to keep its 50 Radio Disney stations nationwide including 5,000-watt KMKY 1310. The FCC approved the $2.7 billion deal in March. KGO-AM and KSFO are expected to remain at the ABC Broadcast Center at 900 Front St. but pay rent to Disney.

Court to rule on paper's fight for salary data

The California Supreme Court this morning (May 30) heard arguments about whether the salaries of government employees should be public information. The case pits the Contra Costa Times, which has been fighting for the records, against public employee unions, who claim the data invades their members' privacy.

The court heard arguments today about a case in which the Coco Times requested the salaries of all Oakland city government workers who made more than $100,000 a year. The unions sued to stop the release of information. The Coco Times won at trial and won an appeal. Now the unions have taken the case to the Supreme Court. Coco Times writer Thomas Peele wrote this preview story.

The Coco Times decided to get into a court battle for the salaries after a 2003 ruling in San Mateo County gave cities an excuse to stop furnishing salary information to the public.

In San Mateo County, Superior Court Judge Rosemary Pfeiffer denied an attempt by the Palo Alto Daily News [see disclosure below] to obtain the salaries of city workers in Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, San Carlos and San Mateo. The newspaper had published the names and salaries of Palo Alto and Menlo Park city employees for several years and decided in 2003 to also publish the salaries of the city workers in those five additional cities.

After reporter Christina Bellantoni asked for the salary data from each of the cities, the unions were tipped off to the request and they filed a lawsuit seeking to block the release of the information. The Daily News filed a motion to intervene in the case, aruging that the California Public Records Act specicially allows the release of such information. Pfeiffer initially sided with the newspaper in a tentative ruling, and then held oral arguments.

The union's successful argument was that a privacy clause in the state constitution trumped the state law that requires the release of the salaries.

The newspaper's argued that taxpayers had a right to see how their dollars were being spent and that disclosure by name prevents favoritism — like an elected official giving a job to a relative or cronie. The newspaper also pointed out that disclosure of the salaries also makes it harder for unions to argue that their workers are underpaid.

At the end of the hearing, the judge crossed out her tentative ruling and, in a hand-written order, granted the demands of the unions. An appeals court upheld Pfeiffer's ruling, with one appelate judge remarking from the bench that he hated it when his salary was in the paper, too.

The Daily News, which was later joined by the Mercury News in fighting the case, decided to settle rather than going to the state Supreme Court, where Pfeiffer's ruling might have been upheld and become law. Appeals courts in other parts of the state had previously ruled in favor of disclosing salary information, but if the unions had prevailed at the high court level, then those rulings elsewhere in the state would have been voided.

The state Supreme Court has 90 days to issue a written ruling in the Oakland case. If the Coco Times loses, California will become the only state in the U.S. where government salaries are secret.

Links:* Disclosure: The item above was written by Press Club vice president Dave Price, who was the editor and co-publisher of the Palo Alto Daily News when the salaries lawsuit was in the courts.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

UC Berkeley names new journalism dean

After turning down the job two months ago, Ithaca College's Dianne Lynch has reconsidered and accepted the post of dean of the UC Berkeley graduate school of journalism, replacing Orville Schell. Lynch (pictured) has been at the forefront of Internet journalism, founding the Online News Association, writing a textbook on digital media ethics and creating a student film festival for movies shot on cell phones.

The East Bay Express reported earlier that the search was down to Lynch and UC Berkeley journalism professor Neil Henry, an author and former Washington Post reporter. When Lynch withdrew her application in March after visiting Berkeley, Henry became the frontrunner. Then, on April 29, Cal Provost George Breslauer sent an e-mail to J-school faculty, staff and students saying he was talking to Lynch again. One J-school faculty member told the EBX anonymously that Lynch was thought by many to be the right choice she has a New Media background and was an outsider who had a good chance of healing a split in the faculty that had taken place under Schell.

Links:
    • Today's Chronicle story announcing her appointment

    • A 2004 news release announcing Lynch's appointment to her post in Ithaca, giving her background in detail.

    • A May 4 East Bay Express story about how Breslauer was trying to get Lynch to change her mind.

    • A March 16 EBX story announcing Lynch's withdrawal from the search.
(Photo credit: Ithica College Web site)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Weekly's bookkeeper accused of embezzling

The former bookkeeper of the Point Reyes Light newspaper in Marin County, Lashanda Goldstein, 29, of Santa Rosa is facing felony charges of embezzlement and burglary for taking $62,000, according to today's Marin Independent Journal. The money allegedly was skimmed from payroll accounts and through the use of a company credit card for personal purchases, sheriff's detective Sandra Scott told the IJ. The newspaper became suspicious when its credit card provider called to report unusual transactions, she said. The Light's owner, Robert Plotkin, is a former Monterey County deputy district attorney.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Former SF AsianWeek columnist arrested

Kenneth Eng, who lost his job at the Fang Family's AsianWeek newspaper in February for a column he wrote headlined "Why I Hate Black People," has moved to New York, where he has been jailed twice — on charges of harassing a neighbor and because police wanted him locked up after he threatened a rampage at New York University's commencement.

The incidents are detailed in the May 10 New York Daily News, Tuesday's Village Voice and today's SF Chronicle.

Eight hours after the executions of 32 students at Virginia Tech, Eng posted a grainy video of himself on YouTube, saying the shootings were the "funniest thing I ever read in my life," according to the Voice. He also demanded credit for the shootings, claiming that triggerman Cho Seung-hui was inspired by his writings.

In the wake of Eng's Feb. 23 column at AsianWeek, that paper not only fired him but the editor who was supervising him, Samson Wong, became a consultant to the publication. Ted Fang, an owner of AsianWeek, appeared at a news conference with San Francisco Rev. Amos Brown to apologize. AsianWeek also published a front page apology.

Examiner editor in Baltimore arrested

The editor of the San Francisco Examiner's sister paper in Baltimore has been arrested and charged with pointing a shotgun at a neighbor's family after they complained his cigarette smoke wafted into their home. Frank J. Keegan, whose police mug shot is posted here, remained in custody this morning after the incident last night, according to The Sun of Balitmore. Police seized a Remington 870 Wingmaster 12-gauge pump action shotgun and a German military P-38 9 mm pistol from the editor's home. After billionaire oilman Phil Anschutz bought the San Francisco Examiner in 2004, he launched similar Examiner papers in Washington and Baltimore. Examiner executives so far have had no comment on the arrest.

An in-depth look at Hispanic PR, marketing

"From Media Relations to Measurement: Maximizing Your Multicultural Initiatives in 2007" is the title of an in-depth, professional development panel discussion planned for June 28 in San Francisco. The discussion will feature, from left:
    • Christine Clavijo-Kish, CEO, LatinClips;

    • Leslie Yngojo-Bowes, president and founder of U.S. Asian Wire; and

    • Carla Cody, Esquire, director of special projects, Black PR Wire.
The discussion will be hosted by Hispanic PR Wire, LatinClips and the San Francisco Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Click here for details.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Court rules for student in free-speech case

A state appeals court ruled Tuesday that Novato school officials violated the free-speech rights of a student by condemning an opinion article he wrote in the student newspaper opposing illegal immigration and confiscating copies of the paper, the Marin Independent Journal reports.

The First District Court of Appeal held that California law “mandates that a school may not prohibit student speech simply because it presents controversial ideas and opponents of the speech are likely to cause disruption.”

The ruling reverses a 2005 decision by Marin County Superior Court Judge John Sutro that favored school officials and ordered that the student, Andrew Smith, and his father pay more than $20,981 in litigation costs to the Novato Unified School District. Smith, who now is a corporal in the Marine Corps reserves and is training in Thailand, claimed in his 2002 lawsuit that district officials denied his freedom of speech by apologizing to students and parents for the first article and confiscating remaining copies of the newspaper. He said his rights were violated when the district delayed publication of the second article by requiring a counterpoint article.

