Thursday, May 29, 2008

Politicians on verge of canceling newscast

The mayors of Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon and Livermore will vote next month on a budget for the local cable access channel that would eliminate its daily newscast. Meera Pal of the MediaNews Group's Tri-Valley Herald wrote:
    "... Eliminating the more expensive news program will make way for a monthly city magazine show that would focus on each city, in addition to a community round table show, similar to the previously long-running "Media Round Table" that featured local journalists reviewing the week's top news stories."
The story also says:
    The proposed restructuring and reprogramming will directly affect some of the station's 14 employees, which includes reporters, anchors and interim executive director Kevin Wing.

    "The station needs to be put back into the black," Wing said. "I understand what they are doing, but, nevertheless, the whole thing is sad."

    TV30 has been producing a news show for at least 20 years, said Wing, who has been in Bay Area television news for 22 years, with the last year and a half at TV30.

    For the final news show, scheduled to air June 26, he said they plan to put together a retrospective of the station's newscasts over the past 20 years.


"It's hard to know that all of us who work on the news, in five weeks, we won't be doing this anymore," he said.
In the meantime, the staff is on pins and needles as it awaits the board's decision on how it plans to reduce staffing levels and hours.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New daily newspaper starts in Palo Alto

[Full disclosure: Press Club blog editor Dave Price is obviously a subject of the following posting.]

Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun writes:
    A startup launching in the heart of Silicon Valley this week is offering a product that many now consider quaint and perhaps even passé: a traditional, ink-on-dead-tree-pulp daily newspaper. 
    In another act of brazen heresy against the prevailing dot-com culture here, the Palo Alto Daily Post, which published its first issue yesterday, has no Web site. 
    At a time when most newspaper owners are looking to the Internet to revive their struggling industry, the new paper's owners, James Pavelich and David Price, brusquely dismiss the need for an online presence. 
    "We're a newspaper," Mr. Pavelich said in an interview yesterday as he returned from shuttling his inaugural edition to newsboxes around town. "The Internet is a form of broadcast to me. We're not broadcasters. We just don't have the time to run two businesses." 
    The new daily is free, which could touch off a newspaper war of sorts with another free paper, the Palo Alto Daily News. The owners of the new paper are intimately familiar with that title. They co-founded the Daily News in 1995. ... In 2005, just as the fortunes of the newspaper industry began to sour, the pair sold the Daily News and several affiliated papers to the Knight Ridder chain for $25 million, Mr. Price said. 
    "They paid a premium," he said. In 2006, Knight Ridder sold the Daily News to the McClatchy Co., which quickly spun those papers and the San Jose Mercury News off to a Denver-based newspaper chain, MediaNews. 
    Mr. Price said the decision to start a new paper was driven in part by disappointment with the direction of the Daily News as the new owners consolidated the operation with other nearby papers. 
    "The news content seemed to shift to a lot less local coverage and a lot more regional news you could find in other papers," he said. 
    Earlier this year, the Daily News moved its offices out of Palo Alto, to neighboring Menlo Park. Messrs. Pavelich and Price swooped in, tweaking the competition by renting space in the same building it just vacated. "It was kind of comical to us and we jumped at it," Mr. Pavelich said.
Disclosure: Price is vice president and webmaster of the Press Club.

UPDATE, Thursday, 7 p.m.: Editor & Publisher's Mark Fitzgerald devoted his column to the Palo Alto Daily Post:
    Price and James Pavelich are back in Palo Alto newspapers, three years after selling their free-distribution Palo Alto Daily News to Knight Ridder for what they can now say -- with their non-compete expired -- was an eyebrow-raising price of $25 million. ... 
    Not only are the pair back in town, they're publishing out of the same building they left three years ago. The Daily News, which covers several other Silicon Valley towns in addition to Palo Alto, several months ago decamped to nearby Menlo Park. Price plays down the rivalry with the Daily News, which MediaNews acquired in one of the side deals that followed McClatchy's acquisition of Knight Ridder. 
    "We're not here to run them out of business," he said. "Whether they succeed or fail, there's plenty of room for both of us." 
    (Daily News General Manager Michael Gelbman did not return a message seeking comment.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

KPIX's Barbara Rodgers announces retirement

Reporter and anchor Barbara Rodgers, who has been with KPIX since 1979, announced her retirement today.

"I had been thinking about when I might hang up my reporter's notebook and microphone," Rodgers said in a statement released by the station. "So I decided that the right time is now, while I still have the enthusiasm to pursue some of my other interests."

Her last day at Channel 5 is Friday. Here's Chuck Barney's story from the Contra Costa Times.

UPDATE, 10:35 a.m. Wednesday: We just received the press release from KPIX, and here are a few paragraphs:
    Barbara Rodgers estimates that she's done at least 8,000 interviews during her 36 years in broadcasting. Most of those for CBS 5 (KPIX-TV), the station that has been her home away from home since 1979. Now Rodgers has decided to take a break. 
    "After almost 29 years at CBS 5, I had been thinking about when I might hang up my reporter's notebook and microphone. So I decided that the right time is now, while I still have the enthusiasm to pursue some of my other interests," said Rodgers. ... 
    "It has been my great privilege to work with Barbara for the past eight years. She is an exceptional broadcast journalist — a terrific reporter and a wonderful news anchor who remains clear and cool even under pressure of major breaking news. We will miss her skills, her insight, her empathy and her wonderful laugh in our newsroom," said Dan Rosenheim, vice president and news director of CBS 5. 
    “Besides being a cherished friend, Barbara's unstoppable curiosity, deep empathy, sharp writing, and good cheer make her the kind of reporter you love to work with. Somehow the world seems a little less confusing when Barbara is covering the news,” said Craig Franklin, senior producer, news special projects. 
    “As an accomplished journalist, Barbara Rodgers brings unbridled passion and professionalism to her job. The numerous awards she’s received over the years speak volumes about the high quality of her work. As my friend, Barbara is priceless,” said Lena Sullivan, “Bay Sunday” producer and executive producer of “Eye on the Bay." 
    Barbara Rodgers has been with CBS 5 Eyewitness News since 1979. She co-anchors "CBS 5 Eyewitness News at Noon" with Juliette Goodrich — her second time around on the noon news. Prior to this, Rodgers anchored the weekend newscasts from 1987 to 2000. In 2001, Rodgers returned as the host of “Bay Sunday,” CBS 5's weekly public affairs program. She helped create the show in 1989 and was its host for seven years before taking a hiatus. “Bay Sunday” is an eclectic mix of news, arts and community information all tossed up in lively conversation. 
    Prior to this, she anchored "Eyewitness News at Noon" from 1984 to 1987. In 1985, Rodgers was awarded the prestigious William Benton Fellowship in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Chicago. 
    During her six-month leave of absence to participate in the fellowship program, she took courses in such diverse subjects as international relations, poetry writing and Meso-American pre-history. 
    "It was," says Rodgers, "one of the most exciting and intellectually stimulating experiences of my life." ... Rodgers loves traveling and is off to somewhere every chance she gets. She has been to countries on five different continents. 
    When asked what she'll be doing now, Rodgers said she wasn't sure about the long term, but she has a definite short term goal. 
    "I want to clear out all the clutter in my garage and spare room at home — stuff that has been piling up for all these years when I've spent more time at the office than I did at home. That could take six months or more! After that, I'll start to explore some of my other loves like travel, food and my new computer; and I'm excited about finally getting to spend more time visiting with family and friends both in and outside the Bay Area." 
    And what will she miss most about this job that has been a part of her life for so long? 
    "Meeting a multitude of new and fascinating people. I am a person who still has so much curiosity about everything and this job let me indulge that and be as nosey as I wanted to be. I'll also miss being in the middle of the action when there's a big story and I'll especially miss getting to be a part of this year's Presidential election night when history might be made. But I'll be watching from home and doing a critique."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Richmond finale gets huge ratings

Dennis Richmond's final newscast on Channel 2 got an extraordinary 15.6 rating, more than the combined viewership of the ABC, CBS and NBC stations.


