Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Test run planned of televising Prop. 8 trial

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said Wednesday he wants to TV cameras to cover a Jan. 6 pretrial hearing as a test run to determine if a trial of Prop. 8 should be televised, AP reports. Sponsors of Prop. 8 the ballot measure that banned same-sex in California say that television coverage of the trial in San Francisco would result in harassment and intimidation of witnesses and other participants. Newspapers and TV networks have asked Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to allow cameras in the courtroom for the trial next month. The federal courts are experimenting with allowing television coverage in cases without juries. The Prop. 8 case will be decided by a judge without a jury. [More from the Chronicle, Mercury News]

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bay Guardian allowed to intercept rival's income

Bruce Brugmann's Bay Guardian has been granted court permission to intercept the income of the rival SF Weekly in an attempt to collect on a $21 million judgment. The move may force a creditor of the SF Weekly's parent company to place the Arizona-based 16-paper chain in default. Brugmann (right) is exploring the possibility of placing the chain into involuntary bankruptcy.

The San Francisco Superior Case number is CGC-04-435584.

The following is from the Guardian's report on the case:
    In a court hearing on Monday, an attorney for the Village Voice chain, Randall Farrimond, pleaded for the court not to enter the order assigning part of the SF Weekly’s income to the Bay Guardian. “If this motion is granted, the bank will declare a default,” Farrimond told the court, and concluded, “If the Bay Guardian thinks there are more assets than those pledged to Bank of Montreal, they are mistaken.” ...

    Several court hearings scheduled for January have the potential to substantially advance the Bay Guardian’s collection efforts, which have gained momentum in recent weeks. In November, the Bay Guardian successfully auctioned off vehicles belonging to the SF Weekly.
The SF Weekly typically posts its version of developments in this court case but has not yet reported on Monday's hearing.

KQED, KALW join in-depth news experiment

KQED-FM 88.5 and KALW 91.7 are among the outlets picked by National Public Radio to participate in a major news experiment backed by $3 million in support from foundations, according to paidContent.org. With USAToday.com editor Joel Sucherman at the helm, each station will focus in-depth on one major issue, such as green energy, health care or immigration, to name a few examples. The coverage will have a strong local focus for each station, but will also have national relevance.

CBS Radio chief knows where to eat

Say what you want about the brass at CBS Radio, but SF market manager Doug Harville knows how to eat -- and where the best eats can be found. The Chron's Aidin Vaziri did this piece on places he enjoys. Maybe it will give CBS Radio staffers some insight on their boss. Who knows? Above he's seen emerging from his favorite barber shop in the North Beach neighborhood. One thing is for sure, Doug knows his way around town. (Photo credit: Lacy Adkins, Chronicle)

December 2009 Press Club board minutes

Dec. 9, 2009 — Board room, San Mateo Daily Journal. The meeting was called to order at 7 p.m.

Present: Jon Mays, Micki Carter, Jack Russell, Peter Cleaveland Darryl Compton. Absent: Dave Price, Ed Remitz, Marshall Wilson, Melissa McRobbie, Jamie Casini. Guest: Antonia Ehlers

Minutes of November were approved as read.

Treasurer’s Report: Darryl reported that the club took in $18,800 and spent $20,800 in 2009. He noted that membership is down because the Daily News Group has stopped paying for the membership of staff members.

Year in Review: Jon looked back at the activities of the club in 2009.

2010 Professional Journalism Contest: Jon asked members to bring suggestions for revising the rules/categories for the contest to the January meeting. He will seek ideas for the online categories from Barry Parr.

Director Emeritus: Micki moved that Press Club Founder Jack Russell be designed Director Emeritus. Peter seconded and it passed unanimously. Jack talked for a few minutes about the formation of the Press Club.

New Directors:
    Darryl announced the results of the annual balloting:
    President: Jon Mays
    Vice president: Dave Price
    Secretary: Micki Carter
    Treasurer: Ed Remitz
    Immediate past president: Jamie Casini
    Directors: Peter Cleaveland, Melissa McRobbie, Kristy Blackburn, Antonia Ehlers
    Marshall Wilson still has another year in his term.
Donations: The board voted to send $100 each to the Student Law Press Center, CalAware and the First Amendment Coalition.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Micki Carter
Secretary

Thursday, December 24, 2009

BA News Project to name editor, CEO in January

The Bay Area News Project (that joint effort between the UC-Berkeley j-school, KQED and financier F. Warren Hellman) will announce its executive editor and CEO in January, Scott Walton of KQED says. "We have outstanding candidates but I can't give you a firm date except to let you know that we are confident about being able to do this soon. I think the launch will be pushed back a little bit but 2nd quarter of 2010 is still realistic," Walton tells the Press Club in an e-mail.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Court administrative records to become public

The administrative arm of the California Supreme Court adopted a rule providing public access to administrative records of all state courts. Peter Scheer of the San Rafael-based California First Amendment Coalition writes "you will be able to request records showing the exact compensation of court employees or reimbursements for judges’ professional expenses. You will be able to obtain a copy of vendor agreements entered into by the courts, or examine detailed financial statements and budget information. Still off limits, of course, are records of the courts’ internal deliberations in adjudicated cases."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

MediaNews to restructure debt in Q1 2010

MediaNews Group plans to restructure its debt, reported to be about $1 billion, in the first three months of next year. That's the headline from a 4-page memo CEO Dean Singleton (right) and President Jody Lodovic (left) have sent their employees nationwide. And that's obviously good news for the owner of several Bay Area newspapers including the Mercury News and Contra Costa Times. Will that mean an end to furloughs? Not so fast, they say. "The Company must see clear evidence of improving economic conditions before such decisions are made. We will keep all options open, including reinstatement on a phased approach." Below is the text of the memo. (Thank you to those who e-mailed us, you know who you are!):
    TO: MNG/MNGi Employees 
    FROM: Dean Singleton and Jody Lodovic 
    SUBJECT: 2009 is almost gone. Thanks for getting us through it! 
    First and foremost, let us thank you for your hard work and dedication during this difficult economic period, a time particularly hard for the newspaper industry. You have been asked to do more with less, and we truly appreciate your efforts and sacrifices. 
    While the past three years have been particularly challenging (especially 2009) for MediaNews Group and the newspaper industry, we are proud of your performance and many accomplishments, and we are confident that our strategies will lead us and the industry into a bright future. Let us highlight just a few of your/our accomplishments during this challenging period:

      Advertising — While advertising revenue has been severely challenged, your performance has been near the top of the industry throughout 2009. For the three-month period ended September, for example, your advertising revenue declined 24% as compared to the industry decline of 28.2%. This performance was consistent with the first two quarters. Furthermore, in markets such as St. Paul, the Bay Area, and Los Angeles, we significantly outperformed other newspapers in the regions.

      We have made significant progress in transforming our sales organization and have invested in new tools, such as iShare, training and laptops, to position us to meet the ever changing needs of our advertisers. Your success has been noted and is appreciated.

      Circulation — Your circulation performance is second to none. In the September ABC 6-month report, MediaNews Group had circulation growth even as the industry lost 10.6%. That increase included The Denver Post growth which came after the demise of its primary competitor, The Rocky Mountain News. However, not including Denver, the company's loss was 4.8%, still the best performance in the industry by far. This performance moved the company from number 4 to number 2, as measured by circulation.

      News — Our circulation performance would be impossible if not for the excellent news products each of your newspapers produce. There is not enough space here to comment on all the awards your newsrooms have won this year. While we, like others, have had no choice but to trim news staffs, we have tried to consolidate infrastructure to preserve reporting staff when possible. And with hard work and creativity, your newsrooms have re-invented themselves and continue to do excellent journalism. We are so proud of our outstanding editors and their dedicated staffs. 

      And speaking of creativity, we are awed by the outstanding work you are doing online. As our traffic continues to soar, our audiences between print and online have never been larger.

      Operations — The year has brought major plant consolidation for many of our newspapers. Added to creative circulation and route consolidation and new ways of doing production, you have achieved efficiencies we never would have dreamed possible while improving the service you provide.

      Denver — We completed a significant restructuring in Denver after the closing of the Rocky Mountain News. While we were sad to see the Rocky go, we are excited about our future in Denver. The performance of the Denver Post during this transition has been nothing short of remarkable as we held most of the Rocky unduplicated circulation and operating performance continues to improve each month.

