Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mayor's press aide accused of dirty tricks

It's no secret that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom doesn't like KGO ABC7 reporter Dan Noyes. But now the mayor's press secretary, Peter Ragone, apparently been caught using phony names online to attack Noyes and defend Newsom on the popular blog and the TV station's Web site. Ragone (seen above talking to Noyes last year) denies the allegations.

SFist editor Jon Shurkin told ABC7 that he was excited when Ragone began posting comments under his own name. But then, when a "John Nelson" began posting comments that attacked those who criticized Newsom, Shurkin got suspicious and compared Nelson's IP address with Ragone's. They were exactly the same, which suggests that it is likely they were using the same computer. ABC7 checked some of the critical comments posted on Noyes blog and found the same similarities.

Ragone then said that Nelson is a friend who stays at his house. But Ragone won't let anyone talk to Nelson and Noyes said his I-Team called every John Nelson they could find and none of them admitted being Ragone's friend.

Apparently Ragone's computer was used to post under other names including "Jonell" and "Byorn."

Will Ragone lose his job? It's a good bet Newsom won't be discussing that with Noyes, but Supervisor Aaron Peskin says he wouldn't keep Ragone on the payroll. And former Mayor Willie Brown was quoted by ABC7 as saying, "It raises serious questions about (Peter Ragone's) credibility and effectiveness. ... As a journalist, how can you believe what he says?"

Subpoena dropped against freelancer

Military prosecutors have reached a plea bargain with an Army lieutenant who refused to go to Iraq, and no longer plan to call freelancer Sarah Olson (pictured) of Oakland to testify against the officer. Military prosecutors wanted Olson to verify at Lt. Ehren Watada's trial that her interview with him was an accurate report of what he said. She didn't want to testify, saying she felt she was being used as an arm of the government. The AP reports that Watada's court-martial has been called off and the journalists who interviewed Watada won't have to testify. (Photo of Olson by Michael Maloney of the Chronicle.)

Apple ordered to pay journalists' legal fees

Apple has been ordered to pay more than $750,000 to lawyers who defended online journalists against the company's failed attempt to force them to reveal sources of confidential information, Bloomberg News is reporting. Apple, maker of the iPod music player, subpoenaed the e-mail provider of blogger Jason O'Grady, who posted information in 2004 about an unreleased Apple product. A state appeals court ruled May 26 that online writers, like traditional print reporters, are protected by the state's reporter shield law and the First Amendment right to free speech. The lawyers "succeeded in enforcing important rights affecting the public interest," Judge Kevin McKenney wrote in a Jan. 11 order. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based privacy rights group, will be paid $421,333 for legal costs and two other lawyers will get $328,981, Bloomberg reported.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Contest entry form now available

The Peninsula Press Club today is posting its Call For Entries, which gives the rules and entry form for the 30th annual Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards Competition. The deadline is Feb. 28.
    This year, the club is adding a Web division with categories for:

      • overall Web site,
      • breaking news,
      • multi media, and
      • blog

    The Web division is open to all journalists in the 11-county Bay Area whose work is posted online, whether they are employed by a newspaper, broadcast station, Internet operation or are freelance. Obviously the news business is moving toward the Internet, and this new contest division recognizes that shift.
All journalists in the Bay Area are encouraged to submit entries to the contest. Participation in the Greater Bay Area Awards Competition has been on the upswing over the past five years. Since the 2002 competition, the number of entries has increased 32 percent to 578 for last year's contest.

On Saturday, June 2, this year's awards will be presented during a dinner banquet at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 1221 Chess Drive, Foster City.

Josh Wolf's motion for release denied

A judge yesterday denied Josh Wolf's latest bid for freedom, rejecting his lawyer's argument that prison won't cause him to cough up the outtakes of a videotape he shot of an ararchist protest. Wolf, 24, has said he won't comply as a matter of principle with a subpoena from federal prosecutors for the tape no matter how long he is confined -- and his lawyer argued that the time the freelancer is spending in jail is punitive and therefore illegal. But U.S. District Judge William Alsup turned down the motion in a one-paragraph ruling today (Jan. 30), saying that suggestions of compromise by one of Wolf's lawyers reveal "a realistic possibility that Mr. Wolf's confinement may be having its coercive effect," according to Bay City News Service.

