Sunday, November 30, 2008

SF radio pioneer Bill Drake dies

Numerous news outlets are reporting tonight that Bill Drake, the music-radio consultant who created the Top 40 format in the 60s and 70s, died Saturday of lung cancer in a Los Angeles hospital at age 71.

In 1960, after taking a station in Atlanta to the top, Drake arrived at KYA Radio 1260 in San Francisco where he did the same as the station's morning man and program director.

The format: Playing a list of popular songs all day long. Throw in a lot of jingles, short news reports and traffic updates. It was called the Drake format or Boss radio.

"'The Drake Sound' became an instant success at KYA, and soon spread to other stations. Before long, Bill Drake had redefined rock 'n' roll radio nationwide, which became 'Top 40' radio. Drake became a multi-millionaire, programming nearly a hundred AM and FM stations from his home in Bel Air in the 1970s," John Schneider wrote in this entry about the history of KYA for the Bay Area Radio History Museum.

In 1963 KFRC, which had a more powerful signal, decided to copy KYA's format. By 1966, KFRC over took KYA in the ratings. Drake later would be a consultant to KFRC. (Photo from the Bay Area Radio History Museum)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Close calls for Sara Sidner reporting from Mumbai

Former KTVU Channel 2 reporter and weekend anchor Sara Sidner kept her cool amid explosions and unruly crowds as she reported for CNN in front of the terrorist-occupied Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai.

Sidner left Channel 2 late last year to take a job at CNN, which assigned her to its New Delhi bureau. This week she found herself in the middle of probably the biggest story of her career.

The video here shows Sidner and her photographer being confronted by a mob of onlookers in front of the hotel. The crowd was outraged at media coverage of the terrorist attacks. They blocked her camera and she had to stop reporting for a couple of minutes while she calmly dealt with the mob.

At another point this week, Sidner was reporting live when a bomb went off behind her at the hotel. She ducked, paused, said "OK" and continued on, completely unfazed.

Sidner hasn't forgotten about her colleagues back at KTVU in Oakland. Channel 2 aired a phone interview with Sidner during the first segment of "The 10'O Clock News" on Thursday night.

Another rumor about BANG-EB layoffs

We've heard an unconfirmed report (another way of saying a rumor) that Bay Area Newspaper Group-East Bay laid off more newsroom personnel Nov. 21. If you have any information, e-mail us at sfpen-pressclub@sbcglobal.net. As we have noted previously, some newspaper companies no longer report when they lay off employees.

Karel blames firing on Janet Jackson's breasts

Charles Karel Bouley, known as Karel, tells Chron radio writer Ben Fong-Torres that he's talking to other radio stations after he was fired by KGO-AM 810 earlier this month for spouting a series of obscenities about Joe the Plumber while he thought his microphone was off. Karel (pictured) lives in Long Beach and did his weekend KGO show remotely. He also does entertainment reports for CBS L.A. all-newser KNX 1070.

As for his firing, Karel blames it all on Janet Jackson's breasts. "Ever since she showed her boob, there's been this uber-sensitivity about everything. (KGO owner) Citadel wouldn't have cared 10 years ago."

Karel also tried to have it both ways in his interview with Fong-Torres by saying at one point that he took responsibility for his outburst but also saying that the board operator was to blame for leaving his mic on.

"They're called 'engineers' for a reason," he said. "Granted, the host is one of the wheels on the train. I do take responsibility. I had a blowout. But at the same time, the driver was not at the wheel, so of course we crashed." (Photo credit: Steven Underhill, Chronicle)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Merc lowers expectations, hires efficiency expert

In the following memo sent to Merc employees, Publisher Mac Tully (pictured) warns of more budget cuts forced by lower revenues and notes that the paper has hired an efficiency expert. Tully's memo went out as the paper began negotiations with the Guild on a new contract to replace the one that expired last month. More on that after Tully's memo.
    Dear fellow employee:

    The economic news in our paper tells the story: We are obviously operating in a very challenging economic environment -- much tougher than anyone anticipated. Today, I want to give you an update on where we are and what I foresee at yearend. First, I want to thank you for your efforts in helping the newspaper navigate its way through difficult times. All businesses are struggling and the newspaper industry is particularly challenged. Our business model was already going through a “sea change” before the extraordinary economic developments of recent weeks. They certainly are adding to our difficulties.

    While our core competency of local content generation remains extremely valuable and unique to us, and the desire for local content by readers is still strong and will remain strong, the method of how people are choosing to receive that information is in transition. While most readers still prefer the printed paper, there is some migration to online taking place. Fortunately, our overall audience numbers of print and online readers remain pretty stable. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to monetize the online audience in the manner we’re able to do with print readership. We believe the industry will figure that out. We’re not the first medium to go through a sea change -- magazines and radio have all successfully navigated their way through major changes and we will, too.

    What’s making our road tougher is that at the same time we’re dealing with these significant changes in our business model, the economy is worsening. That is making our challenges exponentially harder. I believe we are up for the challenge and we will be successful. I am absolutely committed -- as I know you are -- to the success of this newspaper and the Bay Area Group.

    Our original budget projected advertising revenues to be down about 8% for the fiscal year. Given what we now know about the economy, that’s unrealistic. There’s very little information that would suggest business is going to improve -- at least in the short run. In fact, there is a lot that suggests it will get worse. Therefore, the prudent thing to do is to pull down our revenue estimates even further from our reforecast.

    Since operating profit is a function of two things -- revenue and expense -- we will have to pull down our expense budget to mitigate at least some of the revenue decline. That means we’ll have expense action on a number of fronts. We’re going to ask you to do more with less. I’m hoping that you’ll understand why it’s important to make these expense reductions and do everything in your power to make the most out of what you will have to work with.

    We have contracted with an efficiency expert and we’re hopeful he can help us identify expenses that can be put to better use. We’re examining every dime we spend to see if we can reduce, delay or even cut it out.

