Sunday, August 30, 2009

No numbers yet in next round of layoffs

The San Francisco Business Times and the SF Weekly report that union leaders met with Chronicle management on Friday to talk about a coming round of layoffs, but no job numbers were disclosed.

However, management admitted that it was still losing $1 million a week -- the same figure it has given for its losses for several years now -- even though it has eliminated 481 jobs this year.

In the past year the Chron has:
After Friday's meeting with management, union official Carl T. Hall told the SF Weekly: "They are looking at all areas ... I wouldn't put the newsroom in any protected category."

Look for more announcements after Labor Day. The Guild is asking any of its 330 remaining members to step forward now if they're interested in a voluntary buyout.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gil Gross drops sponsor over rape case

Examiner.com radio columnist Brad Kava reports that KGO-AM's Gil Gross has stopped doing endorsements of a law firm after learning the attorney behind it had been convicted of statutory rape. He also found that the company's Better Business rating had dropped from an A to a D.

Gross told Kava that he did his homework before doing commercials for the firm, but dropped the sponsor after he had learned about the firm's problems from a listener's e-mail.

"It's just not something I want my name on," said Gross, who has refused other ads in the past.

'Woman on the Beat' broke barriers

We told you on Aug. 18 about the death of pioneering San Francisco anchor Wanda Ramey. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal printed a detailed obit along with the photo above, showing Ramey interviewing Ronald Reagan in 1966, the year he became governor.

Here's a few grafs from the WSJ obit:
    She was an experienced broadcaster when she took a job as one of the nation's first female local news anchors in 1959, yet Wanda Ramey was billed as KPIX-TV in San Francisco's "Girl on the Beat."

    Ms. Ramey, who died Aug. 15 at the age of 85, had been on the air for more than a decade by the time "Noon News" had its debut. She specialized in reporting from the scene at a time when newscasts were conducted mostly from the studio. She rode along on a night police patrol in a high-crime zone, peered into the exotic haunts of a Beatnik from Greenwich Village, and reported on the construction of San Francisco's latest high-rise from inside the emerging building's skeleton.

    Within a year Ms. Ramey's hard-news leanings led to a different slogan: "The Woman on the Beat."

    "People sometimes mistook her soft manner and didn't notice that she had a steel back," says Belva Davis, a veteran Bay Area broadcaster who counts Ms. Ramey as a mentor.
(Photo credit: Wall Street Journal, provided to the journal by Kristi Steadman, Wanda's daughter.)

It's the Christine Craft case all over again

To Bay Area radio listeners, Christine Craft is a popular liberal talk show host and attorney on KGO 810.

But in 1981, she was an anchor on a Kansas City TV station which demoted her to reporter because a focus group determined she was "too old, too unattractive and wouldn't defer to men."

The lawsuit she filed rocked the TV news business. She prevailed at two jury trials, but a federal appeals court overturned her victory and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Still, her case opened doors for women in broadcast journalism and Craft has become a legend in the business.

Now, two decades later, three Kansas City female TV news personalities are suing the very same station Craft sued, according to an article in the KCTribune. And their claims are similar, too. The three said in their lawsuit that female anchors are "oppressively criticized, targeted and harassed after they reach their 40s."

The KCTribune reporter described the case as "de javu," and even called Craft for a few comments.

"I think my case made a lot of difference for women," Craft told the KCTribune. "No women over the age of 40 were anchors in 1980," she said.

The article also says:
    Craft, who was raised a surfer girl in Santa Barbara, returned to the state following the Kansas City station fiasco, relishing the idea that her appearance didn't matter on radio. She beat out Maureen Reagan for a job as a talk-show host at the same station that spawned conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh [KFBK Sacramento].

    While Craft admits that her experiences with the 1980s suit somewhat helped influence her decision to become an attorney who fights for employee rights, she said it was a love of law and courts and a need for more ammunition, that led her to the courtroom. "I wanted to have a few extra skills on my side," she said.
(Photo credit: KCTribune)

KQED-FM no longer top public radio station

KUSC-FM, a Los Angeles classical station licensed to the University of Southern California, is bragging that it is the top rated public radio station in the country, according to Arbitron. Normally that's a crown that KQED or New York's WNYC wears. It may be one more upset caused by Arbitron's switch from diaries to Portable People Meters. During the spring quarter (April 2-June 24) for listeners 6 and older:
    • KUSC, 737,000 listeners per week

    • WNYC, 721,500

    • KQED, 704,300

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mary Morris was early female AP photographer

AP reports that one of its first female photographers, Mary Morris Lawrence, died Aug. 12 in Oakland at age 95. She was suffering from heart problems.

The Chicago native joined the AP in New York on Nov. 16, 1936 and worked as a features photographer.

Morris described herself as a "groundbreaker" in an interview with The Oakland Tribune in 2007 and recalled male colleagues at the AP joking that they would no longer be able to change their pants in the darkroom.

"I never thought of myself as a feminist," she said during the interview, noting that there were few women at the AP back then. "The guys were very nice to me. They probably made a lot of jokes behind my back." [AP obit and paid Chronicle death notice]

Norcal’s oldest Japanese newspaper to close

AsianWeek (which continues online) reports that Northern California’s oldest Japanese American newspaper, The Nichi Bei Times, plans to close effective Sept. 30 after 63 years in business.

Ken Abiko, board chairman of the Times, said a decline in circulation and advertising were chief reasons for the decision to close. The weekly paper's circulation is around 8,000.

“Japanese American press are not seeing the same pickup that other ethnic presses are seeing, because immigration from Japan is limited, and the advertisers know that,” Abiko told AsianWeek.

