Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New law protects journalism teachers

The AP reports that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill that prohibits school administrators from retaliating against high school and college journalism instructors. The bill by Sen. Leland Yee makes it illegal to dismiss, transfer or discipline teachers for protecting students' free-speech. The California Newspaper Publishers Association says teachers have been punished at least 12 times since 2001 because of stories or opinion pieces written by student reporters.

Herb Caen's shoes not easy to fill

San Mateo County Times columnist John Horgan noted Monday that the death of P.J. Corkery is a reminder of how difficult, if not impossible, it has been to find somebody to fill the shoes of Herb Caen.
    Corkery gave it is his best shot for a time while laboring as a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, in one of its several incarnations.

    But Caen, who passed away more than a decade ago, was a journalistic institution unique to the Bay Area. He has not been replaced and almost certainly never will be.

    That is especially likely, considering the worrisome state of newspapers today.

    Along those unfortunate lines, Caen's former employer, the San Francisco Chronicle, is once again in the process of reducing its work force through voluntary buyouts, this time as many as 100 individuals.Downsizing in the industry has been the order of the day for the past several years — and not just at the Chronicle.

Alex Bennett in town to do Sirius show

Alex Bennett is doing his Sirius Left (Channel 146) program live this week from San Francisco, his hometown, broadcasting from the Energy 92.7 studios at 400 Second St.

Bennett is in town for the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame presentation on Wednesday in Berkeley, at which he'll be inducted along with 16 others. (More at www.barhof.com)

The Alex Bennett Show is aired live on Sirius Left from 6 to 9 a.m. Pacific time.

Alex is available for media interviews. Neel Khairzada, Sirius' media relations director, is taking care of arrangements at NKhairzada@siriusradio.com or (646) 236-0110.

Deliveryman fired over stolen newspapers

The Daily Post in Palo Alto reports that it has fired one of its deliverymen who was detained by police in San Mateo, allegedly with newspapers taken from the racks of various periodicals. The following is from a Post story printed today (Tuesday) by staff writer Richard Cole:
    State law makes taking more than 25 papers from a free newspaper rack a crime, and it was not clear how many papers former employee Erik Olarte had in his delivery truck.

    Other newspaper delivery staff spotted Olarte about 5 p.m. on El Camino Real near 41st Avenue. They allegedly saw him remove newspapers and called San Mateo police. The police detained Olarte briefly and examined the contents of his truck.

    “Nobody was arrested or cited,” said San Mateo police spokesman Lt. Mike Brunicardi, who would not confirm that Olarte was the person detained in the incident. He said police would send a report to the district attorney’s office to determine if any charges should be filed.

    Daily Post owner and Editor Dave Price said Olarte was fired as soon as the newspaper learned of the incident.

    “That is not the way we do business,” said Price. “We absolutely did not tell him to do that, and all our delivery people have now been told verbally and in writing that we don’t do business that way.”
FULL DISCLOSURE: Price is the vice president of the Press Club and its Web master.

Singleton talks about selling car ads in San Jose

In an interview with Paid Content Senior Correspondent David Kaplan, MediaNews chief executive Dean Singleton says his papers are hurting because of the economy, they need to unify print and online sales, and "AP is the best buy I know." Singleton is also chairman of AP's board. Here's what Singleton says about selling auto ads in San Jose:
    "If you go see a GM dealer in San Jose, you might say, ‘I’m going to sell you a full-page ad. Oh, you want to buy an online ad? I’ll get my associate to see you the day after tomorrow. Oh, you want mobile too? I’ll have to get another associate for that.’ We need to have well-trained sales people that goes to that dealer and says, ‘I have a comprehensive program to reach 80 percent of your demo and can target it down to a GM buyer.’ Selling it separately, which most of us did, didn’t work because you have the sales team trying to outflank each other. The print seller would say, ‘You don’t want online.’ The same would happen from the web salesman. Plus, if you go to the decision maker and say, ‘I’m going to give you a comprehensive program to market your business,’ you got a much better chance of getting face time if you have one person trying to make an appointment rather than three. Consolidated print and digital sales is the future and that’s what we’re doing at all our papers.”
As for AP, Singleton doesn't understand why an editor would cut the wire service. "It’s 5 percent of my newsroom budget, 35 percent of my newsroom content. And they just cut my rates more than 10 percent. Sounds like a deal to me.”

Columnists association honors Jon Carroll

Chron columnist Jon Carroll, upon winning the Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, was concerned about his health. "... [L]ifetime achievement awards do seem to come to people who have terminal illnesses," Carroll said. "But I had a physical a month ago, and I'm fine."

Chronicle columnist Herb Caen was the first to receive the award in 1993, and subsequent winners have included Molly Ivins, Steve Lopez, Pete Hamill, Art Buchwald and Art Hoppe. The following is from the Chron story announcing the honor:
    Carroll said writing a column has been all he wanted to do since he was a 12-year-old reading short, funny stories in the New Yorker.

    In an era of metastasizing opinion online, Carroll said he still believes in the value of newspaper columnists.

    "Today, I wrote about kittens," he said. "We're in a gigantic financial crisis, everybody knows it, everybody is going crazy about it, everybody else is writing about it, so sometimes the best thing to do is write about kittens.

    "I swear to you, there is a segment of readers out there who, when they read a kitten column, they feel good all day. And that ain't bad, you know."
(Photo credit: Mike Kepka, Chron)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chron's readers rep Dick Rogers says farewell

"After 35 years in journalism, 22 of them with the Hearst Corp. and seven here as the readers' representative, I am leaving the paper to try my hand at a few projects, to learn new things and to demonstrate to myself, if not to others, that life begins at 62 and that nothing so inconsequential as heart surgery can keep me down," Dick Rogers writes in today's Chron.

He also writes: "I long ago lost count of how many telephone calls, e-mails, faxes and letters I exchanged with readers. By late 2003, I was up to 20,000-plus. I began to feel like a one-person focus group, coming to understand that for most topics, there were readers who knew as much as or more than the paper."

