Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ling's sister to appear on Larry King

Actress Lisa Ling is scheduled to appear Monday night on CNN's "Larry King Live" to talk about her sister, Current TV reporter Lisa Ling, who along with fellow journalist Euna Lee were captured by the North Koreans on March 17. The North Korean government plans to put the two women on trial Thursday. The LA Times reports that experts believe it is likely the two could face up to 15 years of hard labor:
    When North Korea detained two American TV journalists in March, accusing them of illegal entry and "hostile acts," analysts believed the script would be familiar: The pair would be tried, convicted and soon released in exchange for U.S. concessions.

    But after a nuclear test in the secretive state that was harshly criticized worldwide, experts say the women could be sentenced to longer prison terms with little chance for negotiation. [More]
The Times story noted that Current TV, the San Francisco company co-founded by Al Gore, continues to refuse comment about the case.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Classical KDFC drops 2 on-air personalities

A week after KKSF flipped from jazz to classic rock, there's word of cut backs at classical station KDFC 102.1, a station owned by the Entercom chain out of Philadelphia. John Evans (pictured) is out after seven years in the afternoon drive-time slot, and 30 years in the market. Also gone is morning news woman Betsy O'Connor. Instead of hiring a new afternoon personality, morning man Hoyt Smith is now doing his show from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and midday host Dianne Nicolini is on from 1 to 7. Program Director Bill Lueth's only comment to us was "KDFC is a special radio station in a special city." No doubt the station's fans hope it stays that way.

No pay cuts in East Bay contract

The 44-page proposed contract between the Guild and EB-BANG has been posted online by the union. It says (on page 22) that the company can't cut wages until October at the earliest, providing some measure of security for the 180 employees covered under the contract.

Union members at the Mercury News, which like EB-BANG is a MediaNews operation, are voting Monday on a proposed contract that will reduce wages by 9 percent over the next seven months. The Merc's pay scale is higher than that of EB-BANG's however.

"Our tentative contract does not specify a pay cut of any specific amount," Guild bargaining unit chair Sara Steffens told the Press Club in an e-mail. "Instead it allows for a wage reopener — the opportunity for management to bargain for reduced wages — in the event of company-wide paycuts. No cut could go into effect before October, and it could not be any larger than that imposed on non-union employees."

The East Bay contract is the first for that union, which was formed a year ago by a 104-92 vote of the employees. The union is composed of Contra Costa Times employees, who were not represented by a union, and Alameda Newspaper Group workers, whose Guild local battled for 12 years before obtaining a contract in 1998 that called for a starting reporter at ANG's Oakland Tribune to make $26,000 a year (See June 4, 2006 Press Club posting).

The new East Bay contract sets a minimum of $18.75/hour ($39,000/year for full-timers) for reporters, copy editors and others identified as journalists.

"In a time of terrible turmoil, when most every newsroom is enduring layoffs, paycuts and benefit losses, this contract proposal offers basic job protections and guaranteed severance, while allowing flexibility for managers and acknowledging the financial crisis in our industry," Steffens said. "We see it as a foundation to build from in the future."

Friday, May 29, 2009

How to move into the digital world

You may still work for a newspaper, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a dinosaur, too. SPJ NorCal is hosting a panel discussion Tuesday in San Francisco titled "Journalism in the Age of the iPhone" that will tell you what skills you need to update your journalism toolbox for the 21st century. Here's a link with details. Panelists include freelancer Jennifer Kho, EB-BANG's George Kelly and Diana Hembree, editor-in-chief at Consumer Health Interactive.

East Bay deal: Starting pay $39,000 a year

Newly hired copy editors, reporters, photographes and "Internet content providers" would start at $18.75/hour or $39,000 a year (assuming a 2080-hour year), under a proposed contract reached by Guild leaders and MediaNews. The contract goes to a vote of members on Tuesday. The contract will apply to about 180 employees of the Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, San Mateo County Times and other East Bay-Bay Area News Group papers. Here's a link to the union's summary of the contract.

Highlights:
    • “We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we think this proposal is a strong starting point to build our future relationship with the company,” said Sara Steffens, unit chair of the East Bay Guild unit. “There are some things in this contract that nobody’s had before at BANG-East Bay.”

    • PAY: Minimum hourly pay of $18.75 for journalists (including reporters, photographers, copy editors and internet content providers) and $15.20 for editorial assistants and other support staff, effective six months after ratification.

    • GUILD MEMBERSHIP: Bargaining Unit members may choose to join the Guild or not, and can decide whether to pay dues through payroll deduction.

    • LAYOFF: Management can layoff Guild Unit members because of economic reasons, and has latitude to consider factors including work record, qualifications, ability to do remaining work and length of service. Laid-off workers go on a rehire list for six months.

    • HEALTH BENEFITS: Union and management representatives are pursuing the possibility of adding BANG-East Bay Unit members to the same Guild-run health system that provides affordable, high-quality coverage for San Francisco Chronicle staff. Current health benefits remain unchanged.

    • BYLINES: An employee can withhold his or her byline/credit line for journalistic reasons.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Guild deal at Merc calls for 9% pay cut

The Guild has reached a tentative agreement with the Mercury News which cuts pay by 9 percent over the next seven months, increases employee health insurance contributions, reduces vacation accural and allows the Merc to move its copy desk to Walnut Creek.

The Guild issued this statement today concerning the tentative contract:
    Here are some details of the new contract your bargaining committee negotiated with the company. As you know, it is a difficult period in the newspaper industry and the country. This contract settlement represents our best efforts at protecting workers, jobs and quality at the Mercury News. It is not something that we recommend lightly and we welcome questions at a ratification meeting to be held at 3:30 p.m. Monday, June 1 in the Mercury News Assembly Room. We are holding the ratification meeting at the Mercury News in order to accomodate members who cannot leave work to attend an off-site meeting on a weekday. There will be one hour for explanations, questions and comments, then members will vote by secret ballot on whether to ratify the agreement.

    Term: 18 months, expiring Nov. 30, 2010

    Pay: To be cut by 7 percent first payroll period after ratification, and an additional 2 percent effective first payroll period after January 1, 2010. Employees who aren’t at top scale will remain at their current step during Agreement.

    Furlough: Company can require up to five days of furlough in 2010.

    Differentials: To be eliminated effective March 1, 2010.

    Medical insurance: Current premium share to be maintained through Dec. 31; premium share to increase to management/non-union rate (now 30 percent for Blue Cross Core Plan) effective Jan. 1, 2010.

    Vacation: Each employee to lose one week of vacation accrual per year. New accrual rates: two weeks for employees with less than two years of service; three weeks for two to nine years of service; four weeks for more than nine years of service. No employee will lose more than one week of vacation as a result of the change in accrual.

    Commission only: Company has right to hire commission-only sales reps to develop new business.

    Circulation/finanance consolidation: Company can move remaining inside circulation jobs and finance work to Bay Area News Group Shared Services Center; Mercury News employees will receive preference for jobs created as a result, with no harm to pay (after 7 percent pay cut) through Jan. 1, 2010; thereafter, pay cannot be reduced below top quartile of pay at BANG for comparable positions. Employees who lose their jobs as a result of consolidation shall be eligible for up to eight weeks of supplemental severance beyond what is otherwise specified in the contract.

    Copy desk-design consolidation: Company can consolidate copy desk and design functions in Walnut Creek after Aug. 1, 2009; Mercury News employees receive hiring preference for jobs created as a result, with no harm to pay (after 7 percent pay cut) through Jan. 1, 2010; thereafter, pay cannot be reduced below top quartile of pay at BANG for comparable positions. Employees who lose their jobs as a result of consolidation shall be eligible for up to eight weeks of supplemental severance beyond what is otherwise specified in the contract.

    Advertising: Company can consolidate advertising functions at BANG-EB and San Jose; Guild cannot use consolidation as evidence that it has jurisdiction over non-union BANG-EB work; Company cannot withdraw recognition of Guild as bargaining representative for San Jose Mercury News advertising employees.

    Subcontracting: Company gains right to subcontract, but cannot assign certain work to anyone not covered by contract if it results in a layoff. Such work includes reporting in Santa Clara County. No outside ad sales representatives can be laid off as a result of subcontracting.

    Guild Negotiating Committee: Sylvia Ulloa, Rick Tulsky, Bill Russell, John Fensterwald, Darren Carroll, Carl Hall, Suzanne Arnaud
UPDATE: THURSDAY, 7 P.M.: The Snitch at SF Weekly says that a Merc reporter declared on his Facebook page that when the proposed contract came out, it was "The Day the Merc Died." Another reporter replied, "You mean the San Jose Bureau of BANG?"

