Thursday, August 31, 2006

Photographer Josh Wolf to be released

Josh Wolf (pictured), the freelance San Francisco photojournalist who was jailed one month ago for refusing to surrender video he shot of a political protest, was granted bail today and might be released as early as tonight. The Chronicle reports that two judges for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Wolf was entitled to bail because federal prosecutors failed to show his appeal of a judge's contempt-of-court ruling was frivolous or intended solely to delay the proceedings. The court said another appeals court panel would rule on his appeal while he was free on bail. Wolf's attorney said his client would be released on his own recognizance, possibly tonight. [Bay City News wire service report] [AP version] [PPC Aug. 1: Judge jails freelance TV photographer]

So is Steve Centanni really a Muslim?

The two Fox News staffers who were kidnapped in Gaza said they were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint. Fox's Steve Centanni, a journalist with Bay Area roots, said in an interview on Wednesday that he didn't know if he was officially a Muslim. "I don't know enough about Islam to know if it was official, or recognized," he said.'s Daniel Engber attempts in this article to answer the question about whether Centanni is now a Muslim.

Letters wanted about public access bill

A bill that would put teeth into current open records laws has been unanimously approved by the state Senate and Assembly and an open government group, CalAware, is asking journalists to send letters to Gov. Schwartzenegger, urging him to sign AB2927. According to CalAware, the bill by Assemblyman Mark Leno (pictured), D-San Francisco, would:

    • allow citizens to request copies of a state agency's public records by filling out a simple form on the agency's Web site;

    • allow those who are denied access to a record by any state or local agency to get a free and expedited "second opinion" from the Attorney General as to whether the denial was legally justified; and

    • allow a court, in ordering an agency to release an unlawfully withheld record, to require it also to pay the requester a penalty of up to $100 per day for denying or delaying access in bad faith or with reckless disregard for the law.

"Anyone who's ever been unsure about how to ask for information from the bureaucracy, or who's been stiffed, stalled or stymied in getting access and answers, should put a letter or a postcard in the mail to the Governor urging his signature," said Richard McKee, president of CalAware, which is sponsoring the bill.

CalAware is asking for letters because three previous bills approved by the legislature were vetoed by then-Gov. Gray Davis because of the Attorney General language.

E-mail doesn't reach the governor, so those inclined to support AB2927 need to write an old fashioned letter and mail it to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814.

For further information from Californians Aware, call Terry Francke at 1-916-487-7000 or go to Information on the bill can be found online at

Josh Wolf jailed one month ago today

Exactly one month ago today, freelance journalist Josh Wolf (pictured) was jailed for refusing to give a federal grand jury a videotape he shot of an anarchist demonstration in San Francisco in which a police car was torched and an SFPD officer was injured. Today, the Reporters without Borders organization reiterated its call for Wolf's release. The press freedom organization also urged the federal courts in San Francisco not to jail Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada of the Chronicle for refusing to identify who gave them federal grand jury transcripts detailing the case against Barry Bonds.

The SF Bay Guardian has been investigating the Wolf case and reached the following conclusions:

    • SFPD asked the feds to take over the anarchist protest investigation because they feared local District Attorney Kamala Harris wouldn't move fast enough or aggressively enough against those who injured the officer and torched the police car.

    • The goal of the feds in jailing Wolf might be to get him to identify anarchists in exchange for his freedom.

    • Feds are trying to prove Wolf is not a journalist even though local TV stations paid to use his video on their newscasts.

Publisher gets help in fight with dot-com

In a case originally heard in Marin County Superior Court, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking that a state appeals court dismiss's libel and unfair business practices lawsuit against a financial research publisher who wrote negative stories about the Utah-based company. According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, Overstock's lawsuit claims the publisher, Gradient Analytics Inc., and a hedge fund colluded to deliberately drive down Overstock share prices in 2005 through "short selling" -- a practice in which stock is borrowed and sold, with sellers betting they can buy back the stock and bank the difference when share prices fall. As Overstock's price slid, the hedge fund's profits rose. In March, Marin County Superior Court Judge Vernon Smith said the lawsuit should proceed, rejecting Gradient's claims that Overstock had sued Gradient only to suppress its criticism of Overstock. The committee argues that if the lawsuit continues, the precedent will "punish those who offer serious financial opinions about the value of publicly traded companies….(and) may inadvertently chill investigations and oversight on businesses." But the Salt Lake Tribune quotes Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne as saying Gradient and its supporters in the financial media are trying "to hide behind the skirts of the First Amendment."

Buyer's "no layoffs" promise meaningless

The Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal was the proud, Pulitzer-winning flagship newspaper in John S. Knight's (pictured) empire, that later became part of Knight Ridder. "We believe in profitability but do not sacrifice either principle or quality on the altar of the counting house," said Knight once said. When Canadian David Black bought the paper for $165 million, he promised no layoffs or drastic cuts. Then a few weeks later, Black laid off 40 staffers -- a quarter of the newsroom -- and more are coming. The alt-weekly Cleveland Scene says the survivors are angry at the new owner and at Knight Ridder, which bled the paper for years. But Knight Ridder was the epitome of an old, lethargic company. "It became so bureaucratic," says Deputy Metro Editor Dave Wilson. "There were too many committees, and committees always make bad choices."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Editor wants public meeting with critics

Becky O'Malley, editor and co-owner of the twice-a-week Berkeley Daily Planet, says she wants an "open public meeting" -- perhaps in the city's 3,500-seat community theater -- with rabbis and Jewish leaders who are upset over an anti-Semitic letter she published Aug. 8. The East Bay Express, an alt-weekly that competes with the Berkeley paper, says Jewish leaders are astounded by her response to their request for a meeting with her. The Express quotes Jonathan Bernstein, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, who says that in his 17 years in his line of work, he has met with dozens of editors and editorial boards, and no one has ever demanded a puiblic meeting. "I really believe this is being done by Becky because she is just trying to distract us from the real issue, which is that she made a mistake allowing her paper to be used as a public platform for hatred," Bernstein says. O'Malley is a Berkeley political activist and former member of the city's Historic Preservation Commission who, along with her husband Michael, purchased the "Berkeley Daily Planet" name and news racks in 2003 after the previous owners had shut down the paper a year earlier.