    Based on today’s economic outlook, it seems inevitable that we will have to have some layoffs at the beginning of the calendar year. That’s the last thing anyone wants to do, but given the economic environment that we’re operating in, I don’t see how we can avoid it. The scope of such action will depend, at least in part, on how the holiday shopping season turns out.

    I promise you we will do everything in our power to try to better the situation. But this is how it stands today. As I stated earlier, I’m confident our newspaper will survive and even thrive in the coming years. But we have to survive the economic downturn we’re now in.

    I’m sorry to have to deliver this news but I think it’s important that you’re up-to-date on the status of our business. Again, we appreciate all you do and look forward to better times in the future.

    Mac Tully

Guild contract talks begin at the Merc

MediaNews labor negotiator Jim Janiga has opened contract talks with the Guild in San Jose by warning that employees may need to accept salary cuts as well as layoffs. That's according to a posting on the Guild's Web site.

Carl Hall, Chron reporter and Guild negotiator, countered by saying "there has got to be another alternative" to pay cuts or layoffs, and said he wants to talk about “creative restructuring” that would more dramatically rethink the business model.

According to Guild, Janiga responded: “That is why we are sitting here today.”

The Guild's contract at the Merc expired last month. The two sides are scheduled to meet again Dec. 3.

Representing the Guild were the lead negotiator, Luther Jackson, as well as Sylvia Ulloa (newsroom), Bill Russell (advertising), Rick Tulsky (newsroom), Hall and Suzanne Arnaud.

In addition to Janiga, the Mercury News was represented by Andy Huntington and Marshall Anstandig.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Want to be a local TV host?

KOFY "Your TV 20" has announced a casting call on Dec. 17 at The Saddle Rack in Fremont for the station's next host. The announcement doesn't say what kind of show the successful applicant will host. "(But) while you're there ride the bull, do a litte line dancing and check out special guest Lisa Lisa Lisa! So much fun all in one night!"

And if that is too much fun, TV20 is asking would-be hosts to upload audition videos. This gig is unpaid. "KOFY TV staff will pick the top 3 finalists and you the viewers make the final decision! One lucky viewer will host KOFY TV the entire month of January. That's right we said the ENTIRE month of January! Sorry no paid stipends just a whole LOT OF FUN! Bay Area... Get ready for your 5 minutes (or hours!) of fame!"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

CSM j-students pick up top honors

College of San Mateo Journalism students captured top honors at a Northern California journalism conference held Oct. 11 at San Jose State University, with one winning article later published by the San Francisco Examiner and distributed online.

The students were honored for their work with a General Excellence award for the Web site version of The San Matean, the campus newspaper, and several writing awards, including a meritorious award for in-depth reporting.

Christine Karavas, editor of The San Matean, was awarded first place for opinion writing in an on-the-spot competition held at the daylong event. Her article addressed a keynote address about journalism and social media event’s and was written under strict deadline pressure in competition with other students.

Her article was polished and distributed several days later by the San Francisco Examiner. It addresses the differences between journalism and social media under the headline “Don’t fool yourself: Blogs, texts are not journalism.”

The conference was hosted by the Journalism Association of Community Colleges, a statewide organization. The JACC holds Northern California and Southern California conferences and a larger state conference each spring that brings both regions together.

About 225 students from 22 community colleges attended the event, which presented an array of workshops and competitions.

In the mail-in competition, judging work over the last year, Karavas also earned fourth place news feature honors for her story about changes to language and writing caused by text messaging. “Well written, great flow, great/new topic,” the judges wrote.

Also collecting awards were:
    Colleen Shjeflo, meritorious award in enterprise story/series category, for her in-depth report about the use of firearms by college security officers. “Interesting topic in light of Virginia Tech massacre,” the judges wrote. “Story does a good job of exploring the pros and cons of having armed police on campus with statistics and comments. Good job of looking at the issue from a state and district perspective.”

    Peter Jadelrab, third place in profile feature, for his article about an Iraqi war veteran returning to college. “One of the things that really works well in this story is the way you focused on a single incident during the war instead of trying to fit in all his experience,” the judges wrote.

    Emily Daly, fourth place in newswriting, for her story about the slaying of a Cañada College student

    Danny Castro, honorable mention in sports game story, for his game coverage
“CSM’s journalism students work hard to excel, so it’s terrific to see their efforts acknowledged by the professionals who judge for the JACC,” said Ed Remitz, CSM journalism adviser. Remitz also is a board member for the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club.

MediaNews attorney now a councilman

Marshall Anstandig, MediaNews Group's in-house lawyer for labor matters, has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the city council in Monte Sereno, a town of about 3,400 people about 10 miles southwest of San Jose next to Los Gatos. The online Los Gatos Observer reports that Anstandig, 59, was appointed by council in a 3-1 vote to replace a councilman who stepped down due to medical reasons.

The Observer says Anstandig has lived in Monte Sereno for about 10 years. He received his jurisdoctorate from Detroit College of Law in 1974 and served as senior labor counsel for Knight Ridder. He was appointed to the town's Site and Architecture Commission in January 2007.

The two papers that cover Monte Sereno, the Mercury News and the weekly Los Gatos Weekly-Times, are owned by MNG's California Newspapers Partnership, where Anstandig is senior vice president and general counsel.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

San Jose Magazine closes, owner focuses on TV

The Merc's Sal Pizarro reports that the December issue of San Jose Magazine — hitting mailboxes and newsstands in the next few days — will be its last. Owner Gilbert Sangari says the magazine is still making money, but he wants to go out on top. He intends to focus his attention on his fast-growing video-production business. The company produces 30-minute shows on KRON-TV under the "Best of the Bay" label, featuring everything from Italian restaurants to tanning salons in the Bay Area. Because the TV work was pulling in a lot more advertising dollars, Sangari decided to end the magazine he started in 1998, according to Pizarro.