A 15.6 translates into 400,000 households, about three to four times the normal number of viewers. The Chron's Peter Hartlaub called the 15.6 rating "freakishly huge" and says that even though the season-ending "American Idol" served as a lead-in to Richmond's last newscast, the audience stayed through the news. (Photo credits: Bob Larson, Contra Costa Times)

The world of no-cost news grows larger

The Bay Area is becoming saturated with free daily newspapers. San Mateo County Times columnist John Horgan observes:
    Another free daily tabloid newspaper is scheduled for launch very soon, perhaps as early as this week.

    The Daily Post will give the Peninsula no fewer than four such publications.

    The brains behind the latest freebie entry are Dave Price and Jim Pavelich, who started the Palo Alto Daily News in 1995, sold it (it's now owned by the company that produces The Times) and are now back for another local run.

    Is there any doubt that this is the liveliest, most competitive suburban area in the U.S. when it comes to the no-cost perusal of printed news and ads?

    Can the market accommodate all four, not to mention their paid-circulation peers? The jury is out on that one, folks. But there's never a shortage of stuff to read.
For the record, Price is on the Press Club board and serves as webmaster, posting many of the article seen on this site. Shown here are copies of his San Francisco paper, which recently changed its name from the San Francisco Daily to the Daily Post.

Chron subscribers get a free breakfast



If you're one of those people who stopped subscribing to the Chronicle and now reads the news online, you missed out on something special this morning. Chronicle subscribers got two boxes of General Mills cereal in the bag with their newspaper this morning — Caramel Delight Fiber One and MultiGrain Cheerios. A newspaper and high-giber, whole grain cereals ... a nutritious combination.

Examiner hires conservative to run Web site

The Examiner's Washington, D.C. edition has hired Fox News regular Mary Katharine Ham as its online editor. Ham has become well known in Republican circles as the editor of TownHall.com, which has a conservative point of view. Before that she was with the Heritage Foundation. (More)
    "We are especially excited and proud to have Mary Katharine Ham join The Washington Examiner because she among the most respected young stars of online journalism and is also well-known to cable television and talk radio audiences through her regular appearances on 'The O'Reilly Factor' on Fox News," said Vivienne Sosnowski, editorial director of Clarity Media, which publishes The Washington Examiner, The Baltimore Examiner and The San Francisco Examiner, as well as the Examiner.com Web site.
Clarity Media is owned by billionaire oilman Phil Anschutz, who funds conservative causes and candidates.

Ham's hiring comes as the Examiner is shifting its emphasis from print to online. Two weeks ago, the Examiner announced it would only deliver to homes on Thursdays and Sundays, and that it was killing its Saturday edition and would re-start its Sunday paper. The Sunday edition was discontinued when the Fang family owned the San Francisco Examiner from 2000 to 2004.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Weekly capitalizes on gay wedding ruling

"The East Bay Express proudly announces Wedding Wednesdays in celebration of the long over-due right for homosexual partners to legally marry in the state of California."

The alt-weekly says it will hold free group weddings for 12 same-sex couples on June 25 and July 2 at the newspaper offices in Emeryville. East Bay Express Marketing Director Terry Furry will conduct the ceremony with support from the wedding planning company Don Gibble & Associates.

The couples will get a wedding ceremony, catered reception, honeymoon prize packages, professional photos, a published wedding announcement and a lot of publicity.

"This is a fun, unique marriage alternative to City Hall, and is our newspaper's way of sharing in this historic celebration," EBX said.

Bill Mann: Talk radio is a cesspool

"KGO's Bernie Ward was creepy and a disgrace long before he got popped for kiddie porn. His KGO colleague, late-night liberal pontificator Ray Taliaferro, is almost as bad," writes Bay Area Media Group columnist Bill Mann, who has problems with both left-wing and right-wing talkers: "Talk radio these days, in a word, is a cesspool. It's an open sore on the flesh of democracy, one the servile, broadcaster-friendly FCC has let fester while worrying more about the likes of Janet Jackson."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Richmond signs off for the last time

The usually serious and restrained Dennis Richmond struggled to hold back his emotions tonight when he signed off for last time after 40 years at Channel 2.

"I will spend many days in my retirement sending thank-you notes to as many of you as I can, but ... it will take a little while. But of course I will have plenty of time," said Richmond, who turns 65 on Tuesday.

His final "10'O'Clock News" was filled with clips from Richmond's reports over the years -- including shots of him in an afro in the late 1960s -- and farewells from celebrities such as Carlos Santana and John Madden.

"Television news in the Bay Area was never better than when Dennis Richmond was anchoring and when [he] leaves it is never going to be the same," said Madden, former Oakland Raiders coach and now NBC football analyst.

Richmond said he plans to retire to a house on a golf course in Grass Valley with his wife Deborah. Television won't be entirely in their past, however. Deborah is working on a forthcoming Bravo reality show about an interior decorator.

Richmond, who was at the Channel 2 anchor desk for 33 of his 40 years at the station, holds the record for the longest tenure as a TV anchor in the Bay Area, surpassing legends like Fred Van Amburg, Dave McElhatton and the late Pete Wilson.

Starting tonight, Channel 2 newsman Frank Somerville will replace Richmond, co-anchoring the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts with Julie Haener.

Sports anchor Mark Ibanez, who has worked for 29 years with Richmond, said, "This guy is a first-ballot Hall of Famer."

At the end of the news, Richmond appeared to hold back tears as he read his final remarks:

"I will truly miss speaking to you twice a day ... It's been truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that happily for me lasted 40 years. So, for the last time, it is with great joy and great sadness that i say good night and goodbye."

    UPDATE: 9:30 a.m. BANG's Chuck Barney: "When Richmond arrived for his final day at KTVU, his newsroom co-workers greeted him with an impromptu standing ovation, as well as some hugs and kisses. 'He has had such an impact on the culture around here,' KTVU news director Ed Chapuis said. 'He's leaving, but his stamp will still be all over this place.'"

Judge raises amount SF Weekly must pay

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Marla Miller on Monday raised the amount the SF Weekly must pay in damages to the Bay Guardian — from $6.3 million to $15.9 million — for undercutting its rival with below-cost ads, the Chronicle reports. Miller also put a 10-year injunction on the Weekly, barring it from selling display ads below cost. The SF Weekly, part of the Village Voice Media chain of alt-weeklies, has vowed to appeal. Its lawyers argue the Guardian lost money due to outside forces, including the dot-com bust, Craigslist and lagging reader interest. (More)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wendt to leave Merc for Alabama paper

Kevin Wendt, currently assistant managing editor for the sports, copy and design desks at the Merc, has been named editor of the Huntsville Times, according to a Merc memo posted by Romenesko. The memo from David Butler and David Satterfield says, "Kevin will be among the youngest newspaper editors in the country, and it's no surprise to any of us. Since his arrival at the Mercury News in 2000 -- wearing a degree from Northern Illinois University and a black eye delivered by some thugs he exposed in the campus newspaper -- Kevin has shown an incredible aptitude for this business." Wendt, who is 30, will leave the Merc on June 18.