SF radio host John London tries syndication

John London, who was fired by San Francisco's Free FM (KIFR 106.9) April 6 in a dispute with magician Penn Jillette over Mother Teresa, plans to launch a nationally syndicated show Oct. 2 airing weeknights from 6 to 9 p.m. ET (3-6 PT). Instead of being a right-wing or a left-wing host, London told that he is "calling all sensible people back to the wishy-washy middle where most of us reside anyway. Your namby-pamby leader is here. Politics isn't religion, but we're letting far edge players turn it into an ideological faith." No word yet on what stations will pick up his show. Since London left the CBS-owned Free FM, the station has gone through a number of afternoon hosts. Currently, L.A. host Tom Leykis is in the 3-7 p.m. slot. Ben Fong-Torres pointed out in Sunday's Chronicle that Free FM has gone to a weekday schedule of all syndicated hosts. [PPC, April 10: Free FM fires talk show host John London] [PPC, April 23: More dirt about John London's firing] [PPC, June 6: John London, others sue CBS, Penn Jillette] [PPC, July 2: Ex-Free FM host speaks mind during lawsuit] [PPC, Aug. 11: Leykis to take on Savage]

Business Wire names sales manager

Business Wire, which electronically delivers news releases to the media, has promoted Joel Tesch (pictured) to the post of Northern California sales manager, according to Business Wire vice president of global sales Gregg Castano. Tesch began his Business Wire career as an account executive in Business Wire's Atlanta office in 1999, and was promoted to regional manager of the Charlotte office. Most recently, Tesch has served as manager of sales & product partnerships, and played a major role in the successful rollout of Business Wire's enhanced PressCenter global media management database. Business Wire was founded in 1961 by chairman Lorry I. Lokey, veteran journalist and public relations executive in the Bay Area, and was sold to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway last year. Cathy Baron Tamraz is president and CEO.

Former Morgan Hill editor Chick dies at 81

Calvin Wall Chick, who became known as "Mr. Morgan Hill" during his 39 years of covering that southern Santa Clara County community, died on Aug. 15 at his home in Grants Pass, Ore., the Gilroy Dispatch reports. He was 81. "Calvin did everything at the newspaper office, from writing headlines to writing stories to selling advertising," said Walt Glines, circulation director for South Valley Newspapers. "He was a grand gentleman who never had a bad word about anybody." Chick, who retired in 1991, won numerous awards over the years and wrote all types of news stories, including coverage of a gang in the 1970s that resulted in death threats. "In a sense he acted like an unofficial watchdog just making sure that people were taken care of and things went right. He did it very quietly and anonymously," said Chick's wife, Jayne.

Free-speech group sues Barney

Barney the Dinosaur may seem like a lovable character on TV, but his lawyers are a different story. For years, attorneys for Barney's owner, Lyons Partnership, have been sending cease-and-desist letters to Stuart Frankle because his Web site pokes fun at the purple dinosaur. Last Thursday, the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, filed suit on Frankle's behalf, asking the U.S. District Court to stop Barneys lawyers from harassing Frankel. "The misuse of intimidating cease-and-desist letters for censorship is a growing problem online," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "We hope this lawsuit sends a message to Barney’s owners and other corporations to think twice before sending baseless threat letters." [EFF's Press Release announcing the lawsuit] [EFF's complaint along with copies of the cease-and-desist letters]

MediaNews promotes, transfers editors

Bob Goll, managing editor of MediaNews Group's Tri-Valley Hearld in Pleasanton, has been promoted to editor. Before that he worked for the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times, and served as editor of the Valley Times for nine years.

Goll succeeds Drew Voros, who becomes business editor of the Contra Costa Times, which is now owned by MediaNews. Voros for the past 18 months has been editor of the Herald, supervising its editions in the Tri-Valley, San Ramon Valley and San Joaquin County. Prior to that, he was business editor of ANG Newspapers for seven years.

Voros replaces Stephen R. Trousdale, who has accepted a post as deputy business editor of the San Jose Mercury News, also a MediaNews property.

Michelle Coffey, currently on the night news desk at the Contra Costa Times, will become deputy business editor. Coffey has been with the Times for a year. Prior to that, she was with the San Diego Daily Transcript, a daily business newspaper.

Voros and Coffey will be based in Walnut Creek.

Mitchell new editor of Novato Advance

Rob Mitchell (pictured) has been named executive editor of the Novato Advance by Publisher Paul Hutcheson. Mitchell, 29, has served as sports editor at the Advance for the past year. He takes over the position held for four years by Dan Stebbins, 64, who is moving to Tucson, Ariz. Mitchell, who comes from a family that owns two daily newspapers in Vermont, was honored last month by California Newspaper Publishers Association for the quality of his writing.

Bunnell new Marin IJ opinion page editor

Doug Bunnell is the new editor of the Marin Independent Journal’s opinion page, succeeding Brad Breithaupt, who has shifted to writing a local news column for the IJ, according to the CNPA bulletin. Bunnell, 46, was formerly the IJ’s managing editor for news. He joined the IJ in 1989 working as news editor and deputy editor for news before becoming managing editor two years ago. Prior to the IJ, Bunnell worked for The Orange County Register after working for five other daily newspapers in California and Arizona. A Northern California native, Bunnell graduated from California State University, Fresno, in 1981. Breithaupt was the opinion page editor for five years and an editorial writer before that.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

MediaNews pays bonuses after Merc deal

MediaNews Group has paid its top executives $1.875 million following the company's purchase of the Mercury News and Contra Costa Times and an investment agreement with Chronicle owner Hearst Corp., according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

    • Jody Lodovic, president and the company's second-in-command after Dean Singleton, received a $1 million bonus;

    • Anthony F. Tierno, senior vice president of operations, received $50,000.

    • Eric J. Grilly, president of MediaNews Group interactive, received $75,000.

    • Gerald Grilly, executive vice president and chief operating officer, will get a $150,000 bonus for the Bay Area deal.

Gerald Grilly is also retiring, and will receive $1.25 million severance payable over three years, and a "fiscal 2006 performance bonus" of $81,250 and $33,000.

Replacing Grilly will be Steve Rossi, the former CFO of Knight Ridder, whose annual base salary will be $600,000 not including bonuses and benefits.