Kenji G. Taguma, the Nichi Bei Times’ vice president and English edition editor, said he plans to launch a weekly nonprofit publication.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More layoffs ahead for the Chronicle

The Guild's Chronicle unit chair, Michelle Devera, says management has given the union a "heads-up" that more layoffs are planned. She said in a posting on the Guild's site that she wasn't told how many jobs would be cut.

Another Guild official, Carl T. Hall, told the SF Weekly's Joe Eskenazi the same thing. "We're anticipating some discussions," Hall said. "And it's not good news. But that's all I know."

Hall said no reason was given for the paper's announcement other than "what one might infer: I guess it's a continuing problem of getting costs in line with revenues given the state of the economy and the goings on in the news business."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

PPM puts news, talk stations at disadvantage

A former MIT professor and authority on audio technology has found a flaw in Arbitron's new Personal People Meter system of measuring radio audiences that puts stations with low-frequency content (news and talk) at a disadvantage to high-frequency content, such as music.

Here's a link to the paper by Dr. Barry Blesser of 25-Seven Systems.

Arbitron used to measure radio audiences by asking listeners to fill out diaries in which they listed the stations they heard. Last year, Arbitron switched to PPMs, pager-like devices (pictured) worn by listeners. The PPM has a microphone to pick up what a listener hears. The PPM searches the incoming audio for a "watermark" that stations add to their signal to identify themselves. The "watermark" is imperceptible to the listener.

Blesser's research indicates that it takes the PPM longer to register the watermark of low-frequency broadcasts than high-frequency programs.

Even the voice of an announcer can be a factor in whether a station is properly credited under the PPM system:
    Considering that a male fundamental pitch might be as low as 80 Hz, some announcers may have a speaking style that is weak in high frequencies. Depending on the structure of the vocal cords and articulation style, there may or may not be any energy at the 12th harmonic of that pitch (which happens to be the center frequency of the first channel of the PPM encoder) for some announcer.

    Because fricative phonemes (such as /s/, /z/, /th/, and /f/) contain a broadband hissing component that is like white noise, they can encode large amounts of data. But some announcers may have weak or rapid articulation of such fricatives. Consonants, although short in duration, are good for PPM; pregnant pauses and halting delivery are not. Speaking style matters.

    While the typical radio program may produce perfect watermarking performance, and while the average reliability over the universe might be 99%, there are likely to be some announcer voices, vocal articulation styles, and specific genres of music that belong to the 1% failure cases. If a particular program on a particular station is one of the failure cases, that program might experience "bad luck" in its audience ratings.

Major publishers talking about online fees

The LA Times says News Corp., headed by Rupert Murdoch, is talking to major media companies including Chron owner Hearst Corp. about forming a consortium that would charge readers for online news. Other companies mentioned in the LA Times piece include the New York Times, Washington Post and Tribune Co. No mention of MediaNews Group, though its chief executive, Dean Singleton, is headed down the same track of charging online readers for news. The article notes, "Analysts are skeptical that any efforts to collect online subscription fees, or even small payments for individual articles, will amount to a significant new source of cash for newspaper publishers."

Ex KTVU reporter Priya David leaves CBS

Priya David, who left KTVU last year for CBS News, is returning to the West Coast to co-anchor a new 4 p.m. newscast on Portland CBS affiliate KOIN, according to a media blog in Oregon. David began reporting for CBS' "The Early Show" and weekend editions of the "CBS Evening News" in April of last year after a three-year stint at KTVU.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Karen de Sa' to lead Guild at Merc

The California Newspaper Workers Guild reports that award-winning reporter Karen de Sa’ was elected by her colleagues Thursday (Aug. 20) to lead a new team of Guild officers at the San Jose Mercury News.

Unit members elected de Sa’ by acclimation to serve out the remainder of a three-year term as Mercury News Unit Chair, through December 2010. The previous unit chair, Mary Anne Ostrow, a political writer, resigned from the newspaper this summer.

De Sa’ said it was time for news workers to stand their ground for quality jobs and quality journalism. “If we don’t fight for this, who will?” she said.

The ongoing tumult in the newspaper industry, including deep staff cuts and consolidations by Mercury News owner MediaNews Group, has virtually wiped out the Guild Unit’s top leadership.

Besides Ostrow, Sylvia Ulloa, a page designer who was president of the former San Jose Guild local and a special vice president of the merged Media Workers, recently stepped down along with vice chair John Fensterwald, who left for an extended fellowship, and secretary Jack Davis, a business reporter.

Reporter Lisa Krieger was elected to serve as vice chair of the unit. Three new delegates -- Joe Rodriguez, Tracey Kaplan and Mike Swift -- were chosen to serve on the Local Representative Assembly, joining Bill Russell, a member of the last negotiating committee who already serves on the RA.

Here's a link to the full story on the Guild's site. (Photo credit: Guild)

Examiner moves, third home in five years

The SF Busienss Times reports that the Examiner is on the move again.

The free daily owned by conservative oilman Phil Anschutz has moved into 16,942 square feet on the second floor of 71 Stevenson St. in the South of Market Area neighborhood.

The Ex will sublease the space from H5, which occupies about 50,000 square feet in the 23-story building.

The move marks the third time the newspaper has relocated since Hearst Corp. sold the Examiner in 2000. The original buyer, the Fang family, moved the Examiner to the Warfield building at 988 Market St. In February of 2004, Anschutz bought the paper for $10.7 million and traded the gritty Tenderloin digs for about 13,000 square feet at 450 Mission St., across the street from the Transbay Terminal.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

83% won't pay for newspaper articles online

KPIX CBS5 commissioned a poll that found 83 percent of people won't pay for newspaper articles online.