Chron photo editor Marianne Thomas dies

Marianne Thomas, the Chron's photo editor from 1992 to 2002, died Sept. 21 in Millbrae after repeated battles with cancer. She was 57.

She was one of the paper's first pure photo editors at a time when news editors were accustomed to picking their own photos to accompany stories, according to the Chron obit.

"She was tough. I can see her with her arms folded listening to a photo discussion. She would always plead our case, the volume of her voice rising as she made a point," Chron photographer Brant Ward recalled. "She believed in the real storytelling quality of photography and the way it could benefit our readers."

A memorial service will be held at the Redwood City Eckankar Center, 2009 Broadway, from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 4. (Photo credit: Russell Yip)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Conference opens doors of government

"Getting the Most Out of City Hall and Police," "Accessing Government Databases" and "Getting the Most Out of Court and County Files" are three workshops offered as part of the Annual Free Speech and Open Government Assembly, Oct. 17-18, at UC Berkeley. Other topics include:
    • International Censorship of the Internet;
    • Challenges to Ethnic Media's Editorial Independence;
    • And, an assessment of the distinct, yet symbiotic, roles of new and "mainstream" media in coverage of the presidential elections.
The assembly brings together leaders in law, journalism and public policy to discuss First Amendment issues. Although admission is free, you need to register online to be assured of a space.

Examiner makes early endorsement of McCain

Forty days before the election, the Examiner is out with its endorsement of John McCain and Sarah Palin. While out of step with liberal San Francisco, the choice reflects the views of the Examiner's owner, billionaire oilman Phil Anschutz, a prominent Bush backer and champion of other conservative causes. The idea of putting the endorsement from the cover harks back to the days when the Examiner was owned by the Fang family, which ran endorsements on the front page, including James Fang for BART board. The paper's Republican beliefs have influenced its cover choices in the past — such as the edition the day after the November 2006 election. Nearly every paper lead with the Democrats taking over Congress, but the Examiner buried that story inside and put on the cover the reelection of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a race that wasn't in any doubt.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

High school boot camp is Friday



Above is the schedule for the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club Boot Camp for high school journalists from 1-4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, in Building 18 at the College of San Mateo.

Free parking is available in lots 7A, 7B, 9 and 10. Signs will be posted from the parking lots to Building 18.

The first session (welcome and registration) will take place at 1 p.m. in Room 18-206. Advisors are invited to meet without their students to share ideas and resources from 2-2:30 p.m. in Room 18-206. Refreshments will be provided. Late registrants are most welcome at mickicartr@aol.com.

Berkeley reporter quits in ethics dispute

Both the Daily Californian (the student paper at UC Berkeley) and the http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2008/09/berkeley_daily_planet_reporter.php are reporting that Judith Scherr, a longtime journalist in Berkeley, has quit the weekly Berkeley Daily Planet in a dispute over journalistic ethics with editor and co-owner editor and owner, Becky O’Malley.

“After 2.5 years of being insulted, berated and lied to by the Daily Planet’s executive editor — and having my stories distorted by the deletion of quotes from persons Becky O’Malley hates and the addition of her nasty remarks about such people — I have left the Planet,” Scherr said in an email she sent to friends last Thursday, according to the SF Weekly.

O’Malley told the SF Weekly that Scherr’s accusations are “almost 100% untrue.” “I don't really believe that journalists should sue for libel,” O’Malley said in an email to the Snitch, “but I'm mightily tempted, since these accusations are in fact defamatory on their face.”

Former Examiner columnist P.J. Corkery dies

P.J. Corkery, an Examiner columnist from 2001 to 2006 covering San Francisco's political and social scene, has died at Stanford Hospital at age 61 after fighting non-Hodgkins lymphoma for two years. The Chron said in an obit that Corkery spent most of his final two years co-writing "Basic Brown," the autobiography of former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who called that collaboration one of the high points of his life. "I never had so much fun as when we worked on that book together," Brown said Tuesday. "The fact that he had such a wealth of knowledge and was able to recall it was amazing." Before San Francisco, assistant editor at the now-defunct Herald Examiner covering the entertainment industry. He also wrote a biography of talk show host Johnny Carson.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Marin IJ cuts 5 from newsroom

The Marin Independent Journal, operated by MediaNews Group, has laid off the following newsroom employees:
    Leslie Harlib, features reporter
    Nancy Nation, news reporter (voluntary buyout)
    Derek Wilson, sports paginator
    Joe Wolfcale, news reporter
    Tim Yagle, news paginator
All were notified on Monday. We're also told that everybody will be paid through Oct. 3 whether they elect to work through that date or not.

Novato Advance rescued

The Novato Advance has been saved from closure and its 17 employees will keep their jobs.

Scripps Enterprises of Charlottesville, Va., has agreed to sell the weekly newspaper to Marin Scope, which publishes weekly papers in Marin County serving Mill Valley, Corte Madera/Larkspur, Sausalito, San Rafael and Ross Valley. Marin Scope is owned by billionaire brewer Vijay Mallya, whose numerous residences around the world include one in Sausalito, according to this 2003 Chronicle profile.

On Sept. 10, the Advance announced that it would be closing in two weeks due to declining advertising and rising expenses. Publisher Paul Hutcheson said at that time that the paper has lost money since 1999 despite both a print and online presence.

Yesterday, Hutcheson told the Marin Independent Journal that the mood in the newsroom was "good," adding, "this is a lot to absorb in a short period of time."