Tuesday's decision means that Smith will be given back litigation fees that he paid in 2005. He will be awarded nominal damages of $1.

Public records victory in Santa Clara County

A judge has ordered Santa Clara County to make public at minimal cost its digital "basemap" that shows parcel boundaries, assessor parcel data and other information. The county wanted to charge tens of thousands of dollars for the information, which would have limited access to just a small number of purchasers with deep pockets.

The suit that forced the county to release its "Geographic Information System" or GIS data was filed by the California First Amendment Coalition, which said in a press release that the information will enable journalists to do reporting that would not otherwise be possible:
    or example, reporters and bloggers could write stories that assess whether poor neighborhoods are being shortchanged for road repairs. Data on crime statistics, census information, political party affiliations, campaign contributions, environmental hazards and school test score results could be analyzed to spot trends and to test the validity of government policy assumptions and prescriptions.
Peter Scheer, the First Amendment coalition's executive director (pictured), said the ruling opens up databases created with tax funds:
    “This landmark decision vindicates our view that government agencies may not claim exclusive control over records that are created with tax dollars ... While we encourage agencies to create databases and adapt public records to new technologies, the resulting applications cannot be run as monopoly businesses,” Scheer said.
Ironically, the Santa Clara County judge who decided the case is James Kleinberg (pictured), who ruled in 2005 that California's shield law for journalists didn't apply to bloggers who were writing about products being developed by Apple. Last year, an appeals court reversed Kleinberg, saying bloggers and Web masters are entitled to the same First Amendment protections from having to divulge confidential sources as other journalists. [AP coverage]

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Remember the KGO Cowboys?

They ride out of the pages of the new West.
The Bay Area's most wanted television news team.
The Channel 7 news gang.
Van "The Kid" Amburg. Jerry Jensen. John O'Reilly. Pete "Doc" Giddings.
News people who like people. On NewsScene, 4:30, 6 and 11.


Somebody has posted this classic KGO-TV promo from the 1970s on YouTube. The KGO Cowboys promo is believed to have inspired a scene in the 2004 Will Ferrell movie "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" where competing news teams get into a back alley brawl.

This promo was also included in a 1970s "60 Minutes" piece on tabloid TV in the Bay Area. Mike Wallace interviewed KGO-TV General Manager Russ Coughlan and anchor Fred Van Amburg (top picture) about the station's tabloid format, which was unusual at the time. Wallace described the format as "fire, crime, sex, tear jerkers and animal stories."

Wallace mentioned that competitors (probably rivals at KPIX) joked that the call letters KGO stood for "kickers, guts and orgasm."

Wallace suggested the station's 11 p.m. news was like vaudeville. He questioned Van Amburg about a story he did one night a severed penis found on what is now the Caltrain tracks. Van Amburg said somebody was victim of that attack, and Channel 7 needed to report it.

What attracted "60 Minutes" to San Francisco was the commanding ratings Channel 7 was getting — often a 50 share or better. Extraorinary then and impossible in today's fractionalized marketplace.

That's it for now. You Stay Classy, San Francisco.

Mormons sell KOIT-AM 1260 to Catholics

Bonneville International, the broadcasting arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, swapped its three San Francisco FM stations (KOIT-FM, KDFC-FM and KMAX-FM) to Philadelphia-based Entercom in January. But what Bonneville's KOIT-AM 1260 (the former KYA)? AllAccess.com reports that the AM station is being sold to the Catholic affiliated Immaculate Heart Radio for $14 million.

Controversy over radio ratings system

KGO-AM 810 is still the first place station in the Bay Area in terms of overall audience despite a glitch at the Arbitron ratings company, which switched to new system of collecing ratings that gave No. 2 KOIT-FM 96.5 the first-place spot for two months. Brad Kava of the Mercury News explains what happened. KGO-AM boss Mickey Luckoff (pictured) is concerned about the new Arbitron system that dumps the hand-written diaries listeners are asked to keep, and goes to electronic devices people wear which record their listening habits. Kava notes:
    Who over the age of 12 religiously writes in a diary every day? And how can someone who drives back and forth to work possibly remember each station heard during a long commute?

    Many industry insiders argue the diary format favors women, who may be more likely to write in a journal than men.

Gawker ME Lockhart Steele jumps to Curbed

Lockhart Steele (pictured) is leaving Gawker Media (parent of Valleywag.com) to work full-time on Curbed, which is now a real estate blog for San Francisco, LA and other cities, and is hoping to create a destination for foodies. MediaBistro reports that Steele's boss, Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton, will fund Curbed.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Chronicle losing $165,563 every day

Blogger Alan Mutter (pictured), a former assistant managing editor at the Chronicle in the 1980s who today is a venture capitalist, says the elimination of 100 jobs in the Chronicle's newsroom "will make only a dent in the growing losses at the increasingly troubled newspaper — which is losing $165,563 a day. The job cuts will save $8 million a year — only a third of the approximately $25 million lost by the Chronicle in the first four months of the year. He says the paper's loss this year is 38 percent greater than the loss it had in the same period a year ago. His blog contains other figures too, which he says were obtained from industry sources. He writes:
    While most other metro papers are struggling to sustain their typical robust operating margins, the Chronicle is one of the few big-city dailies that actually loses money every day it continues to publish.

    The Chronicle’s year-to-date deficit of $165,563 per day is roughly equivalent to the annual pay and benefits of two journeyman reporters. If the paper continued losing money at the same rate every day for the rest of the year, it could fire every journalist in the joint and still not break even.

    With continuing uncontrolled losses of this magnitude, the Chronicle, if it were a standalone company, would be going out of business.
Mutter points out that the Hearst family has deep ties to the Bay Area and a pride of ownership that has allowed the losses to continue for years. But he says other cuts may be on the way, including perhaps the sale of the paper's 5th and Market headquarters, which is on the edge of the city's new shopping district and might fetch a high price. Rumors about the sale of the Chronicle building have been floating around since late 2005. (Photo credit: CBSNews.com)

Chron unable to 'monetize online eyeballs'

The Chron ran a more in-depth story this morning on the layoffs in its newsroom than the brief it printed yesterday revealing that it would reduce its newsroom by 25 percent or 100 jobs. The most striking information came at the end, where the Chron acknowledged that despite having one of the nation's most widely read Web sites — SFGate — the paper hasn't been able to "monetize online eyeballs."
    "Although online usage is gaining, no one has monetized it on a newspaper basis to the point that equalizes what is happening on the print side," [Chron Publisher Frank] Vega said.

    The Chronicle does not charge people to visit SFGate, nor does it ask them to register. Vega declined to say whether that would change.

    In a recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman Jr. said newspapers create $500 to $900 in revenue per subscriber annually, according to the Inland Cost and Revenue Study. But, Hussman wrote, a newspaper's Web site "typically generates $5 to $10 per unique visitor."
The LA Times brings up the same issue in today's story about the layoffs:
    Unlike many big-city newspapers, which have continued to make solid profits despite new-media challenges, the Hearst Co. publication has been losing money for years. The paper's daily circulation has declined by a third, from its 1990 peak of 566,020 to 373,805 in September.

    But its website, SFGate.com, has a robust following, with the sixth-largest audience of unique viewers (4.2 million) in April among American dailies. In another measure, by page views, SFGate.com ranks only fractionally behind latimes.com, the fourth-place Los Angeles Times website.

    The problem for newspaper companies has been making money from those Web audiences. Big-city papers typically get about 5% of their ad revenue from the Web and 80% from print ads. (The rest comes from subscriptions and newsstand sales.)
The newspaper industry has been trying for more than a decade to "monetize" its Web sites. To get people to their sites, newspapers have put all of their stories online and taught readers to go to the Internet if they want news. The plan was to phase out print and convert newspapers into online businesses. Now newspapers are finding that, after years of trying, they can't make much money off of the Internet and that their content is being stolen by online news sites.