Demo convention in Singleton's backyard

Denver, Colo., hosts the National Western Stock Show every January and Dean Singleton doesn't seem to mind all the livestock that comes to town. After all, the chief executive of the Denver-based MediaNews Group and publisher of The Denver Post owns four cattle ranches.

But now that the Democratic National Convention is coming to Denver in August, Singleton has changed his tune.

According to a report in the Denver Post, Singleton is threatening to pull his support of a media welcoming committee if it sponsors an exhibition rodeo or cattle drive parade.

Why?

Singleton doesn't want the national media to portray Denver as a "cow town," the Post reported, citing sources. The Post said Singleton declined to comment to his own newspaper.

Politics might be another factor. Singleton calls himself a "good friend" of President Bush and was a contributor to Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns. The rodeo was proposed by two Democrats, Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Denver and U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, a Colorado cattle rancher.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Richmond's last newscast is Wednesday

The tributes are rolling in as Dennis Richmond prepares to sign off for the last time Wednesday night after 40 years at KTVU ... 33 of them as co-anchor of the "Ten O'Clock News."

Richmond, who turns 65 on May 26, is in the same league as Fred Van Amburg, Dave McElhatton and the late Pete Wilson — the Cronkites, Huntleys and Brinkleys of the Bay Area.

The Chron's Steven Winn did a 1,550-word profile on Friday, Bruce Newman of the Bay Area News Group did a 1,446-word send-off yesterday and Channel 2 has posted its official 539-word profile. Here are a few points from these profiles:
    • "Dennis was so good-looking, you could hear women gasp," Channel 2 cameraman Bill Moore said. "I think he enjoyed it a lot. I certainly never saw him with an unattractive woman."

    • Richmond finally married at age 51, and became a grandfather last year when his daughter Amber, from a previous relationship, had a child, Mya, 14-months-old.
    • His wife of 13 1/2 years, Deborah, 51, is working on a forthcoming Bravo reality show about an interior designer.

    • Richmond adores golf, likes to eat and travel and greets the strangers who regularly approach him in public cordially.

    • When he and his cameraman showed up at crime scenes in the 1970s, the cops often assumed they were perpetrators, not newsmen. When he and Moore arrived at San Quentin to cover a breaking story in their marked news van, armed only with press credentials, the prison guards ordered the pair to produce further identification — while pointing loaded rifles at them.
    • Richmond got his chance as an anchor in 1976 when one of KTVU's anchors was fired after passing off as a bulletin a story that was actually several hours old.

    * Elaine Corrall, who shared the anchor desk with Richmond for 12 years, was never allowed to deliver the lead story.

    • Dana King has been calling Richmond's replacement, Frank Somerville, to warn him, pro-wrestler style, that he's "going down." Dana also calls Richmond a "stud."

    • KPIX has launched a 10 p.m. newscast that it hopes will draw viewers away from Channel 2 when Richmond retires. At the beginning of the May sweeps, however, Channel 2 was pulling in a nightly average of 102,000 viewers, compared with KPIX's 6,000.
(Photo credits: Richmond in 1976, reporting a story on Angel Island wildlife, courtesy of KTVU; Richmond in the mid-1990s, courtesy KTVU; Richmond in 1977, not long after he covered the trial of Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, courtesy KTVU; Richmond applies makeup before the news, photo by Bob Larson, Contra Costa Times; Richmond and anchor Julie Haener share a laugh before the 10 p.m. news, photo by Bob Larson)

Copeland: Bernie pleasured himself on-air

During KGO-AM's "God Talk" program Sunday, host Brian Copeland (left) said that former host Bernie Ward (right) , who is awaiting sentencing on child porn charges, was caught masturbating in the studio in 2000.

Copeland also said that he has "contacts in the Justice Department" and was aware of Ward's indictment before it became public — and before Ward knew that others were aware of the case.

Here's an MP3 link to the program.

Copeland said he got into a heated debate with Ward about Jack McClellan, a self-proclaimed pedophile who was taking pictures of young children on playgrounds in Southern California and posting them on pedophile Web sites. Police finally jailed McClellan when he violated a restraining order to stay away from kids.

"Bernie and I got into this massive, massive, massive screaming match (on July 29, 2007) that lasted about 20 minutes with him defending Mr. McClellan.

"What you didn't know at the time, and what Bernie didn't know at the time, was that during the course of this argument, I was aware that he was going to be indicted for child pornography. I have contacts in the Justice Department. I knew when he was raided."

Copeland said that in 2000, a "young woman" employee of KGO radio, who no longer works for the station, walked in on Ward while he was pleasuring himself as he was listening to a female caller.

Copeland said the woman employee was white as a ghost when she told him what she saw whe she walked into the KGO studio.

"She goes, 'I just walked in to hand Bernie a piece of paper and he's masturbating while he is on the air.'"

"I said, 'No ... you must have misunderstood ... you know maybe he was scratching,"

"I know what it is that I saw. His penis was in his hand. He was masturbating on the air."

"So she agonizes for a week about what to do." She eventually decides to talk to him and he apologizes profusely," Copeland said.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Guild leaders respond to questions

Now for the other side of the story ... Readers of this blog posted several comments and questions below a May 2 item about the effort to unionize the Contra Costa Times and ANG Newspapers. On Friday, we posted responses to those questions from Times business writer George Avalos, who opposes the union. In response, Guild leaders Sara Steffens and Karl Fischer sent us a couple of questions and answers of their own.
    Will this be a "Union shop"? If so, can we not join?

    ...No one will be dictating terms to the guild members. This would be another group decision. We will bring that proposal to the bargaining table if most members indicate they would like a "union shop."

    If you work in a nonunion workplace that organizes, it's your legal right not to join.

    It's also common for management to negotiate for a certain number of guild-eligible positions to be exempt from any requirement to join.

    Will there be a freeze on raises during BANG-EB contract negotiations?

    The person asking this question stated "During the ANG negotiations, very few employees received pay raises."

    Some people did get raises while the ANG contracts were being negotiated and others didn't – it depended in large part on a worker's relationship with his or her immediate supervisor, and that supervisor's relationship with upper management.

    A contract eliminates that kind of subjectivity by mandating annual performance reviews and raises for everyone, without hamstringing your ability to negotiate on the side for even more yet. It's a floor, not a ceiling.

    Still, it is illegal for the company to do anything but maintain the status quo during negotiations. Our company has a history of giving annual evaluations, coupled with raises. If during negotiations the company chose to withhold regularly scheduled reviews, that would be more than simply unfair - it would be a violation of the law, and one that could be pursued in court.

    How will this guild succeed where the ANG one failed?

    If the ANG guild failed, someone forgot to tell the people who work there — workers in every former ANG newsroom overwhelmingly support the organizing effort at BANG-East Bay.

    They know what the guild gave them. Those much-derided contracts contained guarantees that we don't have, and we have taken for granted much of what they fought hard to attain, such as fair disciplinary treatment and decent medical and retirement benefits. Those are carry-overs from the Knight Ridder days, and our new parent company does not seem nearly so generous.

    Long-term ANG staffers know what MediaNews ownership was like before the first contract, and that their contracts improved their lot over time.