Hutcheson said the Advance plans to put out an issue next week, although it may be slightly smaller in size.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed but Paul Anderson, manager-publisher of the Marin Scope weekly newspapers, said all 17 Advance employees have been asked to stay on.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Singleton: most MNG papers lean to Obama

MediaNews Group chief executive Dean Singelton says he doesn't dictate political endorsements to his 54 daily newspapers. That might be because Singleton, a major Bush backer, has a silent partner, 95-year-old Richard Scudder, who calls Bush an "idiot" and favors Democrats. Whatever the reason, Singleton tells E&P that he expects many of his papers will endorse Barack Obama. Singleton says he's undecided: "I am having trouble with this one." He said he favored Hillary Clinton over Obama during the Democratic primaries. E&P repeats Singleton's claim that he "does not try to influence his newspapers' endorsements. As publisher of The Denver Post and The Salt Lake Tribune, he sits on their editorial boards so he has a say in their choices, which usually swing to the GOP side. But, citing the Post's 2000 endorsement of Al Gore, he said his own preference is not always taken by them." In the photo above, Singleton was talking to Belo chairman Burl Osborne at the AP Annual Meeting on May 7, 2007. (Photo credit: Richard Drew, AP)

Rumors of cuts at the Marin IJ

We're hearing from several readers of this blog that the Marin Independent Journal on Monday announced the layoffs of several newsroom staffers effective Oct. 3. Among those cut was the reporter who covers Novato. Ironically, Novato's weekly, the Advance, just announced it's going out of business. Sorry, Novato. As we noted previously, certain publishers have stopped reporting on the layoffs at their own papers, though they continue to report layoffs in other local businesses. Seems like a double standard. If you have specifics on the Marin IJ layoffs, please e-mail us at sfpen-pressclub@sbcglobal.net.

Rotarians hope to rescue Novato weekly

It's not an official effort of the Rotary Club, but five Novato residents got together after a Rotary meeting to talk about saving the Novato Advance, which plans to shut down this week. That's according to a story by Joe Wolfcale of the Marin Independent Journal.

"We think there's enough local interest to rally around the paper and make a go of it," said Linda Blum, chief executive of a local bookkeeping service, who was one of the five who met to save the newspaper. "We're hoping people will come together and pledge money to keep this paper in our community, preserve the history and continue to maintain the thread and fiber of this community."

Blum said the Novato Advance is on the block for $235,000 without the building.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nancy Hicks Maynard, 1946-2008

Nancy Hicks Maynard, the first African American woman to own a major daily newspaper and a co-founder of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, died today (Sunday) at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles of organ failure, The Associated Press is reporting. She was 61.

She's seen here in a 1992 photo with husband Robert Maynard. They married in 1975 when he was at The Washington Post and she was at The New York Times. A year later, they moved to Oakland where they set up the Maynard Institute to train a new generation of journalists. In 1979, he was hired by Gannett to be editor of the Oakland Tribune. Nancy remained involved in both the institute and the Trib.

In fact, the couple bought the Trib from Gannett and operated it until 1992. They sold it to the company now known as MediaNews Group due to Bob's struggle with cancer. He died Aug. 17, 1993.

In recent years, her partner was Jay Harris, former publisher of the Mercury News. Harris resigned from the Merc in March 2001 because of disagreements with then-owner Knight Ridder over staff reductions.

From the Trib's obit:
    Nancy Maynard established a glowing reputation among the journalists who worked for her.

    "I always thought Bob and Nancy Maynard were the best journalists I ever worked for," said Harry Harris, a 43-year veteran reporter for the Oakland Tribune. "They had energy, they had compassion, they had the experience. They'd both worked in this business, and neither one would ever ask you to do something they hadn't done."
The Tribune obit also included this:
    Eric Newton, who served as managing editor for the Maynards, called Nancy Maynard "a mighty force in the reconstruction of the Tribune."

    Speaking in 2006, Newton said, "Bob and Nancy did something that wasn't just ahead of their time, but transcended time. During the 20th century in America, more than 1,000 daily newspapers closed. The Oakland Tribune was not one of them. The Maynards saved it."

    Newton also praised the Maynards' commitment as publishers to diversity.

    "I think the most interesting thing was our utter lack of a glass ceiling. The higher up you went in the newsroom management, the more diverse it got," Newton said.

    Martin G. Reynolds, editor of the Oakland Tribune, met Nancy Maynard while an intern at the paper.

    "She had us over for dinner. I will always remember how classy, knowledgeable and encouraging she was to all of us,"
    Reynolds said. "She was such an important and iconic contributor to this profession, and to the legacy of the Tribune. Her passing is a huge loss to the journalism community."
Here's a portion of the Washington Post's obit:
    Nancy Hicks was born Nov. 1, 1946, in New York City, the child of a jazz bassist and a mother whose interest in journalism nurtured her daughter's.

    In an oral history interview for the Maynard Institute, she recalled her first brush with the power of the press as a teenager. Her former elementary school burned down, and the local newspaper's negative and inaccurate description of the neighborhood she knew well prompted her to look to journalism as a way to right wrongs.

    She started her career as a copy girl at the New York Post while studying journalism at Long Island University, where she received her undergraduate degree in 1967. (She also received a law degree from Stanford University in 1987.)

    She joined the Times, where she was the youngest reporter and the first African American woman on the newspaper's metropolitan staff. She covered science, health, education and other domestic policy issues in New York and Washington until 1977.

    She and Maynard married in 1975, not long after she moved to the newspaper's Washington bureau. Both resigned their newspaper positions in 1977 to launch the nonprofit organization initially known as the Institute for Journalism Education in Berkeley, where they had run a summer program to train minority reporters.

    The organization was created to continue the program on a year-round basis and to encourage newsrooms to "reflect the diversity of thought, lifestyle and heritage in our culture," Mrs. Maynard said in an interview included on the institute's Web site.

    The Gannett chain hired Robert Maynard to edit the Oakland Tribune in 1979, and the Maynards bought the paper four years later.

    After her husband's death, Mrs. Maynard worked as a consultant and writer and continued to be an advocate for newsroom diversity.

    She was the author of "Mega Media: How Market Forces Are Transforming the News" (2000) and served as a board member or director of the Tribune Company, Public Broadcasting Service and the New York Stock Exchange. She also served as chair of the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center at Columbia University.

    In 1998, the National Association of Black Journalists presented her with its annual Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Mrs. Maynard's first husband, Daniel D. Hicks, died in 1974.