      Internet Strategy — A group from your newspapers met offsite last April to chart our digital course for the future. Since that time, several task forces have been working to put more meat on the bones. We are now in position to start implementing the strategies we developed. Step one is to install a new content management system that will serve as the foundation for our strategies. Upon completion, we will begin building new local.com and news.com websites in each of our markets. Our largest markets should be up and running by mid-2010. In addition, we are working to implement strategies to protect and monetize our content. New pay models will begin testing in some markets early next year.

      Mobile — Mobile (and other portable reading devices) represents a significant opportunity for us. Accordingly, we have engaged outside mobile expertise to help us develop our mobile strategies. We have completed phase 1 of the process and hope to have a fully mapped out mobile strategy early in 2010.

    MediaNews Group is committed to making the necessary investments to implement its strategies. However, these investments must be made prudently and cautiously given the challenges we face to improve our balance sheet. As always, we must balance the need to move quickly with resources and capital available.

    MediaNews, like many other newspaper companies, entered the current downturn with a reasonable level of debt based on historical measures. However, the current newspaper industry environment bears no resemblance to any previous newspaper downturn, and the magnitude of the structural and cyclical decline was simply unimaginable just a few years ago. Consequently, we, along with much of the industry, have more debt than is comfortable.

    We have been working closely with our banks to restructure our debt and position MediaNews Group to execute its strategies and lead our newspapers into a positive future. Yes, we believe newspapers have a bright future! We are near agreement on the terms of a restructuring plan which we expect will be completed toward the end of the first quarter of 2010. Upon completion, MediaNews expects to have a manageable level of debt, and we look forward to working with each of you to take your newspapers into a changing but exciting future.

    As we near the end of 2009, you may have questions regarding annual reviews, 401(k) contributions, health care benefits, and future furloughs, etc. While it is our hope and desire to reinstate Company-wide salary reviews and 401(k) contributions as soon as possible and avoid future furloughs, it is premature to make those decisions. The Company must see clear evidence of improving economic conditions before such decisions are made. We will keep all options open, including reinstatement on a phased approach. As you can imagine, these are not easy decisions. Our highest priority is positioning MediaNews Group for a bright future and preserving/protecting its most valuable asset ­— its employees. We will let you know as soon as those decisions are made.

    Let us say again how much we appreciate your efforts. Your contributions are vital to the future success of MediaNews Group and the newspapers it publishes. We're probably biased, but we believe you all comprise the best newspaper team in the business. We're proud to work with you. Let us wish you and your family happy and healthy holidays and a happy new year!

Move over Eyewitness Blues Band

Leah Garchik reports that "the KTVU Channel 2 News holiday party featured the debut of the Channel 2 band. Mark Ibanez sang 'Johnny B. Goode,' Joe Fonzi was on drums, and Ken Wayne sang 'Blue Christmas' a la Elvis. "Take that, KPIX's Eyewitness Blues Band!" says spy Gasia Mikaelian."

Monday, December 21, 2009

TV networks, newspapers seek broadcast of Prop 8 trial

Bay City News is reporting that a coalition of television networks and newspapers asked a federal judge in San Francisco today for permission to televise next month's trial on the constitutionality of California's same-sex marriage ban.

Ten media organizations sent U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker a letter saying they would like to provide gavel-to-gavel broadcast and webcast coverage of the trial, scheduled to begin Jan. 11.

Pool coverage would be handled by In Session, formerly known as Court TV, the letter said.

The coalition's attorney, Thomas Burke, wrote, "We appreciate the court's attention to this matter and look forward to the opportunity to provide coverage of these historic proceedings."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Paper apologizes for guest opinion calling for a "bounty" on Obama's head

This item is from the Santa Barbara Daily Sound, a bit out of the range of the Press Club blog, but still interesting. The Sound's publisher, former Palo Alto Daily News managing editor Jeramy Gordon, is apologizing for a guest opinion piece by a Santa Barbara resident who called for a "bounty" on President Obama. The following is from Gordon's apology:
    There’s no excuse for why the article was published. The column is indefensible and the proper measures have been taken to ensure such hatred is never published again.

    We would like to apologize for breaking the trust of our readers. Even if the assassination of our president wasn’t Perry’s intended meaning — which she claims — it’s a conclusion that many highly educated people came to.

    To be clear, neither Perry nor the Daily Sound offered a bounty. And the Daily Sound would never advocate for the assassination of our president or any other person.
Good thing they'd never do that. Ouch!

SacBee wants to cut severance pay

The Sacramento News Review reports that management at the Sacramento Bee wants to reduce the severance pay workers would get if they're laid off. Currently, the maximum severance pay allowed is 40 weeks. A new proposal would cut that to 26 weeks. The Guild, which obviously isn't happy about it, says the Bee just wants to make it $10,000 to $20,000 cheaper to lay off some of the paper's most veteran employees.

When are we getting an ESPNSF.com?

With the roll out of ESPNBoston, ESPNDallas and ESPNChicago and, on Monday, ESPNLA, we're wondering when the Worldwide Leader in Sports will launch a Bay Area Web site.

The Press Club found that ESPNSF.com was registered by ESPN, Inc., 935 Middle St., Bristol CT 06010-1001 on Jan. 16, 2009. Somebody else has the ESPNBayArea.com URL.

Meanwhile in the Southland, ESPNLA.com is snapping up talent from the LA Times, LA Daily News and Sports Illustrated as it prepares to launch, according to The Big Lead.

Up to a dozen layoffs at the Chron

The NorCal Guild's online bulletin reports that the Chron laid off up to a dozen employees earlier this month. They worked in finance, circulation and SFGate. The Guild noted that management wouldn't explain why the cuts were made in light of the company's announcements suggesting the paper's finances were improving. "It does seem clear, however, that The Chronicle has a long way to go before achieving enough financial stability for anyone to say the era of layoffs is finally over," the Guild bulletin said.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

SF Film Critics Circle names best films of 2009

The San Francisco Film Critics Circle has named "The Hurt Locker" as the Best Picture of 2009, while the film's guiding force, Kathryn Bigelow, took the prize for Best Director.

Here's a link to their release listing the year's best films.

Founded in 2002, the circle is comprised of 26 critics from Bay Area publications. Its members include film journalists from the Chronicle, Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, East Bay Express, San Jose Metro, Palo Alto Weekly, the Marin Independent Journal, the Examiner, KRON-TV, Variety, CultureVulture.net and Splicedwire.com.

Eshoo's commercial volume bill approved

The House today approved a bill by Anna Eshoo of Palo Alto that woulod force TV stations to keep commercials from sounding noticeably louder than programs, AP reports. Eshoo said a law was needed because "volunteerism hasn't worked for 50 years."  The Senate still has to approve the legislation.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Mark Curtis joins ABC station in Rhode Island

Former KTVU morning anchor Mark Curtis has been hired as a weekend anchor and political/investigative reporter at the ABC affiliate in Providence, R.I.

Here's a link to the press release that Mark posted on his Web site. And here's a story that appeared on the Web site of his hometown paper, the Danville Weekly.

Curtis was at KTVU from 1993 until 2007. He then went freelance and covered the 2008 presidential campaign. He also wrote a book about the campaign, "Age of Obama: A Reporter's Journey with Clinton, McCain and Obama in the Making of the President 2008."

Friday, December 11, 2009

USA Network orders pilot of SF legal drama

The Hollywood Reporter says that the USA Network has ordered a pilot of a San Francisco-based legal drama titled "Facing Kate," starring Battlestar Galactica's Michael Trucco, Virginia Williams and Sarah Shahi.

Shahi (pictured) plays Kate, a divorced SF woman who leaves her job at a law firm to become a mediator after the death of her father, who headed a law firm.

Speaking about scripted dramas set in SF, the NBC series "Trauma" apparently hasn't flat-lined despite earlier reports. The network has ordered up three more episodes that will air sometime before the Winter Olympics in mid-February. Since the show's ratings have steadily eroded, it's unclear why three more episodes were ordered.

Ex-punk rocker/physicist leads journalism program

David Nordfors, a Swedish punk rocker-turned-molecular-physicist-turned-journalist, says a lot of journalists can't see the big picture when it comes to technological innovation.