Not only has the content of newspapers been ripped off by Internet companies, but newspapers have willingly — and enthusiastically — allowed Google and Yahoo to use their ad reps. Newspapers have sales forces that literally go from door to door calling on businesses, something those Internet companies lack. So now newspaper ad reps are selling ads for Google and Yahoo. But what do these Internet companies think about their new partners? On May 10, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was asked by reporters if his company was interested in buying newspapers. Nope, he said, according to Reuters.
    Surrounded by reporters ranging from Ken Auletta of The New Yorker to Michael Arrington of Silicon Valley blog TechCrunch, a Financial Times reporter asked the Google CEO if he would acquire a news organization like Dow Jones & Co Inc. , publisher of the Wall Street Journal.

    Schmidt said no."We made a decision to focus primarily on user-generated content, and not on businesses where we would own the content," Schmidt replied to reporters.

    He was reiterating Google's oft-repeated stance that it sees itself as a technology tools maker, not a media content owner.

    Schmidt said Google was better off partnering with companies that produce news and other content, rather than buying them.

    "It is better to partner with Dow Jones and the Financial Times...," Schmidt said. Blogger Arrington jumped in to add "...and TechCrunch."

    Schmidt rolled his eyes and replied: "Yes, yes, yes ...and the San Jose Mercury News," acknowledging a reporter for Silicon Valley's main local newspaper.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Chron buries layoff story on page C2

Tune in to any of the local TV or radio news stations today (May 18), and one of the top stories — if not the top story— was the Chronicle's decision to cut 25% of its news staff. Both KGO-AM 810 and KCBS-AM 740 offered "team coverage" with multiple reports. KCBS did an extended interview with UC Berkeley faculty member and former "60 Minutes" producer Lowell Bergman (click here to hear podcast). KCBS also interviewed Phil Matier, who works for both the radio station and the Chronicle, who said the layoffs weren't a surprise.

How did the Chronicle play it? On page C2, the third brief in Friday's Business Section's "Daily Digest." The brief is circled in red at left. Later in the day, the Chron's SFGate.com put the four paragraph story on its first page. At 9:20 p.m., it was the fourth most e-mailed story, according to SF Gate.

Here are some links to the other stories posted yesterday:
    • AP: Paper to Cut 100 Newsroom Jobs

    • MediaNews: SF Chron announces staff cuts -- oddly enough, also a four-paragraph story.

    • Editor & Publisher: UPDATE: 'SF Chron' To Lose 100 Newsroom Jobs -- Guild Calls It 'Dreadful' -- this story has new quotes from Carl Hall who describes the situation ("It is about as grim a scenario as you can come up with ... It is going to be very painful, dramatic, and dreadful") and then says the Guild hopes to get management to offer buyouts rather than forced layoffs (""I think they want to preserve a quality newsroom. .. But it will not be quality if you get rid of this many people.")

    • KCBS 740: Chronicle To Slash Workforce -- this is pretty much a re-write of the AP, but KCBS had far more extensive coverage during the day, as this report by Margie Shafer shows. Here's the text of her story:
      Some employees are calling it "Black Friday." Executive Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle Phil Bronstein is said to have not sugarcoated the grim news, saying times are difficult as he announced that 25 percent of the chronicle newsroom staff are expected to lose their jobs.

      "People are wondering not only about their own particular job but about the direction of the paper, you know, after this. There will be a lot fewer bodies around. And so, how will this place be organized." That is tech writer Ryan Kim.

      Newspapers across the country have seen reduced circulation and falling revenue, and columnist Chuck Nevius says it's no secret times are tough in the newspaper business. "Other newspapers have done this. We've seen it happen. We've had our friends experience this. It's just hard when it comes to your office."

      Buyouts will be offered to some employees. Details to be flushed out by July 1st.

    Here is a transcript of KCBS's interview with Lowell Bergman.

      Patti Reising: A rough day for the employees of the San Francisco Chronicle. Management has announced that nearly a quarter of the newsroom jobs are being eliminated.

      Mike Pulsipher: Joining us on the KCBS newsline is veternan broadcast and print journalist Lowell Bergman [pictured], a professor at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, a producer of a series on the news business for PBS's "Frontline" called "News War" and a recent guest on KCBS "In-depth."

        A sound bite from "In-depth" is played, with Pulsipher asking: "Some people say the newspaper business at least as we know it is slowly going out of business. What do you say?" Bergman responds: "It's in very deep trouble."

      Pulsipher: And those words, at least as far as the Chronicle is concerned, seem to be prophetic. Professor Bergman, what do you think today?

      Bergman: Well, it's just something that people have expected for quite a while. The Hearst Corporation has been losing money at the Chronicle for quite a while, for a number of years, and the likelihood of cutbacks was — I think everybody expected that [but] maybe not as deep and not as complete as they are.

      Reising: This is big news, of course, for the people who work for the Chronicle and their families. It's big news for those of us who work in the news business. I'm wondering how big of news is it for the readers?

      Bergman: I don't think people understand that at least 80 percent of the information they call "news" ... comes from newspapers. [Newspapers] are the only institution that sends people out regularly to gather information in courthouses, from the scenes of accidents, and dig into what's going on. So [with this] news you've got to start thinking about where will you get your news and who will pay for it.

      Jeff Bell: This may sound like a strange question professor, but do you ever see a day when there might be subsidies for newspapers?

      Bergman: Well, there have been actually. The monopoly relationship newspapers have had in most metropolitan areas is a form of a subsidy. They don't pay extra to use our roads with their heavy trucks going down the road. They get a subsidy already. The question is the newsgathering part as opposed to the production and delivery of news is what's at issue here. Who is going to pay for the reporters? The actual cost of putting out a newspaper, 70 percent goes to the production, 30 percent for the newsgathering. And it's who's going to pay for that newsgathering in the future that we've got to worry about.

      Bell: Now, in some countries there is actual taxpayer subsidies. Would we ever see that in this country?

      Bergman: You have a subsidy in extent for this very station people are listening on. The most lucrative license the government gives is to broadcasters. It costs approximately $100 to renew the license that your station has every eight years. Otherwise they don't have to pay the taxpayers to use it. They're supposed to operate in the public interest. And you might like to know this — they should be expanding your news staff. Maybe the people who are working at CBS could substitute some newsgathering that we're losing from the newspapers.

      Pulsipher: Well, we'll take that to heart, I hope. (Chuckles.) In the meantime, though, do you see anything newspapers can do to re-build readership.

      Bergman: I don't have any magic formula. Everyone seems to be putting more of their time and energy into the Web, and hoping that by increasing their Web presence and having more people come to the Web, they'll be able to charge more for advertising on the Web. But even there there's a problem. No one has a situation where Web advertising is producing enough revenue to maintain quality news. It may require nonprofits and others to get involved in doing the kind of newsgathering in the public interest that we have come to depend on.

      Pulsipher: Professor thanks so much for joining us this afternoon.

Chronicle to cut 25% of news staff

The Chronicle plans to cut about one-fourth of its newsroom staff — 100 jobs — because the paper continues to lose money, the Guild says in a statement. Management informed the Guild that it intends to cut 80 union and 20 management positions. The union has proposed a plan to achieve the target number of job reductions through voluntary buyouts and retirement incentives, which management is considering. Under the plan, buyouts would be offered initially and if there are not enough takers within 30 days, there would be forced layoffs.

"Representatives from the Chronicle did meet (Thursday) with Guild representatives to initiate discussions on early retirement and buyout programs involving a significant number of people," Publisher Frank Vega is quoted by SFgate as saying, "We are not prepared to discuss specifics because it was just a preliminary conversation."

Hearst lost $330 million on the Chronicle between when it purchased the paper in 2002 and September 2006, according to a depositon of Hearst executive James Asher that was filed in court as part of an anti-trust suit against the company.