    Survivors include her partner of four years, Jay T. Harris of Santa Monica, Calif.; a son from her first marriage, David Maynard of Los Angeles, a son from her second marriage, Alex Maynard of Oakland, and a stepdaughter from the second marriage, Dori J. Maynard of Oakland; her mother, Eve Keller of Riverdale, N.Y.; a sister, Barbara Guest of Prince George's County, and a brother, Al Hall of White Plains, N.Y.
(Photo credit: AP file, Olga Shalygin)

Friday, September 19, 2008

What we're hearing about layoffs

Certain newspapers in the Bay Area have changed their policies about announcing layoffs publicly. While these newspapers still report layoffs by local businesses, they've stopped reporting layoffs in their own newsrooms. But here's what our readers tell us:
    • BANG-EB, the group that includes the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune, laid off four newsroom employees last Friday (Sept. 12) — a graphic artist, a copy editor, a sport desker, and a local editor.

    • The Examiner has laid off several employees in the past month. At least two in production (Steven Kleiff, Alejandro Marroquin) and at least one in sales (Bill Stutphen). Management also hasn't replaced several employees who resigned. The belt-tightening is curious since the Examiner is owned by one of the world's richest men, billionaire oilman Phil Anschutz.

    • The recent transition of the publisher at the Marin Independent Journal resulted in one less senior position: Publisher Mario van Dongen went to the Santa Cruz Sentinel as the new publisher. Matt Wilson became publisher at the IJ, Doug Bunnell replaced Wilson as executive editor and Brad Breithaupt became (once again) editorial page editor. Breithaupt's column will disappear. Also, long time IJ ad sales manager Melody Konte has accepted a buyout and will be leaving by the end of the month. Her husband is a writer at the paper, Joe Konte.

    • At the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, we hear two copy editors will be laid off later this year. On top of that, management at the New York Times Co. newspaper announced that the four-day work week will be eliminated in 90 days. That announcement, we're told, came after management visited the Contra Costa Times last month to meet with MediaNews management to find out how they run their operation. We're hearing that the loss of the four-day work week has a large portion of the copy desk ready to walk.
If you hear any information, e-mail us at sfpen-pressclub@sbcglobal.net.

Novato Advance might live again

A chain of community weekly papers in Marin County is apparently interested in buying The Novoto Advance, which announced it planned to shut down due to declining ad revenue. The Marin Independent Journal reports that the Marin Scope chain, which five weeklies delivered for free with separate editions in Mill Valley, Corte Madera/Larkspur, Sausalito, San Rafael and Ross Valley, is extremely interested in the 8,700-subscriber Novato weekly.

"It would be a real sin for the Novato Advance to cease publication," said Paul Anderson, a Marin Scope board member who served as its publisher for 30 years.

Novato Advance Publisher Paul Hutcheson told the IJ that he has been hearing from interested parties about buying the paper. "Maybe something will come out of it," Hutcheson said. "Some of the interested people don't want their names used so I really can't say who."

The Advance, which has covered Novoto for 86 years, is owned by Scripps Enterprises, a privately held company based in Charlottesville, Va.

The IJ also quoted Linda Blum, chief executive officer of the Balancing Element, a Novato-based bookkeeping service, who met with Hutcheson Tuesday and discussed the paper's financial condition.

"There's a large number of people in Novato who want the paper to stay and will do whatever it takes to save the paper," Blum said. "We have to move quickly in order to save our local press. We need more community support."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Another Gannett executive to lead Chronicle

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but the Chronicle's three top executives — publisher, president and editor — are all former executives of Gannett Co., publisher of USA Today and more than 90 daily newspapers.

Chron Publisher Frank Vega was USA Today's first circulation manager and he has held a number of top Gannett jobs including CEO of Detroit Newspapers.

Editor Ward Bushee was editor of Gannett's Arizona Republic before he joined the Chron in January.

Now, Vega has given the title of Chron president to Mark Adkins (pictured), who joined Hearst in 2005 after a career at Gannett where his last title was vice president of advertising. Vega will get the newly created title of chairman of the Chronicle.

As president, Adkins will oversee both print and online revenue initiatives and business development for the company's suite of products.

Hearst President George Irish is quoted in a news release as saying, "Mark's new role will support and enhance cross-platform growth and development. He has been a valuable member of the corporate team, and his rich background and experience will help ensure that we are innovative and successful in seeking out new, strategic and customer-driven ways to grow our business in the Bay Area."

Examiner archives open at UC Berkeley

"Twenty-five Years in Black & White," a slice of San Francisco Bay Area history from 1935 to 1960, has opened at UC-Berkeley, with more than 100 photos from the Bancroft Library's Fang Family San Francisco Examiner Archive. Here's a press release with details and a few photos. Phil Anschutz, the billionaire oilman who bought the Examiner from the Fangs in 2004, donated the newspaper's archives to Berkeley in exchange for an $18.4 million tax write-off — which was more than the $10.7 million he paid the Fangs for the Examiner, the LA Times has reported. The Fangs owned the paper from 2000 to 2004. When they purchased the Examiner from Hearst Corp., they also got the paper's library, which dated back to the 1800s. The San Francisco Daily Post reported Feb. 11 that some of the historic archives, instead of being given to UC Berkeley, were being sold on eBay.

KGO-AM's Lloyd Lindsay Young loses TV gig

Meteorologist Lloyd Lindsay Young, best known to Bay Area radio listeners as KGO-AM's afternoon weatherman, is also a TV weatherman on KERO Channel 23 in Bakersfield. Or at least he was until Tuesday when he was let go by the station. Young tells The Bakersfield Californian newspaper that he is leaving Bakersfield and plans to stay in the business.

September 2008 Press Club board minutes

Sept. 17, 2008 — Meeting was called to order by President Jamie Casini at 6:40 p.m.

Board members present: Jack Russell, Ed Remitz, Micki Carter, Casini, Jon Mays. Executive Director Darryl Compton was also in attendance. Absent: Jennifer Christgau, Aimee Lewis Strain, Dave Price, Jay Thorwaldson and Peter Cleaveland.