    And our combined newsrooms stand to form a much larger guild than the one at the former Alameda News Group. We are now a centerpiece of a major MediaNews cluster. We also have the backing of, and hope to negotiate in parallel with, our peers at the Mercury News, who understand all too well how eroding standards will ultimately drive down working conditions and pay for all Bay Area journalists.

    Equally important is the way we intend to approach bargaining — with a respectful tone, with a wealth of research on MediaNews standards at similar papers across the country, with expertise from recent guild/MediaNews contract negotiations, and with a realistic vision of what's possible in the current media market. We have learned some great lessons from our peers in St. Paul in how to be part of the solution (instead of mere opposition) for managers struggling to adapt to the digital era.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Napa Valley Register's site wins top honors

The Napa Valley Register’s Web site, napavalleyregister.com, this week was named the best local news Web site for a paper its size by the Suburban Newspapers of America.

Napavalleyregister.com placed first overall in SNA’s annual Community Web Site Contest for newspapers with a circulation of 40,000 or less.

The judges emphasized the site’s focus on local news as one of its major strengths.

“The site is updated frequently with local video, community calendar events and more. The site is clean and easily navigated. The site covers news from the entire Napa Valley as well as the city of Napa. Interactive features enhance the users experience on the site,” noted the judges in their comments.

SNA is the only non-profit, professional trade association specifically serving the suburban and community newspaper industry. SNA's membership is comprised of nearly 2,400 newspapers with a combined circulation of more than 22 million in the U.S. and Canada.

“To be recognized in this way puts us in fine company among the best in the industry,” said Register Publisher Brenda Speth.

The Web site went through a full redesign earlier this year, with the new look launch on March 1. A team of a dozen Register employees worked on the content and design elements of the redesigned site. Napavalleyregister.com now averages more than 1.5 million page views per month, offering readers a wide array of items on issues in the Napa Valley.

The Register’s quarterly magazine, Inside Napa Valley, also rolled out a new Web site, insidenapavalley.com, on March 1, focusing on the dining, wine, lodging and community happenings in the Napa Valley.

Napa Valley Publishing’s three weekly newspaper Web sites, sthelenastar.com, weeklycalistogan.com and americancanyoneagle.com, are scheduled for redesigns later in 2008.

More about the East Bay union vote

Two follow-ups to yesterday's item about the National Labor Relations Board's decision to schedule a union vote at the Contra Costa Times and ANG newspapers on Friday, June 13.

First, the union claims management at the newspapers has met with an "anti-union consultant." "It’s our understanding that the company’s approach will be to portray the union as historically ineffective and unable to provide employees the kind of benefits they could reap without a union," said an item on the Guild's "One Big Bang" Web site.

Second, Contra Costa Times business writer George Avalos, who opposes unionization, has answered the questions that readers of the Press Club Web site have posted below a May 2 item on the union campaign. Avalos posted his responses in the "comments" portion of that May 2 item, but since that's now back in the archives, we've pasted it below. (And of course if the Guild people want to respond, we will post that too.)
    Anon: George, no question the Guild is totally screwed up.
    George: I completely agree

    Anon: The fact that your fellow employees would feel it is necessary to join such a messed up organization should tell you how desperate they are! They feel that they have no choice.
    George: There is a choice. People can choose to remain union free.

    Anon: [MediaNews Group CEO Dean] Singleton's reputation as a cheap skate who runs newspapers into the ground is well known.
    George: What should definitely be well known is the newspaper union's reputation for capitulation to management.

    Just ask the hundreds of folks who have been sent out the door as a result of deals made by union bosses at the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and Alameda Newspaper Group.

    Anon: If the CCN were a standalone business ...
    George: "What ifs" are for children. The reality is that the standalone horse fled the barn, went over the hill, headed out to the plains and started a family in a Knight Ridder galaxy long long ago and far far away.

    Anon: ... would it be on the verge of Chapter 11 right now?
    George: Our paper is still profitable, standalone or otherwise.

    Anon: The only way to stand up to [Singleton] is form a union. It's either that or quit. And they're quitting too.
    George: Free markets, free minds

    Anon: As for those "union free" buttons — I'd wear one too so that my bosses would think I'm on their side. That's called buying insurance.
    George: So when people buy auto insurance, they're being deceptive?

    Anon: But fortunately this is a SECRET BALLOT.
    George: I agree. That way the union bosses will find it more difficult to intimidate people who don't agree with them.

    Anon: I suspect most non-management types wearing "union free" buttons will be voting for the union. They just fear retaliation and will keep their true feelings secret.
    George: I personally know numerous folks who want to be union free and wear their buttons or make their views well known. I can assure you that these folks are not afraid of anyone. They're not afraid of the president, they're not afraid of the senators who are running for president, they're not afraid of the dog catcher, and they're not afraid of anyone in between.

    So they're certainly not afraid of management. And they're certainly not afraid of a union that can't shoot straight and has demonstrated it is completely ineffective in producing any meaningful change.

    If you ask specific questions of the union bosses in the East Bay, or the union bosses on Natoma Street in San Francisco, or the union bosses in their fancy offices in their Washington, D.C. high rise, all you will get are vague replies: "We'll check with the members," "We'll have to see," or "That would be for contract negotiations."

    I would ask the union bosses these questions, none of which they have been able to answer:

    1. Will the union bosses demand that our newspapers fire rank-and-file workers if they don't want to pay dues to the Guild?

    2. Will the union bosses cancel pay raises for ordinary, hard-working journalists year after year?

    3. Will the union bosses, after a decade of negotiations, simply capitulate — like the union bosses did the first time at ANG — and just say "Sorry. We know this contract sucks. But this was the best we could get."

    If they don't — or won't — answer, shouldn't that trouble you?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Union vote set for Friday, June 13th

Unafraid of triskaidekaphobia, the National Labor Relations Board has scheduled an election on Friday, June 13th, on the Guild's petition to become the exclusive bargaining agent for nonsupervisory news employees of Bay Area News Group-East Bay (Contra Costa Times, ANG papers). That's according to an e-mail from President and Publisher John Armstrong which was confirmed by union leader Sara Steffens. The election will be by secret ballot. Those eligible to cast a ballot: All full-time and regular part-time nonsupervisory news division employees at BANG's Alameda, Antioch, Hayward, Fremont, Tracy, Pleasanton, Oakland, Richmond, San Mateo and Walnut Creek locations. [May 2: Majority sign union cards at CC Times]

The making of Bronstein's blog logo


If you think the logo for Phil Bronstein's new column is beautiful, just wait until see the video about how it was designed. Click here.

Creditors force Pappas into Chapter 7

Creditors are forcing Harry J. Pappas, the head of Pappas Telecasting Companies, to file for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy, a move that could result in a forced sale of his personal assets to repay debts, according to the AP and Fresno Bee.

Pappas is chief executive and president of Pappas Telecasting, which operates 30 TV stations including KTNC Channel 42 in San Francisco. The stations have been for sale for several months.

On Saturday, Pappas Telecasting put 13 of its 30 stations into Chapter 11 bankruptcy including Channel 42, a move that would free the company from lawsuits by creditors while it reorganizes. The Chapter 11 filing did not apply to the Pappas family's two radio stations, KTRB-AM 860 San Francisco and KMPH-AM 840 Modesto.