Melanie Morgan to co-host national show

Melanie Morgan, who was the morning co-host at KSFO-AM 560 for 15 years, will co-anchor a national morning radio show "with a new format aimed at showcasing investigative reporting, accountability journalism," according to a statement from its syndicator, Talk Radio Network.

She will share the anchoring duties with John McCaslin of the Washington Times, and the program will air from that conservative newspaper's newsroom. "The show will utilize all the resources of The Washington Times in addition to a specially formed investigative unit with 10 reporters," the statement said.

"America's Morning News," which launches June 15, will have "a full spectrum ranging from breaking investigative reports in real-time to entertainment news, financial news, commentary and point vs. counterpoint," according to TRN. TRN also syndicates Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham.

TRN did not say in its announcement which stations had agreed to pick up the show. In the Bay Area, the number of conservative talk stations has dropped from three to two, with KTRB-AM 680 flipping to sports last week. The remaining two already have local morning shows.

Morgan, who was let go by KSFO a year ago in a cost-cutting move, and co-host Lee Rodgers have been credited with starting the recall of Gray Davis. In 2006, she was put in the national spotlight for saying New York Times editor Bill Keller should be executed if convicted of treason for revealing government secrets in his newspaper. Most recently, Morgan led protesters who countered demonstrators who wanted to close a Marine Corps recruiting office in Berkeley. Morgan co-founded Move America Forward, an activist pro-troop organization, which has defended American military intervention abroad.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cuts at TV stations less likely to be reported

In a story about a drop in sales at local TV stations, the Merc's Pete Carey points out that cut backs at newspapers get more attention from the media than budget cuts in television. Carey writes:
    Television stations and the major networks face some of the same problems that newspapers face, but they don't say much about it, compared with the coverage by the print media about its problems.

    A recent preliminary study by researchers at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania found that major newspapers reported far more often on the declining audiences for news, both for print and television, than the major networks.

    Looking at a nine-year period, the researchers studied 26 major newspapers and compared their reporting to that of the news programs of seven major broadcast networks — ABC, NBC, CBS, CNBC, the Fox News Network, CNN and PBS. The papers ran 900 stories on the decline of print and TV audiences, while the major networks reported on the issue of declining TV news viewership in 22 reports, and an additional 38 reports focused on the decline in newspaper readership.

    "It is not too great a leap to say that for all intents and purposes national television news has ignored its drop in viewership," the researchers said.
Dean Singleton, chairman of MediaNews Group which owns the Merc, has been complaining about how the problems facing newspapers are covered. He told the Denver alt-weekly Westword:
    The problems of newspapers, in my view, are very mis-covered by media analysts today. They don't understand the difference between a severe economic downturn, the most severe we've seen in my lifetime, and structural change. There are both going on. There's structural change going on, and it has been for several years, and that will change our business model. But the majority of the revenue declines we're seeing in 2009 are plain, old economic downturn.

    ... If you look at radio or television ad revenue for the March quarter, for the most part, they were down substantially more than print advertising. And they didn't lose any business to the Web. So I think it's unfortunate that the media wants to cover itself as if the sky is falling. The sky is not falling. It's cloudy and we're having severe thunderstorms, but the sky isn't falling.

Union wants editorial writers fired

In Southern California, the union pension fund for Los Angeles police officers and firefighters is part of a group of investors who bought the San Diego Union-Tribune. And now the union wants to fire the paper's editorial writers who have been critical of public employee unions, the LA Times reports.

"Since the very public employees they continually criticize are now their owners, we strongly believe that those who currently run the editorial pages should be replaced," pension fund president Paul M. Weber wrote in a March 26 letter to Tom Gores, who heads the group that bought the paper.

The group wouldn't discuss with the LA Times what it would do next, though it told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the pension fund leader was wasting his time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Warriors PR director posed as fan on blog

Merc sports columnist Tim Kawakami reports that Warriors executive director of public relations Raymond Ridder was the author of an anonymous comment posted to the WarriorsWorld.net fan site that defended Warriors management.

In the comment, signed as “Flunkster Dude,” Ridder wrote that he appreciated a season-ticket-holder conference call, conducted by GM Larry Riley, team president Robert Rowell and broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald. “I actually enjoyed the call and appreciate their honesty,” the Flunkster Dude wrote.

The managers of WW.net traced the comment's IP address to the Warriors offices, and they passed that information on to Kawakami, who confronted Ridder. According to Kawakami, Ridder owned up to posting the comment without hesitation.

“It was 100% me. And I’ll take 100% responsibility, if anybody thinks I did anything wrong,” Ridder said. “It was completely on my own. I’ve never been told to do anything by anybody here. It was just me.

“It was nothing malicious at all. I just wanted to get the conversation going in a positive direction–I thought we had a good conference call, I had some good conversations with some season-ticket-holders, then I got to my office and I looked on the internet and all I saw was negative comments, complaints, nothing positive.

Ridder also told Kawakami that he has posted four other comments to WW.net anonymously defending management or otherwise trying to get the conversation going in “a positive direction.”

Kawakami also pointed out that Ridder never asked to have his name removed from the story or to blame the postings on an unnamed "Warriors official."

“I’m the one who went into my office and wrote what I wrote,” Ridder said. “I’ll take whatever comes of this.”

Management wishes Sentinel were back downtown

After MediaNews bought the Santa Cruz Sentinel in 2007, it moved the paper from its downtown building on Church Street to an office building in Scotts Valley (pictured here). At the time, locals (as well as many employees) thought the move was a bad idea. The paper had been downtown for 150 years.

Well, the Sentinel reported Friday that its landlord has been foreclosed upon, and the 136,000-square-foot office complex that includes the 18,000-square-foot offices of the newspaper are scheduled to be sold at a public auction.

The foreclosure won't have much impact on the Sentinel since the new landlord will likely want to keep as many tenants as possible. But Sentinel Publisher Mario van Dongen (who is headed to The Oregonian shortly, see item below) said that if big changes were to occur down the line, the Sentinel would welcome the opportunity to re-evaluate its 10-year lease. He said the newspaper would be better off returning to downtown Santa Cruz nearer to the county hub rather than its current isolated office on the Scotts Valley frontage road.

Mac Tully, vp of the Bay Area Newspaper Group (which includes the Sentinel) and publisher of the Merc, agreed with von Dongen about returning to downtown. "Nobody wishes that you were downtown more than me," Tully said. (Photo credit: Shmuel Thaler, The Sentinel)

Columnist: Police forced First Amendment showdown

LA Times media columnist James Rainey says San Francisco police created an unnecessary First Amendment showdown when they searched the apartment of a San Francisco State journalism student who took pictures of a murder scene. The student, who is not being named by newspapers for safety reasons, has said his photographs are protected under California's shield law, and he is being represented for free by attorney Jim Wagstaffe. Writes Rainey:
    Although he is not a professional journalist, the courts have made clear that the shield law protects student reporters and photographers from having to disclose unpublished notes, photographs or observations.

    California legislators wrote the law in the 1930s (it later became part of the state Constitution) because they realized that journalists can't function -- persuading jittery subjects to talk or getting whistle-blowers to share confidential information -- if the sources believe their identities or statements might be revealed to authorities.

    "My guy exposed himself to a difficult situation for a long time to report on an underserved community," said Wagstaffe, who specializes in 1st Amendment cases. "If he gives testimony or pictures now and gets in harm's way, the next three journalists won't be able to go to a place like Hunters Point and gather important information."

KTNC to remain Spanish, joins new network

KTNC-TV Channel 42 in Concord has changed ownership but will remain a Spanish language station. The station (along with its satellite in Mendocino County , KUNO Channel 8, Fort Bragg) were among the stations Pappas Telecasting lost in bankruptcy proceedings.

The station has been acquired by a newly formed company, New World T.V. Group LLC, which is owned mostly by Fortress Capital Corp., Pappas' largest creditor, and headed by Dan Sullivan and Bert Ellis. Ellis also owns KDOC-TV in Anaheim, an independent that serves Orange County.

KTNC will become an affiliate of a new Spanish network, Estrella TV, which will launch in the third quarter, according to MediaWeek. Estrella TV plans to air original entertainment programming and a daily national newscast and a news magazine show.

Estrella has been buying stations or signing affiliates nationwide in an attempt to make it a formidable competitor to Telemundo and Univision. KTNC, with its transmitter atop Mt. Diablo, has the potential of reaching both the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose and Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto markets.