As of Jan. 30, Wolf has been imprisoned for 163 days, and it is likely that he will become the longest held journalist in U.S. history. The record for longest a journalist held in prison has been held by Houston reporter Vanessa Leggett who was jailed for 168 days in 2002 for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury and turn over her research materials. In 2005, New York Times reporter Judith Miller was released after 85 days in jail for refusing to name her sources in a grand jury investigation.

Chron's losing ground

Nationwide, readership on newspaper web sites increased 9 percent over the previous year, according to the latest figures from Nielsen, and the big winners in terms of "unique audience" were the NY Post (up 62 percent), NY Times (up 21 percent), LA Times (up 20 percent). Among the big losers was the Chronicle's sfgate, the nation's No. 5 newspaper Web site, whose "unique audience" fell 2 percent. The Huffington Post's Blake Fleetwood analyzes the figures. The news isn't good for the Chron, which has seen steep circulation losses for its print edition as well.

Stanford Daily managing editor suspended

David Herbert, the Stanford Daily's managing editor of news, has been suspended from the paper after other editors discovered that a story that portrayed Herbert as a "hero" for restraining a disruptive airline passenger contained factual inaccuracies. The errors were called to the Stanford Daily's attention by another passenger, who said Herbert’s actions on the plane a disgrace to Stanford, according to the paper's public editor, Whitney Sado. "When confronted regarding the episode, Herbert acknowledged that his memory of it was slightly hazy and that he had a couple of drinks on the flight," Sado wrote in a column Friday. The student-run paper has issued a lengthy retraction to the "hero" story. Sado wrote that because of the controversy "it may feel like The Daily is the laughingstock of campus."

Monday, January 29, 2007

Chron makes fun of complainers

Who says Northern California's Largest Circulation Newspaper doesn't have a sense of humor? The Chron has begun posting "interesting and unusual" voice mail messages of readers who have complaints about the paper on the podcast portion of the SFGate web site. The feature is called "Correct Me If I'm Wrong." Today there are a couple of readers who drone on and on about drones. Word to the wise: If you leave a complaint at the Chron, disguise your voice.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Santa Rosa TV newsroom abruptly closes

Clear Channel on Friday abruptly pulled the plug on its local news operation at its KFTY-TV 50 in Santa Rosa, laying off 13 employees who produced its newscasts at 7 and 10 p.m. including anchors Ed Beebout and Tricia Hua (both at right). Neither newscast aired that evening. General Manager John Burgess said in a statement on the station's Web site "We are no longer in a position to access the advertiser base required to maintain two long form newscasts."

Burgess told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat that the changes were part of a new strategy in which viewers and users of KFTY's Web site will determine much of the station's programming decisions. "Literally, the mission of the station is to become a viewer-driven station, where they are supplying content," said Burgess, who joined TV50 in 1992 as news director. "In my opinion, we're all looking at better ways of truly touching our customers and I think for the television industry, if you're not engaging your viewers and Web site users in two-way interactivity, you're not going to be growing, especially over the next three to 10 years ... That as much as anything is the reason for this decision," he said.

TV50 in the past few years has been carried on an increasing number of cable systems in the Bay Area. The station went on the air in 1981 as a privately owned, independent station. Founder Wishard Brown sold KFTY for $2.25 million in 1990 to Gary Heck of Korbel Champagne Cellars. Heck sold it to the Ackerley Group in 1996 for $7.8 million. In 2001, radio and advertising giant Clear Channel Communications bought the station. Now Clear Channel has said it will go private and will sell its 24 small-market TV stations. Burgess said a sale will take place, but that had nothing to do with the programming changes.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Examiner ups Sosnowski to national post

The Examiner announced today that it has promoted Vivienne Sosnowski, currently executive editor of its Washington edition, to the newly created job of national editorial director to make room for Stephen G. Smith. Smith, who will become executive editor in Washington, was previously an editor at the Houston Chronicle and before that was at Knight Ridder's Washington bureau. Sosnowski has been executive editor of the Examiner's Washington edition for a year. Previously she was executive editor of the SF Examiner. She came to the Examiner from the Vancouver (B.C.) Province.