Carter moved to accept the minutes and Remitz seconded. The vote was unanimous.

Treasurer's report: Filed by Compton.

Old business:
    Forum/boot camp for high school students, Friday, Sept. 26, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the College of San Mateo.

    There was some discussion about the physical location of both the individual workshops and the keynote speaker and it was decided that Cater and Remitz would do a walkthrough before the event. Some of the workshop times changed and Carter will send out a revised schedule as soon as it is finalized. There will be an official program and food and drinks. Compton suggested some more formal critique sessions than what took place last year.
Other:
    The board accepted the resignation of Aimee Lewis Strain while expressing congratulations for the recent birth of her third child. There was some previous discussion of getting a more diverse membership on the board of directors and there may be some effort to get a high school journalism advisor on board or perhaps a public relations type.
The meeting was adjourned by Casini at 7:35 p.m.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A look at the future of journalism

By Micki Carter
Managing Editor, Zirana.com

I traveled back in time last week to get a close look at the future of journalism.

The occasion was the centennial of the University of Missouri School of Journalism where I picked up my BJ a long time ago.

The three-day event was packed with forums and panels on the current state of journalism — threatened, at best — and the focus was on how to preserve good, old-fashioned watch-dog reporting in a day when no one wants to pay for it.

And just in time, too. I picked up a Sunday paper on the way home only to discover that Doonesbury’s Rick, an icon of investigative reporting, is about to be sacked now that his paper can no longer afford to pay for “someone of his calibre.” When newspaper penny-pinching makes the funny pages, it’s real.

Since I’m now knee-deep in the New Media myself these days, I hurried off to the panel on New Models in Journalism in an Internet Age on Thursday and learned that great journalism is still alive and well — and even well-funded — if you’re willing to turn yourself into a non-profit on the Web.

Case in point is Propublica.org. Paul Steiger, formerly of the Wall Street Journal, was approached by San Francisco philanthropists Herb and Marion Sandler who are quietly putting their Golden West Savings fortune to work to support some very big ideas. The Sandlers wanted to create and support a non-profit that would do the kind of reporting that would “out” the Enrons of the world.

Propublica, under the strong hand of Steiger and 10-15 other hand-picked reporters, is out in search of abuse of power. And when they find it, they offer the stories free to outlets such as 60 Minutes and the Washington Post. The Sandlers have promised $10 million a year for the foreseeable future to make it happen.

STLBeacon.org has adopted a public television approach to journalism. Margaret Wolf Freivogel, formerly of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, saw the writing on the newsroom wall and launched the regional media Web site. It has 15 full and parttime journalists and a host of freelancers who provide the news content.

“Traditional journalists still provide the diet most online organizations chew on,” Sawyer said. “We feel like TV in the early ‘50s. We’re still finding our financial underpinnings.”

STLBeacon is selling memberships and sponsorships like public TV and radio as a source of financing. No word yet on Pledge Breaks in the New Media.

Perhaps Joel Kramer of MinnPost.com is the most realistic about the nonprofit web news model. His site is considered a veteran organization just 10 months after it opened its portal. A former publisher, he started with $250,000 from the Knight Foundation and drafted a sustainable business model that would, after four years, no longer be dependent on foundation money.

“We thought we could get 75 percent advertising and corporate sponsors and 25 percent individual donors,” Kramer said. “Now we believe 50-50 is more realistic. We plan to use the public TV model and ‘guilt’ people into donating.”

Kramer added that non-profit journalism has to keep its eye on the prize — stories that have an impact on society — and not just traffic. MinnPost’s brochure broadcasts “No Britney, no Paris, no Lindsay.”

“Volume drives traffic, but that’s not what donors are looking for,” Kramer said.

In the closing roundtable Missouri J-School alum Amy McCombs, former general manager of KRON-TV in San Francisco, noted that a recent Pew Research study shows that the most trafficked sites on the web are the traditional news media sites like the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.

“So we know that people do value traditional news gathering” but we have to find a way to pay for it.

As for the idea that we can depend on user-generated content to ferret out the truth, David Dorman of Motorola said, “Every time I hear the phrase ‘citizen journalist,’ I equate it with ‘amateur physician’ and it scares the crap out of me.”

But they work for free.

Micki Carter is managing editor of Zirana.com and was previously editor of the San Mateo Times. She is also a past president of the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club.

AP names Reiterman as Northern Calif. editor

Tim Reiterman, a longtime reporter and editor for The Los Angeles Times, has been named news editor for The Associated Press in northern California, the wire service said today. Reiterman began his career as a newsman in The AP's San Francisco bureau, where he reported on newspaper heiress Patty Hearst's kidnaping. He then moved to the San Francisco Examiner, where he covered the 1978 Jonestown tragedy in Guyana. He later co-authored an award-winning history of Peoples Temple to be republished this fall. Reiterman was later named Examiner city editor, then moved to The Los Angeles Times, where he reported and edited for 19 years. Reiterman ran projects teams and helped supervise Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. For the past decade, he also has taught investigative reporting at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Reiterman, 61, is a native of San Francisco and a graduate of bachelors and masters programs in journalism at UC Berkeley. He succeeds Brian Carovillano, who was named regional editor for the South.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rumors of unannounced layoffs abound

The Press Club is getting reports that there has been another round of layoffs in the Bay Area newspaper industry, but this time they're not being announced publicly. Apparently some of those being shown the door are management types. If you have any information, e-mail us at sfpen-pressclub@sbcglobal.net.

Newspaper unions consider merger

The Northern California Media Workers union and the San Jose Newspaper Guild will discuss a possible merger during a meeting Saturday, Sept. 27, at the Guild office, 433 Natoma St., San Francisco, third floor conference room. Media Workers Local 39521 includes the Chronicle and the new Bay Area Newspaper Group (BANG) East Bay (Contra Costa Times, ANG newspapers) while the San Jose Guild represents newsroom and ad workers at the Mercury News and Monterey County Herald. A membership referendum in both locals would be necessary along with a bylaws revision and a formal merger agreement. For information or go to mediaworkers.org or www.sjguild.org.