On Monday, creditors filed for Chapter 7, saying Pappas and his wife, Stella, personally guaranteed $30 million of a $284 million loan that Pappas Telecasting secured in March 2006, according to the Fresno Bee. Creditors said the $284 million loan was based on an agreement that Pappas would sell enough of his television stations to repay $100 million of the debt.

Pappas Telecasting owes more than $5.8 million to its top 20 creditors, the Bee said, citing Saturday's filing. The biggest sum owed, $1.4 million, is to Fox Broadcasting. Pappas has three Fox affiliates. (Photo credit: Pappas Telecasting Web site)

CBS to acquire SF-based Cnet

CBS Corp announced today it plans to buy San Francisco web media company CNET Networks for about $1.8 billion to boost the television broadcaster's reach across the Internet, Reuters and others are reporting. The deal could also put to rest a brewing fight between CNET and an activist investor group led by hedge fund Jana Partners, which wants to shake up the Web company. At right are workers at CNET's SF office. (Photo credit: Paul Sakuma, AP)

The high premium CBS is paying reflected both the urgent desire of media companies to build online audiences for their programming as their viewers and advertisers go there but also the relative scarcity of potential acquisition targets that can offer such reach, AP says. Acquiring online audiences was a main goal behind Microsoft's recently failed bid to acquire Yahoo.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Quake coverage boosts Chinese media

The ratings of KTSF-TV Channel 26's Cantonese newscast increased 44 percent Monday night to 39,000 people as the station covered the earthquake in China's Sichuan province, the Chron's Joe Garofoli reports. He notes that while Channel 26 doesn't have any reporters in China, it is monitoring broadcasts from networks in Taiwan and Hong Kong as well as from the state-run China Central Television (CCTV).
    "News writer Anne Ng said the station's editors have been culling information equally from all three sources. It has also been connecting with some of the approximately 10,000 descendents of the Sichuan province living in the Bay Area, who have connected the station via phone with relatives and friends living in the quake zone."
Meanwhile, sales of the Sing Tao Daily and the World Journal were way up today, the Oakland Tribune reports. The Trib quoted one store owner in Oakland's Chinatown as saying he sold a third more Chinese papers than usual. On Monday, however, the major Chinese papers didn't have the story. They're transmitted in the middle of the night to printing presses in the Bay Area, and the newspapers are distributed mid-morning. Because the earthquake occurred in the pre-dawn hours Pacific time, the U.S. editions of those newspapers did not carry the earthquake news Monday.

Both KTSF and Sing Tao Daily are helping with fundraising. Sing Tao has set up a disaster relief fund that will collect donations from its readers around the world, said Tim Lau, CEO of the paper's West Coast operations, according to the AP. The photo above shows people lined up to make donations in Sing Tao's office in San Francisco's Chinatown. KTSF has posted this Web page that tells viewers how they can help relief efforts. (Photo credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP)

Spanish station dominates NorCal Emmys

The big story at this year's Northern California Emmys was the number of awards won by Spanish language stations. Sacramento Univision station KUVS Channel 19 took home 13 Emmys at Saturday's awards presentation at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, more than any other station. KPIX CBS5 and KNTV NBC11 tied for second with 11. KGO ABC7 and KQED each won seven. KRON, KTVU and KSTS each had two.

The most honored individual was Santiago Lucero (pictured), a reporter for KUVS, who won five Emmys. (If you're wondering how good of a reporter Lucero is, read this from the Sacramento Bee.) Lucero was followed by KPIX CBS5 investigative reporter Anna Werner and KUVS photographer Albert Garcia, who had four each.

Here's a link to a list of all of the winners.

This Washington Post article by former LA Times staff wrier Joe Matthews may help to explain why the Spanish language stations did so well:
    As English-language news organizations — desperate to stop the declines of their audiences and ad revenues — cut back on news-gathering, they devote their time and resources to entertainment, celebrities, pets and crime (or, best of all, stories that combine all four). But Spanish-language TV producers, who serve a clearly defined, growing audience, have space to tackle weightier topics.

    The result: The sharpest coverage of state and local issues — government, politics, immigration, labor, economics, health care — is now found on Spanish-language TV. They compete hard on serious stories. As a labor reporter for the Los Angeles Times in 2006, the only competitors I routinely saw at major union stories were reporters for KMEX, KVEA and La Opinion, a Spanish-language daily newspaper. These outlets tell their viewers more about how the state and the region work, they are more persistent in demanding explanations from public officials, and their reports routinely include more interviews with more sources from more perspectives.

    The Spanish-language TV broadcasts are, for lack of a better word, more American.
Matthews kept track of the content of both the English and Spanish language newscasts.
    On a recent night, KVEA [Telemundo] did eight minutes on the Iraq war, spent five minutes on deplorable working conditions in Southern California car washes and had reports on narco-traffickers and the latest key legislation in the state legislature and Los Angeles City Hall. Meanwhile, the CBS affiliate had a reporter doing a trend piece on "night spas" that are open until midnight, and ABC was running an item on high-tech fitness equipment.
In the Bay Area, the No. 1 news station at 6 p.m. has long been KDTV Channel 14, the Univision affiliate, beating Channels 2, 4, 5, 7 and 11 in both total ratings and viewers in the 18-to-34 demo.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Here's your DTV channel lineup

With 280 days to go until the switch to digital TV, here's a Web site we found that might come in handy. It lists the analog and digital channels of local stations, and their numbers after the Feb. 17, 2009 switch. While the site is homemade, it seems to be consistent with everything we've seen. Let us know if it's not.

Ed Pope's wife Donna

Donna Pope, wife of retired Mercury News city editor and reporter Ed Pope, lost her battle with cancer and died at home in San Jose on April 23. She worked for 16 years with the San Jose city arts education program, taking public school students to see live productions and other arts-related shows. Memorial service: May 19, 5 to 7 p.m., courtyard of the California Theater (old Fox Theater), 345 S. First St. Ed’s email: tshawpope@aol.com.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pappas puts 13 TV stations into Chapter 11

Fresno-based Pappas Telecasting, a privately-held operator of 30 TV stations including KTNC Channel 42 in San Francisco, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Saturday.

The filing does not apply to the Pappas family's two radio stations, KTRB-AM 860 San Francisco and KMPH-AM 840 Modesto.

The filing only applies to 13 of the company's TV stations, including Channel 42, a TuVisión affliate. Of the 13, five are CW affiliates, three are Fox, three are TuVisión and two are CBS.

Pappas cited "the extremely difficult business climate for television stations across the country" in papers filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del. The company reported more than $536 million in debt and assets of $460 million.

Pappas blamed the "poor ratings of the CW Network" for some of its problems along with the cost of converting from analog to digital TV.

TV reporter busted in domestic

Bay City News is reporting that a San Diego TV reporter was arrested Friday evening on suspicion of battery against his girlfriend in a South San Francisco hotel. Arrested was Rodney "Ron" Luck (pictured), who has been at KUSI since 1990, currently as the station's morning live remote reporter.

Officers responded at about 7:50 p.m. to a hotel and found a 42-year-old woman whose mouth and upper lip area were injured, according to police. The woman and her boyfriend, Luck, are both from La Jolla, police said.