Group tells ABC to leave Spocko alone

Lawyers at the Electronic Frontiers Foundation have come to the defense of Spocko, the mystery blogger who got a cease-and-desist letter from Disney/ABC Radio for posting controversial sound bites from its conservative "Hot Talk" KSFO radio station on his Web site that cost the station four advertisers. Disney/ABC claimed that Spocko was violating the station's copyright, but the foundation's lawyers have written a letter to ABC on behalf of Spocko saying the use of the audio was completely within the law. The foundation's letter provides a detailed, four-point argument supporting Spocko's claim that the sound bites were protected under the "fair use" provision of the copyright law.

"Copyright law is not designed to silence speech that you dislike," EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman said in a press release. "ABC and KSFO know that their legal threats were absolutely groundless. Their time and efforts are better spent explaining why they think Spocko is wrong, and letting the public decide, instead of resorting to thuggish legal tactics."

ABC/Disney has refused to comment about the letter to reporters who have written about the controversy. ABC/Disney convinced Spocko's ISP to pull the plug on the mystery blogger's web site, but the sound bites have since shown up on more than 500 other web sites.

Station drops progressive format for oldies

You'd think that Santa Cruz would be the last place where a progressive talk radio station would have trouble. But KOMY-AM 1340 owner Michael Zwerling tells Brad Kava of the Mercury News that he couldn't sell advertising on a station that carries the Air America Radio Network, with hosts such as Al Franken, Randi Rhodes and Rachel Maddow. So he's changing the format to a 1960s oldies station. Zwerling's other AM station in Santa Cruz, KSCO-AM 1080, is going strong with a conservative format featuring Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly. However, with the switch to oldies, he's moving Alan Colmes from KOMY and to KSCO. Colmes will replace Michael Savage.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Guardian claims victory in records dispute

The Bay Guardian is disputing news reports that claim the paper didn't get most of the documents it wanted in Clint Reilly's antitrust lawsuit against Hearst Corp. and MediaNews Group. Judge Susan Illston only unsealed two of the 19 documents in question, and those two will be redacted under her order. The AP, the Chronicle and the Press Club web site reported yesterday that most of the documents will remain under seal. But the Guardian, in an online blog entry by editor Tim Redmond, says those reports failed to mention that when the Guardian and co-plaintiff Media Alliance filed their motion to have the records unsealed, Hearst and MediaNews immediately agreed to make most of the filings in the case public.

“MediaNews Group and Hearst were asked by Media Alliance and the Guardian before they intervened to unseal everything. They declined to unseal anything,” said Jim Wheaton, attorney for the First Amendment Project, which represented the Guardian. “But as soon as Media Alliance and the Guardian moved to intervene and unseal, MediaNews and Hearst surrendered on almost all the sealed documents. They fought only to keep some parts of five exhibits and one brief sealed, which comprised 19 separate excerpts (of which six were duplicates, leaving only 13 distinct items)."

Redmond said the reporting on this episode illustrates the dangers of media consolidation. "[T]hink about what happened here: The Times and the Merc, both owned by Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group, run the exact same inaccurate AP story on a major media case involving their parent companies. The Chron, which is supposedly their competitor, runs its own inaccurate story. None of these people (representing the free press of Northern California) are acting like competitors, and none of them give any support or credit to a major effort at opening up the federal courts."