CBS brings back KFRC, moves 'Free FM' to AM

CBS Radio yesterday moved its "Free FM" format from FM to AM yesterday, and brought back legendary oldies station KFRC, which will now be heard at 106.9 (Free FM's old frequency). Seven months ago, CBS shut down KFRC (then at 99.7) and replaced it with the Movin' 97, a rhythmic adult contemporary format featuring artists such as OutKast, Beyonce, Black-Eyed Peas and Mariah Carey. Dropping KFRC created an uproar among radio listeners.

CBS Radio is moving the "Free FM" format (Adam Carolla, Danny Bonaduce, Opie and Anthony and Tom Leykis) to KYCY-AM 1550. That station had been playing podcasts submitted by listeners. Next week MOViN 99.7 will change its calls to KMVQ-FM. The new KFRC 106.9 will continue to carry A's games. No word yet on whether CBS will re-hire any of the KFRC talent who were fired in September such as Cammy Blackstone, Dean Goss or Sue Hall. So far, no live announcers have been heard on the station.

New leader for KNTV NBC 11

NBC Universal is moving KNTV NBC11 president and general manager Linda Sullivan to the same post at KNBC-TV Los Angeles. Replacing Sullivan at KNTV is Rich Cerussi, who was executive vp of the NBC station group’s national sales organization. Prior to that, Cerussi KNTV's vp and station manager who was instrumental in moving KNTV from the Salinas-Monterey-San Jose market to San Francisco. The station became an NBC affiliate in January 2002 and was purchased four months later by NBC Universal.

East Bay Express editor buys paper from chain

East Bay Express editor Stephen Buel and a group of investors have purchased the 60,000-circulation alternative weekly from the Village Voice Media chain, which also owns the SF Weekly and other free weeklies nationwide. The deal closed yesterday (May 17) and the price hasn't been disclosed. Buel's partners in the deal are Hal Brody, who started an alt-weekly in Kansas City and sold it in 1999 to the firm that became Village Voice Media, and co-founder and calendar editor Kelly Vance. Another investor identified was Bradley Zeve, founder and CEO of Monterey County Weekly. The names of the other investors haven't yet been published. E&P said Buel’s alt-weekly experience began in 1985 when he founded a paper in Little Rock, Ark. He was hired to edit the Express shortly there after. Buel also worked for the Berkeley Gazette, Albany Times-Journal, and Mercury News. The Chron story includes quotes from experts discussing the sale, which is unusual in this era of media consolidation.

Morgan blackballed from PBS's 'NewsHour'

Melanie Morgan, co-host of KSFO-AM 560's conservative morning show, has been banned from "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" on PBS after she got into a heated exchange with Jon Soltz, a vet who heads a group that wants the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq. The two got into one of those verbal brawls common on cable news channels, but rare for the more sober "News Hour." At one point, host Judy Woodruff interrupts Morgan, who had interrupted Soltz, and says, "I want to let each one of you speak. So, Mr. Soltz, finish that sentence, and then I want to hear..."

"News Hour" Executive Producer Linda Winslow posted the following on the PBS Ombudsman's Mailbag blog:
    Last night the NewsHour attempted to help our viewers understand why the members of Congress are having so much difficulty arriving at a decision regarding the way forward in Iraq. We believe the intensity of the pressure being exerted on Democrats and Republicans by the "wings" of their respective parties is having an impact on those who are looking for some sort of compromise position. We decided to let representatives of those wings explain their positions, hoping they would participate in a dialogue with us and each other. As our guests demonstrated, however, that was a forlorn hope and the result was a lot of heat, but very little light.

    Since neither guest was in the studio with Judy Woodruff, there wasn't much she could do to prevent them from interrupting one another, short of saying — as she did at least three times — "please let him/her finish his/her point". The NewsHour style is to ask pointed questions politely; we expect our guests to subscribe to the same rules. Since the program is produced live, we can't do much to eliminate rude guests from your television screen once the segment has begun; what we can do is guarantee you will never see that person on our program again.
Morgan made headlines in June for saying that New York Times editor Bill Keller should be jailed for treason for printing stories that revealed methods the government is using to stop terrorists. She said that if Keller were convicted, "I would have no problem with him being sent to the gas chamber."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Public, journos hear from TV, radio GMs

The general managers of the Bay Area's TV and radio news stations spoke to about 50 people last night about the issues facing their businesses — the fractionalization of their audience, the need for shows to generate revenue and their desire to reach younger demos with news programming.

The panel was moderated by former anchor Suzanne Shaw (standing), who observed that in the 1970s ratings were much higher for local news shows. She recalled how back then, the 11 p.m. news on Channel 7, anchored by Van Amberg and the late Jerry Jensen, often pulled a 50 share. Today, with hundreds of channels, programs can stay on the air even if they only garner a 1 rating, the panelists said. "The ratings are so much smaller than they used to be," said Tim McVay, KTVU 2 vp and gm. "It is shocking to us." KRON 4 gm Mark Antonitis said ratings are less important than the revenue shows generate for stations. "We have to make money," Antonitis said.

Highlights of the discussion:
    • KGO 7 has begun using an automated studio and control room system called Ignite which combines four technical positions into one, said General Manager Valari Staab. However, Staab said nobody has been laid off due to the new technology. Instead, while the system was being customized over an 18-month period, employees who retired or quit were replaced with temps until Ignite went online. "It is expensive, but it pays for itself in two or three years," Staab said. KTVU's McVay said his station will switch to Ignite soon.

    • KGO-AM 810 saw an immediate boost in its ratings when it replaced the noon news with an hour-long legal advice show hosted by Len Tillem, said station GM Mickey Luckoff. He said nobody on the station's news staff was let go when the show was cancelled — they were reassigned to the morning or afternoon newscasts.

    • KCBS-AM 740 executive Doug Harvill said his station will be expanding as it prepares to deliver news on new "platforms." He wouldn't say what those platforms were, probably out of fear of tipping his hand to Luckoff who was sitting a few seats away, but he said, "We're going to need more talent."

    • KGO's Luckoff said broadcasters have to seek revenue in nontraditional ways, such as his station's recent Eco Live festival, which he said brought in an "ungodly" amount of money from the sale of sponsorships. "It was amazing," Luckoff said. He said such an event is a good fit with the environmentally-aware Bay Area audience, but when he tells executives at ABC stations in other cities about the event, "they think we're from outer space."

    • Tom Raponi, vp and gm of KICU and sales manager of co-owned KTVU, said that despite fractionalized audiences, "When we put something on the air that's compelling, people come to the TV set." Examples include "American Idol" and local pro sports.

    • KRON 4's VJ initiative (where reporters carry cameras in the field and photographers added reporting to their duties) has "worked very well, but we're still going through growing pains," said GM Mark Antonitis. "We're still trying to get it right." He said the station has about half the staff it did three or four years ago. In 2002, KRON lost its NBC affiliation and became an independent. He said KRON's goal is to create more content — cover more news — "because there is a huge appetite." Also, the station has lengthened its early newscast, which now airs from 4 to 10 a.m.
Wednesday's panel discussion took place at the ABC Broadcast Center on Front Street and was hosted by the Radio-Television News Directors Association of Northern California. (Photo credit: Dave Price)

Santa Cruz Sentinel was sold for $45 million

The Santa Cruz Sentinel was sold to a company controlled by Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group for $45 million, according to documents filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Page 20 of MediaNews Group's latest quarterly financial statement describes the sale of the 25,000-circulation daily to California Newspapers Partnership. MediaNews owns 54 percent of the partnership, with the remaining shares held by Gannett Co. and Stephens Newspapers of Little Rock, Ark.
    COMPS: By comparison, Hearst acquired the 67,000-circulation Torrance Daily Breeze and three weekly newspapers in Southern California for $25.6 million in December. Last August, the partnership paid $736.8 million for the Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Palo Alto Daily News and related assets. Also in August, Hearst bought the Monterey Herald and St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press for $263.2 million.
In October, Dow Jones & Co. sold the Sentinel and five other dailies in other parts of the country to Alabama-based Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. for $282.5 million. At the time, MediaNews had bid on the Sentinel, but Dow Jones wanted to sell the five papers as a package, not individually to different owners. The Sentinel was Community Newspaper's only asset west of Texas, however, and soon the firm agreed to sell it to MediaNews, which owns 11 dailies in the Bay Area.