Here's a link to Sue Kwan's report Wednesday about the poll and the idea of charging for news online.

Among those in her story is newspaper industry blogger Alan Mutter who points out, "You are facing an entire generation of that has been conditioned to getting everything for free." He says pay sites only work if the content is exclusive and it helps a reader make money or save money.

The KPIX survey asked those who are willing to pay for news if they favored a flat rate or they wanted to pay by the article. Flat rate won with 76 percent.

Salon.com is hiring and firing

Valleywag reports that Salon.com, which has an office in San Francisco, has laid off six employees, or 20 percent of its staff.

The SF Business Times reports that Salon’s premium subscriptions have been dropping from a high of approximately 89,100 on Dec. 31, 2004, to about 21,700 as of June 30, and the business guesses that those memberships will continue to decline to about 16,000 by March 31, 2010.

According to Valleywag, those let go were:
    Jeanne Carstensen, managing editor
    Kevin Berger, features editor
    Katharine Mieszkowski, senior writer
    Joy Press, culture editor
    Caitlin Shamberg, multimedia editor
    Julie Coburn, photo editor
BTW, Salon is still hiring. Openings include "art director/senior designer" and "Senior Web engineer." And they're looking for interns.

SF supes lash out at 'mainstream media corporations'

Radio Business Report reports that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed a resolution urging the FCC to investigate broadcast hate speech. A resolution by the board includes these whereas clauses:
    WHEREAS, Many groups have suffered harm at the hands of hate speech, including without limitation: African Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Latinos, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, women, Lesbians, Gays, Transgendered people, and people with disabilities;

    WHEREAS, Hate speech against vulnerable groups exists in our media-and is not limited to a few isolated instances or any one media platform;

    WHEREAS, Hate speech is often aired on large mainstream media corporations including national cable news networks, television broadcasts, radio broadcasts, and on the Internet;

    WHEREAS, The media has the power to influence people's behavior and perceptions and according to the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), a correlation exists between an increase in hate speech in the media and an increase of hate crimes committed against vulnerable groups;
Then the resolution urges the FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration to conduct an investigation.

RBR notes that SF supes, in 2005, also asked the FCC to carefully examine KNEW’s license renewal, objecting to remarks made by talent aired on the station, including Michael Savage, Jeff Katz and Bill O’Reilly.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bronstein wanted Thompson to cover OJ trial

"The best idea I ever had, that never got acted on, was to have Hunter Thompson cover the O.J. Simpson trial," Phil Bronstein tells MarketWatch's Jon Friedman. At the time Bronstein was executive editor of the Hearst-owned San Francisco Examiner. "We had an eight-hour negotiating session. Hunter wanted satellite dishes, an unlimited expense account and a suite or two at the Chateau Marmont. We were a dying afternoon paper with no budget."

Bronstein, now editor at large of the Chron, tells Friedman that he's still irked by that line in the 1976 movie "All the President's Men" that mocked the Chronicle. (Jason Robards, playing Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, dismisses an annoying salesmen who was pitching a feature on yesterday's weather by saying: "Send it out to the San Francisco Chronicle — they need it.") Some 33 years later, Bronstein says, "It showed an under-appreciation for the quirkiness of San Francisco ... It was a case of East Coast snobbery."

Friedman, who is based in New York, asks his readers at the end of the column to comment on what they like or dislike about the Chronicle. (Photo credit: Paul Harris)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TV news pioneer Wanda Ramey dies

The Marin IJ reports that Wanda Ramey Queirolo, the first woman anchor in the western United States and only the second woman anchor in the country, died of cancer Saturday at her home in Greenbrae. She was 85. She is perhaps best known as the co-anchor of the noon news on KPIX in the 1950s. In fact, she holds the distinction of being the co-host of the first local television noon newscast in America, according to Bay Area Broadcast Legends.

When the program began, the opening described her as the "girl on the beat," but within a year girl was changed to woman.

From her Broadcast Legends bio:
    One reason the Noon News became the top rated half-hour news show in six months was that viewers found the Channel 5 news exciting with Ramey's style of broadcasting. She put on a workman's helmet and from a construction elevator beamed out a KPIX special on the progress of the newest, tallest building in San Francisco. She rode with the S Squad at midnight to give KPIX Noon News viewers the lowdown on San Francisco Detail Police. She brought her viewers face to face with one of their new neighbors, a bearded beatnik recently moved to North Beach from Greenwich Village. She wanted to find out just what makes a beatnik tick.
The IJ quotes Peter Cleaveland, news anchor at KGO-TV at about the same time Ramey Queirolo was at KPIX, as saying, "it was a time when you could have women reporting, but they were on the social side or on food. They weren't considered for positions doing hard news and daily news gathering. She broke that line."

Cleaveland added: "She was a thoroughly engaging woman and a classy lady."

(Photo credit: BroadcastLegends.com)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

August 2009 Press Club board minutes

Aug. 12, 2009 — Board Room, San Mateo Daily Journal. The meeting was called to order at 6:40 p.m.

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

Minutes of June were approved as read.

Treasurer’s Report was accepted.