Pam Fisher to edit Michigan daily

Pam Fisher, spent 10 years as an editor and writer for the Examiner and Oakland Tribune/Alameda Newspaper Group, has been named editor of The Holland Sentinel, a 7-day, 19,000-circulation daily in western Michigan owned by GateHouse Media. She will also have the title of "director of audience development" and manage about 25 people. Fisher, 48, was a freelance travel writer for that paper in the early 1990s before she moved to the Bay Area. In 2004, she left the Bay Area to become a section editor at the Cincinnati Enquirer. In 2007, HarperCollins recruited her as a senior acquisitions editor working with authors from Grand Rapids-based Zondervan.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hearst interested in KRON4

Broadcasting & Cable magazine, in a story about how KRON 4 is doing following deep budget cuts, says the list of possible buyers for the station has changed. When KRON first went on the market in January, NBC and Fox Broadcasting were thought to be most interested. Now it appears the suitors are Fox, former Channel 2 general manager Kevin O'Brien (pictured below) and Hearst-Argyle Television.
    • Hearst-Argyle is a publicly held group of 26 stations including KCRA 3 in Sacramento and KSWB 8 in Salinas, both NBC affiliates. More than 80 percent of Hearst-Argyle's stock is owned by the privately held Hearst Corp., which also owns the Chronicle and 30 percent of MediaNews Group's assets outside the Bay Area. (Federal antitrust regulators have prohibited Hearst from owning MNG assets that compete with the Chronicle.) If Hearst were to acquire Channel 4, it would mean that KRON and the Chronicle would again have the same owner. The Chronicle owned KRON for 52 years. Then the newspaper was sold to Hearst and the TV station to Young Broadcasting. (The FCC in December 2007 changed its cross-ownership rules to allow a newspaper and TV station to be owned by the same company in the top 20 markets. Among those lobbying for the change was Dean Singleton, head of MediaNews.)

    • O'Brien and news director Fred Zehnder built KTVU's "10 O'Clock News" into ratings powerhouse in the 1980s that was held out nationally as an example of how quality local TV news should be done. In 2001, O'Brien became president of Meredith Broadcasting, where he turned around a money-losing company in a couple of years. He was forced out, however, when workers complained that he used inappropriate language. O'Brien sued and Meredith settled for an undisclosed amount. He landed at Granite Broadcasting and led an unsuccessful effort to spin off Channel 20 to an investor group that he headed.

    • Fox is the only one of the four broadcast networks that doesn't own a station in San Francisco. It has reportedly tried to buy its affiliate, Channel 2, but Atlanta-based Cox Broadcasting hasn't been willing to sell. Still, it's hard to say whether Fox has a strong interest in owning a station here. When it acquired Chris Craft's stations in 2001, it could have held on to KBHK (now KBCW) Channel 44, but instead traded it to Viacom. Last year, Fox reduced its holdings of TV stations when it sold off O&Os in Cleveland, St. Louis, Denver, Milwaukee, Salt Lake City, Birmingham, Memphis and Greensboro, N.C. in order to free up cash so that its parent company, News Corp., could buy The Wall Street Journal.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Capitol press corps continues to shrink

The Sacramento Bee reports that Bill Ainsworth, who covers state government in Sacramento for the San Diego Union-Tribune, is taking a buyout and will leave at the end of the month. The Chronicle and Orange County Register are each down to a single reporter, and bureaus from the Bakersfield Californian to the Stockton Record have closed up shop entirely, the Bee notes. The Bee says its own capitol bureau has shrunk in recent months, as well, with John Hill on leave for a fellowship at the University of Michigan, Andy Furillo working from the courthouse and Judy Lin departing for The Associated Press.

Ainsworth has been with the Union-Tribune for the past 11 years and was a writer for The Recorder, a San Francisco-based legal paper, for seven years.

Chronicle cuts back on Sunday comics

The Chronicle announced in this morning's edition that it is reducing the number of pages in the Sunday comics section from six to four and dropping five comics — Mister Boffo, the Fusco Brothers, Brevity, Tokyopop and Sherman's Lagoon. Dilbert will move to the business section, where it is located Monday through Saturday. The Chron is adding Candorville, which had a successful test this spring. The changes were made after the paper asked readers to rate the comics. The Chron said it got 13,000 responses.

Bay Area's Maddow is new MSNBC star

The newest star at MSNBC is Rachel Maddow, a graduate of Castro Valley High School and Stanford University, a former San Francisco ACT-UP activist and once a host on the Air America radio network. The Chronicle's Joe Garofoli says Maddow's "fledgling show offers a glimmer of hope that civil conversation could occur on cable, even during a political campaign in which the networks spend hours parsing the meaning of 'lipstick on a pig.'" (Photo credit: Virginia Sherwood, NBC)

SacBee cuts 87 workers; Pruitt hangs on

The Sacramento Bee is again cutting its work force by 7 percent, or 87 full- and part-time workers, through voluntary buyouts. The newsroom lost 23 people, the Bee reported. In June, the paper reduced its staff by 8 percent.

A day before the cuts, a Wall Street Journal column suggested McClatchy would go private. The column was based on the news that chairman and CEO Gary Pruitt had resigned as a co-trustee of four trusts that control much of the McClatchy family's company stock.

Pruitt admitted to an alt-weekly, the Sacramento News & Review, that this year has been the worst of his life but that he's not quitting:
    “I came into this not because I had an MBA and I thought this was a good way to make money, but because McClatchy believed in First Amendment rights and quality journalism,” Pruitt said. “When you see the bad revenue numbers, you go, ‘Oh god, this is so terrible, I don’t need this anymore.’ But probably the only thing worse than staying would be quitting. It’s too important.”
(Photo credit: Noel Neuburger, Sacramento News & Review)

Steve Fox returns to PC World

PC World Communications has hired Steve Fox as vice president and editorial director of San Francisco-based PC World, effective Oct. 6. He has served as editor-in-chief of Affinity Labs for the past year. Fox was managing editor, senior editor, and executive editor at PC World from 1990-96 before joining another IDG publication, The Web magazine, as its editor-in-chief. He was editorial director at CNET from 1999-2002, but returned to IDG as editor-in-chief for InfoWorld in 2003.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Media museum won't be at Hibernia Bank

Plans to open a museum for local media in the former Hibernia Bank building at Market and Jones streets are dead.