David Satterfield quits Merc for PR job

The Merc reports that its managing editor, David Satterfield, is resigning after 27 years in the news business to head a public relations office. Satterfield, 49, is leaving to launch the Silicon Valley office of L.A.-based Sitrick and Co. His last day is Dec. 1, and no replacement has been named.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reporter recalls Moscone, Milk assassinations

Former Chron reporter Duffy Jennings (pictured) has written a riveting, minute-by-minute account of the moments after the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk 30 years ago at San Francisco City Hall. Unlike other retrospective pieces on the killings, Jennings tells how reporters reacted to the horrifying news. HIs piece appears on page 1 of the Chron today and here are a few paragraphs:
    This is so unreal, so confusing, I think. Why won't they tell us anything? I wonder if this is connected to the mass suicides of the Peoples Temple cult at Jonestown, Guyana, only nine days before.

    Just then, a side door to the mayor's office opens and two coroner's aides wheel out a gurney with a shrouded corpse strapped to it, heading toward the elevator. Surprisingly, Channel 7 cameraman Al Bullock squeezes into the elevator with them, dutifully filming the transfer down to the medical examiner's van parked outside.

    I dash across the building to the supervisors' suite of offices on the Van Ness Avenue side, where about two dozen reporters and photographers are gathered outside the main door, also guarded by uniformed officers.

    Zane and two other Chronicle reporters, George Draper and Ralph Craib, are there with [Examiner reporter K. Connie] Kang. So are Barbara Taylor and Jim Hamblin from KCBS, KYA radio reporter Larry Brownell and news director Greg Jarrett, KPIX-TV newsman Ed Arnow, Dick Leonard from KGO radio, Bob McCormick from KFRC, [Channel 7 reporter Peter] Cleaveland and a dozen others.

    We collect in small knots, compare notes, what's known for sure. Two men are dead, police have now confirmed, but no names are disclosed. Fretful minutes pass while detectives scuttle by grim-faced and silent.

    ...

    [Dianne] Feinstein stops at the top of the stairwell. She is ashen-faced, staring straight ahead. I can't remember ever seeing a more horrified expression. Looking over the anxious group of reporters in front of her, Feinstein fixes her gaze on me, her eyes drilling into mine as if we're having a private interview.

    Years later, in an interview with The Chronicle, Feinstein recalled that moment. "I remember going out and making an announcement," she said. "I'll never forget Duffy Jennings, for some reason. I saw Duffy, and I don't know why, but I will never forget his eyes, the eyes of that group, the press and others. It was like the world stopped."

    She is clearly steeling herself for what she is about to say. We all fall quiet. In the hush, the only sound is that of shutters click-click-clicking. Lights atop TV cameras are ablaze, bleaching the entire scene. I try to scribble notes, but my hands are shaking.

    "As president of the Board of Supervisors," she begins, her voice weak and trembling, "... it's my duty to make this announcement." She pauses, inhales deeply, exhales. "Both Mayor Moscone ... and Supervisor Harvey Milk ... have been shot ... and killed."

    "JESUS CHRIST!" Zane yells. "OH MY GOD!" shouts McCormick. A collective gasp goes up, an outburst of audible shock and horror I've never heard from veteran newspeople, inured as they are to executions, war, riots, plane crashes. All around us, city workers shudder in disbelief, some sobbing.

    Feinstein continues.

    "The suspect ... is Supervisor Dan White."

    Without another word, she and the chief turn and walk back inside her office.
Jennings is a Bay Area public relations consultant and freelance writer.

(Photo credits: top, Mike Kepka, Chron; middle, bottom Chronicle file)

Woodward, Bernstein speak in Walnut Creek

Carl Bernstein, left, and Bob Woodward, right, told a Walnut Creek audience Monday night that investigative journalism still has a future if news organizations can find a way to make it pay. The Contra Costa Times has a story this morning about last night's rare appearance of the two Watergate reporters, where they gave their views on journalism, Watergate and the Bush administration.
    Now in their mid-60s, Woodward and Bernstein say they are close friends. They often finish each other's sentences. Their common hope is that the kind of journalism that shook the nation in the early 1970s will continue on the Internet, cable TV and elsewhere. ...

    Woodward, who has written four books on Bush, spending long hours with him, credited the president's historically low popularity to his inability to "find a way to tell the truth about what was going on. "One of the things that happened with Bush is he outsourced it. He delegated it. He wasn't on top of the facts," Woodward said.

    "He didn't want to be on top of the facts," added Bernstein.
According to the CCTimes, Lowell Bergman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose probe of the tobacco industry was the basis for the movie "The Insider, chided Woodward for becoming "a very prosperous member of the kind of celebrity crew that you see on 'Larry King.' That may be good. That may be bad. But that's not investigative reporting. He does access reporting."

Woodward said Bergman "doesn't know what he's talking about," insisting little has changed in how he operates, talks to sources and pieces things together. (Photo credit: Karl Mondon, Contra Costa Times)

Knight program at Stanford accepting applications

The Knight Fellowships offers journalists "[A] year to study and research, removed from the dailiness of newsroom deadline pressures, in the company of other accomplished journalists at Stanford ... A year in which you can pursue those fascinating threads of knowledge that get ignored when you're working on tomorrow's story. A year to hone your professional intellect for the rest of your career. A year to dive into the challenges and opportunities of 21st century journalism."

Application deadline for next year is Dec. 15. Go to http://knight.stanford.edu for information.

No interest in KRON; Young eyes Chapter 11

Young Broadcasting says it no longer has any talks underway to sell KRON Channel 4 and might file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. With $825 million in debt, the 10-station Young group says it is negotiating with creditors to restructure its debt. In its quarterly SEC filing, Young warns that if it cannot restructure its debt, it might file Chapter 11.

The bankruptcy warning came in a report which showed the company lost $24.8 million in the third quarter including $9.8 million at KRON. Besides KRON, Young owns five ABC affiliates, three CBS affiliates and one NBC affiliates in small markets.

While Young said it had no talks underway to sell Channel 4, it said it would "continue to try to arrange the disposition of KRON-TV."

At one time there was speculation that NBC and Fox were interested in Channel 4, and Young management had suggested previously that discussions were taking place with possible buyers.

Monday, November 17, 2008

District does an about face after closing paper

The Sequoia Union High School District, which serves southern San Mateo County, plans to look at ways it can improve journalism programs at all of it schools following the controversy that erupted after one of its schools "canceled" a student newspaper for "inappropriate" content.