Blogging Discussion
    Bruce Balshone of Examiner.com and Barry Parr of Coastsider.com had been invited to discuss ways that the Press Club could reach out to, and provide services for, bloggers. Balshone suggested a contest category such as community blogging. Farr said there are a dozen sites in the Bay Area which do the kind of intensely local reporting that he does on the Coastside. He describes himself as an evangelist for a “new kind of journalism. I don’t print something I can’t verify. I have a point of view.” He mentioned Paul Grabowitz at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism as a point-person in this field. Farr agreed to do a session for the high school boot camp. Balshone suggested Twitter as a great resource to “disseminate what I write.” Balshone’s email is pacificresources@gmail.com. Farr’s is barry@farr.com.
Town Hall Meeting
    Marshall reported that enthusiasm for a town hall meeting on high-speed rail had flagged, and the board decided to try again next year.
High School Boot Camp
    Ed Remitz said he had secured all the rooms we used last year at CSM, with the exception of the teachers’ lounge. We still need a large room for the gathering and the speaker, who will be Jim Wagstaffe again. Micki said she hadn’t had much response from the schools because of the summer recess. Richard Epting of ABC Channel 7 will do a workshop on video editing as well as provide tours of the satellite truck. More information will be shared by email. Dave asked Marshall if PenTV would be interested in videotaping the sessions which he would post on our Web site. Marshall will check.
Professional Development Workshop
    Marshall will put together a working lunch from noon to 2 p.m. at the County Center on how to read a (school, city, county) budget and where the agencies get their money. The date will be a Wednesday in October. It will be free this time; future events will require membership. Students will be welcome.
Summer Picnic
    Sept. 13 from 2-4 p.m. at the home of Micki Carter and Mike Venturino. Marshall mentioned that he had invited the editor of El Mensajero to the picnic.
Meeting was adjourned at 7:40 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Micki Carter
Secretary

Daily News switches page format again

The Daily News (formerly Palo Alto Daily News) announced today that it will switch to a 21-inch long page size on Tuesday, its next edition. It will be the third page size the free daily has had this year going from 16 inches to 11 inches and now 21 inches.

When the MediaNews-owned paper switched to an 11-inch page in May, it said in a similar announcement to readers:
    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. ... 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. ...

    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.
In announcing the switch to 21-inch page, the Daily News said today:
    ... Though we reduced our size in a cost cutting move a few months ago, we’re now able to produce a rarity in the newspaper world — a free daily broadsheet that will allow us to give readers a more attractive presentation of the news and advertisers the best bang for their bucks.

    On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, The Daily News will come in two sections. The first section will contain all the local news and columns you’re familiar with, along with business, regional, national and world news, as well as the opinion/letters page.

    The second section will feature our strong local sports coverage and include Fusion Arts & Entertainment, style, health, Abby, puzzles, movies, TV listings and other familiar staples.

    On Fridays, we’ll also produce a third section featuring an expanded Fusion Arts & Entertainment, complete with travel stories and restaurant reviews.

    And on Saturdays, our third section will be "On the Market," featuring real estate related news stories, home and garden features, and a heavy dose of real estate ads.
The announcement didn't say how the Daily News would fit the 21-inch paper in the windows of its news boxes, which were designed for tabloid products. (Full disclosure: The editor of this page, Dave Price, is the former editor and owner of the Palo Alto Daily News and now is one its competitors.)

Openness, darkness nominations sought

The California First Amendment Coalition and the California Society of Newspaper Editors are soliciting nominations for the 2009 Bill Farr Award for furthering the principles of free speech, free press and public access to government. In addition, CFAC is seeking nominations for its annual Beacon awards, presented to those who have fought to keep government open, and for its Darkness Award to those who have resisted the public’s right to know. Here's a link for more information.

Gil Gross' show replaces Bob Brinker in NY

KGO-AM afternoon host Gil Gross (left) began moonlighting a few months ago as the host of a two-hour nationally syndicated weekend program about the real estate industry, which has just been picked up by WABC-AM in New York. In fact it airs on Saturdays from 4-6 p.m. Eastern, replacing longtime WABC financial host Bob Brinker (right). At the moment, Brinker doesn't have a New York affiliate. No station in the San Francisco market has picked up Gross's "Real Estate Today" program yet. However, KGO-AM president and gm Mickey Luckoff said on Ronn Owens' show in May that the station's owner, Citadel, required him to carry Brinker's program. His comment was in response to a caller who disliked Brinker's show, feeling it didn't fit in with the rest of KGO's lineup. Luckoff didn't disagree. Maybe that policy has changed now that Brinker has been dumped by Citadel's flagship station, WABC.

New consortium will challenge Nielsen

The Financial Times reports that the major TV networks and advertisers such as Procter & Gamble and AT&T are forming a consortium to measure audiences. Both broadcasters and advertisers have had grievances with Nielsen, the granddaddy of audience measurement in TV. The consortium should be up and running by next month.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Luckoff complains about Arbitron methods

Radio Online reports that KGO-AM/KSFO president and gm Mickey Luckoff is calling on Arbitron to increase the number of radio listeners who are given Personal People Meters, the pager-sized devices that keep track of what stations a person hears throughout the day.

Luckoff says the number of PPM panelists (those selected to wear the PPM to measure their radio listening) is far fewer than Arbitron had promised when it switched from diaries to electronic sampling last year. He said broadcasters had been assured there would be as many meters in each market being surveyed as diaries in each market.

"Unfortunately for the radio broadcasting industry and the advertising community, not only was this promise never kept, but in fact only a fraction of that guaranteed number were ever placed," Luckoff writes in an open letter to Arbitron CEO Michael Skarzynski. "In the San Francisco metro for instance, approximately 7200 diaries were distributed every quarter. Now, there are but 2,000 meters -- 800 households surveyed."

"The number of meters being placed in each market is far short of the number originally promised and as a result some of the very same irregularities are beginning to appear as we had been accustomed to seeing in the 'diary era,'" he continued. "PPM have become next to worthless if not actually destructive to many radio broadcasters."