Nordfors is co-founder and executive director of the VINNOVA-Stanford Research Center of Innovation Journalism. The program places its fellows (mainly mid-career journalists) in newsrooms around the Bay Area to learn the new ways that reporters and bloggers were covering technology and innovation. Those newsrooms include the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, CNET and even the Technologizer blog.

Here's a link to an interview Mark Glaser of PBS.com's MediaShift did with Nordfors. Glaser asked Norfors why he started the program:
    We aren't able to have a public discussion [about innovation] because journalism is organized in those same darn verticals as the rest of society. So you have one part of innovation stories on the business page, another part on the tech page, one part is on the politics page, one part on the lifestyle page. 
    All these editors have one part of the story and have no intention of collaborating with the other editors. You have the same stack of silos in the newsroom as out in society. If you're into changing things and finding new solutions, the opportunity is to go across disciplines.

WSJ: KGO-AM, KSFO parent prepares for bankruptcy

The Wall Street Journal reports that Citadel Broadcasting Corp., owner of San Francisco's KGO-AM 810 and KSFO 560, is discussing with its creditors a "pre-arranged" Chapter 11 filing that would reduce the company's debts from $2 billion to $760 million.

The bankruptcy would wipe out individual shareholders, whose shares are currently worth about 5 cents each. That's down from $16 in 2004.

The article notes: "As bad as things are, Citadel has outpaced rivals this year. Its revenue through the end of September dropped 14.7%. Clear Channel's revenue, meanwhile, slid 19.2%, while CBS Radio decreased 23.2%."

The word locally is that both KGO-AM and KSFO are among the few bright spots in the company, which has about 4,000 employees and 243 stations including the former ABC Radio O&Os such as KABC-AM Los Angeles, WABC-AM New York and WLS-AM Chicago.

Creditors have until Tuesday to approve the bankruptcy plan.

Channel 2 looking for dayside executive producer

KTUV has posted a help wanted ad seeking an executive producer for its noon, 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts after the departure of Claudia Lombana on Dec. 2. Lombana left after her 5 p.m. show finally reached No. 1 in its time slot. The Press Club welcomes tips at sfpen-pressclub@sbcglobal.net.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Another reason why Dec. 7 will live in infamy

In addition to being Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7 is the anniversary of the Peninsula's first free daily newspaper, the Palo Alto Daily News, now known as the Daily News. Staff writer Diana Samuels takes readers down memory lane as the Daily News begins its 15th year of story telling.
    Since The Daily News started, the average home price in Palo Alto has tripled and local companies such as Facebook and Google have become integral parts of everyday life. The Peninsula has changed from a place brimming with startups and endless possibility, to a place still buzzing and full of promise, but tempered with a practicality and resilience that comes from struggling through the dot-com bust and current economic recession.
Full disclosure: The editor of this blog, Dave Price, is mentioned in the story, though he is no longer involved in the Daily News.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bay Area News Project to name editor soon

The American Journalism Review has an update on the Bay Area News Project, the nonprofit being created by the UC Berkeley j-school, KQED and Wells Fargo heir F. Warren Hellman to cover local news. AJR says the project will announce its choice of executive editor in "early December" (that's about now) and start producing news "in the spring."

The story has nothing new on whether The New York Times will use the project's copy. All a Times spokeswoman would say is, "We're having in-depth conversations with the Bay Area News Project, and the conversations have been fruitful."

The project got going back in March when Hearst Corp. said it would close the Chronicle if it didn't get concessions from its unions. Since then the Chron has eliminated 481 jobs and insiders are saying the paper is back in the black. There's no more talk of the Chronicle closing. So it may turn out that the Bay Area News Project will have to compete with the paper it planned to replace.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Banmiller named chairman of media startup

Brian Banmiller (pictured), former business editor at KTVU Channel 2, has been named chairman of a new company that will help amateurs sell video that they shoot on their cell phones to TV stations.

 The company -- called fizwoz (with a lowercase f) -- also announced it has tapped former Channel 2 news director Andrew Finlayson for its advisory board. After leaving Channel 2 in 2004, Finlayson headed up digital media for the Fox Television Stations group. Currently he's a Knight Scholar at Stanford.

Here's a release about the new company.

Pay cuts at Santa Rosa Press Democrat to remain

Last year's pay cuts at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and other New York Times Regional Group publications will remain in effect next year. That's according to a memo from Michael Golden, head of the New York Times Regional Group, that was posted by Poynter's Romenesko.

Chron leases part of building to tech startups

The Chronicle reports that it is leasing 24,700 square feet of space in its building at 5th and Mission to three  technology companies.

Two of the companies, Hub Bay Area and TechShop, are "incubators" that will provide space, funding and counseling to startups. The third is called Square and is led by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. It develops technology to enable average people to conduct digital financial transactions, including a small credit card swiping device that connects to the audio jack of smart phones, according to the Chron report.

Last year, Hearst Corp., owner of the Chron, announced it had reached a development deal with Forest City Enterprises of Cleveland to explore development options for the four-acre 5th and Mission site. One scenario would be to move the newspaper's offices to another San Fraancisco location and redevelop the entire site.

Google throws newspapers a bone

Google, which has been making money from posting newspaper stories on its news site, announced Tuesday it would let publishers block their content from Google News automatically by adding code to their Web sites, according to the Wall Street Journal. It appears as if Google and publishers are negotiating. First, newspaper companies such as MediaNews and News Corp. suggested they would block Google from obtaining certain stories from their Web sites. Now Google is responding. MediaNews CEO Dean Singleton is quoted by the Journal as saying it's a good faith move. "It’s a signal that they’re willing to work with the industry," said Singleton, whose papers include the Mercury News and other paid dailies in the Bay Area.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Paper boycotted, accused of anti-Semitism

The New York Times' Jesse McKinley reports that a small but vociferous group of critics have launched a boycott of the weekly Berkeley Daily Planet, accusing editor and co-owner Becky O'Malley (pictured, foreground) of publishing too many letters and opinion pieces critical of Israel. McKinley writes:
    Those accusations are the basis of a campaign to drive away the paper’s advertisers and a Web site that strongly suggests The Planet and its editor are anti-Semitic. 
    “We think that Ms. O’Malley is addicted to anti-Israel expression just as an alcoholic is to drinking,” Jim Sinkinson, who has led the campaign to discourage advertisers, wrote in an e-mail message. He is the publisher of Infocom Group, a media relations company. “If she wants to serve and please the East Bay Jewish community, she would be safer avoiding the subject entirely.” 
    Ms. O’Malley denies any personal or editorial bias, and bristles at the suggestion that she should not publish letters about Israel in a city like Berkeley, which has a sizable Jewish community and a populace — and City Council — that often weigh in on Middle East and international affairs. 
    “Frankly, the term that crossed my mind was ‘protection racket,’ ” Ms. O’Malley said. “I think that is unusual to say the least that anybody would think that they could dictate a whole area of the world that is simply off limits for discussion.” 
    Whether right or wrong, Mr. Sinkinson’s campaign has left The Planet — a weekly already hammered by the recession — gasping for breath. Advertising sales revenue is down some 60 percent from last year, Ms. O’Malley says. In October, the paper trimmed its skeleton crew of full-time reporters to one from three, and has begun a fund-raising drive to keep publishing. 
    Still, she says she has no intention of stopping the publication of submitted letters, citing a commitment to free speech that is a legacy of the city where the Free Speech Movement was born in the 1960s.
O'Malley admits that she does not fact-check letters, saying it is well beyond the paper's resources.

The Times says both sides met to discuss a resolution to their dispute, "but it was unclear if progress was made." (Photo credit: Monica Almeida/The New York Times)

Singleton isn't going to battle Google

MediaNews chief executive Dean Singleton disputed a Bloomberg News report (mentioned previously on this blog) that said two of his newspapers will block Google from linking to their local news stories. "We are in no shape or form at odds with Google," Singleton is quoted by the AP as saying. "There is no question that Google provides us with a large audience for our content, which we monetize with ad revenue."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday party in Hall of Justice press room

Reporters, editors, producers and photographers are invited to a holiday party at the Janet Parker Beck Press Room in the Hall of Justice in Redwood City from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8.