Will Harper moves from EB Ex to SF Weekly

The East Bay's loss is San Francisco's gain. Will Harper, self-described bottom feeding reporter at the East Bay Express for the past 5 1/2 years, announced in his column yesterday that he's going to become managing editor of the SF Weekly. Both papers are owned by the same chain, Village Voice Media. "Thank you, East Bay, for giving me so much to write — and complain — about," Harper writes.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Most records in antitrust case kept secret

An attempt by the Bay Guardian and a First Amendment advocacy group to unseal documents in Clint Reilly's antitrust suit against Hearst Corp. and MediaNews Group didn't get very far. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston (pictured) ruled today (Jan. 24) that she will keep sealed 17 of the 19 documents in question and will allow redacted versions of the two remaining documents to be released. Read the ruling.
    AP and the Guardian saw the ruling differently.

    AP's lead: "A media advocacy group and an alternative weekly newspaper on Wednesday failed to convince a judge to open key documents in a deal between the San Francisco Chronicle and the owner of about a dozen Bay Area daily newspapers."

    Guardian's lede: "In a victory for sunshine in the federal courts, a judge ruled Jan 24th that many of the documents in a groundbreaking lawsuit over media concentration in the Bay Area will be released to the public."

The motion by the Guardian and the Media Alliance to unseal the records forced MediaNews and Hearst into the unusual position of aruging for secrecy. Hearst and MediaNews have gone to court many times in the past and argued exactly the opposite -- that court records sought by reporters should be made public.

Judge Illston said that if the 17 documents were to be released, Hearst and MediaNews would be harmed:

"Revenue information and projections might allow competitors to anticipate and react to actions taken by defendants in the future," the judge wrote. "... Such information might also help the bargaining position of companies that negotiate with defendants in the future.

"Furthermore, the future projection information might expose defendants to liability to investors who rely on such projections, and might force defendants to make further disclosures to satisfy the reporting requirements of the SEC," Illston said.

Journalists sign petition to support Olson

E&P reports that 50 prominent media figures have signed a petition challenging a U.S. Army subpoena that demands Oakland freelance journalist Sarah Olson (pictured) testify at the court martial of Lt. Ehren Watada, which begins Feb. 5 at Fort Lewis, Wash. Watada is refusing to deploy to Iraq and Olson interviewed him for the web site giving his opinions about the war. Olson is being asked to testify that her article truthfully reported Watada's comments. Olson says she shouldn't be forced to cooperate with the prosecution of a person she interviewed for a news story. "My contention is that when you ask a journalist to participate in the prosecution of personal political speech, you are turning the journalist into the investigative arm of the government," she told E&P.

Olson says the petition signers include Phil Donahue, columnist Norman Solomon, radio host Laura Flanders, and former Washington Post ombudsman Geneva Overholser. She said anyone can sign on once the statement and petition, which can be found at

USA Today: 4 advertisers drop KSFO

Four advertisers have dropped "Hot Talk" KSFO-AM 560 because of controversial comments made by the station's hosts that have been circulated on the Internet by critics, USA Today reports. Previous stories had only identified MasterCard and Bank of America as advertisers who dropped the Disney owned conservative talk station. In addition to those two, the California chapter of the American Automobile Association pulled its ads from the Brian Sussman Show in September, USA Today says, and the state-run Michigan Economic Development Corp. dropped the station as well. "It's hard to listen to those clips and not be offended," Mike Shore, spokesman for the Michigan agency, told USA Today.

A blogger only identifed as Spocko posted sound bites of the hosts on his Web site and then wrote to advertisers, asking them to listen to the audio files. In December, Disney's ABC Radio sent Spocko and his ISP a cease-and-desist letter claiming copyright infringement. Spocko then e-mailed the sound bites to like-minded bloggers, who have posted them on more than 500 web sites, USA Today reported.

