Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Senate, Assembly budget committees split over proposed court file fee

A proposal to impose a $10 fee for every court file requested by the public has been approved by a state Senate panel, the Palo Alto Daily Post reported today (May 29).

Proposed by the Judicial Council, the $10 fee is one of 17 items attached to a proposed state budget, called a “trailer bill.” The bills are heard concurrently when the Legislature takes up the state budget.

The Senate budget subcommittee heard the proposal on Thursday and proposed an amendment that would exempt the press from the fees. The subcommittee adopted it.

The Assembly’s budget subcommittee, however, rejected the idea of the fee altogether.

Now, the proposed fee goes to a conference budget committee where the differences between the Senate and Assembly versions are worked out.

Jim Ewert, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association, opposes the fee, even with the amendment that would exempt the press. Ewert has been lobbying at the Capitol against the fee.

Ewert said that although he has not yet seen the language of the amendment, it would still affect the general public and some people such freelance journalists or members of syndicated news services.

Even with the exception, he said, the general public would be at a great disadvantage.

He said fees would hurt press coverage of the court system as some reporters need to pull files on a daily basis. He said a court reporter who requests nine court cases would be charged $90.

“Pretty soon, there would be less written about the courts and the public is going to be even more in the dark about one of the mysterious branches of government,” he said.

Judicial Council spokesman Peter Allen said that Gov. Jerry Brown decided to pursue 11 of the 17 proposals by council, including the $10 fee. The fee would generate about $6 million a year.

Chron president Adkins transferred to Beaumont

The SF Weekly reports that Mark Adkins, who has been the Chronicle’s president since 2008, has been transferred to a less prestigious Hearst paper in Beaumont, Texas. The SFWeekly’s Erin Sherbert writes, “The company put out a small blurb, congratulating Adkins on a "promotion" that would be very hard to sell as even a lateral move. On top of the fact that the Beaumont Enterprise has a weekly circulation not quite a quarter of the Chron's, Beaumont makes Bakersfield look like Barcelona.” The move was announced just before Chron publisher and chairman Frank Vega announced he was retiring and that Hearst was hiring two people from outside the company to lead the San Francisco paper.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Talk show host Gene Burns dead at 72

Gene Burns
Longtime Bay Area radio talk show host Gene Burns died today (May 25) at age 72, according to his former station, KGO-AM.

Known for his Libertarian views, distinctive voice and perfect grammar, Burns was a top-rated host on KGO in its news-talk heyday.

But he was let go in a November 2011 cost-cutting purge along with Gil Gross, John Rothmann and Bill Wattenburg. Burns was hired by Clear Channel’s KKSF-AM 910 for the afternoon drive, but he never made it on the air. He suffered a stroke that affected the speech center of his brain.

“I am enthusiastic and thankful for the progress I have made,” he said on the Talk910 website in April 2012. “Most days, I have speech therapy and visits from great friends and colleagues.”

Before arriving at KGO in 1994, Burns worked in Baltimore (WCBM), Philadelphia (WCAU-AM), Boston (WRKO) and New York (WOR) and Orlando (WKIS).

Friday, May 24, 2013

Leadership change at Chronicle, Vega retires

Johnson and Bradford
Frank Vega, 64, is retiring as president and publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle and two top executives have been appointed to head the Hearst-owned newspaper. Joanne K. Bradford, 49, formerly chief revenue and marketing officer for Demand Media, is the Chronicle’s new president, and the new publisher is Jeffrey M. Johnson, 53, previously operating partner at The Yucaipa Companies focusing on media investments. Before that, he was president, publisher and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Times from 2005 to 2006. Prior to being publisher, Johnson served as senior vice president and general manager of the Times from 2000 to  2004. Vega will stay on as chairman through the management transition, the Chronicle said in this announcement. Photo credit: The Chronicle.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thieves in Oakland target both KGO van and the car of news crew's guard

Thieves broke into another news van in Oakland today, but this time a reporter chased them, the Chronicle reports. The break-in happened shortly before noon when a KGO-TV news crew was interviewing the owner of Loakal, an art gallery and boutique at 2nd and Clay streets at Jack London Square.

While the crew was inside the store, thieves broke windows of the news van and a Chevrolet Cobalt belonging to a guard KGO hired. No cameras or expensive gear was taken, just personal items including an iPhone.

Reporter Nick Smith chased the thieves, who jumped into a green Jaguar. No arrests have been made.

This is the latest in a series of robberies and break-ins targeting the media in Oakland. News stations have begun to hire guards to accompany crews while covering stories in Oakland.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Press Club honors high school journalists

Aragon High School in San Mateo took top honors at the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club’s 2013 High School Journalism Awards, which were presented Thursday afternoon at the San Mateo County History Museum in Redwood City.