Come banter with fellow journalists and San Mateo County officials and enjoy light refreshments. The press room is located on the first floor of the San Mateo County Hall of Justice, 400 County Center, Redwood City.

For more information, contact Marshall Wilson at mwilson@co.sanmateo.ca.us or (650) 363-4153.

Messy divorce threatened to open up Hearst Corp.

Fortune magazine has a story on how the messy divorce of one of William Randolph Hearst's 15 grandchildren threatened to open up to public scrutiny the intensely private Hearst Corp., owner of the Chronicle. But legal proceedings ended earlier this year with a settlement that allowed the wife of John Randolph "Bunky" Hearst, 71, to keep $10 million and a couple of houses.
    Fifty-eight years after his death, William Randolph Hearst's blueprint for keeping his company alive and in his family's hands still works. Since Hearst's death, the company's professional managers have increased the company's value by about 2,500% while paying out multimillion-dollar disbursements. 
    The company's mainstream titles like Food Network Magazine are thriving, while competitors including Condé Nast Publications and Time Inc. (Fortune's parent), are shuttering titles. 
    Hearst is rumored to have a $1 billion war chest of cash earmarked for acquisitions. What's more, the infighting that marked the Bancroft family's last days as the owners of Dow Jones couldn't have happened at Hearst, as the family doesn't have enough votes to, say, quibble over a sale. 
    "It's a clever structure," says Charles M. Elson, chair of the University of Delaware's Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance. "Hearst gave his descendants a voice but not control." 
    The trust, however, will eventually come to an end, and the company will be divided up when the last of William Randolph Hearst's grandchildren passes away. As of now, any Hearst descendant (currently there are about 65) who outlives Bunky and nine of his cousins stands to inherit about $150 million.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Author plans one-issue SF newspaper

The San Francisco publishing house founded by author Dave Eggers (pictured) plans to release a one-issue, 300-page newspaper on Dec. 8 that will feature the contributions of Michael Chabon, Stephen King, Andrew Sean Greer, William T. Vollmann and Junot Diaz.

The Panorama will also include the work of Bay Area authors Michelle Tea, Tom Barbash, Robert Hass and Daniel Alarcon.

Eggers, perhaps best known as the author of "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," is a big believer in the printed word and disputes the notion that online journalism will eliminate newspapers.

The Panorama will have a main news section including investigative reports, arts and sports sections, a magazine, a book review section, pull out posters and comics, according to a press release. Eggers' publishing house, McSweeney's, plans to print this newspaper on a 15- by 22-inch broadsheet, which harkens back to the classic days of newspapers.

"The Panorama in part is a way to demonstrate the many things that newspapers can do uniquely well, and how necessary they are to a thriving democracy," said Eggers. "From the beginning, we conceived of this as a way to show readers how much newsprint can do, and how essential to the craft of journalism readers' support of print is."

Panorama will go on sale Dec. 8, and the Chronicle has obtained the right to republish articles from this special edition.

Gabbert becomes permanent host on KOFY

Former KOFY TV20 owner Jim Gabbert (pictured) has been selected as the permanent host of "Retro Night," a series that airs old shows selected by viewers. Each week, viewers can choose among retro classics such as “Happy Days,” “Mork and Mindy,” “The Monkees,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Barney Miller,” “Laverne & Shirley” and more.

"Retro Nights" (Sunday 8-10 p.m.) has had a number of hosts since it launched last year, but the station announced this week that Gabbert would be the permanent host, according to reports in RBC-TVBC and TVNewsCheck.com.

Gabbert bought KOFY in 1980 and sold it in 1998 to Granite Broadcasting for $174 million. Now, back at the station he built, Gabbert once again has a platform to reintroduce viewers to what KOFY calls "his non-traditional, outrageous ways."

“Our viewers have expressed how much they miss Jim. Having this Bay Area icon host KOFY’s Retro Night couldn’t be a better fit,” said Craig Coane, president and gm of KOFY. “Retro Night involves audiences in the TV-watching experience and, simply put, Jim knows how to engage them further.”

Viewers can vote for their favorite shows at http://www.kofytv.com/whats-on/retronight. At random, guest hosts will be selected from the pool of voters to join Gabbert on air each week. They have the opportunity to participate in dance offs, game shows and program spoofs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MediaNews takes aim at Google

MediaNews Group will block Google from pulling stories from the Web sites of two of its newspapers that plan to test the concept of charging for news, according to Bloomberg News.

In the first quarter of next year, MNG plans to charge for most of its news on the sites of two of its smaller papers, the Enterprise-Record in Chico and the York (Pa.) Daily Record.

Google will still have access to whatever the papers continue to offer for free.

A.H. Belo Corp., publisher of the Dallas Morning News and other papers, said it’s also considering introducing online fees and blocking Google.

The first chain to discuss blocking Google was News Corp., headed by Rupert Murdoch. News Corp. is reportedly in talks with Microsoft about displaying stories on its Bing site. 

Google has said in the past that the value of the added traffic Google brings to newspaper Web sites outweighs what it receives by taking the content for free, the SF Business Times noted. As a result, fewer than 100 publishers have blocked their content from Google News.

The idea of charging for news online strikes former MediaNews employee Rob Burgess of Ukiah as crazy. On his blog he wrote the following letter to MNG chief executive Dean Singleton:
    Dear Mr. Singleton, 
    You and the people that own these newspapers are completely at fault for the current state of the industry. Even though I am no longer under your employ I derive no satisfaction from this statement. I am the fourth generation of my family to work in newspapers. 
    You ruined everything in the beginning by starting with giving everything away for free. It has now been almost 15 years since the Internet broke wide and you're just NOW getting around to asking people to pay for your content? 
    I don't blame people for not wanting to pay for it anymore, why should they? Who would pay for something they can get for free? That's foolishness. 
    If this is the best idea you people have come up with, we're looking at newspaperless future even faster than I thought. 
    Sincerely your former employee, 
    Rob Burgess

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November 2009 Press Club board minutes

Nov. 28, 2009 — Board room, San Mateo Daily Journal. The meeting was called to order at 7:23 p.m.

Present: Jon Mays, Micki Carter, Marshall Wilson, Melissa McRobbie, Jamie Casini, Darryl Compton. Absent: Dave Price, Jack Russell, Peter Cleaveland and Ed Remitz. Guest: Antonia Ehlers

Minutes of October were approved as read.

Treasurer’s Report: Darryl reported that the club’s taxes have been filed and we paid $480 to have them prepared. Micki suggested that it’s time to take the savings out of United American Bank since they are paying very little. She and Darryl will go together since she’s on the signature card. Darryl also noted that the Examiner still hasn’t paid for the June banquet and he still hasn’t gotten information from our 2009 scholarship winners on where to send their checks. The report was approved.

New Director: Antonia Ehlers, communications manager for Serra High School, was introduced. Antonia is interested in becoming a board member. The board agreed to place both Antonia and Kristy Blackburn, advisor for the Gunn High School Oracle, on the December ballot. There are two open slots since Jack Russell has agreed to accept Director Emeritus status. We will make that change official at the Annual Meeting.

Town Hall Meeting: Nothing to report.

Professional Development Workshop: Marshall reported that 21 people, mostly working journalists, attended the seminar on city and school district budgets on Nov. 9. It was well-received by all. Darryl has a DVD on the session available to any member who might want one. The board agreed to do another one in the spring, perhaps on math for journalists or public records searches. It was suggested that we get Jim Wagstaffe to do a roundtable on media law as well.

High School Project:Jon suggested that we consider a date in the spring for inviting high school newspaper staffs to gather for critiques. Micki noted that she visited Sequoia High School earlier on that day to critique their paper and offer suggestions on newswriting and design. The group will discuss the best format for those critiques at a future meeting.

Jon also said that he had met with Scott Lawrence of the San Mateo Unified High School District who said he is interested in formulating a journalism program for the entire district. He said he is gathering the advisors from all the schools to form a curriculum council. Jon told them that the Press Club is eager to provide any support they might need. Lawrence said that the council should have something to report in the spring.

Holiday Party and Annual Meeting: The event will take place from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9, at the home of Micki Carter and Mike Venturino, 2303 Wooster Ave., Belmont. E-mail Micki to RSVP.