At Belmont's Carlmont High School, editor Alex Zhang and reporter Jack Dooley said they were called into the principal's office and told their paper, the Scots Express, had been "canceled" and would no longer be published. They were handed a note from the school saying the cancelation was due to an "inappropriate" article.

The article was a satirical piece in which Dooley discusses his own "sexiness." The story contained no profanity or sexual descriptions.

Carlmont Principal Andrea Jenoff later told reporters the paper was canceled because it no longer had a faculty adviser, who apparently quit the paper after the issue with the Dooley article.

Pat Gemma, superintendent of the school district, told the San Mateo Daily Journal that a newspaper advisor may have been identified and may begin to work with the students in January.

“(Journalism) is a very important piece to the education of youth in a democratic society,” Gemma told the Journal.

He said he is establishing a group to develop quality advisors and teachers of journalism throughout the district despite a tight budget. Gemma said this incident is an opportunity for the district to evaluate standards in place, learn from "best practices" and put together quality programs available at all the district’s schools.

“From a district perspective, this is a teachable moment,” Gemma said.

KOIT morning news anchor Sherry Brown cut

AllAccess.com reports that KOIT-FM's morning news anchor, Sherry Brown, has been let go due to budget cuts. Assistant program director and music director Julie Shannon will take on Brown's news duties while her additional PSA and public affairs assignments will be absorbed by the entire staff.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Video shows cop confronting photographer


Here's video that shows the problems news photographers face when covering protests. Viewer discretion is advised because of profanity.

Oakland Tribune videographer Jane Tyska was covering an immigration rights protest by high school students at the Fruitvale BART station on Oct. 31. Tyska's camera was recording as she was detained by Art Michel, Oakland Unified School District police chief. On tape, he accuses Tyska of hitting his car, orders her into the patrol car's back seat and at one point accuses her of inciting a riot. She says his car hit her. She also told him that she's part of the working press, a fact he didn't find very impressive.

The heated episode lasts about two minutes before Michel takes her video recorder. Police returned the tape to the newspaper three days later.

Michel asked the district attorney to file charges of vandalism, blocking the street and inciting a riot against Tyska. But the DA declined, the Tribune reports.

Troy Flint, spokesman for the Oakland school district, would not say whether Michel will face discipinary action.

Flint also said, "The language that was used was unacceptable, and we certainly do not approve or tolerate that type of behavior from our employees."

TheStreet.com closes SF office, lays off a dozen

The financial news site TheStreet.com, co-founded by outlandish TV stock analyst Jim Cramer, closed its San Francisco office on Friday, putting about a dozen journalists on the street. While the market meltdown has helped TheStreet increase its unique visitors by 27 percent in the third quarter compared to last year, the company posed a surprise loss, missed its third-quarter sales estimates and shook up its boardroom, naming Cramer as chairman, Silicon Valley Insider reports.

While firing journalists, TheStreet intends to maintain an ad-selling presence in San Francisco.

According to TheStreet's masthead, Michael Goodman was its SF bureau chief. A source tells Conde Nast's Portfolio.com that Goodman will be staying with the company. (Photo credit: CNBC)

Priest attacks reporter during interview

Ryan Chalk, a reporter at the Vacaville Reporter, has told police that he was verbally and physically attacked by a Fairfield Roman Catholic priest during an interview about an alleged conflict with a parishioner at Sunday Mass. Chalk said the incident happened at Mount Carmel Church on Wednesday.
    After identifying himself as a reporter, Chalk explained that he was working on a story about a parishioner who claimed the priest expelled her from Mass because her vehicle sported painted signs in support of president-elect Barack Obama.

    "He became very agitated," Chalk said. "He told me, 'No, we're not writing that. I did not touch her. I did not talk to her.'"
    Chalk said Meyer then threatened to file a lawsuit if any story were written and told him it was "illegal because it's none of your business."

    "At that point, I took my notepad out and asked what was illegal," Chalk said.

    Meyer became more agitated and lunged at him, Chalk said, clawing at his arm and reaching for his notepad.

    Stunned, the reporter turned to run out the door as Meyer continued to grab at him.

    "He yelled, 'Where are you going?'" said Chalk, who admitted he cursed and told the priest and another man in the parish office to stay back and threatened to call police on them if they didn't.

    "It was absolutely shocking," Chalk said. "It's the last thing I would expect from a priest. I mean, I'm sure this was not the first time he's dealt with inquiries from the media, especially with his years in that position. He should know ways to step around it or simply say 'I don't wish to comment.' That would have been fine."
The Vacaville newspaper Chalk reported the incident to police and the Sacramento Diocese, which oversees all Catholic churches in the region. A spokesman for the diocese would not comment on the attack but acknowledges the reporter had a right to ask questions.

Federal bailout for ailing newspapers?

Newsweek's Jon Fine (pictured), with tongue planted firmly in cheek, explains how a bailout could happen. "We can position this as a proactive move to save the only industry prominently mentioned in the Bill of Rights. (Our message team likes that last bit. You'll hear it a lot.) This industry employs over 52,000 journalists, thousands of other workers, and it faces unprecedented challenges," Fine writes. "I recognize some may perceive all this as an admission of defeat. But let's feel a sense of opportunity, not shame. And always remember how your business differs from the other supplicants. No newspaper ever bankrupted a country or peddled a product as patently putrid as the Pontiac Aztek."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Arturo Riera to head sales at CW44

Arturo Riera is the new sales director of KBCW-TV Channel 44, better known as CW 44.

“Arturo has built a highly successful sales record for our on-line components and he has quite a track record in Bay Area television and new media prior to that,“ said Riera's boss, Ron Longinotti, president and gm of CBS5 and CW44.