Santa Cruz Daily Sentinel up for sale

Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal, has put its 25,000-circulation Santa Cruz Sentinel up for sale along with five other dailies to take advantage of a tax break that expires on Dec. 31, Sentinel Publisher Molly Evans (pictured) told her staff on Monday (Aug. 28). Bidding is expected to begin next month, according to a story in this morning's Sentinel. The paper has 169 employees including 40 in the newsroom. Dow Jones owns its papers through a subsidiary called Ottaway Newspapers, and of its 15 papers, the Sentinel was among the six with the slowest growth. Managing Editor Donald Miller pointed out that Santa Cruz is a tough market for newspapers because of the lack of population growth and the lack of retail growth. The Sentinel's story includes a sampling of local reaction

Scheer: Feds have nullified shield law

Journalist and attorney Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, says in an op-ed in this morning's Chronicle that the federal government has eliminated California's shield law for journalists by jailing Josh Wolf and threatening to jail Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams. "The U.S. Justice Department's enforcement proceedings don't just undermine a valid state policy, they nullify it," Scheer argues. "This is so because reporters and their sources have no way of knowing, at the time of an interview with a source or the filming of a news event, whether a subpoena will issue from a California state court -- in which case it can be safely ignored -- or from a federal court, in which case it will be enforced through fines, jail or other sanctions. Because the only safe strategy is to assume that one could end up in front of a federal judge, the state shield law is effectively voided."

Marin IJ's publisher resigns after 11 months

Kenneth Svanum, president and publisher of MediaNews Group's Marin Independent Journal, resigned Monday (Aug. 28) after 11 months, citing "family medical issues that will need my full attention." Svanum, 57, is a native of San Rafael and a veteran newspaper executive who began his career in Marin, according to this morning's IJ. Svanum joined the IJ's advertising department in 1969 and rose to national advertising manager by 1978, the story said. Three years later, he became retail advertising manager before being appointed advertising director. In 1985, when the New York Times Co. acquired the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, Svanum left to work there as advertising director and stayed for 14 years. He was publisher for about a year at the Santa Barbara News Press before becoming publisher of the Star-News in Wilmington, N.C. in 2001. He was named the IJ's president and publisher in September 2005.

Prosecutor wants to unplug mom's Web site

In a case with First Amendment implications, an Alameda County Deputy District Attorney has told the mother of an Oakland murder suspect to take down her Web site. Laura Rangel says she's entitled to post her opinions and documents that are public record, such as police reports. Amilcar Ford, the deputy D.A., says the site might influence potential jurors and, since Rangel will be a witness at her daughter's second-degree murder trial, posting a Web site amounts to a witness attempting to influence other witnesses. Ford says photos on the site might be seen as threatening, such as one of Ford and his grandmother, a retired Alameda County judge. Rangel tells the Contra Costa Times that she will take down her site if instructed by a judge. A hearing in the dispute is set for Friday. The CoCo Times article quotes Golden Gate University Dean Peter Keane as saying the prosecutor doesn't have much of a case. An ACLU attorney, Ann Brick, says the prosecutor is going too far. Rebecca Jeschke of the Electronic Fronteir Foundation says the issue is new, but probably won't be for long.

New law bans censorship of college papers

A new law, written by Assemblyman Leland Yee (pictured), bans administrators from censoring college newspapers or punishing students who write articles they don't like. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law Monday (Aug 28). It takes effect on Jan. 1. As the Contra Costa Times points out, the law clears up speculation created by a federal court ruling last year that allowed an Illinois university to stop publication of its student newspaper that ran stories criticizing a dean. The threat of censorship grew more likely in California after Christine Helwick, lead attorney for the 23-campus California State University System, wrote a memo to administrators about the federal decision saying that it "appears to signal that CSU campuses may have more latitude than previously believed to censor the content of subsidized student newspapers." The Contra Costa Times said Helwick declined to comment on the governor's action Monday.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Centanni, Wiig released

Kidnappers in Gaza this morning (Aug. 27) have released Fox News correspondent Steve Centanni, a journalist formerly from the Bay Area, and his photographer Olaf Wiig nearly two weeks after they were kidnapped near a Palestinian police station. Early reports indicated that the pair were unharmed. They were dropped off at Gaza City's Beach Hotel by Palestinian police. Centanni, in a phone interview after his release, said, "I'm fine. I'm just so happy to be free."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

San Mateo County Times has new editor

San Mateo County native Jennifer Christgau-Aquino has been promoted from managing editor of the San Mateo County Times to executive editor, according to an announcement in this morning's Times. She has been managing editor for 10 months. Aquino came to ANG in October 2005 after three years as associate editor of the Palo Alto Weekly. She previously worked as an editor for the Independent Newspaper Group and was a reporter in the Manteca bureau of the Stockton Record. Aquino grew up in Belmont, where her parents have lived for more than 40 years. A graduate of Hillsdale High School, she is a journalism school graduate of San Francisco State University. She will report to Pete Wevurski, editor of the ANG Newspapers, which also publishes five newspapers in the East Bay.

Court orders ex-publisher to stop writing

Robert Plotkin (right), the former prosecutor who owns the Point Reyes Light, has obtained a court injunction to prohibit the Light's former owner, Dave Mitchell (left), from writing a column on a local Web site, according to the Marin Independent Journal. Plotkin's argument is that the online column violates the non-competition agreement Mitchell signed when he sold the 4,000-circulation weekly paper to Plotkin for $500,000 in November. The injunction, issued Aug. 18 by Judge John A. Sutro, will stand until an Oct. 6 hearing. Mitchell said he believes the order violates his right to free speech. "There's a political campaign coming up and I can't cover it. I can't believe they can hush up a person like this in this country," Mitchell told the IJ. The injunction appears to be the latest round in the battle between Mitchell and Plotkin, who got into a scuffle earlier this year that resulted in an injunction prohibiting Mitchell from visiting the newspaper's offices. Mitchell ran the weekly for 28 years and won the Pulitzer in 1979 for "meritorious public service" for the Light's coverage of the Synanon cult. (Photos by Darcy Holdorf, special to the Marin IJ.) [PPC, April 28: New publisher upsets, fascinates locals] [PPC, May 29: Point Reyes Light controversy covered by LA Times] [PPC, March 17: Pulitzer winner hit with restraining order]