New publisher for The Wave

Bill Hargreaves has been promoted to publisher at The Wave Media Inc., parent company of The Wave Magazine and TheWaveMag.com, according to a news release from founder Chris Rhoads. Hargreaves will succeed publisher and founder B. Peter Brafford, who will remain on the board of directors as president. Hargreaves joined The Wave Magazine in 2001, the same year the magazine was launched. His previous positions included director of business development and most recently vp of sales prior to being named publisher.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Political writer Wildermuth calls it a career

Today was veteran Chronicle political writer John Wildermuth's final day, prompting Mayor Gavin Newsom to declare May 22 as "John Wildermuth Day." Colleague Carla Marinucci says that Wildermuth got a letter from Gov. Schwarzenegger that said in part, "You have probably reported on every topic under the sun ... But it was your political coverage that had the biggest impact on our state...you will be missed.'' State Sen. Mark Leno also issued a resolution in honor of Wildermuth. Marinucci writes:
    "t's a cliche to say "end of an era," but this time, it's the real deal: John Wildermuth has witnessed a generation of upheaval and change in the world of journalism, a profession he jumped into back in the era of typewriters and cut-and-paste -- and ended with You Tube, Twitter and Facebook. The "big guy" did it all with class. He may go on to other things -- but he'll always represent the very best of the news business.

Santa Cruz Sentinel publisher steps down

Mario van Dongen, who became publisher of the Santa Cruz Sentinel eight months ago, is leaving to become advertising director at The Oregonian in Portland, that state's largest newspaper. A replacement has not been named. A story announcing his departure noted, "While the Sentinel has seen its bottom line weaken, van Dongen said it has not experienced the financial problems that have plagued some papers and forced others to shut down." In the photo, van Dongen, left, and Mac Tully, San Jose Mercury News president/publisher and group vice president of the Bay Area News Group, address the Sentinel staff on Thursday. (Photo credit Shmuel Thaler, Sentinel)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

K-Fox sale near; goodbye Greg Kihn?

Local radio expert David F. Jackson tells us that Clear Channel is close to announcing a deal that will end its ownership of Classic Rock 98.5 K-Fox (KUFX) in San Jose. The station has been held by a trustee since last summer, pending a sale, required since Clear Channel was over FCC limits for ownership in the market.

Jackson says the sale of K-Fox will end the run of classic rock — and morning superstar Greg Kihn (pictured) — on the station that was once known as KOME. It will also mean that the San Jose Sharks will be seeking a new radio flagship ... and the smart money says the Sharks will land on KTRB-AM 860, which flipped to all-sports on Monday.

'Bill loves Marla and Marla loves Bill'

That's what it says on a bench that has just been installed in Huddart Park in San Mateo County at the request of Bill Workman, a retired Chronicle reporter who covered the Peninsula for years.

A party is planned on Sunday to celebrate the new bench. Though Bill is now in a wheelchair and won't be able to hike to the bench in Huddart Park, his wife Marla says in this op-ed in The Almanac that park rangers have agreed to drive him down the trail to see the bench. (That's Bill and Marla in a photo taken at a 2002 Press Club awards banquet.)

She says Bill suggested the bench, with the sign "Bill loves Marla and Marla loves Bill, when the couple's lawyer asked what he wanted to include in his trust.
    We contacted San Mateo County Parks to see how we might make the bench a reality and found that we could get a bench put in for $3,200. Well, we couldn't afford it, not with all the medical expenses and the horrendous cost of caring for Bill who is in an assisted living home.

    We thought that was that, but then I had an idea. Why not ask for help?

    So, we asked our friends and family to chip in to help pay for the bench. People from all over the world donated — from Greece, Germany, Austria, Canada — and from across the country — Illinois, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, California, Arizona, Kansas, Tennessee, Florida.

    Even San Mateo County Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson and Dr. Martha Kanter, chancellor of Foothill-De Anza Community College who has been nominated for Under Secretary of Education, contributed. Through the generosity of so many good people, we raised enough money, and now the bench is a reality.
The party is set for Sunday, May 24, at 1:30 p.m. at the Kings Mountain Fire Station on Skyline Drive. Marla, a professor of mass communication and cultural studies at Menlo College, says, "We wanted to share our love with the community and give back by providing hikers with a place to sit and enjoy the splendor of San Mateo County's redwoods. We encourage all to support their parks and bask in the beauty of love and nature."

Do newspaper endorsements matter?

Here's a chart SFGate posted before Tuesday's election showing the endorsements made by 10 newspapers. We added the line at the bottom showing the outcome of the election. Not one of the papers' recommendations matched the outcome at the polls.

San Francisco's Bay Guardian and two southern California papers agreed with the voters in rejecting 1A-1E, but those papers recommended "no" votes on 1F, which will stop pay raises for lawmakers in deficit years.

Prop 1A, which would have extended sales, income and car tax increases, failed 53-47 in San Francisco, despite the Chronicle's endorsement of it. It also failed 54-46 in Santa Clara County where the Mercury News ran a number of editorials urging people to support it.

A Herb Caen moment

The Chron has a Q&A this morning with Herb Caen's only son, Christopher Caen, 44, who is making a mark at the Citizen Group ad agency. One of the questions Sam Whiting put to him was: "When you were a kid, what did you want to be?"

A: When I was very young, I was at a birthday party. My mom was going around the table saying, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Kids were saying, "An astronaut," "a fireman," "a policeman." When she got to me, I said, "An Italian."

(Photo credits: Mike Kepka, The Chronicle; Chron file)

San Jose's KLOK sold for $7.65 million

San Jose's KLOK (1170 AM) has been sold by Univision for $7.65 million to Principle Broadcasting. Principle is mostly involved in
brokered multi-cultural programming, which means that the station could be airing a variety of Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino and ethnic Indian programming soon. KLOK's Radio Cadena format will move to the HD2 side channel of Univision's KBRG 100.3. KLOK operates at 50,000 watts daytime and 5,000 at night. The sale was reported by Radio Business Report.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SF police search home of student journalist

The Chron reports that a 22-year-old SF State journalism student has invoked the state's shield law after he was present at a April 17 murder in San Francisco's rough Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood. The student (who the Chron isn't identifying for safety reasons) invoked his rights after San Francisco police searched his home. The Chron's Jaxon Van Derbeken writes:
    On May 3, police obtained a warrant to search the student's San Francisco home for the photographs, other possible evidence and even obtain his DNA. They seized some items, but it is not clear whether they found the photos.

    The student has not returned to the apartment and has not been in direct contact with police, investigators say. He is being represented for free by an attorney who works with San Francisco State's journalism department, who says he will try to quash the search warrant on the grounds that the student is covered by the state shield law.

    "The shield law is designed to allow reporters to cover events without becoming witnesses," said the attorney, Jim Wagstaffe, an expert on First Amendment law. Without that protection, he said, journalists could be forced to become "shills for police."

    "In this case," Wagstaffe said, "it would appear the police have other information, and we would hope they would turn to that other information."
Wagstaffe also tells the Chron that the student is "genuinely nervous" about his safety. The student journalist has not cooperated with police, which probably was a factor in the search. The Chron put the story on its front page this morning.

CC's KKSF flips from jazz to classic rock

After 22 years as the Bay Area's smooth jazz station, Clear Channel on Monday flipped KKSF 103.7 to classic rock. The station's new handle is The Band. And now it is in the hunt to steal audience away from KFOG, which is seen as vulnerable with the departure of longtime morning man Dave Morey.

Program Director Michael Erickson posted a note on the station's Web site that said in part:
    While this decision was extremely difficult, KKSF is taking a different path and becoming a new radio station today -- 103.7 The Band. It was made only after exhaustive market research, and extensive economic considerations (yes this is a business). We hope you'll listen and let us know what you think.
KKSF switched to its new format at 3 p.m. Monday, and the first song it played was Santana's "Everybody's Everything." The station intends to play 10,000 songs without a commercial break as it acquaints listeners with its new format.

No word yet on what's next for KKSF's hosts, which included Ramsey Lewis (mornings), Miranda Wilson (9 a.m.-2 p.m.), Dave Koz (2-7) and Maria Lopez (7-midnight).

As of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, KKSF's Web site still had several references to its jazz format and a place for listeners to leave comments. The 20 comments that had been posted about the flip were unfavorable.

Said one, "I am just sick. Who does your market research? They should be strung up."

Another post said, "What a shock!!! I have been listening to KKSF for almost 20 years. I have gone to your concerts, smooth Jass Brunches, patronized your advertisers. I am really upset that you have changed the format of the station. Our whole office listens to KKSF. What are you thinking!"

The market still has one jazz station — KCSM 91.1 San Mateo. And CC will air jazz on KKSF's HD channel.

From the history department: KKSF, which originally was KGO-FM, was an album oriented rock station from 1980 to 1982 and again from 1984 to 1987. It flipped to "Smooth Jazz" on July 31, 1987.

Glenn Beck might land at KNEW

Hours after Glenn Beck (left) got the boot from the Pappas family's KTRB-AM 860 as it flipped to all-sports, Clear Channel's KNEW-AM 910 began airing a promo asking listeners to go to their Web site to say if they want Beck on the station. Beck is syndicated by Premier Radio Networks, a CC subsidiary, so he has a good chance of landing at KNEW. The ratings success of Beck's Fox News Channel program doesn't hurt either.