Sussman (right) has apologized for calling Sen. Barack Obama a "halfrican" but morning host Lee Rodgers (left) said on a Jan. 12 show, "If you're waiting for an apology, you'll be waiting a long time." Melanie Morgan (center), who is heard saying on one of Spocko's sound bites that "We've got a bull's-eye painted on [Speaker Nancy Pelosi's] big, wide laughing eyes," complained that Spocko was trying to take away her livelihood by circulating the sound bites to advertisers.

New motion filed in Josh Wolf case

Attorneys for journalist Josh Wolf have filed a new motion for his release, aruging that since prosecutors now realize he won't cooperate as a matter of principle, continuing to keep him in prison is a form of punishment and he must be released. As of Jan. 24, Wolf has been imprisoned for 157 days, and it is likely that he will become the longest held journalist in U.S. history. As the web site for the liberal group Common Dreams points out, the record for longest a journalist held in prison has been held by Houston reporter Vanessa Legget who was jailed for 168 days in 2002 for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury and turn over her research materials. In 2005, New York Times reporter Judith Miller was released after 85 days in jail for refusing to name her sources in a grand jury investigation. Wolf, 23, is refusing to provide outtakes from a video he shot of an anarchist protest in San Francisco. Wolf has wrote in a letter from prison that he thinks prosecutors want the tape in order to identify anarchists at the protest.

• Press Club, Jan. 20: Pelosi backs Chron reporters, silent on Wolf

Former publisher to head economic group

Dan Cruey, publisher of the San Mateo County Times from 1999 to 2005, has been appointed as president of the San Mateo County Economic Development Association, a public policy organization working to improve the county's economy and quality of life, Bay City News and the San Francisco Business Times report. Most recently Cruey was vice president of the First National Bank of Northern California in San Mateo. "I look forward to addressing community issues vital to San Mateo County's future -- such as housing, transportation, education, water and regulatory reform,'' Cruey said.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Former Merc GM named AllBusiness CEO

Kathy Yates, former general manager of the San Jose Mercury News, was named chief executive of San Francisco-based today (Jan. 22). Yates has been chief operating officer of AllBusiness since July 2005. AllBusiness, an online resource for small and mid-size businesses, said Yates will replace Peter Horan, who has accepted a position as CEO of media and advertising at New York-based InterActive Corp. Previously Yates was founder and vice president of business development for Knight Ridder Digital and senior vice president and general manager of the Merc. Other previous roles include vice president of product development for, and founding board member of CareerPath (now CareerBuilder) and Classified Ventures. In 2004, Yates was named one of the Bay Area's 100 most influential women in business by the San Francisco Business Times.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Alt-weekly questions PBS station's relevancy

San Jose's PBS station, KTEH 54, was swallowed up late last October by San Francisco's KQED, but that's not the big issue facing public television in the South Bay. The station produces no local programming and has become, at least in the eyes of the alt-weekly Metro, irrelevant in the age of YouTube and MySpace. Metro's Diane Solomon quotes Eric Meese, a programmer at community radio KKUP, as saying that he finds there is nothing worth watching on Channel 54. "It's mostly kids' stuff and programs like Antiques Roadshow," he says. "They don't have the public affairs and local programming that makes public television public television." Will KQED change things? That depends on whom you ask. Here's the story. Above is KTEH studio technician Nadine Swanson.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Pelosi backs Chron reporters, silent on Wolf

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi jumped on the bandwagon Friday of politicians who are urging Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to drop the prosecution of two Chronicle reporters who face a year-and-a-half in prison for refusing to name their sources for stories about steroid use in professional sports. Pelosi's three paragraph letter to Gonzales is silent, however, about another local journalist, Josh Wolf, who has been imprisoned 153 days (as of Saturday) for refusing to provide federal prosecutors with outakes of video he shot of a political protest in San Francisco.

A Google search Saturday night showed 66 articles were available online discussing Pelosi's decision to help the Chronicle reporters. None of the 66 articles mentioned Wolf (above), who, as a freelancer, sold his video to San Francisco TV stations and wrote about issues on his blog.

Some journalism professors have questioned whether Wolf should be called a journalist, arguing that he isn't employed by an established news organization.