Report: Centanni held in refugee camp

The Jerusalem Post is reporting on its Web site that former Bay Area journalist Steve Centanni, now of Fox News, and cameraman Olaf Wiig are being held by one of Fatah's militias in a refugee camp near Gaza City. The pair were snatched at gunpoint from their TV truck parked near the parking lot of a Palestinian Authority police station in Gaza. Fatah is part of the Palestinian Authority and one of the two major political parties in the Palestinian territories, along with Hamas. A top Hamas activist tells the Post that his movement's investigations have shown that the two journalists were initially kidnapped by members of one of the Palestinian Authority's security forces. The activist claims the kidnappers wanted to put pressure on the Palestinian leadership to pay them their salaries and later handed the two over to Fatah gunmen. [PPC Aug. 19: Centanni's Bay Area roots]

State investigating Hearst-MediaNews deal

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer (pictured) has approved the sale of the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times to Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group. But, according to the Sacramento Business Journal, Lockyer's staff is still investigating Hearst Corp.'s plans to buy the Monterey Hearld and St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press and give them to MediaNews in return for a 30 percent stake in MediaNews Group's holdings outside the Bay Area. Unlike the U.S. Department of Justice, Lockyer doesn't have authority to stop any such deal, but he could impose penalties or conditions after the fact if he finds it violates state law. The Hearst aspect of the deal is also under investigation by the DOJ and will be the subject of a civil trial in Feburary in a suit brought by San Francisco businessman Clint Reilly.

Editor of SF's Dwell Magazine quits

Allison Arieff has quit as editor in chief of the architecture and design magazine Dwell. Arieff helped found the magazine with Hedberg Dean, chairman of the magazine's board. No replacement was named in a press release the magazine issued, but managing editor Ann Wilson Spradlin will move up to run the editorial department and report to publisher Michela O'Connor Abrams. Andrew Wagner and Sam Grawe, both senior editors, were promoted to executive editor.

Anti-censorship bill may soon become law

Monday is the last day Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger can veto AB2581 that would ban censorship of student newspapers at public colleges and universities. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, was approved by the Assembly and Senate. Under California law, the governor has 12 business days to sign or veto the bill. If he fails to do either, the bill becomes law without his signature. The 12th day is Monday. [Student Press Law Center, Aug. 15: California Senate passes press freedom bill] [LA Times, Aug. 11: Bill would protect college newspapers]

Friday, August 25, 2006

High school censorship case appealed

The ACLU, Student Press Law Center and a law firm have submitted a "friend of the court" brief with the California Court of Appeal in support of a high school journalism student who sued the Novato Unified School District in 2002 for censoring editorials he wrote about immigration and reverse racism. The articles were originally approved by the school principal, but after publication school officials confiscated copies of newspaper and said the editorials violated school policy after other students and parents complained about the content of the articles. The student, Andrew Smith (now a U.S. Marine), sued the school district. The Superior Court issued a ruling against him. Smith is now appealing that ruling. Christine P. Sun, attorney for the ACLU of Southern California, said the ruling, if not reversed, will almost certainly chill future speech by sending the message that school officials can prevent or punish students for publishing certain views. [Chronicle, May 3, 2002: Censorship suit at Novato High; Racial writings stifled student says] [AP, May 6, 2002: High school journalist sues school for blocking controversial editorial] [Student Press Law Center Press Release, Aug. 23, 2006: SPLC files brief in California censorship case]

No. 2 KR exec Rossi to join MediaNews

Steve Rossi, who at one time was the heir apparent to Knight Ridder chairman Tony Ridder, has been hired by Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group as its chief operating officer. Rossi, 57, replaces Gerald E. Grilly, who is retiring. Rossi, who now lives in Los Gatos, will relocate to Denver where MediaNews is headquartered. Rossi was head of Knight Ridder's newspaper division and seen as the executive next in the line to succeed Ridder at Knight Ridder from 2001 to 2004. In 2004, Rossi became the company's chief financial officer. A story posted on the Mercury News web site on Friday said that while Gerald Grilly is retiring, 35-year-old Eric Grilly, president of MediaNews Group Interactive, will add the title of senior vice president of MediaNewsGroup. The younger Grilly and will join Singleton, president Jody Lodivic and Rossi on the company's executive committee.

SPJ gives $30K to Josh Wolf defense fund

The AP reports that the Society of Professional Journalists has donated $30,000 to help pay the legal fees of Josh Wolf, the freelance photographer who was jailed for refusing to give a federal grand jury outtakes of a video he shot of an anarchist protest in San Francisco where a police car was torched and an SFPD officer was injured. Wolf sold some of the video to San Francisco TV stations, but he suspects the grand jury wants the tape to identify people at the protest. Initially news organizations were reluctant to publicize Wolf's case, much less contribute money to his defense fund. SPJ's donation is a signal that the mainstream media has jumped in on Wolf's behalf. Wolf has been held since Aug. 1 in a federal detention center in the East Bay city of Dublin. [PPC, July 27: SF Supes expected to back journalist facing jail] [PPC, Aug. 11: Jailed photographer gives interview] [PPC, Aug. 7: Support sought for jailed photographer] [PPC, Aug. 21: Josh Wolf defense fund collects $1,200]

Prof who sued Merc: 'The big guys won'

Metro, the San Jose alt-weekly, caught up to the Tennessee professor who unsuccessfully sued the Mercury News for printing a copyrighted photo he shot as part of a book review. "The big guys won, but we were ethically right," Prof. Chris Harris told Metro. The Merc argued it had the right to use the photo under the doctrine of fair use, and a federal jury agreed on Aug. 7. But Metro points out that at least one media expert says the paper's victory isn't the green light newspaper editors had been anticipating when it comes to running copyrighted works. "I think newspaper editors will be more cautious now," says Santa Clara University professor Tyler Ochoa. "Litigation tends to make people gun-shy." It should be pointed out that Harris has sued over copyrights before, receiving an undisclosed settlement from the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

August 2006 Press Club board minutes

Meeting was brought to order by Board President Micki Carter at 6:25 p.m.

Boardmembers Jamie Casini, Peter Cleaveland, Dave Price and Executive Director Darryl Compton were present.