UPDATE, Tuesday, 5 p.m.: KNEW Program Director John Scott said on his blog today that the station has picked up Beck, and will be airing him from noon to 3, leading into Michael Savage, starting Tuesday, May 26.

Jennings receives highest honor at Emmys

CBS 5 won more Emmys than any other station at the 38th Annual Northern California Area Emmy awards presentation but KGO-TV ABC7 anchor Cheryl Jennings (right) received the Governors’ Award, the highest honor a regional chapter of the Emmys can bestow. It is a lifetime achievement award for service to the community and television industry.

Three station awards were presented at Saturday night's event at the Palace Hotel. Overall Excellence went to KGO ABC 7. KGO ABC 7 also received the Community Service Award for “End Hunger Now.” News Excellence was awarded to KPIX CBS 5, “CBS 5 Eyewitness News.” CBS 5 won more Emmys than any other station with 13.

The most honored individuals were Anna Werner, reporter, KPIX CBS 5, San Francisco and Christian Anguiano, Photographer/Editor, KUVS Univision 21, Sacramento with four statuettes each.

Receiving three trophies were: Robert Genolio and Abby Sterling, KPIX CBS 5, Pamela Diaz and Santiago Lucero, KUVS Univision 19, Sacramento.

A total of 215 Emmy statues were awarded to 180 individuals.

City Star becomes an Examiner insert

The Examiner on Friday stopped publishing its sister publication, The City Star, on a daily basis. Instead, the Star will become a section within the Examiner on Wednesday and Fridays. The move comes several months after the Palo Alto Daily Post pulled out of San Francisco to focus on the Peninsula. Free-Daily.com has more details.

Full disclosure: The editor of the Press Club's blog is Dave Price, also owner of the Post.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Many Chron editors survive round of layoffs

Chron Guild rep Carl Hall tells the SF Weekly that in this most recent round of layoffs of union workers, management promised there would be "proportional" cuts of non-union managers and editors, but it hasn't happened yet.

"I'm not a cheerleader for cuts in management's ranks just to make us feel better," says Hall. "But I think that it's a fair point that if there are far fewer staff, why do you need so many managers."

Examiner blogger admits making up news

The Examiner's Web site pays writers based on how many hits their stories get. So a Southern California free-lance writer says she wrote a "series of preposterous articles" to see how much money she could get. The writer, L.J. Williamson, boasted about her accomplishment in an e-mail to LAfishbowl:
    [A]ll they care about is how many hits your page gets, and they don't care about the writing. Fine — I decided to try to do things their way.

    Unexpectedly, one post I wrote about the vaccine/autism debate really brought the crazies out of the woodwork, and brought my page views to a new record high. So I went with it, decided to start baiting the vaccine deniers more and more, with exaggerations and half-truths.

    I also wrote a series of preposterous articles on topics like why peanuts should be banned, why panic was a totally appropriate response to the swine flu outbreak, and why schoolchildren were likely to die if they were allowed to play dangerous games such as tag.

    And no one at Examiner noticed or cared what I said or did for quite some time.
Williamson's fun ended when lawyers for Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey complained she was spreading rumors about their clients having Ibogaine parties.

Travis Henry, Examiner.com's director of editorial, responded on LAfishbowl by saying, "It is true that we put a lot of trust in our Examiners. It is unfortunate if an Examiner uses this freedom to abuse the system."

(The SF Weekly, in reporting this story, commented on Henry's quote by observing, "You know, when the Unabomber was identified as a former UC-Berkeley lecturer, the school's chancellor did not say 'We have a great number of math professors — and very few of them sent explosives through the mail.'")

Henry's response did not indicate the Examiner was going to change its policy in any way. Instead, he turned his response into a pitch for more writers.

Local TV, radio, Web ad revenue plunges

TV stations in the Bay Area saw ad revenues fall 14% in the first quarter compared to the previous year due mainly to the downturn in the auto industry, the Chron reports. For radio, the drop was 27%.

Analysts told the Chron revenues were down nearly 50% at some political blogs, and 10 to 20 percent at entertainment blogs.

"Never seen it this bad. Never," said longtime KGO-AM president and gm Mickey Luckoff.

One exception was all-news KCBS, which saw a 4% jump in sales after it began simulcasting on 106.9 FM. "We increased our audience — and got a better demo," said Doug Harvill, senior vice president and market manager for CBS Radio San Francisco, referring to the younger audience, one craved by advertisers, that listens to FM radio.

Student finds public's appetite for news

Neil Henry, UC-Berkeley's journalism dean, tells in this Chron op-ed the remarkable story of Linjun Fan, a student from China who created and staffed a news Web site for the East Bay city of Albany for a two-year master's degree project at Berkeley. Henry writes:
    Linjun threw herself into Albany zealously, attending nearly every city government, school board, and neighborhood meeting. She created viral buzz about her site by participating in Yahoo, Google, and other digital discussion groups focusing on town activities. She encouraged citizens to contribute news of their own, tips, features, personal essays and photographs. 
    For nearly every story over the next two years, Linjun was first on the scene, using the most highly advanced digital tools to file her work to her site from all over town. Most of the time she was the only reporter at any of the events she covered, a stark reality shared by most of her classmates in their own coverage of places as varied as El Cerrito, Emeryville, and West Oakland. 
    Linjun's audience on the Web grew so dramatically that when she returned to China for two months last summer to pursue a news internship, citizens flooded her site with messages wondering, Where's Linjun? Where's the news? When will Albany Today come back?
Building upon her experience with Albany Today (albanytoday.org), the school earned a $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to replicate her site for other communities in the Bay Area increasingly neglected by the local media, Henry reports. By the way, Linjun received her master's degree yesterday.

NBC will shoot 12 episodes of 'Trauma' in SF


Remember in April when a crew filming a pilot for a TV show staged a huge explosion on the I-280 bridge in San Francisco?

NBC liked the pilot and has ordered 12 episodes of the medical drama series titled "Trauma." The Chron says they will be filmed from July to mid-December in SF despite a last-minute hitch.

The city had promised NBC a $600,000 rebate for shooting in the city, and then the Board of Supervisors took it away. That would have likely meant that the San Francisco-based series would have been shot in Vancouver or LA. At the last minute, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu promised NBC it would be getting the rebate.

At a cost of $4 million an episode, the series should generate a lot of jobs. (Video credit: SF Gate)

What's MNG's goal in charging for online news?

MediaNews Group president Jody Lodovic tells E&P that doesn’t expect the company's plans to charge for news online to make significant income. “The whole idea is to stop the erosion from print to online and encourage people to become print subscribers.” MNG, with 54 dailies including the Mercury News, makes most of its money from print ads. Newspaper Web sites, more than a decade after they became widespread, are still only producing a single digit percentage of most newspaper company's revenues.

Raiders may switch radio stations

Former Raiders spokesman Artie Gigantino says he expects the team will leave KSFO-AM 560 next year and move to KTRB-AM 860, which will flip to an all-sports format on Monday. KTRB already carries the A's and has indicated an interest in East Bay sports as a way of counter-programming KNBR-AM 680, which carries the Giants and 49ers. "It is very obvious to me that this move is inevitable," he says in his Examiner column.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Three notes about KGO 810

First, President and GM Mickey Luckoff tells the Press Club that there are no plans at this time for KGO to add an FM signal like KCBS did earlier this year.

Second, Luckoff said on Ronn Owens' show the other day that the station will name a permanent 10 p.m.-to-1 a.m. host "very soon." Guest hosts who presumably are contenders for the job are (in alphabetical order):
    • Brian Copeland
    • Christine Craft
    • Jim Gabbert
    • David Lazarus
    • Pat Thurston
    • John Rothmann
Luckoff didn't say who he favored, but told a caller complimenting Pat Thurston, "I think you'll be hearing more from her on KGO radio." The 10-1 slot opened up when Bernie Ward was arrested in December 2007 for child pornography.

Third, Luckoff also said that he's interested in Renel Brooks-Moon, who recently left KISS 98.1. "I'm a great admirer of Renel's, I think she's a terrific talent and we are actually looking into where she wants to be next."

Newsom: Under 30 crowd won't miss Chron

In a routine newspapers-are-dying-technology-is-king story in the Economist, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is quoted as saying that if the Chronicle closes, "People under 30 won’t even notice." No other quotes from 41-year-old mayor in the story, though the Economist did a glowing profile of him in its May 19 issue.