Luckoff sent his letter on Monday and today (Thursday) Arbitron responded by saying it plans to increase the size of its sampling by 10 percent by the end of 2010, according to MediaWeek.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hackers hit UC-Berkeley j-school server

The Daily Californian student newspaper at UC-Berkeley reports that 493 applicants to the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism were notified yesterday that hackers may have obtained their Social Security numbers and other private data.

The notification was sent to those who applied between September 2007 and May 2009. The security breach was discovered in the second week of July but was only made public on Tuesday.

"It just takes time to do the investigation," said Shelton Waggener, the campus's associate vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer. "Once we were certain of as much info as we could be, we began the notification process and developing the notification strategy."

Current TV posts thank-you from Laura, Euna


For 140 days, Al Gore's San Francisco-based Current TV was silent as two of the company's reporters were in North Korean custody. Today, Current TV posted a "thank you" from Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Current TV is scheduled to air a tribute to the two tonight at 5 (PST).

AP reports that Ling said on her Web site that she hopes her story will lead to more public awareness of the plight of journalists held captive around the world.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

High school journalism boot camp coming up

High school journalists from throughout the Bay Area are invited to the second annual High School Journalism Boot Camp the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club will present from 1-4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, at the College of San Mateo.

Last year about 80 young journalists attended seminars on digital photography, online publishing, page design, writing editorials, finding stories, editing sports and arts/entertainment sections and making the transition to college newspapering.

Media Attorney Jim Wagstaffe will reprise his very popular talk on press law as keynoter. Richard Epting of ABC Channel 7 will offer a session on video-editing in addition to tours of his satellite truck.

Press Club President Jon Mays’s session, Newspapering 101, will focus on the nuts and bolts of the business: How to find stories, gather information, get quotes and tell the story.

This year the Press Club is inviting the winning papers of last year’s High School Journalism Contest to participate in a panel discussion on how things work on their papers.

Also, blogger Barry Parr of Coastsider.com will lead a session on blogging as an additional feature for high school papers.

Once again, Associated Press Photographer Paul Sakuma will be drawing professionals to demonstrate techniques for improving students’ digital photography and its optimization.

If you would like to participate in this popular outreach by the Press Club, please contact Micki Carter at (650) 591-2732 or e-mail. The club will need support staff as well as workshop leaders.

Journalism teachers, please e-mail Micki to let us know how many of your students will be attending. If you would like your paper critiqued by a member of the Press Club, please mention that in your e-mail and Micki will tell you where to mail copies of your paper.

San Mateo County Times will be a Merc edition

The following was e-mailed to Bay Area News Group employees:
    All BANG Employees:

    This Sunday the San Mateo County Times will become an edition of the San Jose Mercury News.

    The current San Mateo County Times masthead will remain in place, as does our commitment to local coverage of the San Mateo market. The only physical change you will notice in the newspaper will be the addition of a logo “an edition of the San Jose Mercury News” on the masthead of the San Mateo County Times.

    This is the same approach we utilize with several of our East Bay newspapers. The Tri Valley Herald is an edition of the Contra Costa Times, and the Argus and the Daily Review are editions of the Oakland Tribune.

    Those changes allowed Contra Costa Times to become one of the 55 largest daily circulation newspapers in the county, and the Oakland Tribune to become one of the top 100 daily newspapers.

    This benefits us by consolidating our marketing and advertising strategies around our three major brands – the San Jose Mercury News, the Contra Costa Times, and the Oakland Tribune.

    It allows our national advertising representatives to sell a less complicated solution for Bay Area advertising opportunities, which ultimately translates into an improved revenue stream.

    In addition, this change will increase the ABC Publisher Statements of the Mercury News by adding the circulation of SMCT – approximately 25,050 daily and 27,900 Sunday – to the Mercury News Publisher Statements.

    We are also looking at ways to improve our coverage and local ad revenues throughout the Peninsula. David Rounds currently chairs a task force of employees from all divisions looking to optimize the opportunities that our publications serving Peninsula readers – the Daily News, San Mateo County Times and the Mercury News – can achieve. If you have suggestions in this area, please share with David, Mac or your department manager.

East Bay Express honored for keeping it local

Editor & Publisher, in its annual feature "10 That Do It Right," has commended the East Bay Express for its efforts at strengthening the local community and economy:
    "I think we have cracked the code on community-building," says Publisher Jody Colley — and she's not bragging. The Express led a national movement among alt-papers last Christmas to encourage readers to stimulate their local economies by pledging to spend at least $100 on locally owned retailers, noting they keep dollars in the community longer than chains. It offered free weddings when same-sex marriage was briefly legal in California, and gathered dozens of bands to perform at a huge listening party. On the paper's busy agenda are organizing urban farms in its Oakland/Berkeley market, ramping up the modest Oakland Film Festival and serving as consultants for local start-up businesses.

Former IJ opinion editor, Jeff Prugh, dies at 69

The Marin Independent Journal reports that its opinion editor from 1994 to 2001, Jeff Prugh, died of colorectal cancer Saturday. He was 69. The IJ obit notes that in his first year as opinion page editor, he lobbied to have a median barrier installed on a 10-mile stretch of Highway 37 between Sears Point and Vallejo where fatal head-on crashes were common. The 1993 death of 18-year-old Novato resident Frankie Poulos triggered the effort. Vince Prugh said his brother retired knowing that the Highway 37 barrier would be a lasting legacy that would continue to save lives.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

YouTube gets into the local TV news business

YouTube has created a new feature called "News Near You" that senses a user's location and serves up a list of relevant locations, according to the NY Times.