Boardmembers Aimee Lewis Strain, Jon Mays, Jack Russell and John Kane were absent.

The minutes of the June meeting were approved.

The treasurer's report was approved.

Old business

Bench Bar Media: Jamie agreed to touch base with Aimee and see if we can set something up for the fall.

New business

San Francisco Press Club Scholarship: The club will not be in existence, and a SF club member had discussed with Micki the PPC taking over the $15K in the SFPC's account for a high school scholarship program. The SF club wants a $500 scholarship each year to go to a high school student for environmental writing.

Micki, and the board agreed, that the category was too narrow, and we requested a broader area -- more general terms than specific.

At the time of the Aug. 24 meeting, Micki was awaiting a response from the SF press club.

Dave Price suggested that instead of the PPC awarding scholarships to individual students at the awards banquet, we give a bigger amount of money to exemplary journalism high school programs. Micki agreed to put the item on the September agenda for discussion.

Micki reminded the board about the PPC picnic at her home on Aug. 27

Christmas Party date was set for Dec. 5, 6 or 13 -- Peter will check to see if Harry Hofbrau has a room available.

The meeting was adjourned by Carter at 6:55 p.m. Minutes submitted by Boardmember Jamie Casini.

Jesse Jackson will try to free Fox crew

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is headed to the Middle East to see if he can obtain the release of two captured Israeli soldiers and two Fox journalists, including Steve Centanni, who spent much of his career in the Bay Area, according to the Washington Post and other news outlets. Jackson acknowledged the case of Centanni and Fox photographer Olaf Wiig was particularly difficult because so little is known about the militant group holding them.

Other stories on this subject:

    AP: Centanni's friends aren't surprised that the video shows the Fox correspondent looking unfazed by the ordeal.

    • CNN: Centanni's family issues plea.

    McClatchy: The abduction of Centanni and Wiig, now entering its 11th day, may "signal the beginning of a more perilous trend when a previously unknown group released a video of the journalists and issued demands not to Israel or to the Palestinian Authority, but to the United States."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Video shows Centanni, Wiig kidnapped

A videotape of Fox News correspondent and former Bay Area journalist Steve Centanni and his photographer, Olaf Wiig of New Zealand, was released today (Aug. 23) by a previously unknown Palestinian group which is demanding a prisoner exchange in 72 hours. The video was the first sign of Centanni or Wiig since they were kidnapped Aug. 14 near the Palestinian security services in Gaza City.

"Our captors are treating us well," said Centanni, 60, adding that they had access to clean water, showers, bathrooms, food and clothing.

According to the AP, a written statement accompanying the video, issued by a group called the Holy Jihad Brigades, demanded Muslim prisoners in U.S. jails be released within three days in exchange for Centanni and Wiig. The group did not say what would happen if the deadline passed unanswered.

Centanni's brother in San Jose welcomed the video. "We're very relieved that the kidnappers have contacted the world and we can see our brother and Olaf," Ken Centanni told the AP. "They look tired and a bit down, but they look good. We're just at this point going to do what we can to secure their release." [CBS Public Eye: Why isn't this kidnapping getting more coverage?] [TV Newser: Details on the video] [PPC: Centanni's Bay Area ties, previous developments]

Antitrust suit against newspapers isn't over

The SF Bay Guardian says newspaper reports about Clint Reilly's lawsuit challenging the consolidation of the Bay Area's newspapers misled readers into thinking the case was dead. While a judge refused Reilly's request to halt the sale of the Mercury News and Contra Costa Times to MediaNews Group, the lawsuit is very much alive and a trial is set for February. One of the big issues is whether Hearst Corp., owner of the Chronicle, should be allowed to buy a $299 million stake in MediaNews Group's papers outside the Bay Area. That deal, Reilly says, would essentially link the Bay Area's two biggest newspaper companies, creating an unlawful monopoly. Of course Hearst and MediaNews disagree. February ought to be an interesting month in the history of Bay Area newspapers.

State asks for federal shield law

With one journalist in jail and two more headed that direction, California Legislators -- in an unusual unanimous vote -- have called on Congress to enact a federal shield law for the protection of all journalists. California and 49 states have shield laws, but the absence of a federal shield law puts all journalists at risk, said Assemblywoman Noreen Evans (pictured), D-Santa Rosa, who authored resolution AJR 31. Freelance photographer Josh Wolf is in jail because he refused to provide portions of a videotape he shot of an anarchist protest to a federal grand jury. The tape showed a San Francisco police officer being assaulted. If SFPD had asked Wolf for his tape, he could have refused and stayed out of jail because of the state shield law. But the protest is being investigated by a federal grand jury, and a judge said the state shield law doesn't apply in federal cases. Similarly, Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada are refusing to reveal their sources in the Barry Bonds steroids case, and since the case is federal, the state's shield law won't keep them out of jail either. The Legislature's resolution passed by a 76-0 vote in the Assembly and a 40-0 vote in the Senate.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Scheer: Jailing journalists is a power grab

The California First Amendment Coalition's Peter Scheer (pictured), in a commentary posted Monday, says that the jailing of freelance journalist Josh Wolf and the imminent jailing of Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams of the Chronicle represent an illicit power-grab and usurpation of state sovereignty by the Bush Justice Department.

Lack of news troubles Centanni's brother

Steve Centanni, a Fox News correspondent with Bay Area roots, and Olaf Wiig, a New Zealand cameraman, have been missing longer than any of some two dozen foreigners previously abducted in Gaza, the Financial Times of London points out this morning. The FT notes that past kidnappings of foreigners, usually journalists or aid workers, have been carried out by armed groups settling private scores or trying to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to release imprisoned relatives or supply government jobs. The abductions have generally lasted from a few hours to a few days at most. The captives have invariably been well cared for and released unharmed.

All of this has concerned Centanni's family. "We haven't heard anything," said brother Ken Centanni of San Jose in an interview with the Chronicle. "People have been applying pressure to the Palestinian government to do whatever it can, and the Palestinian government has been very cooperative."

The FT reports that all of the main factions in Gaza -- the Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas, the ruling Hamas party and the more radical Islamic Jihad -- have condemned the kidnapping. Fox and diplomats have talked with leaders of each faction. No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and no demand has been made for their release.