Another freelancer who might wind up in jail soon is Sarah Olson (left) of Oakland, who has reported for public radio and liberal blogs such as She has been subpoenaed to testify at the court-martial of Army Lt. Ehren Watada, who has refused to deploy to Iraq. The military wants her to verify that his quotes in her story are true, but she doesn't want to testify because she believes she would be used as a tool of the prosecution. Failure to cooperate could result in a jail term for her, as well. No word from Pelosi about the Olson case either. (Olson photo by Michael Maloney of the Chronicle, Wolf photo by Paul Sakuma of AP.)

Calif. Book Club honors Carl Nolte

The Chron's Carl Nolte, a reporter and editor for nearly 50 years and the author of three books, has been chosen to receive the 2007 Oscar Lewis Award from the Book Club of California. The Book Club of California established the Oscar Lewis Awards in 1994 in honor of Lewis, a popular San Francisco writer-historian who served as the book club secretary from 1921 to 1946. Nolte, in a story appearing today, says he's honored to receive an award in honor of Oscar Lewis. "When I was a kid I devoured his books -- particularly 'Bonanza Inn' about the Palace Hotel, 'The Big Four' about the transcontinental railroad, and the 'Silver Kings' about the Comstock," Nolte said. (Chronicle photo by Eric Luse.)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Union sues over release of records to Ch. 7

A judge today (Jan. 19) rejected a plea by union leaders who wanted to stop San Francisco's Muni transit agency from releasing complaints about bus drivers to KGO ABC7 reporter Dan Noyes. But San Francisco Superior Court Judge Patrick Mahoney said personal information in those complaints can be redacted by Muni until a full hearing can be held next month.

"This is a first for us," Noyes said during the 6 p.m. news. "We've never had someone try to get a temporary restraining order to keep us from obtaining public documents."

Noyes asked for a list of the 25 drivers with the most complaints and a copy of those complaints. He said Muni was ready to turn over the complaints when the Transit Workers Union filed for a temporary restraining order to stop the release of the documents.

"We're concerned about you getting an advantage where you get personnel records and files and documentation and things that you would never get otherwise in our society and you think you can because they're government workers and that's not fair," union attorney Ed Nevin (right) told ABC7.

This isn't the first time a union representing government employees has gone to court to stop a news organization from getting public records. Attempts by newspapers to get the salaries of public employees were fought by unions in San Mateo County (2003), Marin County (2006) and Oakland (2004). The state Supreme Court has said it intends to hear arguments in the Oakland case, which concerns the Contra Costa Times' request for the salaries of all employees who make more than $100,000.

Bill Mann's best, worst of local TV, radio

East Bay media critic Bill Mann is out with his annual list of the best and worst in local TV and radio. For the second consecutive year, he says the most annoying on-air personalities in the Bay Area were KRON's "eruptive giggler" Darya Folsom (left) and KPIX CBS5's "camera hog" Roberta Gonzales (right).

Mann says talk show host and Marin County resident Michael Savage was the year's "Most Loathsome" personality. He calls Clear Channel's Bob Agnew the year's "Worst Radio Programmer" for some of the personnel decisions he's made at liberal talk station The Quake AM 960.

Mann also wishes these people would just go away: Bernie Ward, Ray Taliaferro, Gene Burns, Bill Watttenburg, Karel, anyone on "American Idol," Presidential hand-puppet Tony Snow, Tara Banks, Ralph Barbieri, Melanie Morgan, Howie Mandel.

Oakland Tribune editor sent to Pacifica

Oakland Tribune editor Mario Dianda has been stripped of his position and transferred by MediaNews to run the Pacifica Tribune, a weekly in San Mateo County, according to the East Bay Express. The Express quoted one person in the Tribune newsroom as saying the news hit the staff like a ton of bricks, leaving everyone with a sense of betrayal and anger. The anonymous staffer said Dianda's demotion confirms the impression that management is turning the Tribune into a bureau of the Contra Costa Times, which MediaNews acquired in August.