Dick Fogel Memorial: Melissa and Darryl reported on the memorial for Fogel, the founder of Bay City News. Melissa will send Micki information for the newsletter.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m. in memory of George Golding, a co-founder of the Press Club who died Nov. 14. Services will be at 9:30 a.m. Saturday Nov. 21 at Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church in Burlingame.

Respectfully submitted,
Micki Carter
Secretary

Los Gatos-based magazine reports 26% sales growth

ActiveOver50, a Bay Area magazine written for baby boomers and older adults, announced that ad sales revenue grew 26% in 2009 when most publications lost 30% or more. The privately held media company based in Los Gatos said it remains profitable for the third straight year.

Published quarterly, ActiveOver50 magazine said it reaches more than 150,000 older adults in print and online.

"We are a niche, family owned magazine targeting the 50+," said publisher Larry W. Hayes. "The over 50 is the fastest growing demographics in the United States. Over 1.5 million people over age 50 live in the San Francisco Bay Area. If advertisers are not targeting this age group, they should be."

The latest issue of ActiveOver50 features literacy tutor and noted journalist Sandy Reed on the cover. She worked as executive editor for the Mercury News and the Miami Herald and served as editor in chief at Personal Computing and InfoWorld.

Friday, November 20, 2009

AP lays off veteran Michelle Locke

Dozens of UC-Berkeley students occupied a campus office building Friday and thousands demonstrated outside over a student fee hike, but the AP had to cover it without its Berkeley bureau reporter Michelle Locke.

Locke, a 24-year veteran of AP, was laid off this week, according to Erin Carlson of Silicon Valley Insider.

The 8th Ld-writethru of the protest story at 9:29 p.m. Friday had no byline.

AP said it laid off 90 news employees worldwide this week to reach its goal of cutting annual payroll costs by 10%.

Gawker has been putting together a layoff list with tips pouring in from across the country. One Gawker tipster wrote: "The national desk was simply eliminated."

One of Locke's specialties was coverage of the wine industry, and her loss was quickly noted by others.

Band records album in Chron's basement

Baynewser.com's Jason Turbow has a terrific story about a former Chronicle writer, Delfin Vigil, whose band recorded an album in the basement of the newspaper at 5th and Mission streets. Writes Turbow:
    It wasn't so much a company-sanctioned setup as it was that Vigil, looking for a quiet place to work amid the ongoing turmoil, discovered in the basement a back room (used to store book-review books) so isolated that one had to pass through another back room (used to store newspapers) to get to it. Nearby was a bevy of abandoned printing presses and vast rooms used mainly for storing long-forgotten detritus. A perfect place to record rock 'n' roll, soundproofing included. 
    Vigil soon took it upon himself to secret bandmates and instruments into the building on nights and weekends for sessions. His only audience: a janitor, a security guard and book-review editor Oscar Villalon, who happily relinquished sole deed to the space.
Villalon's editor, Joe Brown, was apparently pleased with the band recording in the Chron building, but another editor kicked the musicians out, Baynewser reports.

Vigil's band, Amores Vigilantes, will release the album recorded in the Chron's basement, "West Coast Kingdom," on Dec. 8. The band will be playing in San Francisco at Cafe du Nord on Dec. 17.

“How come you’re cawlin’ a loy-yuh?”

That's the question attorney Len Tillem asks on his top-rated noon-hour show on KGO 810. Andy Altman-Ohr of the J weekly profiled the 65-year-old Sonoma attorney. Turns out that Tillem's sister screens every call, and only articulate people with salacious and interesting sagas make it on air. “I get e-mails how rude she is, which is her job,” Tillem says. “We are not Legal Aid. We are not there to help people on the telephone. We are there to find interesting calls so we can entertain an audience.”

“To this day, I still don’t understand why the show is so popular,” the ever-humble Tillem says. “A lot of people come up to me and try to do the imitation, ‘Why ya cawlin’ a loy-yuh?’ But that’s not it. I think it’s because people like the stories from the callers.”

The K-N-I-G-H-T R-I-D-D-E-R Jumble

What can you spell with the letters KNIGHT RIDDER? That's the idea Merc columnist Mike Cassidy floated in a column about the 27-ton signs that remain atop the 17-story building that used to house the newspaper chain's headquarters in San Jose. Combinations readers suggested included Hit Red Ink, Ink Died, KR Thing Died, Right Nerd Kid, Righted Drink and Dirt Herding.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

KOIT flips to Christmas music, KBAY to wait

KOIT 96.5 flipped to all Christmas music yesterday, an annual tradition for that station. Last year, holiday music gave KOIT enough of a bump that it tied KGO for first place in the November-through-mid-December ratings period for total listeners. KOIT had never tied KGO before. KBAY 94.5 also plans to flip to all Christmas music, but won't make the switch until Thanksgiving eve at 5 p.m.

San Mateo newsman George Golding dies

George E. Golding died Saturday at his home in San Mateo from complications due to a stroke. He was 84.

A resident of San Mateo County since 1956, he was a native of Oakdale, Stanislaus County, and lived most of his life in California. During the Great Depression years, his family moved often, and he attended schools up and down the state. He graduated from grade school in National City, from high school in Petaluma, and from college at San Francisco State University.

Golding was a welder in a Sausalito shipyard early in World War II, briefly joined the maritime service, and served two years in the U.S. Army Air Force as a radar technician for B-29s. He remained in the Air Force Reserves until the Korean conflict, joined a California National Guard unit which was called to duty with the U.S. Army, in which he briefly served. He was honorably discharged and did his duty willingly and without reservation.

By profession a writer, he worked as an advertising salesman for the Riverbank News, as reporter for the San Bernardino Sun, editor of the Gustine Standard, photographer and reporter for the Eureka Times in Eureka, as a stringer for the San Francisco Chronicle, and as reporter, aviation columnist, and sometimes city editor for the San Mateo Times.

He won Associated Press awards for photography, the Catholic Newsmen McQuade Award for reporting, and several aviation and space writers awards for aviation reporting.

He was a founding member of the Peninsula Press Club, where he served as president, treasurer and director.

Golding also served as president of the Tri-County Newspaperman’s Guild. He was a member of the
California Writers Club and the Aviation and Space Writers Association. He was also a member of Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church of Burlingame.

In 1995, he and his late wife Joyce Golding published a 200-year history of her mother’s family, called “The Gallaher Trail, an Empire of Cousins,” tracing their origins in Pennsylvania and movement across North America in the first large wagon train to Oregon in 1845. After more than 49 years of marriage, Joyce died in 1997.

Golding, who died Saturday, is survived by Dorothy Freethy, his mate of more than a decade; his children, Earlene Will of Illinois, Brad Golding of San Diego, Dennis Golding of San Luis Obispo, Frank Golding of Boulder Creek, and Chet Golding of Vancouver, Wash. One son, Daniel Golding, died during childhood, in 1960. Golding had eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Angels Church, 1721 Hillside Drive, Burlingame, with a reception to follow.

His favorite charity was the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and donations to it in lieu of flowers are encouraged.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Examiner, MediaNews papers to team up on ads

The Examiner and the Bay Area's MediaNews papers — such as the Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, etc. — plan to work together to sell advertising, the Denver Business Journal reports.

The "San Francisco Bay Area Buy," or SFBAB, is an attempt to compete with the Chron. Billionaire Phil Anschutz's Denver-based Clarity Media, owner of the Examiner, says the combined MNG-Examiner buy will reach more readers than the Chron.

Ironically, Hearst, the Chron's owner, also owns 30 percent of MNG's assets outside the Bay Area. A federal judge has barred MNG and Hearst from teaming up in the Bay Area.

"The San Francisco Examiner makes the SFBAB’s geographic coverage complete," Mark Wurzer, chief marketing officer of Clarity Media Group, said in the Examiner statement.

YouTube hopes to help citizen journos


YouTube has launched a new service to help people who want to offer their videos to news organizations. YouTube Direct will provide an easy way for news organizations to collect and broadcast clips that are submitted by the public. The videos would be available on a YouTube page that each media outlet could customize. YouTube will host the video, saving cash-strapped newsrooms the expense of building the infrastructure to store video.

The Chronicle is using the service to solicit video of street performers while the Washington Web site Politico is asking its readers to submit videos responding to a question of the day.