Aragon’s newspaper, The Outlook, was recognized as the first-place winner in the General Excellence category. The Outlook received a total of 13 awards, topping last year’s record of 12. The paper’s editor and advisor will be honored at the Press Club’s Evening of Excellence June 1 at the Crowne Plaza in Foster City.

In all, 10 Peninsula high schools participated in the competition, each with a first place plaque or second and third place certificates. The competition drew 370 entries in 12 categories from 182 students. Twenty nine individuals received awards.

The contest was judged by professional journalists who are members of the Press Club and is co-sponsored by the Hillsdale Shopping Center, San Mateo.

Here is a complete list of the winning entries:

News Story 
First: Francisco Alvarado, Jefferson Tom Tom, Jefferson High School, Daily City
Second: Utkash Dubey, The Oracle, Henry M. Gunn High School, Palo Alto
Third: Harry Patino, Woodside World, Woodside High School, Woodside

Feature Story 
First: Brandon Liu, The Aragon Outlook, Aragon High School, San Mateo
Second: Wyatt Cooper, The Aragon Outlook, Aragon High School, San Mateo
Third: Paniz Amirnasiri, The Aragon Outlook, Aragon High School, San Mateo
Honorable Mention: Regina Wen, The Aragon Outlook, Aragon High School, San Mateo
Honorable Mention: Anna Wheeler, The Highlander, Carlmont High School, Belmont
Honorable Mention: Jamauri Bowles, The Eastside Panther, Eastside College Preparatory School, East Palo Alto
Honorable Mention: Catalina Zhao, The Oracle, Henry M. Gunn High School, Palo Alto
Honorable Mention: Alexis Carlos, Haley Sheetz, Woodside World, Woodside High School, Woodside

Sports Story 
First: Bryan Anderson, The Burlingame B, Burlingame High School, Burlingame
Second: Edward Perez, The Eastside Panther, Eastside College Preparatory School, East Palo Alto
Third: Jacob Rudger, The Highlander, Carlmont High School, Belmont

Editorial 
First: Jessica Liang, Andrea Icaza, Kelly Henseley, The Thunderbolt, Mills High School, Millbrae
Second: Juhie Desai, The Bearcat, San Mateo High School, San Mateo
Third: Gianna Dimick, The Highlander Staff, The Highlander, Carlmont High School, Belmont

Column 
First: Mitch Donat, The Oracle, Henry M. Gunn High School, Palo Alto
Second: Jack Herrera, The Aragon Outlook, Aragon High School, San Mateo
Third: Jacob Ng, The Thunderbolt, Mills High School, Millbrae

News Photo 
First: Marika Rundle, The Burlingame B, Burlingame High School, Burlingame
Second: Melissa Moy, The Aragon Outlook, Aragon High School, San Mateo
Third: Alex Furuya, The Aragon Outlook, Aragon High School, San Mateo

Feature Photo 
First: Paniz Amirnasiri, The Aragon Outlook, Aragon High School, San Mateo
Second: Valerie Perez, The Aragon Outlook, Aragon High School, San Mateo
Third: Karenna Meredith, The Highlander, Carlmont High School, Belmont

Sports Photo 
First: Brittney Chew, The Aragon Outlook, Aragon High School, San Mateo
Second: Bobby Lyon, The Highlander, Carlmont High School, Belmont
Third: Jason Mai, The Aragon Outlook, Aragon High School, San Mateo

Layout and Design 
First: The Raven Staff, Raven Report, Sequoia High School, Redwood City
Second: The Panther Staff, The Eastside Panther, Eastside College Preparatory School, East Palo Alto
Third: The Outlook Staff, The Aragon Outlook, Aragon High School, San Mateo

Web Site Design 
First: Victoria Xiao, Jonathan Slowey, The Bearcat, San Mateo High School, San Mateo
Second: Jonathan Staryuk, The Aragon Outlook, Aragon High School, San Mateo
Third: Andrea Icaza, The Thunderbolt, Mills High School, Millbrae

Web Site Content 
First: The B Staff, The Burlingame B, Burlingame High School, Burlingame
Second: Erica Valbusa, The Highlander Staff, Scot Scoop News, Carlmont High School, Belmont

Third: Victoria Xiao, Jonathan Slowey, The Bearcat, San Mateo High School, San Mateo

General Excellence 
First: The Outlook Staff, The Aragon Outlook, Aragon High School, San Mateo
Second: The Oracle Staff, The Oracle, Henry M. Gunn High School, Palo Alto
Third: The Highlander Staff, The Highlander, Carlmont High School, Belmont

Tickets on sale for awards dinner

Perlman
Tickets are now on sale for the Press Club’s 36th annual awards dinner, which is set for Saturday, June 1, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City.