After taking over, MediaNews has voided the contract with the paper's unionized press operators, shut down the paper's presses and started printing the Sentinel in San Jose. MediaNews is also planning to sell the paper's 54,000-square-foot downtown building and move the staff into leased space. [Feb. 3, MediaNews buys Santa Cruz Sentinel] [March 9, Santa Cruz daily to be printed in San Jose]

Local papers help MediaNews report profit

MediaNews Group reported Tuesday a profit of $4.3 million in the first quarter on revenues of $317 million, or about a 1 percent margin. That's better than the same quarter last year when the company reported a $3.6 million loss on revenues of $208 million. The company's revenues jumped in the last year because it acquired several former Knight Ridder newspapers including the Mercury News and Contra Costa Times. Without the papers it acquired, MediaNews would have seen an 8.7 percent drop in advertising revenues for the quarter. MediaNews said in its filing:
    All the newspaper advertising revenue categories suffered declines, except Internet advertising revenue, which grew 9.9 percent and 9.6 percent for the three and nine months ended March 31, 2007, respectively.

    Within the print classified advertising category, classified real estate gains were offset by decreases in classified automotive and employment for the nine-month period ended March 31, 2007. However, for the three-month period ended March 31, 2007, all print classified advertising categories were down as compared to the same period in the prior year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Reporter suffers newsroom heart attack

Veteran reporter Richard Cole, 59, suffered a heart attack Monday while working in the San Francisco Daily newsroom, but was rushed to the hospital by a fellow reporter, Nicole Baldocchi, who realized he needed immediate medical attention. Cole said yesterday from his hospital bed that Baldocchi saved his life. The SF Daily published this account of the episode in today's edition. Cole, who is hospitalized at California Pacific Medical Center's cardiac unit on Buchanan Street, said he was told by doctors that he will be released Thursday. He expects to return to work in a couple of weeks. Cole previously worked at the Associated Press and the Palo Alto Daily News. At the Palo Alto paper, he covered the Scott Peterson trial in Redwood City.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A fond farewell to the Tribune Tower

"If these walls could talk" is the headline on a retrospective of the Oakland Tribune Tower that staff writer Angela Hill has written. The Tribune is moving on May 20 from its historic downtown location to an office building MediaNews has leased on Oakport Street across the freeway from the Oracle Arena. A couple of paragraphs from her piece:
    During the years, three hard-bitten newsmen died at their desks -- one as recently as 2002 when we lost our dear Jim Jennings -- and they wouldn't have had it any other way. The ultimate deadline, you know. One baby was born in the fourth-floor ladies' room in 1973. And the story goes that our very own street-wise police reporter, Harry Harris (think Dirty Harry with a notebook), was conceived in the Tribune tower when his dad worked here as a photographer sometime mid-last century, and the rest is Harristory.
And here's another:
    If you listen hard, there's the faint echo of ancient typewriters chattering on eternally, like crickets on a summer night. You can almost smell the cigarette smoke from the old days, taste the bourbon concealed with everyone's knowledge and approval in various bottom desk drawers, hear the presses that once rolled, shook the earth and rattled City Hall.
Hill admits she doesn't personally mind moving. She says the new place is "very nice. It smells of new carpet, and we won't have to press buttons of competing elevators to see which comes first, much less hold a fire door open with one foot while doing it." (Photo Credit: Oakland Tribune, file, undated)

Details about Goldberg's exit from Merc

More details are emerging about Susan Goldberg's decision to resign as executive editor of the Mercury News and take the same job at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. As we reported yesterday (see below), Goldberg will be replaced by former Detroit Free Press editor and publisher Carole Leigh Hutton, currently head of the Palo Alto Daily News group for MediaNews.
    • Goldberg wasn't present yesterday when her newsroom was told she was leaving, according to a story in this morning's Merc. Managing Editor David Satterfield read the staff a letter from Goldberg in which she said the "disappearance" of former Merc owner Knight Ridder is "a loss that continues to reverberate on an individual level all over the country."

    • Officially, Goldberg's start date is May 29, but the job becomes vacant on Wednesday. Cleveland editor Doug Clifton said in a column Sunday that Tuesday would be his last day.

    • In that column, by the way, Clifton says newspapers can't continue to give away content for free. Merc executives have held the opposiite view over the years.

    • Hutton's departure from Palo Alto leaves that group of newspapers without a publisher or ad director. Hutton has headed the group since Jan. 17. The group, in addition to the free "Daily News" papers in several cities, also includes the paid San Mateo County Times.

    • Top-level MediaNews executives from the Bay Area will be meeting in Colorado later this week to discuss strategy. The meeting was planned before Goldberg's departure.

Pruitt, Keller address Stanford audience

From left, NY Times editor Bill Keller, former LA Times exec Harry Chandler, Google VP Marissa Mayer and McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt, on a panel at Stanford last night, gave their views on whether newspapers will survive "in the new world of journalism?" The following quotes come from the Stanford Daily's report of the discussion.
    Bill Keller: “We just need to be adaptable,” he said, citing Charles Darwin, “and we’ve clearly done that throughout history ... We face a wrenching transition.”

    • Harry Chandler, heir to the family that owned the LA Times for decades and now a major Tribune Co. shareholder: “The newspaper business model is pretty out of whack, and I don’t even know what a whack is. I think we’re five to 10 years away from finding where the stasis is, and there will be a lot of pain before we get there.” He said media titans should consider taking their companies private, outsourcing reporting jobs to India and holding editors to business benchmarks. “Television has done this for years,” he said. “It’s called ratings, and people live by them.”

    Marissa Mayer suggested that the future of journalism may lie in the hands of MySpace and Facebook reporters, who would write first-hand reports that could be edited and aggregated by citizen journalists. The futuristic idea, which she attributed to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, drew some incredulous laughs from a mostly older audience, according to Stanford Daily reporter Emma Trotter.

    Gary Pruitt, whose company bought the Knight Ridder chain last year and then sold off local KR papers to Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group, said: “There’s a big print audience still in existence here ... That’s not the profile of a dying industry.” Pruitt reminded the audience that newspapers have survived the popularity of the telegraph, radio and television, even though analysts once warned each would harm the traditional print newspaper.
(Photo credit: Mae Ryan, Stanford Daily)

CFAC's Scheer: Unseal the settlement

Journalist and attorney Peter Scheer (pictured), executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, says the public has a right to see the settlement documents in Clint Reilly's anti-trust case against Hearst and MediaNews. In a commentary posted on CFAC's Web site, Scheer writes:
    [Reilly's] suit involved allegations of serious misconduct — fixing prices and dividing up markets — which, if true, caused harm to the public at large, not just to Reilly. A secret settlement in such a “public” case is an opportunity for mischief. The worst that could have happened, hypothetically-speaking: MediaNews and Hearst could have used a secret settlement to achieve aspects of the very “conspiracy” with which they were charged in the suit. Under this scenario, Reilly and his lawyers could have been induced to go along with the conspiracy in exchange for an oversize payment of attorney’s fees.
Scheer wants Hearst, MediaNews and Reilly to release the complete settlement immediately -- including the amount of attorney's fees, costs or other sums paid to Reilly — or come forward and defend that decision. "Maybe this time the press will react with appropriate skepticism," Scheer writes.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Goldberg to leave Merc for Cleveland