Among the suppliers of News Near You is VidSF, run by three guys who despise the local TV news diet of fires and homicides.

“It really levels the playing field,” said Kieran Farr, a founder of VidSF who covers the city’s culture and uploads his segments to YouTube.

'California Public Records Act be damned'

The SF Weekly's Joe Eskenazi reports that lobbyists funded by the city of San Francisco pushed for a state law that carves out an exception in the California Public Records Act.

Assembly Bill 101 of 2007, sponsored by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (right) and the city of SF, allows the city to keep confidential the pictures taken by forward-facing cameras on Muni vehicles that photographed those who parked in bus zones and such.

Normally such pictures would be public record. But they're not because of the efforts of Ma and SF lobbyists.

"Government employees double-park or block bus stops all the time — but if outside parties can't see the footage, who's to know?" Eskenazi writes.

As Eskenazi put it, "California Public Records Act be damned."

Among those alarmed is Terry Francke, general counsel for the open-government group CalAware.

"I think this is a very big deal," Francke told the SF Weekly.

But there is hope. The law that Fiona Ma and SF officials pushed through the Legislature contradicts the city's Sunshine Ordinance, which states:
    "Funds of the City and County of San Francisco ... shall not be used to support any lobbying efforts to restrict public access to records, information, or meetings."
BTW, Eskenazi reports that the ACLU said the Muni videos should be confidential.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame inducts 12

The Bay Area Radio Museum & Hall of Fame today announced the members of its Class of 2009. The 12 honorees include two current morning men (KSFO’s Lee Rodgers and KGO’s Ed Baxter), as well as two popular local sportscasters (Hank Greenwald and Joe Starkey) and the world’s first broadcasting station, KCBS (740 AM and 106.9 FM).

Rodgers, a veteran talk-show host on both KGO-AM and KSFO, received the highest overall number of votes in the public balloting. He has been the lead morning host on Hot Talk KSFO’s morning program since 1995.

Baxter leads a group of legendary KGO voices, which also includes retired morning news co-anchor Ted Wygant, pioneering traffic reporter Lu Hurley, and current KGO production superstar Mike Amatori.

In the sportscasting category, Greenwald and Starkey join a stellar group of previous BARHOF inductees that includes Lon Simmons, Bill King, Bob Fouts and Don Klein. Greenwald was the voice of the Giants on radio from 1979 through 1986, and again from 1989 until 1996.

Starkey has been the play-by-play voice of the UC Golden Bears since 1975, and broadcast the 49ers on radio from 1989 through 2008. He began his career as radio voice of the NHL’s California Golden Seals in 1972.

The Hall of Fame’s first Legendary Station award will be presented to San Francisco’s All News KCBS, which is celebrating its centennial this year. KCBS traces its roots back to 1909, when the station was founded by Charles D. Herrold in San Jose.

The Class of 2009 will be celebrated at a gala luncheon on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at the Doubletree Executive Meeting Center on the Berkeley Marina. For more information and reservations, please see http://broadcastlegends.com/meeting.html.

Journalists make an emotional return to U.S.

Bill Clinton arrived in the United States this morning after a dramatic 20-hour visit to North Korea, in which he won the freedom of Current TV reporters Euna Lee and Laura Ling, opened a diplomatic channel to North Korea’s reclusive government and dined with the North’s ailing leader, Kim Jong-il, the NY Times reports. The private plane carrying Clinton and the journalists landed at 5:50 a.m. PDT at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. [More]

Above, Laura Ling spoke to the news media as Al Gore embraced Euna Lee after they arrived in Burbank, Calif. on Wednesday. Mr. Gore founded the company that employs the journalists. (Photo credit: Jonathan Alcor for the NYT)

A few sidebars:

Ling, Lee to arrive with Clinton this morning

ABC News reports that Bill Clinton will arrive back in the U.S. in hours with Current TV reporters Euna Lee and Laura Ling, who were released by North Korea after Clinton's surprise visit to the country helped negotiate their pardon.

Lee and Ling's families said in a joint statement that they were "overjoyed by the news of their pardon."

"We are so grateful to our government: President Obama, Secretary Clinton and the U.S. State Department for their dedication to and hard work on behalf of American citizens," the statement said. "We especially want to thank President Clinton for taking on such an arduous mission and Vice President Al Gore for his tireless efforts to bring Laura and Euna home."

Gore is the co-founder of Current TV, the San Francisco-based employer of the two reporters.

Above, Laura Ling, far left, and Euna Lee, second right, head to a chartered plane bound for Los Angeles at an airport in Pyongyang. Photo by Xinhua via AP.

NYT's Press Democrat to cut payroll 10%

“What affects our advertisers, in the end, affects us,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat publisher Bruce Kyse told his employees yesterday as he announced that the New York Times' owned paper has been told to cut its payroll by 10 percent next year.

Kyse said the PD, with 325 employees, will cut costs by reducing salaries, offering buyouts and, if necessary, laying off workers.

A report in today's PD noted that major advertisers such as Gottschalks and Mervyns have gone bankrupt. Classified ads continue to migrate to other online sites such as Craigslist. And the local real estate market remains weak, Kyse said.

The payroll reduction also will apply to the weekly Petaluma Argus Courier, which is owned by The Press Democrat and has a staff of 16. But the North Bay Business Journal, which also is owned by the New York Times, will not face the same cuts.

Managers will see a 5 percent cut in salary starting Jan. 1, while other nonunion employees will have their pay cut 3 percent. Those cuts are on top of a 2.5 percent salary rollback that went into effect in March.