The reception (no host) is set for 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7. At 8 the awards presentation begins with a lifetime achievement award being presented to David Perlman, science writer, San Francisco Chronicle.

Tickets are $60 for Press Club members, $65 for non-members. Parking is free. Payments can be made using PayPal (at right).

Noncommercial KCSM-TV's days are numbered

Noncommercial KCSM-TV (over-the-air channel 60, cable 17) will be shutting down next year after 49 years of broadcasting from San Mateo.

The San Mateo County Community College District, which has been losing about $1 million a year on the station, agreed Wednesday to accept a bid from LocusPoint Networks, which wants to sell off the station’s spectrum space at an FCC auction next year.

The deal, which was outlined at Wednesday night’s meeting of the college district’s board, calls for LocusPoint to pay up to $3.6 million over the next four years in annual installments of $900,000.

The FCC is planning late next year to conduct an auction for TV spectrum space that broadcasters aren’t using. Companies like Sprint, Nextel, AT&T and Google are expected to buy the bandwidth, yielding a windfall for broadcasters who want to give up some or all of their spectrum space.

LocusPoint, owned by the private equity firm Blackstone Group, has bought stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay in anticipation of the auction.

Under the deal, LocusPoint would get 36.5% of the auction proceeds for KCSM’s bandwidth and the rest would go to the college district.

The college district received four bids for the station and a team of district employees recommended the LocusPoint offer.

The college district withheld the amounts of the bids prior to Wednesday night’s meeting, and only announced the numbers after the public hearing.

Former KRON 4 reporter Henry Tenenbaum, speaking during the public hearing, asked why the public was not able to see the offers and the bid amounts before the meeting.

"I'm concerned about the absolute lack of transparency," he said. "This issue is not going to go away."

Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance, an Oakland-based social justice and media advocacy nonprofit, also took issue with the secrecy surrounding the bids.

“This asset belongs to the public. You ask them first. What you’re doing is wrong,” Rosenberg said.

She said there were more lucrative options that would allow the noncommercial station to continue broadcasting.

District board member Dave Mandelkern said that the district’s job is to educate students, not run a TV station.

The board has been seeking a buyer for KCSM for more than a year so that it can use the funds to operate the station in the classroom. Under the deal, KCSM-TV would continue to operate until the spectrum space is sold at the auction. KCSM-FM is not being sold.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Foster City paper's new owners drop cat's column

The San Mateo County Times’ John Horgan reports that Foster City’s weekly newspaper, The Islander, has a new owner, who continues to cover all things related to that bayside community in a fresh format. But one of the paper’s quirkiest features, an advice column by a cat named Cleo, no longer appears in The Islander. “Along with a folksy, homespun weekly piece by Sam Felser on any subject that intrigued him, Cleo's helpful hints from a friendly feline perspective became a regular, weird staple of the publication through the decades,” Horgan writes. Feiser, who died a year ago, started the paper 40 years ago. Felser's daughter, Margorie, sold the paper earlier this year. The new publisher is Mark Watson, an attorney.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Merc publisher moves on to Denver

Tully
Mac Tully, president and publisher of the Mercury News and group vice president of the Bay Area News Group, has been named president and CEO of The Denver Post.

Both the Merc and the Denver paper are owned by Digital First Media.

Tully has also been named an executive vice president of Digital First Media responsible for operations in Colorado, Texas and New Mexico. Tully’s replacement hasn’t been announced.

Since 2008, Tully has headed the Bay Area News Group, which includes The Mercury News, The Oakland Tribune, San Mateo County Times, Contra Costa Times, East County Times, San Ramon Valley Times, The Daily News, Pacifica Tribune, Marin Independent Journal, Santa Cruz Sentinel, The Argus, The Daily Review, the West County Times, and the Tri-Valley Times.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Cooper promoted to ME of Chronicle

Cooper
San Francisco Chronicle Deputy Managing Editor Audrey Cooper has been named managing editor, the first woman in the paper's 148-year history to fill that role.

Cooper, 35, joined the paper in 2006 as an assistant metro editor. She had previously worked at the Tri-Valley Herald, the Associated Press and the Stockton Record, where she served as metro editor.

At the Chronicle, Cooper has helped launch a weekly Health section, create a breaking news team and develop investigative projects.

She succeeds Stephen Proctor, who became managing editor of the Houston Chronicle last year.