Susan Goldberg (left) is stepping down as executive editor of the San Jose Mercury News to take the top newsroom job at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. She will be replaced by Carole Leigh Hutton (right), currently publisher of the Palo Alto Daily News and former editor and publisher of the Detroit Free Press, according to a statement issued today by the MediaNews Group-controlled California Newspapers Partnership, owner of the Merc and Palo Alto papers. Hutton will report to Merc publisher George Riggs. Hutton has been publisher of the Palo Alto Daily News group of free dailies since Jan. 17. The statement didn't say whether she would continue to serve as publisher in Palo Alto. Goldberg became executive editor of the Merc in 2003, after working as managing editor for four years. From 1989 to 1999, Goldberg worked at USA Today, serving as a deputy managing editor of the News, Life and Enterprise sections. [E&P: Goldberg to replace Clifton as 'Plain Dealer' editor]

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Retirement savings used to keep show on air

Bay Area journalist Betsy Rosenberg (pictured) is desperately trying to raise money in order to keep her "EcoTalk" program on the Air America Network, the Chronicle reports this morning. Rosenberg, for many years a familiar voice to KCBS 740 listeners, branched out a few years ago to do "EcoTalk," which currently airs on 20 Air America stations including San Francisco's KQKE 960 at 11 weeknights. Air America, which is emerging from bankruptcy, has told her it cannot finance the show, so she is trying to find backers on her own. Rosenberg, 51, said she has emptied her own six-figure retirement fund to keep the program going. She now is seeking $60,000 by May 18 to keep "EcoTalk" on the air for the next few months. (Photo credit: Christina Koci Hernandez, Chronicle)

Lawyer blames student in Halberstam crash

The lawyer for David Halberstam's widow says UC Berkeley journalism graduate student Kevin Jones was reckless and negligent in causing an April 23 crash in Menlo Park that killed the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist, the Chronicle reports. Jones, 26, was turning left from Bayfront Expressway to Willow Road when his car, carrying Halberstam, was hit by an Infiniti Q30 that was headed the opposite way on the expressway. The Infiniti driver says he had the green light. Lawyer Martin Garbus said he's blaming Jones because "of the way the crash happened," but he wouldn't elaborate. Police have sent the case to prosecutors without recommending charges against anyone. Garbus isn't saying whether he'll sue on the widow's behalf. [April 23, Car crash kills Halberstam]

Friday, May 11, 2007

SF Weekly knocks Guardian over cover

Controversial musician and actor Vincent Gallo has a rule that he will only grant interviews with a publication if it agrees to put him on the cover. Will Harper of the SF Weekly says his publication turned down Gallo — "we don't let celebrities tell us what to put on our cover."

But Harper says he was a little perplexed when Gallo appeared on the cover of the competing Bay Guardian, a weekly known for preaching journalism ethics to others. "Now, we didn't become reporters because we got A's in math, but we can still add two and two together," Harper writes.

Harper says he got an e-mail from Guardian editor Tim Redmond, who says that his paper was planning to put Gallo on the cover before contacting him.

There is a lot of bad blood between these two weeklies. The Guardian is suing the SF Weekly's owner, alleging that the chain sold ads at below the cost of production in an attempt to run the Guardian out of business. A trial is set for Oct. 15.

Reporting jobs outsourced to India

The Mercury News and Contra Costa Times are outsourcing ad production to India, so what's next? Maybe reporting. The AP reports that a Web site in Pasadena that covers local news has outsourced the job of covering government meetings to reporters in India, who can watch the meetings online. "I think it could be a significant way to increase the quality of journalism on the local level without the expense that is a major problem for local publications," said James Macpherson, editor and publisher of the two-year-old Web site Pasadenanow.com, who is shown here. "Whether you're at a desk in Pasadena or a desk in Mumbai, you're still just a phone call or e-mail away from the interview." (Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill, AP)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

May 2007 Press Club board minutes

Meeting was brought to order at 6:25 p.m. by President Jamie Casini

Board members present: Peter Cleaveland, Jon Mays, Diana Diamond, Ed Remitz, Dave Price, Micki Carter, Jack Russell and Jamie Casini. Executive Director Darryl Compton was also in attendance.

Absent: Jen Aquino, Aimee Lewis Strain and Jennifer Aquino.

Minutes: Minutes of April meeting were not approved as they have yet to be sent out.

Treasurer's Report: None.

Old business

Bench Bar Media: The recent event was deemed a success, but there was some discussion of a change of venue and time. Mays suggested having a lunch meeting near the county Hall of Justice in Redwood City. In addition, there was also some discussion of topics including cameras in courtrooms, the impact of media consolidation or fairness in journalism.

High School Journalism Awards: The ceremony at Notre Dame de Namur University was deemed a success. The venue was praised for its beauty and connection to nature, specifically for the attendance of deer in front of Ralston Hall.

Feedback about assisting high school journalism programs: There was some discussion about holding a workshop with constructive critiques of students work in August. The workshop can either be held at the offices of the San Mateo Daily Journal in San Mateo or the Palo Alto Daily News in Menlo Park.

New business

Roster: President Casini acknowledged the heavy workload of Compton while requesting that the roster be printed and released in the next couple of months.

Award winners announcement. Compton said there is still some judging outstanding and members will be notified if they won at least one award sometime next week.

PPC Awards dinner. Carter said she will write the script and Remitz said scholarships will be decided upon soon. Price also suggested contacting Mike Sugerman to ask if he and his band might consider playing some music during the dinner.

Possible meeting venue change. Diamond requested a possible move of the board meeting venue to the new Daily News office in Menlo Park.

Meeting adjourned at 7:15 p.m.

Aguirre to start at NBC 11 next month

It didn't take long for Jessica Aguirre to land a new job after management at KGO ABC 7 told her they would not be renewing her contract. Next month she starts at KNTV NBC 11, co-anchoring the 5 p.m. news. She's no longer on the air at Channel 7 and her bio has been removed from the talent page on the station's Web site. However, since her contract expires at the end of the year, she's still drawing a contract from ABC 7 even though she's going to work for NBC 11. NBC 11 hasn't had a regular anchor at 5 p.m. for several months. The duties have been rotated among Scott Budman, Lisa Kim and Allen Denton. [May 8: Aguirre leaving KGO] [March 28: Group petitions KGO-TV to keep Aguirre]

Meet the radio and TV general managers

The NorCal Radio and Television News Directors Association says last year's "Meet the General Managers" event was so well received that another one will take place next week. Find out what's in and what's out in Bay Area broadcasting, and how these leaders are planning to lead the market into the future. Ask questions and get answers on Wednesday, May 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the ABC Broadcast Center, 900 Front St., San Francisco. Light refreshments and networking at 7 p.m. with the panel starting at 7:30 p.m.

Panelists:
    • Tim McVay, KTVU Channel 2
    • Mark Antonitis, KRON 4
    • Ron Longinotti, KPIX CBS 5
    • Valari Staab, KGO ABC 7
    • Linda Sullivan, KNTV NBC 11
    • Doug Harvill, KCBS All News 740
    • Mickey Luckoff, KGO NewsTalk 810
The panel will be moderated by former KGO and KRON anchor Suzanne Shaw. Everyone is invited. You do not need to be a NorCal RTNDA member to attend. It's free for members, $5 for members of other media organizations, and $10 for non-members. You need to RSVP to be on the attendance list for the ABC Broadcast Center security. RSVP to darryl@norcalrtnda.com.