Meanwhile, commentators and bloggers say the mainstream media has downplayed the kidnapping, which occurred near the Palestinian Authority headquarters. Joel Mowbray of the conservative contends that Western media has been repeatedly intimidated not to portray Palestinian terrorists in a bad light. Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin says the lack of news in this case is news: "The disappearance of Centanni and Wiig is at least as newsworthy as -- and far more threatening to our national security than -- people falling off cruise ships or getting eaten by alligators or attacked by bees." The Columbia Journalism Review's Felix Gillette surveyed opinion about the lack of coverage in this piece.

Steve Barnett, Dan Day join CFAC board

First Amendment scholar Stephen Barnett and Modesto Bee Managing Editor Dan Day are the newest additions to the California First Amendment Coalition’s board of directors. Barnett, an emeritus UC Berkeley law professor, is known for his expertise in California appellate law, both as a teacher and practitioner, and as an outspoken critic of the California Supreme Court. Day is perhaps best known in the Bay Area as the former AP bureau chief in San Francisco. He oversees a newsroom of 100 journalists in Modesto.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Clock ticking on anti-censorship bill

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has until Wednesday to sign a bill guaranteeing freedom of the press for California’s public college newspapers. The legislation -- the first of its kind in the nation -- was written by Assemblyman Leland Yee (pictured right), who hosted a news conference at San Francisco State University on Friday to draw attention to the bill, according to the San Francisco Daily. Yee’s bill grew out of a federal court ruling which the Supreme Court allowed to stand. It permits college administrators to censor student newspapers, said Tom Newton (left), general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association. And a University of California counsel wrote an unsettling memo supporting the decision, he said. “She said essentially that the administration may have been wrong in their assumption that the full panoply of First Amendment rights extend to the public college student press,” Newton said. (Photo by Richard Cole of the San Francisco Daily.)

Josh Wolf defense fund gets $1,200 boost

Some 70 San Francisco residents contributed $1,200 on Friday (Aug. 19) for the defense fund of Josh Wolf, according to the San Francisco Sentinel online newspaper. Wolf is the freelance photographer who was jailed Aug. 1 for refusing to provide video outtakes of an anarchist protest to a federal grand jury. In the photo above by Luke Thomas of the Sentinel, Bay Guardian owner Bruce Brugmann is seen second from left at the fund-raiser. A second fundraiser is in the planning for around Sept. 16, journalist Rick Knee tells the Sentinel. He said the biggest hurdle is finding a venue that can accommodate 200 people. The Sentinel site has information on how you can contact Knee if you have a place for the event or how to contribute to the defense fund.

Iwo Jima photographer Joe Rosenthal dies

Joe Rosenthal, the Associated Press photographer who won a Pulitzer Prize for his immortal image of World War II servicemen raising an American flag over battle-scarred Iwo Jima, died Sunday (Aug. 21) at a nursing home in Novoto. He was 94. In this 1995 photo by Doug Mills of the AP, Rosenthal sits on a bench in front of the Marines memorial that was modeled after his Feb. 23, 1945 photograph. After the war, Rosenthal worked at the Chronicle until his retirement in 1981. Read the AP obit and the Chronicle obit

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Centanni, photographer said to be alive

Several developments today in the kidnapping of Steve Centanni, a Fox News correspondent with roots in the Bay Area, and cameraman Olaf Wiig of New Zealand. The pair were snatched at gunpoint Monday in Gaza City.
    • Wiig's wife, BBC World newscaster Anita McNaught, met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who said he had assurances from groups that knew about the kidnapping that her husband is alive and well, according to New Zealand's Star Times.

    • All major militant groups in the Palestinian territories have denied involvement in the kidnappings, according to the AP.

    • McNaught made an emotional plea for her husband's release on Al Jazeera.

    • Centanni's brother and sister issued statements asking for his release. Ken Centanni, who lives in San Jose, said, "He is far more valuable to the Palestinian people free as a journalist than as a captive."

    • About 30 members of the Palestinian Journalists' Union gathered outside the parliamentary building in Gaza, holding up signs demanding the men be freed. "We don't care who kidnapped them, we want them returned unharmed. This is a very serious case for the Palestinians, for the Palestinian Authority," said Jennifer Griffen, chief Fox News correspondent for the Middle East.

Centanni, 60, graduated from Los Altos High in 1964 and from San Francisco State University with a bachelor's degree in television and radio in 1977, according to the Mercury News and NBC 11. He worked for local radio stations was a producer and writer at KRON for eight years. He moved to Alaska and worked on the air in television there. From there he went to CNN and later Fox News. His family includes seven siblings, who mostly live on the West Coast.

Bill Gates must believe in newspapers

Some commentary now on the news (reported here Aug. 11) that MediaNews Group got the money to buy the Mercury News and other papers in the form of a loan from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, General Electric Capital Corp. and other corporations. Rick Anderson of the Seattle Weekly writes in his blog: "What does it say about the dinosaur newspaper industry that the world's richest man is investing in it?" READ

Friday, August 18, 2006

Tough times for Mother Jones at 30

The San Francisco-based Mother Jones is turning 30, and as the Chroncle's Heidi Benson reports, this investigative magazine is struggling to retain a consistent senior staff and stay out of the hole financially as its circulation declines. Editor Russ Rymer left in late July citing "philosopical differences." Investigative editor Monika Bauerlein (left) and deputy editor Clara Jeffery (right) have been named the new editors in chief. A financial crisis earlier this year resulted in layoffs, but publisher Jay Harris says no more cuts are planned. Circulation has fallen to 230,000, down 6 percent from last year. Another problem for the magazine is that it is based on the West Coast and therefore isn't part of the New York media scene, which means "Mother Jones can do something huge and media doesn't comment," said Deirdre English, who was Mother Jones' editor from 1980 to 1986.

CIA-Crack story ran 10 years ago today

Today is an anniversary the Mercury News will probably not celebrate. But the LA Times, on its op-ed page today, looks back at the now infamous story the Merc published linking the CIA and Nicaragua's Contras to the crack cocaine epidemic that swept through urban LA in the 1980s. What happened next was, according to investigative reporter Nick Schou, one of the most "unseemly and ultimately tragic scandals in the annals of American journalism."