The woman told police Luck hit her in the mouth with his fist, police said. She was treated at the scene and released after giving a
statement. Luck, 58, was arrested and booked into the Redwood City Jail on suspicion of battery, according to BCN. You stay classy, San Diego!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Judge will likely bar paper's cut-rate ad sales

U.S. District Judge Marla Miller said Friday that she will likely issue an injunction barring the SF Weekly from selling cut-rate advertising as a way of putting the competing Bay Guardian out of business, according to the AP and other media. Miller also said she is inclined to more than double the damages a jury awarded to the Guardian in its dispute with the Weekly, from $6.3 million to $15.6 million. The higher amount equals a year's worth of the revenue the Guardian claims it lost after the Weekly slashed its ad rates. The SF Weekly, part of the Village Voice Media chain, argued that the restrictions on its sales would "silence a First Amendment voice." Miller responded, "The only thing we're talking about here is the sale of advertising, not some content-based determination." The Weekly plans to appeal the verdict. Coverage includes: AP, Chronicle, SF Weekly and Guardian.

Meet the innovators in journalism

A conference at Stanford May 21-23 will focus on innovation in journalism. Speakers include:
    • former Merc business writer Matt Marshall who is now at Venture Beat
    • Stanford Journalism Professor Joel Brinkley
    • Michael Kanellos, CNET Editor-at-large
    • Stephen Trousdale, Merc business editor
    • Jeffrey Taylor, Bloomberg SF editor and bureau chief
    • Harry McCracken, PC World editor-in-chief
    • Tony Perkins, founder of AlwaysOn-Network and Red Herring
Here's a link to the schedule and more about the conference itself including a registration form. The cost is free.

Ward's plea ends awkward situation at KGO

KGO-AM 810 was tipped off by an anonymous source that former host Bernie Ward would be changing his child porn plea to guilty, but sat on the story, General Manager Mickey Luckoff tells the Chron's Joe Garofoli. Luckoff said that their source gave them the information on the condition that they not air the news until the plea was actually changed. However, after the Chron reported on its Website Tuesday night that Ward would change his plea, KGO followed suit.

Meanwhile, hosts on KGO are now talking about the Ward case after going silent after he was charged in December.
    [Ronn Owens] told his audience Thursday that he has been hearing from listeners that they'd like to talk about Ward, pro and con, and wondered how KGO could call itself a news-talk station and not talk about a prominent local story. So on Thursday, Owens devoted the first hour of his program for a listener venting of all things Ward.

    Owens began by reading the emancipatory e-mail from Jack Swanson, the station's operations director. "I thank you for your understanding over the past few months in avoiding this topic," read Swanson's email. "There is no longer any reason to restrict discussion on the matter and you are free to use your usual good judgement in discussing this topic as you would any other."

AsianWeek appoints ad director

Nikki Nguyen Cranor, previously editor-in-chief of an Asian American publication in Seattle, has been named advertising director and associate publisher of AsianWeek in San Francisco.

"As a business woman and media professional, Nikki is the perfect combination to help advertisers tap into the huge buying power of the Asian American market. Nikki will be a huge asset for AsianWeek and all Asian Pacific America," said Ted Fang, AsianWeek Publisher & Editor.

Nguyen Cranor, 33, a Vietnamese American, was previously editor-in-chief of the International Examiner, an Asian American journal based in Seattle, and development director of Wing Luke Asian Museum, a pan-Asian American museum.

Friday, May 9, 2008

More allegations about Bernie Ward

Hours after former KGO-AM 810 host Bernie Ward appeared in federal court and agreed to plead guilty to a child porn charge, ABC7's Dan Noyes reported that Ward was accused of sexual activity with minors while he was a Roman Catholic Priest back in the 1970s.

"Every time I tried to bring the conversation around to something that made me feel safer, Bernie would bring it back to the sex," says Rosanne Schwab, who claims Ward was a predator.

Noyes reported:
    Schwab says she grew very uncomfortable and when Ward put his hand on her shoulder, she froze with fear.

    "And he took that same hand and grabbed the back of my head and pulled me to him and stuck his tongue in my mouth and held me very tightly with the one hand behind my head and the other hand up against my breasts," says Schwab.
Here's a link to the script of Noyes' story.

Ward, now 57, left the priesthood to become a reporter for KGO radio. Later, he landed a talk show on the station.

Ward's attorney, Doron Weinberg, says the allegations are false and said they "could have a negative impact on the federal prosecution currently pending against Mr. Ward."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Examiner cuts back delivery to 2 days a week

The Examiner announced today that it will only deliver papers to homes and businesses two days a week — Thursdays and Sundays — starting July 13.

The free tabloid, owned by Denver billionaire oilman Phil Anschutz, says it is increasing the number of papers available at newspaper racks and vendors while ending six-day-a-week home delivery. It also is moving its weekend Saturday edition to Sunday.

The Examiner also says it will beef up its Web site and turn examiner.com into an aggregator of news.

The Examiner's sister papers in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., are making similiar cuts, the AP reports.

The move follows complaints by residents in all three markets that they have been unable to stop delivery of the Examiner despite repeated calls to the paper. That has prompted legislation in Maryland and San Francisco. The Maryland bill was withdrawn after the Examiner promised to do a better job responding to calls to stop the paper. In San Francisco, an ordinance to fine publishers who deliver after a stop request is being drafted by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. Fines would range from $100 to $500 per violation.

According to AP, Examiner CEO Ryan McKibben said the moves are in response to advertiser and reader wishes while allowing the company to "protect the core of what we do and that is gathering news and information."

"It's no secret that this is a very difficult period for our industry. But it's actually an exciting time when one has the necessary talent and is sufficiently nimble and innovative to effectively meet the demands of rapidly changing markets," McKibben said in a statement.

Ward admits child porn charge, faces prison

Former KGO-AM talk show host Bernie Ward agreed today to plead guilty to one consolidated count of distributing child pornography and will get five to 20 years in prison. 

Ward, an outspoken liberal, has claimed he was doing research for a book when he exchanged nude photos of children involved in sex acts with a woman he met online who turned him into police.

His attorney, Doron Weinberg, said that Ward made an error in judgment, believing that it would be OK to exchange such photos if it were part of his research.

As part of the deal revealed today, three felony counts of receiving and transmitting child pornography will be consolidated into one count. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker agreed with a defense request to delay the entry of the plea and sentencing until Aug. 28 to allow Ward to remain free on bail so that he could attend his son's high school graduation and deal with health problems including diabetes and sleep apnea.

Merc names O'Brien as business columnist

Chris O'Brien has been promoted from staff writer to business columnist at the Mercury News, replacing Vindu Goel who left for the New York Times, according to the blog Talking Biz News. “While the column will cast a wide net over the businesses and culture that make Silicon Valley unique, Chris wants to focus his column on the new ideas, people and policies that continue to reshape this region," business editor Stephen Trousdale wrote in an e-mail to his staff.

Leslie Griffith's view of the Couric saga

"The new sales people in charge of many of today’s commercial conduits of broadcast news want happy faces on the young women who read the news," former Channel 2 anchor Leslie Griffith says in this piece posted on the Bay Guardian site. "When the chirpy attitudes evaporate and the young woman grows up, the order is placed for fresh meat."

Oh no! Oprah interrupted for news

Just as Oprah was about to ask Barbara Walters about her affair with Sen. Ed Brooke, ABC News broke into the program with a special report on the North Carolina primary. The switchboard lit up at KGO ABC7. The Chron's Joe Garofoli asked General Manager Valari Staab what happened.
    "(I) ran downstairs to try to get Master Control to come back to Oprah exactly where it left off, but the news bulletin was only 2 minutes long and Master Control had already rejoined Oprah in progress. ... With the help of many others, we got a crawl on the air saying we would show the missed segment at approximately 4:55 and then we started dropping commercials and cueing the missed minutes to the right point and managed just barely to get it on the air and still start the 5 p.m. news on time. The fun and excitement of live television!"