50,000 watt KTRB flips to sports

KTRB-AM 860, which has been struggling as a right-wing talk station since it went on the air in 2007, will flip to all sports on Monday. After KRTB picked up the rights to the A's games, it has been gradually adding syndicated sports-talk programs such as Ron Barr's "Sports Byline USA," which originates from San Francisco.

The station's strategy will be to focus on East Bay teams or those that don't get much attention. It's also the home of Stanford sports.

Right-wing syndicated talkers getting the heave-ho include Glenn Beck, Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham and Jerry Doyle.

As for sports talk, the station is initially beginning with syndicated hosts but promises to add more local shows.

KTRB was previously located in Modesto, but its owners, the Pappas family, relocated it to San Francisco in 2007. The station has two advantages — a powerful 50,000 watt signal (same wattage as KNBR, KCBS, KGO and KFAX) and the fact that it's five notches from market-leader KGO. But the owners have so far not been able to parlay those advantages into any significant ratings.

May 2009 Press Club board minutes

May 13, 2009 — Board Room, San Mateo Daily Journal. The meeting was called to order at 6:35 p.m.

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

Minutes of April were approved as read.

There was no Treasurer’s Report as there have been no changes in the past month.

Open Seat
    LJ Anderson declined the invitation to take the open seat on the board. The names of Richard Rossi of Notre Dame de Namur University and Mike Abeeb of the College of San Mateo were mentioned. They will be contacted.
Professional Journalism Contest
    Darryl reported that judging results are in and he will send the plaque order this week.
Evening of Excellence June 6
    Marshall reported that Chron columnist Phil Matier will speak at the dinner. The club will comp him and a guest. Jon will talk to him about his presentation. Micki will update the invitation and get it to Marshall and Darryl. Carolyn Compton will do the centerpieces. Darryl says he doesn’t need any early help.
High School Contest
    Micki reviewed the high school awards reception on May 12 which was attended by about 50 students. She gave Darryl expense receipts and he will invoice Hillsdale Shopping Center and reimburse Micki.
High School Project
    Jon reported that Carlmont High School newspaper has a new adviser, Justin Raisner, and the Carlmont editor will serve as an intern this summer at the Daily Journal. San Mateo High School will send an intern next fall. Jon also talked to the new SMUHSD superintendent, Scott Laurence, who expressed support for student journalism in the district.
Town Hall Meeting
    Marshall reported that the Board of Supervisors and Rep. Anna Eshoo would like to serve as co-sponsors, to which the board agreed. Micki suggested that the board should serve as moderator for the panel. Marshall will report on the meeting at the awards dinner.
High School Boot Camp
    Ed is looking for dates that will work for CSM. We might be able to get the planetarium, which is right next to BLDG 18, for the general gathering room. Everyone expressed satisfaction with the rest of last year’s arrangements.
Professional Development Workshop
    Nothing firm yet but Darryl noted that CalAware would be willing to do a workshop. Marshall suggested a program on multimedia skills for journalists.
Scholarships
    Ed will gather a group and turn things around as quickly as possible with help from Jack Russell and Jennifer Aquino.
Summer Picnic
    Sept. 13 from 2-4 p.m. at the home of Micki Carter and Mike Venturino.
Meeting was adjourned at 7:30 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Micki Carter, Secretary

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sticking point in BANG contract: Money

The NorCal Guild posted a statement today saying its contract for East Bay Bay Area News Group workers was 90 percent complete. But, in the second to last paragraph, the Guild acknowledges "some issues still need resolution."

Such as?

"Our fundamental right to negotiate future changes in our compensation is perhaps the key sticking point."

Here's the complete statement.

Trial date set for Current TV reporters

North Korea's state news agency says the Current TV reporters detained for illegally entering the communist country will go on trial June 4.

"The Central Court of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea decided to try American journalists on June 4 according to the indictment of the competent organ," the Korean Central News Agency said, according to a the AFP news agency.

The one-sentence report gave no further details.

Euna Lee, a Korean-American, and Laura Ling, a Chinese-American, were detained before dawn on March 17 along the narrow Tumen River which marks the border with China.

The pair, who are employed by Al Gore's Current TV in San Francisco, were working on a story about refugees fleeing the communist North.

The North has previously said they would go on trial for "hostile acts" and for illegally entering the country. Their trial would be held "on the basis of the confirmed crimes committed by them," it has previously announced. [Read previous stories]

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Eastside Prep, Paly take top high school journalism prizes

The Eastside Panther of Eastside College Preparatory High School in East Palo Alto took top honors in General Excellence in the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club’s High School Journalism Competition this year. (Above is the staff of the Panther with adviser Angela Filo at left.

Palo Alto High School, which entered two magazines and one online publication, won the most awards with 11, including best web site content and design.

Awards were presented at a reception today (May 12) in the ballroom of Ralston Hall on the campus of Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont.

This year 167 students from 10 high schools in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties participated in 12 categories.

The staff of the Eastside Panther will be introduced at the Evening of Excellence awards dinner June 6 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City.

Here’s a complete list of winners:
    WEB SITE DESIGN
      1. The Paly Voice, Palo Alto High School
      2. The San Mateo Hi, San Mateo High School

    WEB SITE CONTENT
      1. The Paly Voice, Palo Alto High School
      2. The Oracle, Gunn High School

    COLUMN
      1. Jon Proctor, The Oracle, Gunn High School
      2. Ben Brown, Viking Magazine, Palo Alto High School
      3. Oliver Davies, Viking Magazine, Palo Alto High School

    EDITORIAL
      1. Tie: Jon Proctor, The Oracle, Gunn High School and Janelle Viray, The Tom-Tom, Jefferson High School
      2. Tie: Nicola Mehrling, Terra Nova Times, Terra Nova High School, and Connie Yang and Dan Schwartz, The Paly Voice, Palo Alto High
      3. Ca'shea Airy, The Panther, Eastside College Prep

    NEWS PHOTO
      1. Rumaanah Khan, The Panther, Eastside College Prep
      2. Cally Berg, The Paly Voice, Palo Alto High School
      3. Meghan McCarron, The Terra Nova Times, Terra Nova High School
      HM: Craig Hudson, The Terra Nova Times, Terra Nova High School

    SPORTS STORY
      1. Marco Scola, Palo Alto Viking
      2. Garret Conour, Aragon Outlook
      3. Carlos Orellana, Jefferson Tom-Tom

    FEATURE PHOTO
      1. Sadaf Malik, The Thunderbolt, Mills High School
      2. Will Atkinson, The San Mateo Hi, San Mateo High School
      3. Francisco Tamayo, The Panther, Eastside College Prep

    NEWS STORY
      1. Faisal Hamid, The Thunderbolt, Mills High School
      2. Warren Mallari and Nicole Chien, The Tom-Tom, Jefferson High School
      3. Sandra Bernal, Carlos Orellana, Jael Campos and Janice Higuera, The Tom-Tom, Jefferson High School

    SPORTS PHOTO
      1. Spencer Sims, The Viking, Palo Alto High School
      2. Craig Hudson, The Terra Nova Times, Terra Nova High School
      3. Malaika Drebin, The Viking, Palo Alto High School
      HM: Victoria Vargas, The Panther, Eastside College Prep
      HM: Victoria Vargas, The Panther, Eastside College Prep

    FEATURE STORY
      1. Malaika Drebin, Viking Magazine, Palo Alto High School
      2. Caroline Wang, Verde Magazine, Palo Alto High School
      3. Tim Qin and Melanie Maemura, Verde Magazine, Palo Alto High School
      HM: Hanna Brody and Lauren Hammerson, Viking Magazine, Palo Alto High School

    LAYOUT AND DESIGN
      1. The Outlook, Aragon High School
      2. The Panther, Eastside College Prep
      3. San Mateo Hi, San Mateo High School

    GENERAL EXCELLENCE
      1. The Panther, Eastside College Prep
      2. The Oracle, Gunn High School
      3. The Tom-Tom, Jefferson High School
      HM: The San Mateo Hi, San Mateo High School

Press Club board meeting agenda

San Francisco Peninsula Press Club Board of Directors
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
6:30 p.m.
San Mateo Daily Journal
800 S. Claremont St., Ste. 210, San Mateo
 
AGENDA
1-Approval of Minutes
2-Finance and Membership Reports
3-Open Director positions-discussion of new directors
4-Awards Contest
5-High School Journalism Project (next steps)
6-High School Contest report
7-Scholarship Contest 
8-Town Hall Meeting
9-Fall professional development workshop for member
10-Other business as needed

As always, all Press Club members are invited to attend.

Who needs a journalism degree anyway?

Remember the Tracy Press reporter who broke the story on the alleged killer of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu? Jennifer Wadsworth has been featured in the LA Times, appeared on the shows of Larry King, Dr. Phil, Nancy Grace and Geraldo Rivera.