The nation's largest newspapers such as the New York Times and Los Angeles Times attacked the story, the Merc disowned it and then banished the author, Gary Webb (pictured), to one of its less desirable bureaus. Eventually Webb would leave the Merc and then die from two gunshot wounds to his head. It was ruled a suicide. Schou, in his op-ed today and in an upcoming book he's done on the scandal, points out that much of what Webb wrote was correct, the Merc's backtracking notwithstanding.

Schou says, "History will tell if Webb receives the credit he's due for prodding the CIA to acknowledge its shameful collaboration with drug dealers. Meanwhile, the journalistic establishment is only beginning to recognize that the controversy over "Dark Alliance" had more to do with poor editing than bad reporting."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Press conference on censorship bill

Assembly Speaker pro Tem Leland Yee (pictured) will join journalism students, free speech advocates, and professors at a news conference on Friday (Aug. 18) in San Francisco to urge Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign AB 2581 which would ban censorship of college newspapers. The Legislature has approved AB 2581. Schwarzenegger has until Wednesday (Aug. 23) to sign or veto the bill. If signed into law, California would become the first state in the nation to specifically prohibit censorship of college student press.

The news conference will include Yee, D-San Francisco; Tom Newton, California Newspaper Publishers Association; Erna Smith, Chair, Journalism Department, San Francisco State University; Rachele Kanigel, Journalism Professor, San Francisco State University, and Carina Woudenberg, Journalism Student, San Francisco State University.

The news conference is scheduled for 12:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 18, San Francisco State University, Room 309, 3rd Floor, Humanities Building, 1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco. For more information, call Adam Keigwin of Yee's staff at (916) 319-2012 or (916) 256-5758.

Ceppos: Explain why diversity matters

Former Merc editor and Knight Ridder news VP Jerry Ceppos says in this Poynter Online op-ed that it is time for journalists to explain to the public why we have been striving for ethnically diverse newsrooms. He says that because of a couple of "rude, personal questions" he got people here in the Bay Area about the ethnic background of people in the news business. "We've talked for three decades about the need to hire all sorts of people in our newsrooms because of language, cultural and other advantages. But we've generally talked only to ourselves," Ceppos says. "Maybe it's time to explain to readers that their sources of news will be much more complete when the mix includes everyone from Lebanese-Americans to Egyptian-Americans to Jewish Americans, whose backgrounds help them explain complex stories without slanting the news."

Another view: Don't praise Balco reporters

While journalists are solidly behind the Chronicle reporters facing jail in the Balco case, the same can't be said for the general public. For instance, Randy Shaw (pictured), executive director and supervising attorney of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic in San Francisco and editor of the progressive Beyond Chron ( Web site, writes that while he doesn't want reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada to go to jail, they don't merit public support either. He points out that they're willing to go to jail over the source of a grand jury transcript -- and what is said in grand jury proceedings is hardly the truth. Grand jury proceedings are one-sided affairs where only the prosecution presents its case and where witnesses frequently lie -- not the kind of stuff on which a solid story should be based, Shaw argues. Shaw also contends that the steroid scandal isn't that important compared to issues like national security. He points out that the case of Josh Wolf, the freelance photographer who went to jail rather than give the government outtakes of the video he shot of a protest, is far more significant because of the ramifications it has on newsgathering. [Chron editorial: "Punishing the Press"] [Columnist Dave Del Grande: Shouldn't this reporter be required to reveal who committed the crime?]

Jail terms will hurt investigative unit

The incarceration of Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada will hobble the paper's five-reporter investigative unit, which is already short two reporters, says Editor & Publisher online. The Chronicle's "Enterprise Team" dates back to the 1970s Examiner, before transferring to the Chronicle when the two newspapers merged staffs in 2000. Enterprise Editor Steve Cook said two reporters are on temporary leave -- Seth Rosenfeld is out until at least early 2007 on hiatus to write a book, while Erin McCormick recently began a maternity leave. That leaves veteran reporter Susan Sward, along with Fainaru-Wada and Williams, as the group's full-timers. With a ruling Tuesday by a federal judge that Williams and Fainaru-Wada must reveal their sources in the BALCO story, or face jail, the unit's size has moved closer to potentially becoming even smaller.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lupica: Chron's Balco reporters 'heroes'

New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica (pictured) points out that President Bush and most Americans wanted baseball cleaned up. Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams tried to do that. "Now they might go to jail. What a country. You don't go to war against people like Fainaru-Wada and Williams, you go to war for them," Lupica says. Read his column.

New weekly starts in San Jose area

Silicon Valley Community Newspapers has launched its ninth weekly newspaper, the West San Jose Resident, a 12,000-circulation paper delivered to homes and also available at community centers and branch libraries, according to a report in the co-owned Mercury News. Both the Merc and Silicon Valley Community Newspapers are owned by Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group. Publisher David Cohen said The Resident is edited by Lisa Sibley, the chain’s director of editorial projects, and focuses on neighborhood issues and coverage of City Hall.

KRON parent reports rebound in sales

Maybe it has something to do with the numerologist's advice about changing the station's street address, but KRON-TV's revenues jumped 26.1% in the second quarter compared to the prior year, significantly outpacing the overall market growth of 16.4% during the period, according to a press release issued by KRON owner Young Broadcasting. Young called this a "resurgence in the San Francisco market." Specific dollar figures for Channel 4 weren't broken out in the release, but one reason for the big percentage increase was that the station's sales were unusually low last year. Young owns 10 TV stations, the biggest being KRON.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Die is cast for Chron reporters

A federal judge told two Chronicle reporters today (Aug. 15) they must comply with a subpoena and tell a grand jury who leaked them secret testimony of Barry Bonds and other athletes ensnared in the government's steroid probe, the AP reports. The decision by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White means reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada (both pictured) must appear before a grand jury investigating the leak unless a higher court blocks the ruling. The pair have said they would not testify and would go to jail rather than reveal their source or sources. [KPIX CBS 5]

NBC11's TJ Holmes moves on to CNN

CNN has announced changes in its anchor line up including the fact that TJ Holmes from KNTV NBC 11 has been hired to anchor some weekend shifts. At NBC 11, he co-anchored the 5-5:30 p.m. weekday news and frequently did live shots for the 11 p.m. news. [Holmes' NBC11 bio]