“I am excited by the opportunity to continue to work with the staff at KBCW-TV whom I have come to respect and admire. While today's business challenges are great, so are the opportunities to succeed with a talented and committed team," said Riera

Most recently, Riera served as Digital Advertising Sales Manager for KBCW-TV, and prior to that he was local sales manager for Your TV20 KBWB-TV. He was also vp of product development/broadband for StarMedia Network, nsm and lsm for KSOL/KZOL radio, gsm for SportsChannel Pacific/Rainbow Sports Sales, gsm for Telemundo of Northern California, and an account executive at KVEA-TV, KPIX-TV and KGO-TV.

November 2008 Press Club board minutes

Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008 — Meeting was called to order at 6:50 p.m. by Vice President Dave Price.

Board members present: Jon Mays, Price, Micki Carter, Ed Remitz, Peter Cleaveland. Executive Director Darryl Compton was also in attendance in addition to Marshall Wilson. President Jamie Casini took over for Price at 6:55 p.m.

There were no minutes from the October meeting since there was no quorum.

New business:
    1. HOLIDAY PARTY. A new date was suggested for the annual holiday party. It was Dec. 7 but was suggested to be Dec. 14 at Carter's house from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Cleaveland made the motion and Mays seconded it. Those in attendance are asked to bring an item for the Second Harvest Food Bank and something to drink. The vote was unanimous.

    2. BOARD RESIGNATIONS, APPOINTMENTS. Board member Jennifer Aquino asked to resign from the board but said she would be interested in helping out with committees such as the scholarship committee. Carter made the motion and Price seconded it. The vote was unanimous. Carter also made a motion that the board accept the resignation of board member Aimee Lewis-Strain and appoint Marshall Wilson to her seat. Cleaveland seconded the motion and the vote was unanimous.

    3. ELECTIONS SLATE, NEW OFFICERS FOR DECEMBER MEETING. The slate will be: Mays, president; Price, vice president; Remitz, treasurer; and Carter, secretary. There was some discussion of asking a teacher for interest on serving on the board and possibly someone from the San Mateo County Times.

    4. CARLMONT HIGH SCHOOL BEING SHUT DOWN. The board decided to send the Sequoia Union High School Board of Trustees and the superintendent a letter describing two scenarios in which the Press Club could assist getting the school newspaper running again. One scenario describes a civil relationship in which the club works with the district by offering either financial assistance or mentoring by members of the club. The other scenario describes aggressive legal action and possible negative attention. The general consensus of the board is that its membership would be willing to work directly with the school and district administration as long as acceptable progress is made.

    Board members unanimously approved of that action.
There was an informal discussion on redefining the role of the Press Club and some discussion of organizing a board retreat to further define those goals. It was decided the discussion be completed later.

Meeting was adjourned by President Casini at 7:45 p.m.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The end of Valleywag as we know it

The tawdry tech gossip site Valleywag.com will become a column on Gawker.com and its racy items about techies doing bad things will be broadened to attract a national audience. That's the word from Nick Denton, owner of both sites.

Although Valleywag.com says it is attracting 1 million visitors a month, the site isn't doing as well with advertisers.

Editor Owen Thomas will continue to write about the tech scene as a Gawker columnist, but the site's other writer, former New York Times freelancer Paul Boutin, will be looking for a new job, according to NYT blogger Brad Stone. Boutin was actually a casualty of a previous cost-cutting purge by Denton, though his departure is set for month's end.

In traditional Gawker Media style, idea of folding Valleywag in to Gawker began as a half joking posting by Thomas on Tuesday. Thomas listed ways Gawker Media could save money, such as combining titles. Denton read the post and decided to make it a reality.

Examiner didn't print on Tuesday

The San Francisco Examiner didn't publish a newspaper on Tuesday, Veteran's Day. The staff at the Chronicle discovered this fact after searching unsuccessfully all over town for a copy of the paper. The Chron's Marisa Lagos writes:
    Executive Editor Jim Pimentel [pictured], reached in Denver (where the Examiner's parent company is headquartered) graciously explained that we are, in fact, not insane.

    "We're a 21st century newspaper and we produce a paper based on our readers' needs," he said. "We decided not to print on certain holidays when the readership is low, and this is one of them."

    Pimentel also pointed out that we're not quite as diligent as we'd like to think (our words, not his) -- the Examiner also skipped production on Labor Day, but we apparently were too busy taking that holiday off to notice.

    It's not a cost-saving measure, he added.

    "We produce based on readership needs, and they're not high on day like today," he said.

    As for upcoming holidays? Pimentel promised a paper on both Thanksgiving and Christmas, but said the 2009 holiday schedule is still being finalized. And he said that it's not just the crazy City by the Bay: the Washington D.C. and Baltimore Examiners also took today off.

Wired.com making 'unexpected cutbacks'

San Francisco's Wired.com, the online arm of Wired magazine, on Tuesday cut its staff by 10 percent, CNET.com reports. Most of the cuts came outside of editorial however. Out of 28 editorial positions, 3 employees were laid off, CNET said it was told by sources, and none of them were staff writers.

But Silicon Valley Insider said seven editorial staffers were laid off along with "many more freelancers." The Insider quoted one source as saying:
    People are being called into a meeting at SF office and told they are being let go. People being told that "unexpected cutbacks" require pink slipping writers, editors.
CNET quoted Wired.com editor in chief Evan Hansen as saying the layoffs were in preparation for the economic downturn.

'Bloodbath' at Al Gore's Current TV; 30 laid off

Current TV is cutting 30 jobs so that the company founded by Al Gore can restructure and remain "comfortably profitable in 2009 regardless of the depth and length of the recession."

David Weir of BNET.com quoted one unnamed person at Current's San Francisco office as saying the layoffs Tuesday were a "bloodbath." Weir said Current's LA and SF offices battled over content and business strategy, and the Socal office came out the winner. After the layoffs, Current will have 410 positions.

Current TV, which programs its channels with user-generated content, will premier eight "cross-platform channels, including news, comedy, music and technology" in the first quarter of 2009, a statement from the company said.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

KGO-AM fires Karel, board operator

KGO-AM has fired weekend host Karel for an obscene tirade he launched against Joe the Plumber, according to a statement the station posted on its Web site tonight.