Test of new TV service planned in Bay Area

A new subscription TV service called Sezmi hopes to undercut Comcast in terms of price while integrating Internet programming with broadcast and cable. The Belmont startup has begun a test of its service in Los Angeles and is looking for people in the Bay Area to participate in a pilot here.

The Merc reports that Sezmi's customers will get local broadcast channels via the public airwaves. But the company also relies on those airwaves, via deals with local broadcasters, to send pay-TV channels to its customers. It also plans to send on-demand and Internet programming to consumers via customers' broadband connections.

Merc offering free ads



Not to be outdone by KLIV-AM 1590 (see below), the Mercury News has begun offering free classified ads. "A 3-line ad with one photo runs for 30 days on MercuryNews.com and in the Mercury News itself for FREE," the house ad says. The ad must be for merchandise at $500 or less. Obviously readers are being targeted rather than businesses. Maybe the Merc has offered free ads before, but we've never seen it. And who is the guy in the ad?

DA to probe secret taping of reporters

California Attorney Jerry Brown has asked Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley to investigate the secret taping of conversations with reporters by Brown's former communications director, Scott Gerber. O'Malley has accepted the request, Bay City News and others are reporting. Gerber resigned after the secret recordings came to light. The Chronicle determined Gerber had recorded its reporters after he presented the paper's editors with a transcript of an interview to prove he had been misquoted.


Brown's move comes after Steven Baric, the chairman of the California Republican Lawyers Association asked that the district attorneys in both San Francisco and Alameda counties investigate the matter because the secret taping allegedly occurred in Brown's offices in San Francisco and Oakland.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

KLIV 1590 giving away ads to help economy

KLIV-AM 1590, San Jose's news station, is giving away commercials to local businesses in order to help the economy and demonstrate the value of radio advertising. CBS5's Len Ramirez says in this report that the giveaway is almost unheard of in commercial broadcasting.

"All we're saying is call us up and in a very limited amount of time tell us what special thing you have for our listeners during the Christmas selling season," said station owner Bob Kieve. "We want to show those advertisers or those business people that radio, and especially KLIV, are very good advertising media."

Current TV lays off 80, moves production to LA

Current TV laid off 80 workers yesterday and announced it will consolidate its in-house video production in new facilities in Los Angeles. However, production of programs such as "Current Green" and "Current Tech" will remain in San Francisco.

Pink slips went out to workers at Current TV's offices in London, New York, LA and SF.

Programming President David Neuman also resigned.

The changes occurred three months after the privately held network recruited MTV networks president Mark Rosenthal as CEO. Rosenthal succeeded Joel Z. Hyatt, the Atherton businessman who founded the network with former vice president Al Gore.

Current TV executives emphasized that the layoffs aren't due to a lack of money, and they claim that this year will be the 5-year-old company's most profitable year. The network plans to shift away from user-generated content and rely more on traditional 30-minute and 60-minute programming.

The LA Times pointed out that advertisers have shied away from supporting user-generated content online or on TV.

One of Current TV's problems is that it only reaches 55 million homes, far less than other basic cable channels. To many, Current TV is not known for its programming but for its two reporters, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were captured by North Korea in March and released in August with the help of Bill Clinton.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In-depth series wins award for college paper

A report about the sentencing of a Skyline College student’s killer and an in-depth series about budget woes captured top writing honors Saturday for student journalists at College of San Mateo.

John Servatius, a senior staff writer for The San Matean, campus newspaper at College of San Mateo, wrote the account about the sentencing in March of a man for the 2006 slaying of Boris Albinder, 19, of Skyline College.

Albinder was slain in an off-campus brawl over a parking space. The defendant, Sarith Soun, 27, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter after conviction in February, Servatius wrote.

“Very strong quotes,” the judges wrote. “Good understanding of the legal system.”
Servatius was awarded first place in Newswriting among 50 entries during the Northern California conference of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges.

The JACC represents nearly every community college journalism program in the state. About 300 students and advisers from 21 colleges attended the all-day conference, which was hosted by the journalism program at San Jose State University and featured workshops and on-the-spot writing and photography contests.

A group of CSM journalism students were among only three colleges honored by the JACC with awards for enterprise or series reporting.

The CSM group received a “Generally Excellent” award for eight stories analyzing economic difficulties impacting the college and college district.

“Solid report — good sourcing,” the judges wrote.

The students working on the months’-long coverage of the budget crisis included Laura Babbitt, Margaret Baum, Erin Browner, Alexa Hemken, Courtney Jamieson, Christine Karavas, Dylan Lewman and John Servatius.

The CSM coverage was selected from among 21 entries submitted in the category by member colleges.

Erin Browner, another CSM journalism student, also garnered an Honorable Mention among 37 entries for her photo of students marching last March in Sacramento to protest budget cuts.

“Professionals handle the judging so these awards, which include comments, are especially relevant for beginning journalists,” said Ed Remitz, CSM journalism adviser. “We are proud of the students and their accomplishments.”

“Awards are great but we remain focused on producing the best work possible for our newspaper and web site,” said Margaret Baum, Editor of The San Matean.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

MNG to test pay wall concept in two small markets

Are newspaper publishers nervous about putting their content behind a pay wall? Rupert Murdoch admitted Wednesday that his plans to charge for online content from the New York Post and other papers he owns are behind schedule.

Now MediaNews Group is saying that it won't try to charge for content until it has tested the concept at two of its smaller papers, the Enterprise-Record in Chico, and the York (Pa.) Daily Record. The two papers will test the concept of charging for content sometime in the first quarter, according to an E&P story.

That suggests the online content of the MediaNews papers in the Bay Area will remain free for several more months.

MNG chief executive Dean Singleton told E&P that an all-pay model is unlikely, and that each newspaper will decide what content it will sell to readers.

"It will not be a cookie-cutter approach," Singleton told E&P's Joe Strupp.

Melissa Jordan leaves Merc for BART

Melissa Jordan has jumped from the post of senior editor for recruiting and training at the Mercury News to BART's senior Web producer. She tells Poynter Online (link to Q&A) that she wanted to try something new. Jordan, who was with AP before the Merc, says she's excited about her new job. Asked by Poynter's Joe Grimm to name something that surprised her about her new job, she replied:
    How great a fit it is for me with the public service mission of transit. I think most people go into journalism because they want to do good in society, make the world a better place -- which you do sort of indirectly, on good days, when a story or investigation or something gets results. 
    In a public-sector setting like transit, you are helping people get around to their jobs and schools and doctors' appointments and day care and entertainment every day, and there's a really direct, rewarding feeling from providing that service to them.
(Photo credit: Poynter Institute)

Energy 92.7's Don Parker lands at CC


Two months after new owners flipped KNGY-FM Energy 92.7's format and fired the station's staff, program director Don Parker has been hired by Clear Channel, Radio Online reports. He's been named operations manager of CC's San Francisco cluster of seven stations including Star 101.3, 98.1 Kiss, KKGN-AM Green 960, 103.7 The Band, KMEL, KNEW-AM 910 and Wild 94.9. Parker's old station, now known as The Rev 92.7, is competing directly against Wild 94.9 in the battle of CHR formats. Before Energy 92.7, Parker was a consultant and has programmed stations in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Houston. (Photo credit: Radio Online)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Scheer: Taping reporter dumb, not illegal

Attorney and journalist Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, says the controversy surrounding an attorney general's spokesman recording Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci has been overblown. Scheer said the undisclosed taping of a phone conversation with a journalist is viewed as sleazy and a breach of journalistic protocol, but it is not necessarily illegal, contrary to the assumptions of many journalists. [More]

New WSJ Bay Area edition begins

The Wall Street Journal launched a Bay Area edition today, three weeks after the NY Times started its own Bay Area section.

The Journal had been planning a launch in December or January. But after the Times announced its plans, the Journal moved up its start date. The section will appear once a week on Thursdays for the paper's 92,000 Bay Area subscribers.