Marin IJ executives to discuss newspaper

Executives of the Marin Independent Journal will discuss the newspaper at a noon luncheon set for May 22 at the Corte Madera Inn at 56 Madera Blvd., the IJ reports in today's edition. IJ Publisher Mario van Dongen (pictured), Executive Editor Matt Wilson and Online Director Scott Henry will speak at the event sponsored by the Corte Madera, Mill Valley and Sausalito chambers of commerce. The cost is $25 per person, and reservations are required. Call (415) 924-0441.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Jessica Aguirre leaving KGO ABC7

KGO ABC7 anchor Jessica Aguirre is moving on, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences newsletter reports. It says both Aguirre and KGO declined to discuss the move, but Aguirre had been open about the station notifying her some weeks ago that it would not renew her contract when it expired at the end of the year. In March, when word leaked out that her future at the station was in limbo, the Oakland-based Centro Legal de la Raza launched a petition drive to save her job.

Aguirre was promoted to weeknight anchor in December 1999, replacing Terilyn Joe. From 1997 to 1999, she was the weekend anchor. She came to KGO in 1997 from KABC-TV in Los Angeles. Before KABC, she anchored at two stations in Miami. She tells the TV newsletter that she would like to remain in the Bay Area.

Singleton becomes AP board chairman

Not only does Dean Singleton (pictured) control 11 paid dailies in the Bay Area but on Monday he took over as chairman of the board of The Associated Press for a five-year term, the AP announced. Singleton's MediaNews Group didn't buy the AP. AP is a cooperative that's owned by its newspaper members. The board consists mostly of newspaper chain CEOs. Knight Ridder's Tony Ridder of Woodside used to serve on the board. Singleton's been on the board since 1999. The chief executive of the AP is Tom Curley.

Singleton was elected to the post by the other board members last July. Back in July, he told an AP reporter this about his new post:
    The issues that our newspapers are facing are the same issues that AP is facing — how we navigate from a print-only world to a print/online world, and how we find ways to monetize our news online.

    While The Associated Press has worked collectively on news coverage since its founding, the newspaper industry hasn't worked collectively because they didn't need to. They operated in their own local markets with their own local issues. Online takes us beyond geographic boundaries, and for the first time newspapers must work collectively to build the online model to its full potential.

    [The AP] will be the key to pulling the industry together so that they work collectively.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Local journalists to sue HP for spying

Three of the San Francisco-based business reporters whose private phone records were obtained by investigators working for Palo Alto's Hewlett Packard intend to sue the company for invasion of privacy, The New York Times reports. CNET News reporters Dawn Kawamoto (shown above at her desk in San Francisco), Stephen Shank-land and Tom Krazit have hired the L.A. firm of Panish, Shea & Boyle, which confirmed to the Times that a lawsuit is being prepared after months of negotiations with HP. CNET does not plan to join their lawsuit, but said that it might sue separately. When the spying came to light, the three were assigned to cover other companies and they do not plan to cover HP in the future.

Four other reporters — Peter Burrows, Ben Elgin and Roger Crockett from BusinessWeek and John Markoff from the NY Times — continue to pursue settlement discussions as a group, together with The New York Times Company. They are represented by a San Francisco lawyer, Terry Gross.

In settlement negotiations, the Times says that seven journalists requested an amount equal to several million dollars each, paid to them directly with their promise that most of the money, though not all, would be donated to charity. Hewlett-Packard’s offer was closer to $10,000 per reporter, roughly enough to cover the reporters’ legal bills, the Times said, quoting sources.

Two Wall Street Journal reporters investigated by HP, Pui-Wing Tam and George Anders, declined to seek compensation, the Times said. The Wall Street Journal indicated in December that it would not take part in settlement talks or any legal action.

(Photo credit: Peter DaSilva for The New York Times)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

High school newspapers disappearing

T.S. Mills-Faraudo of the San Mateo County Times reports on the growing number of high schools without student newspapers. The reasons include:
    • Heightened requirements for both graduating from high school and college admission. Students simply don't have time in their schedules to take journalism classes and work on the school paper when it only counts as an elective for the University of California entrance requirements.

    • The increased focus on standardized testing and additional state and federal demands means schools have to offer more remedial classes. To make room for these classes, electives such as journalism are eliminated.

    • Turnover in journalism advisers. For instance, at Oceana High School in Pacifica, the journalism program died after its adviser retired and no one wanted to keep it going.
Mills-Faraudo's story had some bright spots:
    • Sequoia High School in Redwood City is trying to bring back its student newspaper after three years of no campus news.

    • There are still some passionate journalism teachers out there, such as Susan Sutton Callahan at Jefferson High School in Daly City. The curriculum in her class includes the basic construction of a story, conducting interviews, media law and ethics, and the First Amendment. The students also work on the student paper, which gives them an opportunity to write stories and shoot photos.

    • Steve O'Donoghue, director of the California Scholastic Journalism Initiative, been meeting with UC officials to convince them to make journalism one of the classes counted toward the English requirements for admission to the universities. "Universities are always complaining about how kids can't write, and this is a curriculum that requires them to write all the time," said O'Donoghue, who taught journalism at an Oakland school for 33 years.
High school journalism has also been a focus of the Peninsula Press Club in the past year. In addition to the club's annual high school contest, it met with high school instructors in March to see how it can help keep student newspapers going.

Biz Wire founder Lokey helps university

Larry I. Lokey (pictured), the veteran Bay Area journalist and public relations executive who sold his Business Wire to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway in 2005, has given a total of $58.4 million to the University of Oregon. He was honored by that school Friday at a gala event in Portland that drew the state's governor. Although Lokey didn't attend the UO, he grew up in Portland and credits longtime former UO journalism dean George Turnbull with finding him his first job as a night wire editor at United Press in Portland, according to a press release from the university. Turnbull was Lokey's professor for a year at Stanford University, where Lokey earned a degree in journalism in 1949.

MediaNews appoints vp for news

Denver-based MediaNews Group, which owns most of the Bay Area's dailies including the Mercury News, has created a new top level position — vice president of news — and appointed the editor and publisher of its Detroit News to that new position. David Butler (pictured) will oversee the content of the group's newspapers and Web sites.

"Our new partnership with Yahoo will provide us the platform to appropriately begin monetizing news content online, and Dave will spearhead our effort to provide the right content for those efforts," said CEO Dean Singleton in a statement.

Butler will report to Singleton and chief operating officer Steve Rossi, formerly the No. 2 executive at Knight Ridder. Knight Ridder also had a vice president of news, a position held for several years by former Merc editor Jerry Ceppos and then by Carole Leigh Hutton. Hutton, former editor and publisher of Detroit's other daily, the Free Press, is now head of MediaNews Group's Palo Alto Daily News.

Butler, 56, became editor and publisher of The Detroit News in August 2005 when MediaNews purchased the newspaper. He previously was editor of the company’s Los Angeles Daily News as well as executive vice president for news for the nine-newspaper Los Angeles Newspaper Group. Earlier he edited newspapers in Connecticut, Florida, Colorado and Kentucky.

During Butler’s tenure, The Detroit News underwent many changes including converting to full morning publication, launching a Saturday edition and expanding detnews.com.

Free dailies big enough to have a conference

The free daily newspaper industry, which is well represented in the Bay Area, has become big enough to have an industry conference and apparently will soon have its own trade association. The conference will take place in St. Petersburg, Fla., June 18-19, and is being organized by two executives who were previously part of the Metro International chain of free dailies. The infomation sheet about the conference also says an Association of Free Daily Newspapers is in formation. The U.S. has 49 free daily newspapers, most of which were launched in the past five years. In Canada, free dailies represent 25 percent of that country's newspaper circulation. In Europe, free papers make up 15.3 percent of that continent's daily newspaper circulation, according to Media Life Magazine. London and Copenhagen each have five free dailes, Hong Kong and San Francisco have three, and Boston and New York have two.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Bay Area college paper voted state's best

The Argonaut, the student newspaper of Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, took first place in General Excellence in the California College Media Association competition Saturday night at a dinner at Hearst Castle. In all, The Argonaut won 15 awards in 11 categories.