Karel, whose real name is Charles “Karel” Bouley, thought his microphone had been turned off during an Nov. 1 news break when the famous plumber's name came up in a story. Not only did Karel drop the f-bomb three times but he added "I want motherf----ing Joe the Plumber dead."

KGO, in a four sentence statement posted on its Web site, said both Karel and an unnamed board operator were fired.

Radio critic Brad Kava said he got an e-mail from Karel yesterday saying, "They silence the most prominent gay voice in the Bay, right as Prop 8 passes. How lovely."

The FCC has been hitting broadcasters with heavy fines for obscenities, even those said by accident. No word from the commission about this incident. (Photo via advocate.com)

High school shuts down student paper

The San Mateo Daily Journal reports that the principal of Carlmont High School in Belmont has shut down the student newspaper saying it needs more supervision. The move came after the paper printed a satirical story by one student about his own sexiness.

The paper, the Scots Express, is published by a journalism club and does not have a faculty advisor. The paper is funded by ads the students sell on their own, although Principal Andrea Jenoff says some money comes from the school's site council. The editor, Alex Zhang, also sits on the site council and wasn't aware of any money the council gave to his paper.

According to the Daily Journal, Zhang and Jack Dooley, who wrote the satire piece, were called into the principal's office on Monday and were told that the paper would be canceled due to its content.

As the Journal reported:
    If the decision was content based, it goes against California law, explained Frank LoMonte, Student Press Law Center executive director. California has two layers of protection for student writers: The First Amendment and the Leonard Law, which prohibits schools from disciplining students for protected speech.

    Unless the story causes a true disruption, it is protected, said LoMonte, who added canceling the paper is the ultimate form of censorship.

    The decision discouraged state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, the author of a new law protecting high school teachers and school employees from retaliation as a result of student speech.

    The idea that children could learn that their ideas can and will be censored also did not sit well with Yee, who hoped the administration would reconsider its decision.

KGO-AM's Luckoff's writing a book

A couple of notes about KGO NewsTalk 810. First, longtime general manager Mickey Luckoff was inducted into the national Radio Hall of Fame on Saturday, joining the likes of Jack Benny, Harry Caray, Dick Clark, Bing Crosby, Lee DeForest, Jim Dunbar, Paul Harvey, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Wolfman Jack, Rush Limbaugh and Garrison Keillor. But in an interview with ABC7's Don Sanchez before he was inducted, Luckoff said he was writing a book. "Is this a tell-all book?" asked Sanchez. "It's experience. My experiences," said Luckoff. Luckoff is shown here with his award at the ceremony in Chicago.

The other piece of KGO news involves weekend host Karel, who is on suspension for an obscene tirade he launched on Joe the Plumber during a news break. Karel's mic was left on during the news. His engineer has also been suspended. Radio critic Brad Kava notes that Karel is now speaking out about the incident, via the Internet. "This was a horrible mistake. The engineer is horribly sorry. I'm sorry," Karel writes. Karel, whose real name is Charles “Karel” Bouley, lives in Long Beach and does the show from his home. Karel says that police have stationed a car in front of his home because of threats he has received.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Karel's suspension called indefinite

KGO-AM is now calling Karel's suspension indefinite and that the station has also suspended an engineer, according to radio critic Brad Kava's Examiner blog. Karel and his engineer are in trouble after the host was heard using profanities including the f-word during an ABC News report about Joe the Plumber (see item below from Thursday).

The fact that his outburst happened during the news, when one would assume his mic would be off, doesn't matter. "All microphones are on. That's Broadcasting 101," KGO assistant program director Trish Robbins told Kava.

Earlier in the week, KGO was describing Karel's suspension as temporary. It wasn't known whether the change was significant.

Who will replace Karel? On Saturday, KGO will be carrying Cal football during Karel's 7-10 p.m. slot. On Sunday, KGO sportscaster "Kevin the Rat" will get a tryout Sunday.

Kava also says KGO on Sunday will also air a taped hour from Chicago of the National Radio Hall of Fame dinner honoring KGO president Mickey Luckoff, who has led the station at the top of the ratings for 36 years.

More layoffs at East Bay MediaNews papers

BANG Executive Editor Kevin Keane sent an e-mail to employees this afternoon saying the company will be cutting 10 jobs by Nov. 14, the SF Weekly reports. Eight are union members (who were not identified in the e-mail) and two are managers, Jon Kawamoto and Mike Wolcott. Keane said in the e-mail:
    "I wish circumstances were different, but as you know the newspaper industry remains on unstable ground at the moment. While I can offer no guarantees about any further staff changes, I'm cautiously optimistic that the industry will regain its footing soon. In the meantime, we wish nothing but the best to our departing colleagues."
The Guild reached a contract with the company over the summer that prevented any layoffs until this month. At the first opportunity, the ax fell. A month earlier, the company cut the pay of most employees. Earlier this year, 57 newsroom employees took buyouts and another 38 were laid off. BANG-EB includes the Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, San Mateo County Times and other papers owned by MediaNews Group.

BANG East Bay lays off 10 more workers

The cutbacks in local newsrooms continue. The Bay Area News Group-East Bay (Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, etc.) laid off 10 people today — managers Jon Kawamoto and Mike Wolcott and eight non-exempt employees who weren't named, according to John Geluardi of the SF Weekly and the Guild's Web site.

The Guild says that about 200 employees are left in the bargaining unit, which a year ago had more than 300.

“I wish circumstances were different, but as you know the newspaper industry remains on unstable ground at the moment,” Executive Editor Kevin Keane wrote in an e-mail to his staff. “While I can offer no guarantees about any further staff changes, I'm cautiously optimistic that the industry will regain its footing soon. In the meantime we wish nothing but the best to our departing colleagues.”

In the spring, 57 newsroom employees took buyouts and in July the company laid off another 38 employees, according to Geluardi.

“This is terrible news, and we’ll do everything we can to lessen the impact on the newsroom and our members,” said Sara Steffens, Guild unit chair.