The Journal section carried four stories and ads from The Commonwealth Club, Mechanics Bank and Chevron. Stories included U.S. Attorney Joe Russoniello's effort to fight white-collar crime, a Q&A with Google's Eric Schmidt, a report on rising home sales in Atherton, new museums in the Haight and a review of The Little Skillet, a takeout chicken-and-waffle joint in SF's SOMA neighborhood. It's "one of the hottest spots for lunch in San Francisco among start-up hipsters at Twitter Inc and other Internet firms," writes Ben Worthen.

Both the Times and Journal are planning to start local editions in Chicago, and presumably will go on to other cities if the concept succeeds.

Business editor Bob Price retires from KCBS

Bob Price, who has done business reports every half hour at :25 and :55 on KCBS for a a dozen years, retired Friday. He's been at KCBS for the last 24 years of his 40-year career. He covered stories such as the Nixon resignation, the Kent State shootings, the Reagan assassination attempt and the dot-com crash. Here's a link to Stan Bunger's story about Price's last day. Price and wife Betsy O'Connor (formerly of KDFC) plan to do more traveling in their retirement.

Chron switches to glossy paper on Monday

Starting Monday, the Chronicle will start printing high-gloss paper used in magazines, a move that might make the newspaper more attractive to advertisers who want their products to stand out.

Some trade publications such as Variety and the Hollywood Reporter print on high-gloss paper, but the Chronicle said it will be the first daily newspaper to use such paper.

A front-page announcement signed by Publisher Frank Vega and Editor Ward Bushee said:
    The introduction of high-definition reproduction, groundbreaking in the newspaper industry, is intended to enhance the experience of reading The Chronicle and better serve our advertisers.

    During the week, the front page, most section fronts and some inside pages will be printed on high-gloss paper, featuring photographs, graphics and advertisements of exceptional clarity and brightness. Glossy pages will also appear in the expanded Thursday entertainment package: Datebook, 96 Hours and the new Ovation section.

    On Sundays, the Main News section, Sporting Green, Style and our award-winning Food & Wine sectionwill feature high-gloss paper.

    Bolder and brighter reproduction is another exciting enhancement to The Chronicle, one of a series of improvements in 2009 that have reshaped the Bay Area's largest newspaper as it looks forward to the future. We hope you enjoy it.
The Chronicle shut down its presses in July and outsourced the work to Transcontinenal, which has built a $200 million, 350,000-square-foot plant at 47540 Kato Road in Freemont. The plant includes heat-set presses that will produce the glossy pages.

The AP quoted industry analyst Ken Doctor as saying the switch is another sign of how newspapers are targeting their print editions at niche markets as their circulation shrinks.

Doctor said the Chron seems to be focusing on older, more affluent readers who would be more likely to appreciate glossy paper. He also said it is an audience prized by advertisers selling luxury products.

Guild hopes to organize freelancers

A new unit of the California Media Workers Guild is forming to support independent writers, editors and journalists of every type. From credentials to benefits, the union hopes to create better working conditions for freelancers.

Potential projects of the member-run freelance unit include:
    • Job-search assistance

    • Bidding for group benefits such as health insurance

    • Support with contract and payment disputes

    • Monitoring legislation to protect the interests of freelancers

    • Resource and referral directories
The new Guild unit is holding its first lunchtime workshop on Friday, Nov. 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Guild offices, 433 Natoma St., San Francisco. The topic is writing, publishing and promoting a nonfiction book. Panelists include sports writer Joan Ryan, film critic Mary F. Pols and religion writer Don Lattin. Here's a link with more information.

SFGate celebrates 15th birthday


The folks at SFGate.com are celebrating the Web site's 15th anniversary this week. Above is a page from 1996 when it was known as The Gate. The home page's background was blue during the day and black at night. News Director Vlae Kershner has posted a story about the early days with recollections from SFGate's longest-tenured employee, Chris Hallenbeck.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Want to see a Merc story? Go to SFGate



The Chron's SFGate is now posting the Twitter feeds of other media outlets in the Bay Area including the Mercury News, its rival. Even though a 2006 court order has kept Hearst and MediaNews from combining operations in the Bay Area (Hearst owns 30% of the MNG outside the Bay Area), SFGate lists the Merc as one of its many contributors (scroll down to "Other Local Media"). Here's an SFGate page of Merc links. And often links to Merc stories are featured on the first page of SFGate.

AG spokesman put on leave for taping reporter

Attorney General Jerry Brown has put on leave spokesman Scott Gerber, who taped a conversation he and other members of the AG's office had with Chron reporter Carla Marinucci without her consent, a violation of the state's wiretapping law, the Chron reported.

The recording came to light when Gerber complained to Marinucci's editors that she did not accurately report the remarks of one of the people in the conversation, Jim Humes, chief deputy attorney general.

To make his point, Gerber e-mailed them a transcript of the interview.

The Chron said it briefly took the story off of the Web site to get more comments from Gerber.

The incident comes at a time when Brown's office is investigating whether two conservative journalists violated the same law when the posed as a prostitute and pimp, and recorded ACORN employees at two California offices.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Second Japanese newspaper closes

The Hokubei Mainichi printed its last edition today after 61 years of publishing -- San Francisco's second Japanese American weekly to close in two months.

Here is a letter president and chief executive Don Yamate wrote to readers:
    As a result of our worsening financial situation, the board of Hokubei Manichi Newspaper has decided at its Oct. 26 meeting to halt publication after the Oct. 30 issue. 
    We, the staff members of the Hokubei, sincerely regret having to give the bad news so suddenly to you, our readers. Since the closure of the Nichi Bei Times, we made the decision to redouble our efforts and serve an even more important and broader function in the community than before. 
    We are extremely disappointed that we were unable to meet our readers' expectations. While the editorial, advertising and subscription departments involved in the daily production of the newspaper will be closed, the company will continue to seek investors and make every effort to once again become a media outlet serving the community. We would be grateful for your continued support. 
    We offer our thanks to everyone who has helped us over the years, including long-time subscribers, advertisers and contributors.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Press Club hosts seminar on city, school budgets

With the ongoing economic downturn, Bay Area public agencies are facing a fiscal crisis. Layoffs, service cuts and new taxes or fees are being considered.

To help journalists explain complex budget stories to readers or viewers, the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club is hosting a seminar on Monday, Nov. 9, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on how to read and understand school and city budgets.

The seminar will begin with an in-depth examination of school funding sources, basic aid vs. revenue limit districts, budget terms and how to find key information that readers or viewers need to know. Jim Lianides, an assistant superintendent of the Sequoia Union High School District with more than 30 years of experience in public education, will provide the expertise.

Next, Brian Moura, the assistant city manager of San Carlos, will help untangle the complexity of municipal finance. For example, the printed budget for San Carlos, a suburban city of fewer than 30,000 residents, is nearly 300 pages. Moura has worked for San Carlos since 1986 and has an extensive background in budgeting.

Each presentation will be followed by a question and answer session. Food and drinks are permitted in the conference room. Please RSVP to mwilson@co.sanmateo.ca.us
    Who: The seminar is free and open to all working journalists and journalism students. 
    What: Untangling School and City Budgets 
    Where: Sequoia Union High School District Offices, Birch Room, 480 James Ave., Redwood City 94062, Parking is available at the district office or on the street 
    When: Monday, Nov. 9, 2009, 1 to 3:30 p.m. 
    Why: The best journalists need to understand financing to tell better stories and help readers or viewers understand their public institutions and how tax money is spent.
About Dr. Lianides — In 30 years in public education, Dr. Lianides has served as a teacher, principal, chief business official and superintendent prior to joining the Sequoia district in Fall 2008. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of California – Berkeley and a master's degrees from San Jose State University. In 2006, he completed his doctorate in educational leadership through a joint program between U.C. Berkeley and the three Bay Area campuses of California State University.

In his current role with the Sequoia district, Dr. Lianides serves as the chief business official and oversees the administrative services areas, including accounting, purchasing, technology, construction, facilities, transportation and food services.

About Brian Moura — Brian Moura served as both the Assistant City Manager and Finance Director for his first 11 years at the City of San Carlos as well as filling the positions of Assistant Executive Director of the San Carlos Redevelopment Agency, Human Resources Director, Interim Parks and Recreation Director and Interim Economic Development Director during his tenure.  He also managed the Capital Improvement Budget for the City of Hayward over a 7 year period while working at that City.