The Bay Area Radio Museum, headed by David Jackson, had been working with the seller of the building to create a media museum there. The radio museum, which currently exists as an online archive, has joined with the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club and the local chapter of the National Television Academy to form a consortium dedicated to creating a broadcast and newspaper museum in the Bay Area.

The idea was that a buyer of the building would include the concept as part of plans to renovate the deteriorating landmark. But the Chron reports this morning that the building has been sold for $3.95 million to an unidentified buyer who has other plans for the former bank.

Stephen Van Someren, secretary and treasurer of the Bay Area Radio Museum, told the Chron that he is looking elsewhere in the Tenderloin for a home. "We're definitely not giving up," Van Someren said. "One plan or another is going to work. We've got plan B through plan F." (Photo credit: Paul Chinn, Chronicle)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Novato weekly newspaper folds

The Novato Advance, a weekly newspaper covering Marin's northernmost city for 86 years, announced today that it will cease publication on Sept. 25 due to a decline in advertising and rising expenses. Publisher Paul Hutcheson said the paper hasn't made money since 1999 despite both a print and online presence. Hutcheson posted a statement on the paper's Web site that said in part:
    "We have tried many different scenarios in an effort to stem the losses. In the last few years, in an effort to create a platform that would lead the paper to profitability, we increased the writing and reporting strength by adding editorial staff and additional columnists, increased advertising staff in an effort to sell additional advertising, created a Web site to drive additional readers and advertising revenue, created an automotive section to produce additional revenue, reformatted the paper’s layout into four sections for better 'readability,' sampled 3,000 copies of the paper weekly to different residences in an effort to increase circulation and updated the paper’s style on a regular basis. These changes resulted in many editorial awards by the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Up to and including the highest award, 'General Excellence,' which the Advance won for four consecutive years: 2003 – 2006.

    "While these changes helped significantly reduce the losses, they have not translated into the additional advertising and circulation revenues necessary to bring the Advance into profitability.

    "Two additional contributing factors to our losses are the current state of the economy and Internet use as a source for news. The economy has forced retailers to cut back on advertising as they also struggle to increase revenue in the face of weak sales."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Reilly praises editorial board experiment

Clint Reilly, the San Francisco developer and former political consultant who sued to stop Hearst and MediaNews from joining forces in the Bay Area, is now praising MediaNews for adding community members to its editorial boards.

Reilly offered the praise this morning in his ad that runs every week in the MediaNews papers. The free ad was one of the concessions Reilly got when he settled his antitrust lawsuit against the newspaper companies.

Originally the April 2007 settlement called for Reilly to get a seat on the editorial boards of the MediaNews dailies, which hasn't happened. The settlement also said he could recommend one member for the editorial boards of each of the chain's other Bay Area papers.

Reilly's ad didn't say whether the citizens who were appointed to the editorial boards were people he recommended. But the ad said that the "experiment" of adding community members to these boards is being directed by Frank Holland, "a UC Berkeley-educated policy specialist and editor experienced in both traditional and new media. Holland liaises between these capable citizens and the editorial staffs of each newspaper and provides support through research, community outreach and advanced communications."

The text of his ad appears on Frank Russo's California Progress Report blog.

Santa Cruz, Marin papers get new publishers

Mario van Dongen (left), who has served as president and publisher of the Marin Independent Journal since 2006, has been named the new publisher of the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Replacing Van Dongen will be the IJ's executive editor, Matthew Wilson (right). Both papers are operated by MediaNews Group.

Doug Bunnell, 48, who has been the IJ's editorial page editor for the past two years, move up to the executive editor's chair. Bunnell started at the IJ in 1989 and since then has served in a variety of newsroom positions, including managing editor.

Wilson, 51, spent 22 years at the San Francisco Chronicle, serving as managing editor, executive editor, associate publisher and executive vice president for news. He left the Chronicle in 2001 and later began a publishing consulting business. He later served as publisher of the weekly Novato Advance.

Van Dongen, 50, came to the IJ from the Napa Valley Register, where he was publisher. Before that he was regional vice president of sales for the Northern California PennySaver

In Santa Cruz, van Dongen will replace David Regan, who started with the Sentinel in 1983 and retired in early 2006. Regan returned less than a year later when then-publisher Molly Evans left for the East Coast as the paper was sold to Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group.

Regan had told MediaNews executives that he would stay with the paper until they found someone new, hoping to stay until his 68th birthday in January. However, on Thursday, Mac Tully, head of the MediaNews-controlled California Newspaper Partnership, told Regan that van Dongen has been chosen to take over as the Sentinel's new publisher.

"I always told my wife that I would stay as long as I was having fun," Regan said Friday. "This business hasn't been fun for the last year and a half with all the layoffs and the move from Santa Cruz." (Coverage in the IJ and the Sentinel)

Monday, September 8, 2008

HIgh school journalists invited to boot camp

High school journalists from throughout the Bay Area are invited to attend the second annual High School Journalism Boot Camp the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club will present from 1-4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, at the College of San Mateo. The Boot Camp is co-sponsored by College of San Mateo's Journalism Department.

Last year more than 100 young journalists attended seminars on digital photography, online publishing, page design, writing editorials, finding stories, editing sports and arts/entertainment sections and making the transition to college newspapering.

This year we will be adding a segment on podcasting and another one to be called “News 101” that will focus on the traditions, standards and ethics of the news business.

Again this year, Associated Press Photographer Paul Sakuma will be drawing professionals to demonstrate techniques for improving students’ digital photography and its optimization. Sakuma’s also arranged for Richard Epting of KGO-TV to bring a news truck to be parked nearby. Tours of the truck were very popular last year.