It turns out that Wadsworth, 22, only has a high school diploma and is taking night classes at Las Positas College to get her associates degree. Her only experience prior to the Tracy Press was on her community college's newspaper. The Las Positas Express carried this profile of Wadsworth. Here's a portion of that profile:
    After a series of freelance gigs and internships Wadsworth became a staff writer at the Tracy Press in 2007. She was assigned the Cantu case as one of only two reporters at the paper.

    While covering the Cantu case she was following up on two rumors. One was that there was a connection with a woman who had been hospitalized, which turned out to be [Melissa] Huckaby. The second was that the suitcase, in which Sandra's remains were found, belonged to a Baptist minister named Clifford Lane Lawless.

    Wadsworth, in her quest for all the details, searched public records, a step that many reporters had skipped over. She found that Lawless' address matched Huckaby's, which led to a phone number. When she called, Huckaby answered and after objection, proceeded to talk to Wadsworth for 40 minutes. During the interview Huckaby claimed ownership of the suitcase but said it had been stolen. The story was printed. The police acted.
And the college paper included this quote from her boss:
    "She has a ton of initiative to root up information by herself," said Eric Firpo, City Editor for the Tracy Press. "She needs no hand holding, and she never really has. And she's great when she talks to people because she has a bubbly personality that puts them at ease. People feel comfortable talking to her and telling her stuff. And talking to people is an enormous part of the job. In fact, it's the single most important part of journalism."
The story said Wadsworth had to withdraw from an evening class because of the extra hours she was working, but hopes to resume her education this fall. (Photo credit: LPCExpress.com, Stephen Kirschenmann)

MediaNews will charge for some content

Not so many years ago, newspaper executives were saying they needed to put all of their stories online, even though they were charging people to read the same stories in a printed newspaper.

Now, MediaNews Group executives Dean Singleton (right) and Jody Lodovic (left) are having second thoughts.

"... we continue to do an injustice to our print subscribers and create perceptions that our content has no value by putting all of our print content online for free," they said in a memo posted at Romenesko.

The memo outlines the company's online plans:
    • "We will begin to move away from putting all of our newspaper content online for free. Instead, we will explore a variety of premium offerings that apply real value to our print content. We are not trying to invent new premium products, but instead tell our existing print readers that what they are buying has real value, and to our online audience (who don’t buy the print edition), that if you want access to all online content, you are going to have to register, and/or pay." • MediaNews will create a regional site that will be "actively managed to present breaking news. It will continue to draw a content from the newspaper (but probably in a more abbreviated form), but will also have user-generated content, community involvement and third party content." • "We will build a new local utility site (Local.com), which is an ecosystem of local information, resources, user content, shopping guides, and marketplaces. This site will be focused on a younger audience as well as other targeted audiences based on demographics which are attractive to our current and potential advertisers."
Here's a link to the comments Romenesko got about the memo.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Richmond gets treatment for hiccups

Oakland Tribune columnist Dave Newhouse reports that Dennis Richmond has been afflicted with hiccups for years and is now seeking medical help for his annoying affliction in Grass Valley, where he lives.

Richmond, in his 32 years as anchor at Channel 2, said he was occasionally hit with hiccup attacks while on the air. And though he attempted mightily to suppress them, they were heard on the air possibly two times, he told Newhouse.

"... You know me, I just kept going. Every time we went to a commercial break, I would take sips of water to try and hold the hiccups down. I can't tell you how many times we said 'good night' and then I started hiccuping badly," said Richmond.

Newhouse reports that Richmond gives high marks to his replacement, Frank Somerville.

"Frank has evolved from a morning show anchor, where there's a lot of energy and happy talk, to where he should be for the 10 o'clock news, especially on Channel 2, a straightforward, serious broadcaster."

New Web blog will cover local media scene

A new media-oriented blog for the Bay Area will officially open tomorrow, BayNewser.com, though its authors have already posted several items to get their site started.

BayNewser is owned by New York-based MediaBistro, which also owns TVNewser, WebNewser, FishbowlLA, FishbowlDC and FishbowlNY.

BayNewser's co-editors are E.B. (Liza) Boyd and Jason Turbow. (Liza introduced herself to Press Club readers May 1 — scroll to the bottom.) The Press Club asked them via e-mail some questions about BayNewser.
    Q: What do you plan to cover?

    A:
    Everything media-related in the Bay Area, both old — what happens to the Chronicle is of vital interest not just locally, but nationally — and new. There are important journalism innovations going on here. Editorial, like what Dave Cohn is doing over at spot.us, or Michael Stoll at The Public Press.

    Also the technologies that are in motion or emerging, that are going to change the way the media does its job, if they haven’t changed it already. There’s also the literary world, TV (will NBC shoot any more of "Trauma" here, now that they don't seem to be eligible for rebates anymore?), and films.

    There's a lot going on here that hasn't been covered in a focused way. Twenty years from now, long after the upheaval we're going through has sorted itself out, people are going to point to the Bay Area as ground zero for many media solutions.

    Q: How snarky will you make BayNewser?

    A:
    That's a fair question. Blogs lend themselves to a more informal tone than more traditional media, and franchises like Gawker/Valleywag probably lead some folks to equate blogs with snark. We'd love for BayNewser to become the place where people go to learn (and discuss) what's going on in the local media -- sort of like a coffee shop or bar where you'd go to chew over what's going on in your world.

    Just as the subjects covered in coffee-shop conversations range from the serious to the silly, and as the tone varies depending on the discussion, we'll cover everything from the serious to the silly, and our tone will probably vary as well, depending on what we're writing about.

    Q: The ad MediaBistro posted for writers said the beat would extend from Russian Hill to Menlo Park. Is that still your plan?

    A:
    "Russian Hill to Menlo Park" was probably just shorthand for "covering the Bay Area, across geography and across industries." So yes, absolutely, that's what we'd like to do.

    Q: Is a media site that is based on a geographic area relevant these days?

    A:
    The short answer is that the Bay Area is full of really smart thinkers and doers; we’re essentially offering a compendium of what those people are thinking and doing. The long answer might be more involved, including issues such as demographics and ad-sale revenue; the "suits" back at mediabistro.com headquarters in New York are probably better equipped to handle that part of the response.

    Q: How much are you being paid? You're probably not going to answer that, but is it based on pageviews, like Nick Denton has been doing at Gawker, or just a set amount?

    A:
    We're paid a flat rate per post. As for the exact amount, suffice it to say that neither of us is going to retire on what we're making off this gig. We're both freelancers and will continue to do other freelancing. But more important to your point is whether we're being paid based on pageviews: No, we're not. So we're not being incentivized to write outrageous things like: "Phil Bronstein caught making out with Gavin Newsom, sources say." (You can thank us for the traffic later. :) )

Two South Bay weeklies bite the dust

Silicon Valley Community Newspapers announced today that two of its weekly newspapers, West San Jose Resident and the Los Gatos Weekender, are shutting down. A note to Weekender readers said:
    While the paper has been well received by readers, and we thank you for that support, it has not gained the support of advertisers necessary for us to be able to continue producing it.

    Reluctantly, we have come to the decision that we can longer afford to continue publishing the Los Gatos Weekender. Friday's issue was the last one.
Silicon Valley Community Newspapers will continue to print its other papers including the Los Gatos Weekly Times. SVCN is owned by MediaNews Group of Denver, same owner as the Mercury News and other dailies in the Bay Area.

A blow to newspaper consolidation?

Jordan Robertson of the AP's San Francisco bureau wrote this story today about the Obama administration's decision to more aggressively enforce antitrust laws. The story is about how the tech firms may have to rethink their business strategies or expansion plans.

The policy change may also have implications for the newspaper industry. In March, Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the Justice Department to relax its enforcement of antitrust rules regarding newspaper acquisitions, which would have paved the way for Hearst and MediaNews to combine newspaper operations in the Bay Area. Her request followed a meeting she had last week with the Chronicle's Phil Bronstein and Hearst general counsel Eve Burton.

On April 21, the Department of Justice rejected Pelosi's request. "We do not believe any new exemptions for newspapers are necessary," the DOJ's Carl Shapiro told a House committee that is looking at whether the government should help struggling newspapers.

While the Bush administration was seen as being more friendly to mergers and acquisitions, the AP story points out that one of the three antitrust cases it filed was against MediaNews concerning an attempted newspaper merger in Charleston, W.Va.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chronicle layoff, buyout list

[Editor's note: This posting was updated in May with the names of those who accepted buyouts.]

Here's the latest list we have of Chronicle newsroom employees who were laid off Thursday and Friday. If you know of any additional names, please e-mail us at sfpen-pressclub@sbcglobal.net. We won't mention your name.