Centanni took risks to get good stories

Steve Centanni (pictured), the Fox News reporter kidnapped along with a cameraman and translator in Gaza, took risks to get good stories, says his brother Ken, who lives in San Jose. KCBS-AM's Matt Bigler says Centanni's capture by the Palestinians on Monday is a nightmre for his family in the South Bay. "That's my brother," Ken Cintanni told Bigler. "He didn't mind stepping into the positions that were a little bit risky to get the good stories. We're very proud of the things he's done but now we want him to quit." Before joining Fox News, Steve Centanni was a producer at KRON-TV for eight years and worked at a number of Bay Area radio stations as a reporter. [Mercury/AP: Family members await news] [NBC11: Negotiations have begun (start about half-way down)] [AP: Palestinian leaders trying to win Centanni's release]

Merc admits error in political e-mail

A Mercury News spokesman admits "it was basically an error" when a political action committee, that is paying to have the Merc's new parent company send out its fundraising e-mails, put the newspaper's logo on the top of the e-mail, according to San Jose's alt-weekly Metro. The Merc's logo appeared atop a letter from thte Public Campaign Action Fund, which wants the government to fund election campaigns. Metro said the presence of the Merc's logo atop the letter made it look as if the paper was editorializing in favor of such public funding. Merc spokesman Dan Breeden, in admitting the error, said that the e-mail would have been rejected for not being clearly identified as an ad if anyone at the paper had actually seen it.

Rick Barry out at Sports Talk KNBR

NBA Hall-of-Famer Rick Barry's broadcasting career at KNBR-AM 680 came to an end Monday afternoon after five years behind the mic. Barry said so long to his listeners at the end of Monday's show, which he was doing from his home in Colorado Springs, Colo. According to Andy Altman-Ohr of the Oakland Tribune, both management and Barry said the departure was a mutual decision. "We're going in a different direction," said KNBR programming manager Lee Hammer. Altman-Ohr said a source told him that Bob Fitzgerald will replace Barry, who co-hosted a noon-to-3 p.m. show with Rod Brooks. [Contra Costa Times: Barry's run comes to an abrupt end]

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ex-KRON producer kidnapped in Gaza

Steve Centanni, a KRON-TV producer for eight years, was one of two Fox News employees who were kidnapped when Palestinian gunmen ambushed their car in Gaza today (Aug. 14). A Fox News employee confirmed to KGO-TV that Centanni and a cameraman from New Zealand were taken against their will in Gaza. Centanni is a California native who began his broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for radio stations in San Francisco and Oakland, according to the KGO report. He wrote and produced news segments for KRON TV for eight years, according to his Fox News bio. [KTVU version] [KNTV version with slide show of images of Centanni]

Critics warming up to Gore's Current TV

The critics have done an about face as far as San Francisco-based Current TV is concerned. The network, founded by former vice president Al Gore and legal services entrepreneur Joel Hyatt of Atherton, is now getting positive reviews for its concept of airing short videos produced by its viewers, the Chronicle reports. A year ago it was being ridiculed.

While not as hot as, Current TV is now carried in 30 million homes. Hyatt said Current is trying to position itself as the thinking person's YouTube. Still, while Current is seen in more homes than ever, it doesn't have enough viewers to be measured by Nielsen. However, Hyatt says the network has made a small profit on annual revenue of about $10 million.

Hyatt knows something about TV -- he built a network of store-front legal service franchises in Ohio by personally doing TV spots for years. It was in Ohio that he met his wife Susan, the daughter of long-time Democratic Senator Howard Metzenbaum. Hyatt ran for the Senate in 1994 and lost. He then moved to Atherton.

[PHOTO: In this Chronicle photo by Katy Raddatz are Current TV programming chief David Neuman, left, supervising producer Laura Ling and chief executive Joel Hyatt. Studios and offices are located near the Giants ballpark in China Basin.]

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Singleton faces upstart daily foe in Eureka

In the Northern California town of Eureka, a local businessman became so fed up at the lack of local news in the daily newspaper owned by Dean Singleton, he started his own daily in January. And the battle between Singleton's Eureka Times-Standard and the new Eureka Reporter has become "amazingly cutthroat," in the words of a weekly publisher in nearby Arcata. Reporters from the two dailies got into a fist fight at a murder scene.

According to a story in today's Chronicle, Eureka businessman Rob Arkley has hired a respected local newspaper woman, Judi Pollace (pictured in the red jacket), and gave her a newsroom staff larger than Singleton's. They're also paid better, get better benefits (such as college tuitions for the children of employees) and use more modern equipment including a state-of-the-art press. And while Arkley is known to have conservative views, he has kept his hands out of the newsroom, say observers. His paper shocked many by coming out in favor of gay marriage. Some of the town's most veteran journalists, including most of Singleton's sports staff, have jumped ship to work at the Eureka Reporter. Says Joel Davis, the author of the story about the two papers, "Singleton seems to view Arkley and his upstart daily as little more than a minor nuisance."

Photos: The Eureka Reporter touts its growing circulation on a large billboard on Highway 101. In the Eureka Reporter newsroom, Publisher Judi Pollace talks with reporter Mike Morrow. (Chronicle photos by Chris Stewart.)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Chronicle union faces Tuesday deadline

The 237-member Chronicle's pressmen's union has been given until Tuesday (Aug. 15) to approve or reject a contract that calls for a 1 percent annual pay hike, according to a photo caption in Saturday's Chron. The 142-word caption, which describes the upper photo, said that scores of members and supporters of the San Francisco Web Pressmen and Prepress Workers Union 4N rallied outside newspaper Friday to protest the labor contract offered by the paper's management. The union has been without a contract since July 1, 2005. The union argues the paper and its owner, the Hearst Corp., have not negotiated in good faith and have rejected its compromises. Union President Anthony Price said the contract, which offers a 1 percent annual pay hike, provides no job security and undermines most of the union's protections. Frank Vega, publisher and CEO of The Chronicle, said in a statement that the contract, among others things, preserves the union's lifetime job guarantees and seniority in the event of layoffs. Last December, the PPC reported that Vega was in talks with an unidentified third party about contracting out the paper's printing. (Photos by Kurt Rogers, Chronicle)