This year the Press Club is inviting school newspapers to submit their most recent papers (they may be from the spring semester) for a personal critique by a professional. Please send your paper (one or two editions, at most) to Micki Carter, 2303 Wooster Ave., Belmont CA 94002. They must be received by Sept. 19.

Please e-mail the Press Club if your school will be participating and estimate how many students will attend. Photos are from last year's boot camp.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Forum on valley's 'information needs'

A day-long public forum on Monday, Sept. 8, will attempt to answer the following question:
    "Are Silicon Valley citizens getting the information they need in order to solve community problems, coordinate civic activity, maintain public accountability, and foster the human connectedness that is the backbone of both community and democracy?"
Gee, sounds like all the things newspapers used to do, back in the day.

The forum, held at Google's headquarters at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View, is being put on by the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy (www.knightcomm.org), a project of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Roundtable discusssions will include these panelists:
    • Jim Bettinger, director, John S. Knight Fellowships for Professional Journalists, Stanford
    • Chava Bustamante, staff coordinator, SEIU Local 1877
    • Emmett Carson, chief executive and president, Community Foundation of Silicon Valley
    • Muhammed Chaudhry, president and chief executive, Silicon Valley Education Foundation
    • Linjun Fan, Albany Today blog
    • Matt Hammer, executive director, People Acting in Community Together
    • Raj Jayadev, founder, Silicon Valley De-Bug
    • Mike McGuire, research vp, Gartner
    • Chris O'Brien, project manager, The Next Newsroom Project, economics reporter and columnist, Mercury News
    • Kim Walesh, chief strategist, city of San Jose
Here's a link to a five-minute video about the forum, background on the Knight Commission and a way to register via e-mail.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

KRON launches 8 p.m. news, expands 4 p.m.

KRON4 has moved "Dr. Phil" to 5 p.m. and replaced him at 8 p.m. with an hour of news anchored by Pam Moore and Chris Murphy. KRON has also doubled the length of its 4 p.m. news from 30 minutes to an hour. The station is now doing 9 1/2 hours of local news every weekday.

For financially struggling KRON, the expansion comes just in time for the election season. Political advertisers prefer spots on local newscasts, believing news programs attract likely voters. So the expansion will give KRON a lot of inventory to sell.

For news junkies, KRON's moves mean at least one station in the market will have a local newscast every hour from 4 through 11 p.m. on weekdays
    4 p.m. — Channel 4

    5 p.m. — Channels 2, 5*, 7* and 11*

    6 p.m. — Channels 2*, 4, 5, 7 and 11

    7 p.m. — Channel 36* (produced by KTVU)

    8 p.m. — Channel 4

    9 p.m. — Channel 20 (produced by ABC7)

    10 p.m. — Channels 2, 44* (Ch. 44 produced by CBS5)

    11 p.m. — Channels 4, 5, 7 and 11

    *30 minutes
KRON started a 9 p.m. newscast in 2002 after the station lost its NBC affiliation. In September 2006, KRON canceled the 9 p.m. news to make way for a short-lived series of soap operas offered by MyNetworkTV. Ratings fell, but the station's profit margin improved because the network's programs were free, management told financial analysts at the time.

Since then, however, other stations have rolled out newscasts to fill the hours between the traditional 6 and 11 p.m. news shows. In January 2007, KGO ABC7 launched a 9 p.m. hour-long newscast with Dan Ashley, Sandhya Patel and Larry Beil that airs on TV20. This January, KTVU began a half-hour of news at 7 p.m. on co-owned KICU Channel 36 anchored by Gasia Mikaelian. In late February, CBS5 started a half-hour newscast at 10 p.m. on co-owned KBCW Channel 44 featuring its main news anchors, Dana King, Ken Bastida, Dennis O’Donnell and Roberta Gonzales.

Health care reporting workshop Oct. 14

The Bay Area Chapter of the Association of Healthcare Journalists will hold a lively, hands-on workshop Oct. 14 designed to hone the skills of reporters covering the health care industry. "We'll look at recent examples in our local Bay Area print and broadcast media and learn tips and strategies we can use everyday. Our instructors will show that it doesn't take an extra thousand words of type or 10 minutes of air to get the accurate and balanced story you and your editors want — and your readers deserve," the chapter said in this description of the event. Those interested are asked to RSVP so that organizers know how many seats to set up. For more information and to register via e-mail, click here.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bay Area food reporters on the chopping block

Chronicle restaurant reviewer and executive food and wine editor Michael Bauer says cut backs at newspapers have reached the food section:
    In the Bay Area, we've lost Julie Kaufmann and Carolyn Jung at the San Jose Mercury News. Just last week, Merc restaurant critic Aleta Watson decided to retire. At the Contra Costa Times, food editor and restaurant critic Nicholas Boer was part of that paper's downsizing.
He goes on to list food writers who have left papers in L.A., N.Y. and elsewhere. "I think it is a short-sighted reaction to tough times," Bauer writes. "Newspapers are increasingly becoming more local, and few topics connect a community more than food. We need more coverage of the topic, not less."

Profile of KFOG-KNBR-KSAN's Tony Salvador

Inside Radio has posted a profile of Cumulus vp and market manager Tony Salvadore starting from his days as a rookie salesman in upstate New York. He was the executive who flipped KFOG's format in 1982 from beautiful music to adult alternative back when the station was owned by General Electric.

At the time, he recalls, "California was the land of Milk & Honey then — nothing could go wrong here at that time ... It had a magnetic attraction for guys like me. I would have dropped resumes from helicopters to get a job in California. We put [the format change] together in about six weeks.”

He's also the executive behind KNBR and KSAN. Salvador, who turns 65 in December, isn't ready to retire. "I love the people and the action of the business. On the other hand, I don’t want to do this [indefinitely]. I’m excited about what’s going on and will know when [it’s time to retire]. No one will have to tell me — but I know it’s not now.”