Layoffs
Jonathan Curiel, reporter (Chronicle Watch)
Jim Doyle, reporter
Deborah Gage, technology reporter
Leslie Guth, assistant metro editor
Karen Hata, business reporter
Mark Hedin, copy editor
Tyche Hendricks, reporter
Chris Heredia, reporter, Oakland
Jane Kay, environmental reporter
John Koopman, reporter
Verne Kopytoff, reporter
Zahid Sardar, reporter
Derrick Smith, copy editor
Susan Sward, reporter, investigative unit
Delfin Vigil, reporter

Buyouts
Kevin Albert, editorial assistant
Greg Ambrose, copy editor
John Batteiger, business wire editor
Heidi Benson, culture
Alison Biggar, Chronicle Magazine editor
Bill Burnett, real estate editor
Charles Burress, reporter, Berkeley
Peter Cafone, sports copy editor
Zachary Coile, reporter, Washington bureau
Mark Costantini, photographer
Ken Costa, graphic designer
Jake Curtis, sports
Nancy Gay, sports (49ers)
Dan Giesin, sports copy editor
Janice Greene, op-ed page editorial assistant
Edward Guthmann, culture
Carl Hall, science, Guild rep
Jesse Hamlin, culture
Reyhan Harmanci, Datebook reporter
Steve Hornbostel, page designer
Elizabeth Hughes, copy editor
Leslie Innes, Datebook editor
Timothy Innes, foreign news wire editor
Rod Jones, copy editor, news
Eric Jungerman, designer
Gwen Knapp, sports columnist
Kathy Kerrihard, library researcher
Simar Khanna, Home and Garden editor
Kim Komenich, photographer, Pulitzer winner
Bonnie Lemons, copy editor, news
Craig Lee, photographer
Eric Luse, photographer
Michael Maloney, photographer
Glenn Mayeda, editorial assistant, sports
Rico Mendez, page designer
Tom Meyer, editorial cartoonist
Johnny Miller, library researcher
Shirley-Anne Owden, copy editor, features
Courtenay Peddle, copy editor, news
Rich Pestoric, designer
George Raine, labor reporter
Kurt Rogers, sports photographer
Seth Rosenfeld, reporter
Sylvia Rubin, fashion
Steve Rubenstein, newsside reporter
Sabin Russell, science
Joel Selvin, rock 'n' roll
Glenn Schwarz, sports editor
Lee Sims, copy editor, news
Tanya Schevitz, education reporter
Michelle Smith, sports
Ruthe Stein, film
Tim Sullivan, editorial assistant
Bernadette Tansey, biotech
Jennifer Thelen, copy editor
Laura Thomas, asst. Home-Garden editor
Rad Wilcox, copy editor
Steve Winn, culture and arts
Larry Yant, sports
Patricia Yollin, metro reporter
Dorothy Yule, art department

If you know of any additional names, please e-mail the Press Club at sfpen-pressclub@sbcglobal.net.

The Guild says that the Chronicle laid off 18 people in the newsroom and 21 in advertising for a total of 39. Combined with the 112 buyouts announced last month, the newspaper has eliminated 151 jobs. The company's goal was to cut 150 jobs.

Before the layoffs, there were 218 union jobs in the newsroom. Now there's only 139.

"There are no guarantees, however. More jobs might be vulnerable if the newspaper business can’t find its way out of its tangle of technology and business problems," the Guild said in a statement posted on its Web site.

The statement concluded:
    "... it’s clear that the Chronicle will be relying increasingly on freelancers and non-staff unpaid (or little-paid) bloggers to fill the paper. In many cases, the freelancers are our former colleagues, who for now are providing a readymade pool of top talent.

    But if rates aren’t high enough many of those journalists are sure to be moving on. That raises some troubling questions about where the news will be coming from — and why anyone should hope the Chronicle will hang onto its readers when we need them most."

Judges deny access in 3 big cases in Tracy

Three high profile criminal cases have hit Tracy in the past six months, and each time local judges have sealed court records and issued gag orders, depriving the community and media of information that would normally be public, reports Mike Martinez of the San Joaquin Herald.

Tracy has made headlines for the arrests of:
    • Melissa Huckaby, accused of kidnapping and murdering 8-year-old Sandra Cantu;

    • Peter Chi, a cosmetic surgeon accused of inappropriately touching dozens of his patients, and

    • four residents, accused of torturing a teenager.
When it comes to balancing a defendant's right to a fair trial against the right of a public trial, judges in San Joaquin County have sided with the defense in all three cases.

"It's a struggle to keep the courts transparent in any well-publicized case," said Terry Francke, general counsel for Californians Aware, a First Amendment advocacy group. "It's a pervasive and continuing problem with the obvious irony — as long as no one is paying attention to the case, the records are open. As soon as there is some sense the community may be interested in the case, the facts are kept from the community."

Francke said there is no consequence for a court that improperly seals a public record, other than having the decision reversed by a higher court.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Neil Henry named Berkeley J-school dean

After two unsuccessful searches, UC-Berkeley has decided that the professor who has been filling in as dean of its graduate journalism school since 2007 should get the job permanently. Here's a link to a news release announcing that former Washington Post writer and author Neil Henry, 55, has been chosen as dean.

"We are convinced more than ever that the finest possible dean for the Graduate School of Journalism, at this time and going forward, is the person who has led it through these past two years with such class and devotion," Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer in a statement.

Two searches for a new dean have failed. The first time, UC-Berkeley announced that Dianne Lynch of Ithaca College in New York would become dean, then she mysteriously backed out. A second search fizzled last month when two finalists dropped out, citing the lenghty search process.

As interim dean, Henry has strengthened school ties with both private donors and new major philanthropies. He launched the first-ever collaboration between a journalism school and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and in the past year has raised more than $5 million for the school's new initiatives, including two endowed chairs.

Henry earned a bachelor's degree in political science at Princeton in 1977 and a master's degree from Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism in 1978. He worked for 16 years as a metro, national and foreign correspondent for the Washington Post and was a staff writer for Newsweek magazine before joining the Berkeley faculty in 1993. (Photo credit: UC-Berkeley)

Hellman working on new business model

San Francisco financier and Wells Fargo heir F. Warren Hellman and “a team of business and media experts” are working on a plan to develop a new business model for community journalism. In a statement to the San Francisco Business Times, he said the group has adopted a two-month timeline for completing the first stages of exploring options that could have implications throughout the journalistic world.

“If we can conceptualize a model and bring it to life here, the world will take notice,” Hellman said.

Hellman said many options are on the table, including a nonprofit model, expanding into unspecified new print or online directions, for-profit, or a web-only, online-ad-driven model. Or, “Should we do nothing?”

Investigative center to focus on state issues

The Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting announced today that it is launching a new statewide reporting initiative to produce in-depth multimedia journalism specific to California.

Robert "Rosey" Rosenthal, CIR’s executive director and former Chronicle managing editor, will have overall responsibility for the project. Louis Freedberg, a veteran journalist who was most recently on the Chron's editorial board, will direct the project.

“We will hire top journalistic talent to tell stories in new and creative ways and to distribute them throughout the state, to reach a wide and varied audience across multiple platforms," Rosenthal said in a statement.

It will launch with a grant of $1.2 million over three years from The James Irvine Foundation. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation also has awarded a grant of $1.2 million for the same time period, primarily for reporting on education, which is in part a challenge grant to encourage other funders to support this new initiative.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chronicle begins newsroom layoffs

The Chron began laying off editorial employees today, and is expected to eliminate up to 30 jobs in the latest round of staffing cuts, the San Francisco Business Times reports.

The Times quoted sources as saying the layoffs began at 1:30 p.m., and among those shown the door were John Koopman, Jonathan Curiel, Susan Sward, Tyche Hendricks, Deborah Gage, Verne Kopytoff, Chris Heredia, Jim Doyle and Jane Kay.

Approximately eight to 10 of the cuts are from the Chronicle’s metro desk, one source told the Business Times.

KGO-TV said about 20 employees were laid off today and more will be fired on Friday.

"It's like being punched in the stomach to see your best friends, who are so talented, out of work in this job climate," reporter Carolyn Jones told Channel 7.

Jones was not laid off, but according to the Media Guild, the Chronicle's list included 10 reporters from the Metro, Business, Datebook and East Bay sections.

“This is an expected move. It’s tragic that the news business needs to get rid of its core assets,” said Carl Hall, a Media Guild representative and a longtime Chronicle reporter who took a buyout last month. Hall said the Guild would have a statement on the layoffs once they are complete.

Chronicle picnic set for Saturday

The Media Workers Guild and Chronicle management will set aside their differences Saturday and co-host a picnic at Lake Temescal in Oakland.

Everyone — newsroom and ad staff, circulation and business office, current and former, bought out or hanging on — is invited. They're also asked to bring some edible items to share and maybe some acoustic music instruments.