The Argonaut competed in the division for college newspapers which publish less frequently than once-a-week. Second place went to the Otter Realm of California State University, Monterey Bay, and third went to the newspaper of Mills College in Oakland.

First place individual winners included Erik Oeverndiek (whose work accomplished while a graduate student last spring was eligible) for Best News Photo and Best Feature Photo; senior Taio Iwado, Best Cartoon; and NDNU graduate Shane Ito, Best Sports Photo. Ito also won second place in Best Feature Photo.

Other Argonaut honorees included Editor-in-Chief Bianca Nery who won third-place in Best News Feature and an honorable mention in Best News Series; Sports Editor Corazon Riley, second in Best Sports Page Design, third in Best Sports Photograph, and second in Best Breaking News Story; Managing Editor Jennifer Coleman, second in Best Editorial; former editor-in-chief Dominic Nolasco, second, Best Breaking News Story; columnist Sergio Patterson, second in Best Arts & Entertainment Review; and cartoonist Kent Gibo, second, Best Cartoon. (Here is a news release with all of the winners.

2 Bay Area alt-weeklies finalists for awards

Metro Santa Cruz and the North Bay Bohemian have each been named as finalists in the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies annual contest, now in its 12th year. The association announces its finalists first and then reveals the order of finish at a luncheon at its annual convention, this year in Portland from June 14 to 16. Metro Santa Cruz is up for an award for editorial layout (by staffers Kara Brown and Tabi Zarrinnaal) and the North Bay Bohemian (Daedalus Howell) is a finalist for food writing and criticism. Here's the complete list.

Marin IJ names new ad, marketing director

Ron Thayer (pictured), a longtime newspaper executive in California and Washington state, has been named director of advertising and marketing of MediaNews Group's Marin Independent Journal, the paper announced yesterday. IJ Publisher Mario van Dongen, who worked with Thayer in Washington, recruited him to Marin. Before his newspaper career, Thayer spent 13 years in the Navy and served in the Persian Gulf during the first Gulf War. "I'm much happier doing this, thank you," he said. "Nobody has shot at me yet."

Driver speaks about Halberstam crash

The driver whose car hit the vehicle carrying David Halberstam, killing the Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist, says he had the green light, the Chronicle reports.

Lewis Morris, 64, was driving toward the Dumbarton Bridge on Bayfront Expressway on April 23 when a Toyota Camry driven by UC Berkeley journalism student Kevin Jones, in which Halberstam (pictured) was a passenger, turned in front of him at the intersection of Willow Road.

"I could not slow down," Morris told the Chronicle. "I didn't have enough room to slow down. That's basically all there is."

Drivers turning left onto Willow from the expressway are controlled by a left-turn arrow.

Halberstam, 73, who was on his way to interview NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle for his next book, died at the scene.

Jones referred questions about the crash Tuesday to his lawyer, Laurel Headley, who declined to comment until the investigation is completed. Police expect to wrap up their inquiry by next week and review the case with the San Mateo County district attorney's office, the Chronicle reports. (AP file photo, 1993, by Mark Lennihan)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Monterey Herald cuts workforce by 5%

The 34,000-circulation Monterey County Hearld, operated by Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group, has announced that it cut seven full-time jobs and one part-time position, spread across various departments within the paper, reducing its workforce by about 5 percent. The paper did not disclose the number of newsroom jobs affected. "Like many businesses in transition, we are forced to make difficult economic choices. The small reduction in workforce is aimed at trimming costs amid a downturn in the newspaper industry," said Publisher Gary Omernick (pictured). "Despite that trend, our readership continues to grow as we transition from a newspaper to a multi-media company. We will continue to provide excellent value for our readers and advertisers with our daily newspaper, online and niche products."

Press Club honors high school journalists

High school journalists from throughout the Peninsula were honored yesterday (April 30) when the Peninsula Press Club presented its 2007 High School Journalism Awards at a reception in Ralston Hall at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont. More than 100 students from 11 high schools submitted 237 entries from their 2006-2007 newspapers, Web sites and magazines which were judged by professional members of the Press Club. The competition was co-sponsored by Hillsdale Shopping Center, the Journalism Program of NDNU and the Press Club.

Above, editors and staff of Eastside College Preparatory School's high school newspaper, The Eastside Panther, stood proud after winning the Peninsula Press Clubs highest award for General Excellence at the awards ceremony. The editors of the student newspaper are Jose Ibarra, Jannette Angulo and Lindsey Turner. More photos on our high school contest page.

Here are the award winners:
    General Excellence

    First: Eastside Panther, Eastside Prep
    Second: Jefferson Tom-Tom, Jefferson High School
    Third: Mills Thunderbolt, Mills High School

    Layout and Design

    First: Burlingame B, Burlingame High School
    Second: Eastside Panther, Eastside Prep
    Third: The Friar, Serra High School

    Web Site Design

    First: The Paly Voice, Palo Alto High School

    Web Site Content

    First: The Paly Voice, Palo Alto High School

    Column

    First: Trevor Cox, Serra High School
    Second: Caroline Hodge, Henry M. Gunn Senior High School
    Third: Billy Low, Pinewood School

    Editorial

    First: Mayra Cisneros, Eastside College Prep
    Second: Caroline Hodge, Gunn High School
    Third: Maira Navarro, Eastside College Prep
    Honorable Mention: Francisco Tamayo, Eastside College

    Feature Story

    (Tie) First: David Lee, Serra High School
    First: Jenny Ji , Palo Alto High School

    (Tie) Second: Molly Cornfield, Palo Alto High School
    Second: Chelsea Williams, Palo Alto High School

    Honorable Mention: Daniel Brenner, Pinewood High School
    Honorable Mention: Gerald Smith and Sergio Portela Jr., Jefferson High School.

    Sports Story

    First: Kyle Hutchinson, Serra High School
    Second: Sarah Flamm, Palo Alto High School
    Third: Nick Fraioli, Pinewood High School

    News story

    First: Andrea Dominguez, Jefferson High School
    Second: Marissa Hom, Mills High
    Third: Sarah Flamm, Palo Alto High School
    Honorable Mention: Ruby Farias, Eastside Prep
    Honorable Mention: Trevor Cox, Serra High School

    News Photo

    First: Jose Ibarra, Eastside Prep
    Second: Hannah Hoffman, Burlingame High School
    Third: Jose Ibarra, Eastside Prep

    Feature Photo

    First: Kaela Fox, Palo Alto High School
    Second: Kaela Fox, Palo Alto High School
    Third: Ken Zurcher, Serra High School

    Sports Photo

    First: Victoria Vargas, Eastside Prep
    Second: Kaela Fox, Palo Alto High School
    Third: Jose Ibarra, Eastside Prep

    Special Recognition

    The Palo Alto High School Verde Magazine

The San Francisco Peninsula Press Club's annual High School Journalism Contest accepts entries from schools in February and March. An exact deadline for entries will be announced in January.

Who won in the past?
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
(Photo credit: Erik Oeverndiek)

2 Bay Area journos land Knight Fellowships

Matthew Stannard of the Chronicle and Andrea Lewis of KPFA are among the 12 U.S. journalists who were awarded Knight Fellowships today. They'll study at Stanford during the 2007-08 academic year and pursue independent courses of study. Here's the list.

Letterman's 10 signs your paper is in trouble

10. Covers all the news that happens within one block of the office
9. Today's exclusive -- "Nixon Dead!"
8. Reporter sent to jail for refusing to divulge a source... Oh, and he also killed a dude
7. All horoscopes: "Now would be a good time to get out of the newspaper business"
6. Paper's motto: "Suck it"
5. Every "hot" gossip item is about Jack Klugman
4. Managing editor and guy who wheels around breakfast? Same guy
3. Under "Weather," it just reads "Yes"
2. Instead of "Garfield," has a comic strip called "Garfunkel"
1. You endorsed Dennis Kucinich