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Ward to change plea in child porn case

Former KGO 810 show host Bernie Ward, who pleaded not guilty in December to distributing and receiving child pornography via the Internet, plans to change his plea Thursday, federal court records show. Ward, 57, is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco to change his plea. He is a month away from going on trial. The Chronicle, which first reported the change in plea, said it could not reach Ward's attorney, Doron Weinberg, for comment last night.

Hurd robbed of laptop while in news van

NBC11 says three robbers opened the door to one of its news vans and stole reporter Cheryl Hurd's laptop computer while she was in SF's Western Addition neighborhood to do a story on smash-and-grab robberies. Among the people she interviewed was Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, whose car was recently hit by robbers as well. (More)

KRON owner confirms sale discussions

In a press release today about its quarterly earnings, Young Broadcasting confirmed that it is in talks with "interested parties" to sell KRON. No details were given about the prospective buyer or buyers. Management plans a conference call with analysts at noon today, and those interested can listen in at www.youngbroadcasting.com. Speculation has abounded over the possible sale in the past few weeks.

UPDATE, 1:45 p.m.: Chairman Vince Young didn't provide any details on the sale process during the conference call: "Our process to sell KRON continues, and the conversations with the interested parties continue, and we're not going to handicap when that will come to an end ... or how much we expect to receive," Young said. "We're in the middle of it."

KGO 810 voices heard on crime drama

The voices of KGO 810's Ed Baxter and Stan Burford will be heard tonight at 10 in the ABC-TV crime drama "Women's Murder Club," which stars Angie Harmon (pictured), according to this morning's Leah Garchik column. Harmon plays an SFPD detective who likes to listen to KGO while she eats breakfast.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Merc's Kimberly Kindy headed to Wapo

Kimberly Kindy of the Mercury News Capitol bureau is taking a job at the national political desk of the Washington Post, political blogger Steven Maviglio reports. "That's a dream job for any journalist. It will suit Kindy well," Maviglio notes. Kindy jumped to the Merc two years ago from the Orange County Register, which was downsizing at that time. Before that she was at the LA Daily News.

Web site offers live feeds from 100 stations



Here's a link to a new Web site, LiveNewsCameras.com, that provides live feeds from 100 news stations across the country.

Susan Young of the Oakland Tribune says former KTVU news director Andrew Finlayson, who now works for the Fox station in Chicago, helped come up with the idea of sharing the feeds on a Web site.

"Some of us in our newsroom thought that we could open up the system. We thought it would be interesting to do an experiment in journalism where we let people see what we see — all the raw live feeds from around the world," Finlayson told Young. "We tried it out and decided to test it in a big way on Super Tuesday. We streamed all sorts of events with candidates and their supporters, and we had such a great reaction to it that we just kept it going."

Finlayson convinced Chicago's ABC, CBS, NBC and independent stations to join his newsroom in putting their feeds on the site. "Stations from different networks agreed to be part of it, even our competitors, because if we don't, someone else will," Finlayson says. "And it will probably be Google."

Currently no Bay Area stations are providing feeds, but KRON 4 is expected to be the first, according to Young.

Bernie Ward gets a bit of freedom

The federal court has loosened the leash it has on former KGO-AM host Bernie Ward, who out on bond as he awaits trial on child porn charges. Ward is still confined to his home with electronic surveillance. But ABC7 reporter Dan Noyes says on his blog that a judge has granted Ward's request to attend church on Sundays as well as travel to Lake Natomas this month to watch his college-age daughter compete in the national rowing championships, and he’ll be allowed to attend his son’s high school graduation. Noyes notes that his next report on Ward, scheduled for 6 and 11 on Wednesday, concerns Ward's years as a priest.

Ad man Hal Riney remembered



Clear Channel Outdoor put up this tribute to advertising legend Hal Riney on Howard Street in San Francisco. Riney, the genius behind campaigns for Saturn cars and Bartles & Jaymes, died last month at age 75.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Livernois named Monterey Herald editor

Joe Livernois, a 24-year newsroom veteran at the Monterey Herald, has been named executive editor, succeeding Carolina Garcia, who moved on to the Los Angeles Daily News. Livernois, 54, said he wants the newspaper to be "courageous and aggressive," attributes he said were fostered under Garcia. Livernois started at The Herald as a copy editor in 1984 after stints at the Carmel Pine Cone and North County News, a former weekly paper. He has been city editor at The Herald since 2005. He's a former chief of the paper's Salinas bureau and has covered a wide variety of news beats. He's even written a humor column for The Herald. (Photo credit: Monterey Herald)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Majority signs union cards at CC Times

A "strong majority" of newsroom workers at the Contra Costa Times and other papers that are part of Dean Singleton's Bay Area News Group-East Bay have signed cards indicating they want to be represented by the Guild, according to union organizers.

Organizers didn't give an exact number of those signing cards in the 250-person bargaining unit.

"We are well above the 50 percent plus one vote needed to win a secret-ballot election. We waited to file until our margin got big enough that we knew we would win," organizer Sara Steffens said in an e-mail to the Press Club.

"The former Contra Costa Newspapers have always been non-union, so this is a really big step for everyone here," said Steffens, a CC Times reporter.

Management has said that it will not recognize the union based on a counting of cards, so an election with secret ballots will take place this summer, the statement said. Here's the complete statement issued today by Steffens and fellow reporter Karl Fischer, who are leading the unionization effort:
    OAKLAND -- Journalists leading a guild organizing effort at the Bay Area's largest newspaper chain petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for formal recognition as a union today.

    A strong majority of newsroom workers employed by Bay Area News Group-East Bay (BANG-EB) signed guild authorization cards in recent weeks. The organizing campaign's leaders submitted those cards and other paperwork at the NLRB office in downtown Oakland.

    "I'm incredibly proud to be part of our newsrooms today," said Steffens, an award-winning reporter at The Contra Costa Times and a co-chair of the campaign. "It's heartening to see so many of us come together, during these turbulent times in our industry, saying 'We deserve a seat at the table.' Tough decisions need to be made, but we want to be part of building our future."

    About 250 guild-eligible employees work at the chain's publications, which are owned by Denver–based MediaNews Group and include nearly every daily newspaper that circulates in the Bay Area. Those signing guild cards seek representation by the Northern California Media Workers Guild, a local of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America.

    A separate Guild local already represents MediaNews employees at The San Jose Mercury-News.

    Last August, MediaNews merged the former ANG Newspapers, which included the Oakland Tribune and four other dailies, with the non-union Contra Costa Newspapers. The shift allowed the company to dissolve a 20-year-old guild bargaining unit that represented ANG and end in-progress contract talks with workers.

    In response, journalists from across the newly consolidated East Bay chain have formed a new union, dubbing their campaign "One Big BANG: One Guild Universe."

    Because BANG-EB management has already stated that it would not recognize the union based on a simple counting of the cards, the NLRB will likely oversee a secret-ballot polling of workers this summer to ensure most support the guild.

    "A strong majority has spoken. We must work together more actively to solve the problems facing our company and our industry," said Richmond police reporter Karl Fischer, a co-chair of the organizing committee. "We can help to make our papers both excellent and efficient. We know our managers share those goals."