Kyse said negotiations with the newspaper’s unions will aim to achieve a similar payroll reduction.

A PD story on the cuts quoted reporter and Guild Chairman Derek Moore as saying he was open to discussions but considered the further cuts “something of an insult” given the history of layoffs and salary reductions in the newsroom over the past two years.

KSFO nemesis Spocko is at it again

Two years ago, an anonymous online critic who calls himself Spocko sent sound bites of KSFO hosts to advertisers and got a few of them to drop the conservative station. Now he claims to have knocked off two more clients, Beach Blanket Babylon and LifetimeTV. Given the left-wing leanings of the ongoing Babylon show, it's hard to imagine that they would be advertising on Rush Limbaugh's SF station in the first place, but apparently they were. As for Lifetime, it's owned by Hearst and Disney. Disney was formerly KSFO's owner until ABC's radio stations were sold to Citadel. We've sent an e-mail to KSFO management to get their side of the story.

Softky marks 40 years at The Almanac

The Menlo Park-based Almanac reports that lots of familiar faces turned out Sunday at the Portola Valley Town Center to fete veteran reporter Marion Softky at a celebration marking her 40th year of writing for that paper. Colleagues, local dignitaries, council members, environmental leaders and family members mingled and shared stories about Marion's long career reporting the Midpeninsula and its people. A sidebar chronicles her career:
    Ms. Softky's first reporting assignment was covering a meeting of the Portola Valley school board in the Little Red Schoolhouse. She jumped at the opportunity to switch to covering Portola Valley Town Council meetings. Over the years, she has covered Portola Valley, Woodside, Menlo Park and, a key interest, development issues in the county.

    "Working at The Almanac has been a gift to me because of the people I've met and the experiences I've had," she says during an interview in her apartment at The Sequoias in Portola Valley.
(Photo: Softky in front of the Country Almanac office on Alameda de las Pulgas in west Menlo Park. Photo by Marjan Sadoughi.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

North Korea frees Ling, Lee after 139 days

AP reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il issued a "special pardon" freeing two reporters from San Francisco's Current TV after talks with former U.S. President Bill Clinton. North Korea accused Ling, 32, and Lee, 36, of sneaking into the country illegally in March and engaging in "hostile acts," and the nation's top court sentenced them in June to 12 years of hard labor.

The LA Times says the women were freed as the result of secret talks that began shortly after they were captured.

In this photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il talks with former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his delegation members in Pyongyang.

Howard Stern's tribute to Michael Wiener

The New York Times obit of radio entrepreneur and pioneer Michael A. Wiener includes comments from Howard Stern.

Wiener died from cancer on Sunday at age 71 in Santa Cruz. He formed a group of stations with business partner Gerald Carrus that began in 1972 with KOME-FM San Jose. It eventually became Infinity Broadcasting.

Along the way, Wiener and Carrus hired Mel Karmazin to run the company, and one of his hires was Stern. Stern told the Times:
    [Wiener] was a very innovative guy who took a big risk in life. They started in medium markets and worked their way into larger markets. People may say that is no big deal, but you can’t believe the number of radio stations that go under. And they were smart enough to hire Mel and give him the freedom to do his thing. There were not a lot of people who would take a risk on me.
The Times' obit notes that Wiener had his greatest business success in 1996 with the sale of his company but just a year later he suffered his greatest tragedy when his only son, Gabe, a producer of classical music, died of a brain aneurysm at age 26.

Wiener is survived by his wife; his daughter, Jenny Steingart of New York; and two grandchildren.

Radio Business Report notes:
    Wiener and Carras were always quiet moguls, letting Karmazin be the public face of Infinity. Although many people referred to Karmazin as the “owner” of Infinity, the two founders always held most of the equity. They clearly became billionaires when Infinity was sold to Westinghouse in a stock swap for $4 billion in 2000. RBR/TVBR later estimated that their fortunes had doubled again by the time of the Viacom merger. Whether the two still hold shares in the present day Viacom and CBS, or whether they cashed out along the way, is unknown.

Billionaire Anschutz hands out Examiners

Dirk Smillie of Forbes.com reports that conservative billionaire Phil Anschutz helps distribute copies of his newspaper, the Examiner, to collect feedback from readers. Smillie admits that Anschutz's business strategy for his two newspapers (in SF and Washington, D.C.) is puzzling since both lose money. And now he has bought The Weekly Standard, the conservative paper featuring Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer. It loses $5 million a year. Writes Smillie:
    The 80,000-circulation weekly may not advance his readership footprint much, but it will give him political influence. They'll join conservative voices Anschutz already has working for him at the Washington paper, like Michael Barone and Byron York.

    Could Anschutz be planning to move The Weekly Standard to a free model, as he did the San Francisco Examiner? "That would dilute their demographics," says [newspaper industry analyst John] Morton. "Besides, conservatives are already affluent."

Suffering from double FeedBlitz syndrome?

If you get more than one FeedBlitz from us each day, and only signed up for one, please let us know. Send us a note at sfpen-pressclub@sbcglobal.net. Thank you. Signed, your humble webmaster, Dave Price.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Chron closes investigative unit

With Lance Williams' decision to take a job with Berkeley's Center for Investigative Reporting, the Chronicle is closing its investigative reporting unit. Williams was the last reporter left in the unit after the departures of Seth Rosenfeld and Susan Sward during the last round of layoffs. Deputy managing editor Steven Proctor told SF Weekly that there will be no replacement for Williams, and closing the unit was a financial decision.

Hikers detained by Iran say they're journos

The Chron reports tonight that Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal and Sarah Shourd — the three UC Berkeley grads who disappeared while hiking near the Iranian border — planned to study Mideast culture and do freelance journalism, according to their friends.