Lake Temescal is close to Rockridge BART and Highway 24.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tears shed as Onion closes in SF, LA


Even fake newspapers are having problems these days.

The Onion is closing its editions in San Francisco and Los Angeles, according to the MinnPost.com, an online newspaper in Minneapolis. The Onion, which calls itself America's Finest Newspaper, printed about 60,000 papers in the Bay Area every week, serving up fake news, real entertainment listings and local ads. It vied for the alt-weekly slice of the market, occupied by the Bay Guardian and SF Weekly.

A memo to Onion staffers from chief executive Steve Hannah said:
    Unfortunately, despite healthy readership in both Los Angeles and San Francisco (readership has actually risen despite our reduction in copies in recent months) the advertising in both cities has been abysmal.

    This stands in stark contrast to other parts of our business — both the majority of our print markets (Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis, Denver, Boulder, for example) as well as our rapidly growing digital enterprises (theonion.com, avclub.com, the Onion News Network and Decider.com — which are growing nicely and in some cases dramatically.
Mike Sugerman of CBS5 visited the Onion's offices as staffers were cleaning out their desks, and he asked readers what they thought about the Onion's closing. (Image source: MinnPost.com)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Daily News trims 4.5 inches off the top

The Daily News (formerly Palo Alto Daily News) today switched to a smaller page size to save money.

The free newspaper reduced its height from 16 inches to 11.25 inches. It's also slightly wider, going from 10.75 inches to 11.375 inches. The switch reduces the image area on a page by about 25 percent.

With the move, the paper replaced its nameplate, which used to stretch across the front page. Now it fills the space of a square, and it uses the same light san serif font that its sister publication, the Mercury News, uses for some of its headlines.

A note on the front said:
    We hope you’ll enjoy our redesigned Daily News tabloid format. Our new look is designed to showcase one or two top Peninsula stories of the day on the cover and give you a road map of teasers to the best local news, sports, entertainment and business stories inside.

    Our size has changed because we are now rolling off the presses of our sister newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, a move that saves us money in these hard economic times and thus positions us to continue giving you the best local news coverage well into the future. The change also brands our newspaper as different than the local competition, and makes it easier for our on-the-go readers to carry around.

    You’ll find all our familiar sections and offerings inside.

    Our advertisers will also gain as their messages will stand out more than before in a wider column size with greater page dominance. The change in size, along with an in creased distribution in our core cities, makes the Daily News an even more effective marketing product.
The move comes a month after the MediaNews Group paper closed its Burlingame Daily News, San Mateo Daily News and Redwood City Daily News. At that time, it also dropped the words "Palo Alto" from its name. It moved from Palo Alto to Menlo Park a year earlier. [Note: The Press Club Web page is edited by Dave Price, who was a co-founder of the Daily News in 1995, sold it in 2005 and now publishes the rival Daily Post.]

UPDATE, 11 A.M. May 6: The Daily News has two nameplates. The second (above right) one was used today, and it's more horizontal but still in red.

Shaw joins NBC11 as editorial director

Suzanne Shaw, who left Bay Area broadcasting eight years ago, has been hired by Channel 11 as its new editorial director. She will help "guide and present editorials," a press release from the station says.

Shaw began her television career in 1975 as Suzanne Saunders at KSBW-Salinas-Monterey. She worked as a producer at KTVU, and later co-anchored at both KGO-TV and KRON. After a stint with PBS’s “Nightly Business Report," Shaw left television in 2001.

About her return to local TV, Shaw says, “This is a pivotal time for local media, when the economic climate is forcing all of us to take a hard look at business and politics as usual. I am anxious to help make some changes.”

“I am looking forward to participating in a dialog with viewers,” says Shaw. “Whether they agree or disagree with our viewpoint, we’re anxious to create an exchange of ideas that can help us all make good choices about our future.”

Channel 11 president and GM Richard Cerussi appears ready to start putting opinions on the air. “We are uniquely positioned to give Bay Area residents a platform for debate,” he says in a news release. “When viewers are empowered to share their opinions and discuss important issues, we all benefit.”

Sunday, May 3, 2009

North Bay radio personality John H. Harvey dies

John H. Harvey, a DJ and traffic reporter on North Bay radio stations for three decades, died of pancreatic cancer at his Santa Rosa home on Tuesday, April 21, at age 66, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. He was a DJ at KPLS 1150 in Santa Rosa, KTIM 1510/100.9 in San Rafael and a traffic reporter for numerous radio stations in Santa Rosa.

“The secret of radio, and being an announcer, is being a good friend,” Harvey said in a 1985 interview with the Press-Democrat during his tenure as program director and morning disc jockey at KPLS.

Here's a link to info about memorial services.

Bothun faces trial on child porn charge

The Daily News (formerly Palo Alto Daily News) reports that its former editor, Brian Bothun, will stand trial in September for allegedly possessing child pornography.

In May 2008, Atherton police, responding to a report of domestic violence at Bothun's Atherton home, were told by his angered partner that there was child pornography on his computer. Police seized the computer and last fall charged Bothun, 47, with possession of child pornography. Bothun's attorney argued prosecutors could not prove the pornography was his, or that it depicted anyone under 18.

Judge James Ellis scheduled the start of Bothun's jury trial for Sept. 28, the Daily News reported. If convicted on the felony charge, Bothun could face up to three years in state prison.

Bothun was at the Daily News from 1996 until 2005. He worked for the Daily Post for about a month in 2008. He also was an intern at the Palo Alto Weekly in the early 1990s.

(Full disclosure: The editor of the Press Club Web site, Dave Price, was Bothun's boss for several years.)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sunday's Pearls Before Swine



Guild 'disappointed' in BANG-EB talks

"[M]anagement bargainers showed little interest in moving the last steps toward a reasonable compromise on critical issues concerning economics and our ability to negotiate any changes in terms," Guild negotiators said on their Web site after Wednesday's negotiating session with MediaNews management. "... We are working through a federal mediator to bring the issues to a close very soon. In hopes of bridging these final gaps, the two sides have agreed to meet May 12."

NBC vp, 44, dies in Sausalito with film crew

Nora O'Brien, an NBC Universal program executive working on the series "Parenthood," died Wednesday after collapsing while on location in Sausalito. The cast and crew of "Parenthood," a remake of the 1989 Steve Martin film, had taken an evening break from shooting and a few people, including the 44-year-old O'Brien, were playing basketball. O'Brien said she felt dizzy and then she collapsed. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Correction: The LA Times says she died in Berkeley, but several other sources including the AP, NBC and the Marin IJ say she died in Sausalito. (Photo credit: Paul Drinkwater, NBC Universal)

Friday, May 1, 2009

The perfect job for a local news junkie

New York-based MediaBistro (which owns blogs such as Fishbowl LA, Fishbowl NY and TVNewser) is looking for somebody to cover the Bay Area media scene.

Fishbowl LA says the BayNewser will launch May 11, so the job may have already been filled (we've asked MediaBistro for more infomation). But here's the job description:
    Remember when San Francisco had two vibrant daily newspapers? Remember when KNTV used to be that San Jose station? Remember when there wasn't a Google or a Yahoo or a Craig's List - Websites that forever changed the media in the Bay Area, and beyond? If you do, then mediabistro.com wants you to be the inaugural editor of our newest media blog: BayNewser.com

    The ideal editor will not only know where the Bay Area media has been but where it's going. We don't want someone who's been pushed out of an old media job who still holds a grudge, or someone who can't tell KCBS-2 from KCBS-740 (only one serves the Bay Area).

    You'll report on all of the Bay Area media: newspapers (dailies and weeklies), Websites, radio and TV. You'll report on the new media ventures born in the Bay Area that the rest of the us only learn about later. You'll break news about the news from Russian Hill to Menlo Park.
We're not sure if that last sentence means that they will ignore news from San Jose, Marin County or the East Bay. To apply, register with MediaBistro. There's no indication on the site how much the part-time post pays.

UPDATE, 8 P.M FRIDAY.: It looks like they've already hired somebody — a reader has sent us a link to freelance writer E.B. Boyd's LinkedIn profile, where she says she's the editor of the BayNewser blog.

UPDATE, 10 P.M. MONDAY: E.B. Boyd sent us this:
    Thanks for the mention. Yes, mediabistro.com has filled the BayNewser position. Jason Turbow & I will be editing the blog. We're hoping it will become a hub for all things media in the Bay Area — including coverage of the traditional press but also of new media ventures and all the innovations (journalistic and media-related technologies) going on around here.

    The blog launches next week — May 11 — at baynewser.com.

    Feel free to drop us a line or let us know about things we should be covering (or things we're missing :) ) at: baynewser@mediabistro.com.

    Best,
    Liza Boyd (byline: "E.B.")