    More details of the organizing campaign can be found on the campaign's Web site: http://onebigbang.org.

High school journalism awards announced

The Oracle, the student newspaper of Gunn High School in Palo Alto, took first place in the General Excellence category at the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club’s High School Journalism Awards.

The awards, co-sponsored by Hillsdale Shopping Center and Notre Dame de Namur University Communications Program, were presented at an afternoon reception in the Ballroom of Ralston Hall in the NDNU campus in Belmont.

In all, 132 students from12 publications at nine high schools submitted 248 entries in 12 categories. Professional members of the Press Club judged the competition.

In this photo are members of the Gunn High School Oracle staff with their adviser, Kristi Garcia, in the back.

Here is a complete list of winners:
    General Excellence
The Oracle, Gunn High School
The Panther, Eastside College Prep School
The Burlingame B, Burlingame High School
    Layout and Design
Eastside Panther, Eastside College Prep School
Tie — Verde Magazine, Palo Alto High School, and The Burlingame B, Burlingame High School
The Viking Magazine, Palo Alto High School
    News Story
Aurelle Amram and Tenny Zhang, The Oracle, Gunn High School.
Sasha Guttentag and Tenny Zhang, The Oracle, Gunn High School.
Tie — Janey Moon, The Thunderbolt, Mills High School, and Carlo Acenas, The Burlingame B, Burlingame High School
    Feature Story
Caitlin Watson and Emily Hamilton, Verde Magazine, Palo Alto High School
Eric Galamay and Jonathan Jaranilla, The Tom-Tom, Jefferson High School
Jessica Linebarger and Sara Connolly, Verde Magazine, Palo Alto High School
Honorable Mention: Faisal Hamid, Thunderbolt, Mills High School
    Sports Story
Peter Johnson, The Viking, Palo Alto High School
Ying Wa Mo, The Tom-Tom, Jefferson High School
Alex Cabrera, The Tom-Tom, Jefferson High School
    Column
Andy Verderosa, The Burlingame B, Burlingame High School
Andy Verderosa, The Burlingame B, Burlingame High School
Jesse Cobb, The Times, Terra Nova High School
HM: Austin Smith, The Viking, Palo Alto High School
    Editorial
Elibet Jimenez, The Panther, Eastside College Prep School
Alex Ackroyd, Verde Magazine, Palo Alto High School
Faisal Hamid, The Thunderbolt, Mills High School
    News Photo
Meghan McCarron, The Times, Terra Nova High School
Jonathan Jaranilla, The Tom-Tom, Jefferson High School
Jessica Kalinin, The Times, Terra Nova High School
    Feature Photo
Roseanna Maafu, The Panther, Eastside College Prep School
Oliver Lorenz, The Thunderbolt, Mills High School
Alex Ackroyd, Verde Magazine, Palo Alto High School
    Sports Photo
Victoria Vargas, The Panther, Eastside College Prep School
Julissa Gomez, The Tom-Tom, Jefferson High School
Alex Milovidov, Viking Magazine, Palo Alto High School
    Web site Content
The Paly Voice, Palo Alto High School
The Tom-Tom, Jefferson High School
    Web site Design
The Paly Voice, Palo Alto High School

Suspense builds over possible KRON sale

After months of silence about Young Broadcasting's attempt to sell KRON-TV, it was a shocker yesterday to see this on fishbowlLA.com:
    Sale of KRON - BREAKING
    From our tip jar:

      We still do not have a clear indication of where or when this sale will take place. There has been a considerable amount of discussion surrounding NBC and selling KSTS/Telemundo 48 and converting that to Telemundo 4 or the other way around NBC would move the Telemundo to 11 and NBC4 would be originating out of San Jose. The COL - City of Location would still be San Francisco for Channel 4 but its new location would be out of San Jose which would share the same new studio facilities as KNTV.

      The studios of KRON at 1001 Van Ness would be sold off and although NBC has a studio on Broadway near CBS and ABC San Francisco would have the presence of all three networks — FOX not included.

      I don't know how accurate this information is and if it's even worth the time to print it but something is brewing and from what we gather it's been kind of very secretive and confidential.
That appears to be the latest version of the rumors that began when KRON sports anchor Gary Radnich said on his KNBR radio show April 7 that the sale of the station could be two weeks away. "We're very excited," he said.

On April 11, Radnich revisited the subject of KRON's sale, saying his bosses weren't pleased with his comments. He suggested Internet bloggers took something he didn't say and blew it out of proportion. Unfortunately for him, his comments on April 7 were memorialized on an MP3.

Later on the morning of April 11, Mike Sugerman of KCBS called in to Radnich's show, at which point Radnich reiterated his point that he hadn't said anything about a sale, but had merely repeated what Sugerman had said to him earlier. A few days earlier, while Radnich was doing a remote from AT&T Park, Sugerman approached him and asked if he spoke Spanish. When Radnich asked why, Sugerman said "because KRON is being sold to Telemundo."

On the Internet, speculation abounded about the fate of KRON. As suspicions grew that KRON 4 would become Telemundo 4, radio station engineer John Higdon wrote on ba.broadcast:
    That's really sad. It is a bit like a death of a parent with Alzheimer's disease: long, lingering fade from real existence and when the death finally comes, you feel as though you actually lost the person years ago. It is sad to see another station drop into the Spanish language black hole, yet KRON has been fading from relevance for quite a while.
KRON's owner, Young Broadcasting, hasn't said anything publicly about a KRON buyer. However, chairman and CEO Vince Young is scheduled to discuss the company's first-quarter earnings in a conference call on Tuesday at noon Pacific time. At that time, financial analysts and journalists will have the chance to question him. (Photo credit: FX Group)

Univision anchor Ramos honored in SF

Univision News anchor Jorge Ramos on Wednesday received Distinguished Citizen Award from the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, one of six immigrants whom the club will honor this year, the Chron reports. "I came [to the U.S.] in 1983 because I was a censored journalist in Mexico and I saw in the United States the possibility to become a free journalist, and that's exactly what I am right now. I feel I am from both countries, and I'm very proud of both," Ramo tells the Chron in an Q&A.

Snafu hits Singleton's SoCal papers

Readers of MediaNews Group's Long Beach Press-Telegram saw this editor's note:
    To our readers ...

    Because of major computer and system failures, Thursday's editions of The Press Telegram and other newspapers in the Los Angeles Newspaper Group were abbreviated and missing features and certain sections. The problems have also affected our ability to post some of our news online.

    We hope to have the issues resolved today.
LA journalist Gary Scott says the switchover to a faster Internet server wreaked havoc across Dean Singleton's SoCal empire.
    I'm told the morning papers look as though they were written on typewriters and that Unisys, the database reporters and editors use to actually create the paper, continues to be off-line as well.
Scott also posts this e-mail from Tim Berger of the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group:
    There was a major failure with the main Unisys system last night and there is no indication yet when it will be restored. IT is working to bring up a backup system which, I'm told, has a lot less capacity and power than the main system and a limited number of users is allowed. Newsrooms please prepare ahead of time who is most necessary to be logged in. For now, reporters can likely write and edit stories using desktop software and e-mail them to editors. The photo department will be logged into SII for photo assignments. Send an SII message to SPEDS when you need something.
LA Observed's Kevin Roderick points out that Singleton has laid off a large share of his workforce and attempts to do everything on the cheap. "I guess they're learning there is such a thing as cutting too much," Roderick writes.