Steffens was among those laid off in July. Her fellow unit members nevertheless elected her unit chair, and she also serves as a member of the BANG-EB committee negotiating with the management for a first contract.

Outsourcing illustrated

Knight Ridder veteran Ken Doctor reports on his blog that employees at one Bay Area Newspaper Group paper decided to illustrate CEO Dean Singleton's outsourcing plans. This map was found on a bulletin board, Doctor says.

No anniversary gifts for Chron employees

The following memo went out to Chron employees this morning (via Romenesko)

MEMORANDUM

TO: All Employees
FROM: Suzy Cain
DATE: November 6, 2008
RE: Service Awards Program to be discontinued January 1, 2009

Effective January 1, 2009, the Chronicle will discontinue its Service Awards Program. This is being done as a cost-cutting measure during difficult economic times and in no way reflects a diminished appreciation of your contributions to the organization. We sincerely regret any inconvenience or disappointment this may cause you.

The Chronicle will continue to honor the service awards for employees who had or will reach milestones of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, & 45 years prior to January 1, 2009.

Please contact the HR Business Partner for your department if you have any questions.

Thank you for your understanding.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Singleton wins newspaper war in Eureka

In Eureka, Calif. (284 miles north of San Francisco), a daily newspaper owned by a local businessman will close Saturday after four years of battling the town's longtime daily paper, owned by Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group, the Bay Area's largest newspaper publisher.

However, Singleton's Eureka Times-Standard has agreed to publish the rival Eureka Reporter's opinion page two days a week — a move which suggests the closure may have resulted from negotiations between the two newspapers.

In August, Singleton sued the Eureka Reporter, claiming that it was selling ads at below cost in order to grab market share. The two papers had also tangled in court over the right to print legal notices, with Singleton ultimately taking away that revenue source from the locally-owned paper.

”It's satisfying to prevail in battle but, as one who loves newspapers, it's sad to see one go away, but I'm glad the Reporter's spirit will live on in the pages of the Times-Standard,” Singleton is quoted as saying in his Times-Standard yesterday.

“Whether it’s health, education, youth, crime, or sports — this was a true community newspaper, owned and operated by someone from this community who cared about it,” said Carol Harrison, a writer for the Eureka Reporter. “It’s a loss, but I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m proud to have been part of it.”

Here's a link to a statement the Eureka Reporter published this morning. And here's a link to a 2006 Chronicle story about this newspaper war.

Readers grab Chrons, presses restarted


The Chron along with The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune restarted their presses yesterday and printed more newspapers as readers scrambled for a souvenir of Barack Obama's election.

The Chron noted in a story that at Fog City News on Market Street, people were lined up at the door before the newsstand opened at 8 a.m., and within a half hour, all copies of the New York Times and The Chronicle were gone.
    The Chronicle planned to sell an extra 40,000 copies of Wednesday's paper, plus 40,000 special commemorative editions, said Chris Blaser, the paper's vice president of circulation. But because of the demand, the edition was sold out by midmorning. So in a rare move, the presses were restarted to print an additional 35,000 copies of the morning paper Wednesday afternoon.

    "I've been in the business for 28 years and it's probably the highest level of demand and excitement I've seen in my career," Blaser said. "This has really touched everybody, particularly in the Bay Area."

    More than 2,000 special editions were sold by the afternoon through the paper's Web site, SFGate.com, some to buyers as far as Norway, Blaser said. And a line formed outside The Chronicle when word spread that the extra editions were available.
A copy of the $1 commemorative edition of The Chronicle was already going for $51 on eBay, while a copy of the New York Times had a bid of $400.

The Oakland Tribune reported that scalpers were reselling papers there at inflated prices and that a 7-Eleven store in Hayward was charging higher prices to whites than blacks. According to a story by Angela Woodall of the Oakland Tribune:
    Christopher Carney stood in line at a Hayward 7-Eleven waiting for a newspaper Wednesday morning only to be told by the clerk, an African-American woman, that he would have to pay $5 for a copy. "If you want it, it's $5," the clerk replied when he refused, Carney said.

    She then charged the next customer, another black woman, 50 cents, he said. "We're trying to keep some for the brothers and sisters," the clerk reportedly told Carney, who is white, when he asked why she was charging two prices.

    "At first I was mad," said Carney, a Hayward resident. The 7-Eleven store where the incident occurred is on Jackson Street, near Highway 92. "But a person is a person and money is money when it comes to a newspaper. We're all just people."

    He bought a copy elsewhere and filed a complaint with the corporate 7-Eleven offices — he was told the company would investigate the matter. Calling the incident ironic, Carney said, "If Hillary Clinton had been elected would (the clerk) be saving all the papers for women?"

KGO-AM temporarily pulls Karel off the air

KGO-AM has temporarily suspended Charles “Karel” Bouley while management decides what it should do after he unleashed an obscene tirade against Joe the Plumber while he thought his microphone was turned off.

“It’s a personnel matter and it’s under review,” operations director Jack Swanson told Wall Street Journal reporter Sarah McBride. “It is clear what happened wasn’t intentional.”

Karel's 7-10 p.m. timeslot this coming Saturday will be pre-empted by a Cal football game anyway; the station still hasn’t announced who will fill in on Sunday from 7 to 10. Karel has been in the running to become the station's permanent host from 7 to 10 weeknights to replace Bernie Ward.

The Journal said Karel apologized for the outburst on the open mic. “I was, and am deeply sorry that went out,” said Bouley, who called Wurzelbacher “an actor playing the character of Joe the Plumber.”

ABC 7 invests in 'View from the Bay'

Contra Costa Times TV writer Chuck Barney, in a piece this morning headlined "'The View from the Bay' improves with time," says the 3 p.m. weekday talk-show is gaining the ratings, attracting big-name guests and has been rewarded by ABC7 with a 2,000-square-foot set. ABC7 gm Valari Staab decided two years ago, after seeing syndicated shows in that time slot flop, decided to go local, pairing Spencer Christian and Janelle Wang on a local talk show. Barney writes:
    Originating from a cramped, sterile corner of the station's news studio, "View" took to the air in June of 2006 with modest ratings and rather rudimentary production values. How rudimentary? Cooking demonstrations were done on a puny two-burner camping stove.