BayNewser reports that Bauer and Shourd both have written for Sandy Close's New America Media. Bauer has also had op-eds in the Chron.

Sandy Close, the executive director of Pacific News Service, the parent company of New America Media, told The New York Times that Bauer left for the Middle East in the fall of 2008 and had since contributed a dozen stories to the service. He was based in Damascus, she said, and last contacted the service on July 27, saying he planned to spend a week in Kurdistan and file a article about the Kurdish elections.

"This is an extremely gifted artist," Close told the Times. "He was a great value to us, and we are anxiously awaiting word of his status and hope very much that he is allowed to return."

Iranian state-controlled TV said on Saturday that the Americans had been arrested for illegal entry.

Kurdish officials said the group had camped out Thursday night at the border. Their tents, blankets and other belongings, including notebooks and a bottle of whiskey, were found Friday at the campsite, according to the Times. (Photo credit: WJBF-TV)

Bill Clinton to Korea to negotiate for journalists

Former U.S. President Clinton is heading to North Korea for negotiations to secure the freedom of two detained journalists from San Francisco's Current TV, a South Korean news report said today, nearly five months after they were seized on the China border. AP said Clinton is on his way to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, where he will try to win the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unidentified high-level source. In Washington, Andrew Laine, a State Department spokesman, said he had seen the report, but had no information.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Boot camp for community, ethnic journalists

"Seizing the Moment: A Multimedia Journalism Training Conference for the Ethnic and Community News Media" will be held Friday, Aug. 28 in the modern computer labs and classrooms of SFSU’s College of Extended Learning, 835 Market St., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., followed by a reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Organized in collaboration with New America Media, the training conference has been tailored to meet the needs of ethnic and community news media outlets. It will offer two multimedia skills-building boot camps, including one conducted in Spanish by Nuestra Voz, and a wide selection of workshops covering such topics as multimedia journalism and social networking. Click here for more information.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

South Bay station brodcasts 12 TV signals

With the switch to digital television, stations are now allowed to transmit several "multicast" channels in addition to their main signal. The station airing the most multicast stations in the Bay Area is the smallest station in the market, KAXT-LD, licensed to Santa Clara-San Jose.

Though KAXT-LD is operating at just 12,200 watts (compared to 1 million or more for full-power broadcasters), those with a view of Mt. Allison (see the star on the map at left) can probably pick up the signal with a DTV antenna.

The station transmits on Channel 42, which was relinquished by KTNC Concord during the digital transition. On a DTV tuner, however, KAXT-LD will indicate it is on virtual channel 22.

In an FCC filing in June, KAXT revealed its extensive channel lineup consisting of 12 TV channels and 10 audio channels:
    • Channel 22.1, Cool Music Network — A music video channel programmed for local viewers' tastes.

    • Channel 22.2, Que Huong TV — A local 24/7 Vietnamese channel, the first of its kind in the U.S., featuring news, community programs, cultural events and activities.

    • Channel 22.3 — A local Christian Spanish channel with programs produced at the KAXT studios, in local churches and on location, addressing the concerns and issues of the Hispanic/Latino community.

    • Channel 22.4, Bahia TV — Local Spanish channel.

    • Channel 22.5, Diya TV — First free 24/7 South Asian channel in the nation with a locally produced talk show for women, political panels, entertainment, educational programming, movies and news.

    • Channel 22.6, Coastal TV — Emphasizing California tourism.

    • Channel 22.7 MyFamilyTV — Family-friendly programming.

    • Channel 22.8, i2TV — Viewer generated content.

    • Channel 22.9, The Real Hip Hop Network

    • Channel 22.10, Corner Store — A localized arrangement of infomercial programs.

    • Channel 22.11, Peanut TV — User generated real estate programming. Allows locals to advertise their homes on TV and online.

    • Channel 23.12, Mobile Peanut TV — Free, locally generated listings for cars, motor homes, boats, motorcycles both on TV and online.
The 10 "radio on TV" channels are in different languages.

KAXT, which has been on the air as a low power station since 1990, almost didn't survive the transition to digital. According to FCC documents, KAXT filed an application in 2007 for a digital channel, and was awaiting approval from the FCC to move Channel 42 when the DTV transition began.

Then, on May 28, KTVU filed for the same channel. KTVU said it needed Channel 42 to fill in coverage gaps that were created when it switched to digital. In its petition to the FCC, KTVU argued that such a request from a full-power broadcaster trumped whatever application a low-power station had submitted.

KAXT responded to the FCC by arguing that KTVU could use one of the multicast channels of its sister station, KICU in San Jose, to fill in the coverage gaps. If the concern was about getting Fox network programming to viewers, KAXT pointed out that Monterey-Salinas Fox affiliate KCBA 35 serves much of the area in question.

"The minority community is already up in arms and plans to make its views loudly known to government officials at all levels," KAXT said in its petition opposing KTVU's request for Channel 42. "There is absolutely no need or justification for wreaking this kind of havoc on the minority community just to provide KTUV's Fox network service to a very small number of households, particularly when there are other ways to accomplish that objective."

On June 26, the FCC's Hossein Hashemzadeh, associate chief of the agency's Media Bureau Video Division, informed KAXT they had received special temporary authority to transmit on Channel 42 through Dec. 26, 2009.

KAXT-LD is licensed to Broadland Properties Inc. and the license on its studio-transmitter link license indicates it is broadcasting from a house on Mt. Hamilton Drive in San Jose. (Graphic credit: FCC.gov file on KATX)