About the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club — The San Francisco Peninsula Press Club is a professional journalism organization serving the greater Bay Area. The Peninsula Press Club was founded in 1974 to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and opinions among professionals in various news and public relations organizations. Other goals include promoting professional competence and knowledge, encouraging students to enter journalism by awarding scholarships and providing an organization in which to share fellowship. Directors changed the club’s name in 2007 to the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club.

Newspaper seeks a pot critic

We're surprised one of the Bay Area alt-weeklies didn't think of this first. But Denver's Westword is looking for a marijuana critic. The medical marijuana business has been growing rapidly in Colorado in the past year, with clinics popping up everywhere. Here's the ad:
    Do you have a medical condition that necessitates marijuana? Do you have a way with words? If so, Westword wants you to join the ranks as our freelance marijuana-dispensary reviewer. 
    To provide an objective resource on the state's burgeoning medical marijuana scene, Westword has launched "Mile Highs and Lows," a weekly review of Colorado marijuana dispensaries. Now we're looking for just the right person to take the reins. 
    The job is simple: Visit a different dispensary each week (without revealing you're working for Westword) and pen concise, impartial and snappy accounts of your experiences. Keep in mind this isn't about assessing the quality of the medicine on site; it's about evaluating the quality of the establishment. After all, we can't have our reviewer be stoned all the time. 
    The perfect candidate will be a talented writer who's not about to play favorites -- and, of course, someone who has a state medical marijuana ID (or the ability and need to obtain one). Compensation will be meager — and no, we can't expense your purchases, although that would be pretty cool.
More than 100 people applied. Editor Pat Calhoun said that the first applicant replied within five minutes — "fast work for a stoner." Westword hasn't announced who it will hire. But it has posted a sampling of responses.

Examiner owner gets 10% of Michael Jackson ticket sales

Phil Anschutz, the conservative Christian billionaire who owns The Examiner and the Weekly Standard, will make 10 percent of all ticket sales on Sony's Michael Jackson concert film, "This is It," according to Bloomberg's Michael White and Adam Satariano. The film, which opened today, is expected to make $400 million in worldwide sales.

New strategy helps Chron turn a profit

Chronicle Publisher Frank Vega says his paper is now turning a profit some weeks after years of significant losses, including more than $50 million last year.

Vega said that the Chron is moving away from a business model that depends mainly on advertising and instead relies on readers for a greater share of revenue.

The figures released Monday showing the Chronicle's circulation had dropped by 28.5% to 251,782 were anticipated, Vega said, due to changes designed to make the paper profitable.

In addition, the Chron has:
    • and cut delivery to outlying areas and other places where it didn't make economic sense.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chronicle circulation plunges 25%

The Chronicle's circulation fell by 25.8% in the past year. Of the nation's 25 largest newspapers, the Chron reported the largest percentage decrease. The Chron's daily circulation now stands at 251,782, down from 339,430 a year ago.

Sales of the Chron's Sunday edition fell by 22.9%, to 306,705.

In one year, the Chron lost 87,648 daily customers and 91,411 Sunday customers.

The figures are from the Audit Bureau of Circulation's FAS-FAX reports, which were released today.

In San Jose, the Merc's daily circulation fell by 10% to 200,258 and its Sunday circulation dropped 5.6% to 225,9878.

However, on Aug. 9, the Merc decided to add the circulation of the San Mateo County Times to its numbers. The Times went from being a separate newspaper to an edition of the Merc. That will allow the Merc to claim a daily circulation of 225,175 and 248,386 on Sundays.

In Santa Rosa, the New York Times-owned Press Democrat reported a 10.5% drop on weekdays (to 64,237) and 9.1% on Sundays (to 68,489).

The Contra Costa Times' daily circulation fell 3.3% to 174,852. On Sunday, the CCT was down 2.9% to 184,118.

In Marin County, the IJ's Sunday circulation is down 8.3 percent to 28,815. The IJ's Monday-Saturday average circulation is 26,548, which is down 10.7% from that paper's Monday-Friday average in the previous year of 29,742.

The Oakland Tribune is a bright spot. It's Sunday circulation jumped 5.6% to 91,691, an increase of 4,933 more papers sold. The Trib's daily number increased by 294 copies to 92,794, a 3/10ths of 1% increase.

The Vallejo Times-Herald reported a 13.9% drop in its daily circulation (falling to 13,580) and 17.7% on Sundays (to 13,777).

The Vacaville Reporter's daily circulation fell 3.7% (to 17,22) and its Sunday circulation declined by 5.6% (to 17,569).

UPDATE (5 P.M., OCT. 26): Bringing in more money from readers is now more important than trying to preserve circulation, Chron President Mark Adkins told the AP. He said that while the Chronicle has fewer subscribers, they are collectively paying more for the paper than a year ago.

The Chronicle now charges $7.75 per week for home delivery, up from $4.75 in the previous year. Weekday copies sell for $1 on the newsstand, up from 75 cents.

"The new circulation revenue has become an important part of our business model," Adkins told AP. "We are pretty pleased."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nonprofit news project seeks CEO, editor

The Bay Area News Project (that nonprofit start-up involving Wells Fargo heir F. Warren Hellman (right), KQED, the Berkeley j-school) has posted help wanted ads for its chief executive and executive editor.

Neither posting gives a salary range.

Things the CEO is required to possess include an "ability to foster and encourage smart risk-taking and experimentation." The CEO must also be "a visionary with well-developed people management skills, strategic thinking, and a demonstrated ability to inspire."

The two-page job description for the editor says he or she will lead the project's "team in creating a new model for sustainable journalism that advances the latest technology, and experiments with innovative ways of engaging and interacting with the public, while retaining journalistic values and best practices."

Besides job listings, the project's Web site also has an FAQ. However, there is no mention on it about the possibility that local governments might provide some of the funding for the project. However, it does say that project will serve as a government watchdog.

In Chicago, a similar nonprofit news operation is starting with former LA Times and Chicago Tribune newsroom leader James O'Shea at the helm, according to Chicago Tribune media writer Phil Rosenthal. Like the Bay Area News Project, the "Chicago News Cooperative" intends on providing copy to the New York Times. The Times is doing local inserts in both cities.

In Chicago, there's no talk of government funding.
    A major funding source is the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and CNC is looking for additional support from other foundations and individuals. The New York Times will pay CNC for the content it provides, as it does other news services. 
    The goal of CNC is to generate enough revenue from multiple streams, such as membership fees, advertising and service, to be self-sustaining within five years.

Why are j-schools still enrolling students?

Attorney and journalist Peter Scheer (right), executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, writes:
    As I read about the latest contractions in the newsroom of the New York Times (100 reporters and editors) and the San Francisco Chronicle (investigative reporting staff – gone), the question occurs: Why are universities across the country continuing to churn out journalism graduates? Do they know something that the rest of us don’t? Do they have some reason to believe that demand for academically-trained newbee journalists is about to stage an extraordinary recovery? [MORE]

Saturday, October 24, 2009

NYT calls Bronstein's plagiarism claim 'ridiculous'

The New York Times is firing back at Phil Bronstein's (right) claim that the Old Grey Lady "borrowed" an anecdote from the Chronicle. Here's a statement from the Times' associate managing editor for standards, Philip B. Corbett:
    The suggestion in Phil Bronstein's blog post that a New York Times reporter improperly borrowed or plagiarized from a San Francisco Chronicle article in a profile of the Oakland police chief is ridiculous. 
    The chief, in discussing his move to Oakland, explained his decision to our reporter in the same way he described it at the public news conference covered by the Chronicle in August. 
    This is hardly surprising. As commenters on Mr. Bronstein's blog have pointed out, other news organizations had also recounted the same anecdote -- BEFORE the Chronicle article appeared. 
    The fact that the chief has recounted the incident previously certainly does not give one newspaper an exclusive right to these facts. 
    The Times takes the issue of plagiarism extremely seriously. Even in a competitive news environment, allegations like these should not be made capriciously. But we're glad Mr. Bronstein is reading our new local pages carefully, and with evident concern.
(BTW, the only place we could find the Times' response was on Bronstein's blog; evidently the Times didn't post it on its own Web site, nor publish it.)

Bronstein's reply to the Times's response: "Times, you have great reporters here, including the writer of the Oakland police chief piece. Do something original for your lead story next time."