    Wang privately worried that the gig might be short-lived. "It took a while to find our groove as we kept trying different things," she says. "This was a brand-new thing for me, and I was constantly nervous about being replaced."

    But both Wang and the show exhibited staying power. Ratings gradually improved, and last spring "View" was rewarded with its own snazzy 2,000-square-foot set, complete with a functional kitchen and, yes, a real stove.
(Photo credit: Matthew Sumner, Contra Costa Times)

New ad manager for Gilroy Dispatch

David Marin, formerly head of advertsing at Santa Maria Times, will take over in the same position at the Gilroy Dispatch, Morgan Hill Times and Hollister Free Lance. The three papers south of San Jose are owned by Mainstreet Media. Marin, 47, will work out of the Dispatch offices in Gilroy. Prior to Santa Maria, Marin worked in advertising at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and the Monterey County Herald. While in Monterey, he also found time to earn a law degree.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Karel lets loose with obscenities on the air

Listeners to Karel's show on KGO-AM 810 on Saturday heard the host unleash obscene tirade about Joe the Plumber. Apparently Karel (pictured) thought his mic was off during an ABC News break.

A story about John McCain and Joe the Plumber started, and Karel is heard saying, "F--- g--damn Joe the g---damn plumber f---ing plumber. I want motherf----ing Joe the Plumber dead."

The FCC has been imposing six- and seven-digit fines for on-air obscenity, even when those words are said by accident. No word yet on whether KGO will discipline Karel, whose real name is Charles Karel Bouley.

Brian Maloney, who blogs about the radio industry (radioequalizer.blogspot.com), says the usual procedure for a station is to fire the engineer. But he says the flap is intense enough that it might take down Karel himself. (Photo via advocate.com)

Chron's Obama interview ignites furor

Barack Obama's comments to the Chron's editorial board in January — during which he promised to bankrupt the coal industry and implement policies that would cause electric rates to "skyrocket" — are making news on the eve of the election.

Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh are asking why the comments have only surfaced now after audio of the Chron's editorial board meeting was posted anonymously on YouTube.

Chron editorial page editor John Diaz said in this morning's Chron that both audio and video of the interview has been posted at SFGate.com since the interview took place in Jan. 17. Above is a photo after the interview with Phil Bronstein on the left and Diaz on the right.

However, the Chron's stories about the interview didn't mention Obama's comments about bankrupting the coal industry or letting energy rates skyrocket. The only way a reader would learn about that is by listening to the entire 48-minute editorial board meeting.

Neither the story today quoting Diaz nor an online commentary by political reporter Carla Marinucci explains why the newspaper didn't report on the candidate's intention to bankrupt the coal industry.

Links:
(Photo credit: Andrew S. Ross, Chron)

Mark Antonitis out as KRON boss

TV Spy reports that Friday was Mark Antonitis's last day as general manager of KRON Channel 4 after four years at the station. The item doesn't give Antonitis' future plans. He'll be replaced by Brian Greif, previously vp for news at Young Broadcasting, KRON's owner.

Greif has been with Young Broadcasting since 2003. Previously he was a vp for Frank N. Magid Associates consultancy for 11 years. He was also news director at WSVN-TV in Miami from 1988 to 1993 and worked at WHO-TV Des Moines, rising to the post of station manager.

Antonitis (pictured) was previously news director at NBC O&O WMAQ-TV Chicago. He has also worked at stations in New York, St. Louis, Denver and Young's station in Sioux Falls, S.D. In 2004, Antonitis replaced Dino Dinovitz, who retired.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Santa Rosa Press Democrat cuts 16 jobs

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat announced in this morning's edition that it is eliminating 16 positions including 10 in the newsroom due to declining advertising and a deteriorating local economy. The cutbacks will bring the newsroom to about 70 positions, down about 30 percent from its high in 2004.

The paper, which is owned by The New York Times, said the latest round of layoffs fell heaviest on the newsroom, where the jobs of editorial assistants and graphic artists were eliminated, and the ranks of the copy editors and photographers were trimmed.

Publisher Bruce Kyse told employees Friday that the loss of retail advertisers such as Mervyns and Linens 'n Things and the decline of classified advertising resulting from online competition mean advertising can't support as many newspaper employees as in the past

A series of layoffs last year at the newspaper cut 35 positions, reducing the number of employees to fewer than 400. An additional 17 positions were eliminated in July.

Police detain videographer, take her tape

Police confiscated video footage Friday from an Oakland Tribune photographer who was filming students protesting federal immigration policy, according to the Tribune and AP. The photographer, Jane Tyska, was placed in back of a patrol car for about a half-hour and released without citation. According to the Tribune:
    Troy Flint, the spokesman for the Oakland school district, said OUSD Police Chief Art Michel was trailing the student-protesters as they made their way down International Boulevard.

    Flint said Michel reported that Tribune videographer Jane Tyska, who was filming from the street at the time, elbowed the police car as Michel drove by.

    "The officer confiscated the tape as alleged evidence of the photographer's interference with his ability to conduct his responsibilities, which in this case was protecting student-protesters," Flint said.

    Tyska said the officer grazed her with his car as she was walking backwards, videotaping protesters in the middle of the street. He then stopped his car, began yelling profanities at her and accused her of hitting his car and inciting a riot, Tyska said.

    "I immediately identified myself as a photographer for the Oakland Tribune, showed him my press pass, and said I was just doing my job, but he continued yelling and screaming profanities and said he was going to arrest me."

    "I asked the officer why it was illegal for me to shoot from the street and he said it was a 'moving crime scene'. To my knowledge, there is no such thing, and photographers are always in the middle of the action at protests."
The AP quoted Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, as saying police are generally not allowed to seize what they think could be evidence in a future case without a warrant or subpoena.

"That just gives police huge powers that they don't have," he said, calling the incident "very unusual."

The Tribune is attempting to get the tape back from the school district police, said managing editor Pete Wevurski.