Chron reporter to work for Perata

Lynda Gledhill, a reporter in the Sacramento bureau of the San Francisco Chronicle, has been hired by state Senate President Don Perata of Alameda County to write op-ed pieces and speeches, according to the East Bay Express. Gledhill has a young child at home and she said she believes the Perata job will be “a little more family-friendly.” She tells the Express, “I’ve been at the Chronicle for eight years ... This will be an interesting opportunity.” Last year, Perata hired Andrew LeMar from the capitol bureau of the Contra Costa Times and San Jose Mercury News.

Univision 14 news leads pack at 6 p.m.

This ad in the Chronicle business section this morning caught our eye. It's a reminder that the top-rated newscast at 6 p.m. is in Spanish. Univision's KDTV 14 has been winning the news ratings at 6 p.m. since 2002, but the ad serves as a reminder of the size of the Spanish-speaking audience in the Bay Area. No doubt Channel 14's ratings will be helped by the fact that NBC-owned Telemundo Channel 48 is dropping its local news as part of a company-wide cost cutting move. Channel 48's newscasts will now come from the network with occassional packages being fed from a five-person bureau at the station in San Jose. Meanwhile, Univision's second network, Telefutura, is crowing about the fact that it has edged Telemundo out of the No. 2 spot in terms of national ratings.

New owner for KOIT, KMAX and KDFC

The market's No. 2 station, soft rock KOIT 96.5, and No. 9 station, classical KDFC-FM 102.1, and 23rd-ranked MAX-FM 95.7 were traded by their owner, Bonneville International, to Philadelphia's Entercom. In return, Bonneville will get three stations in Seattle (KIRO-AM, KBSG-FM, and KTTH-AM) and four in Cincinnati (WKRQ-FM, WSWD-FM, WUBE-FM and WYGY-FM). The Merc reports that Bonneville, owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has had trouble running rock or urban stations because of lyrical content and because it won't take ads for beer, lotteries or casinos, so it wanted to unload KMAX, but found no takers. On the other hand, Entercom is the owner of KDND-FM in Sacramento, the station that hit the headlines this week when a woman died as a result of a water drinking contest. KDNC has fired 10 employees over the stunt including its entire morning team.

Josh Wolf says feds are targeting anarchists

Chronicle business writer Tom Abate, in his personal blog (MiniMediaGuy), quotes from a letter he got from Josh Wolf, who is in a federal prison for refusing to provide prosecutors with outakes of a video he shot of a political protest in San Francisco. The feds have said he was jailed because he allegedly shot video of anarchist protests torching a San Francisco police car. Wolf, himself an anarchist as well as a blogger and freelance TV photographer, told Abate:
    “This investigation is not about investigating a crime but is instead an attempt to gather information and the identities of those engaged in civil dissent in the Bay Area. Just as the FBI sought to catalog communists during the 1950s under the auspices of the Cold War, it is my suspicion that my jailing is part of a broad initiative to identify anarchists and intimidate both journalists and their contacts.”
Wolf also tells Abate:
    “I have not only been ordered to turn over my footage but have also been ordered to testify before the federal grand jury — a demand the U.S. attorney said he would not rescind (even) if I were to agree to turn over the tapes.”
On a related note, Tuesday's "resignation" of the top federal prosecutor in San Francisco, U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan, was actually a firing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said yesterday in her questioning of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Ryan's office prosecuted Wolf and the Chronicle reporters who got the grand jury transcript in the Balco case.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Two developments in the Balco case

1. U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan, the San Francisco-based federal prosecutor who wants to put two Chronicle reporters in jail for refusing to disclose their source of a grand jury transcript in the Balco steroids case, has stepped down.

2. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers of Michigan and Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, have asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales drop his efforts to jail reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada.

Here's the AP story about Ryan's resignation. And the Chron's report on the letter from Conyers and Davis.

Project hopes to preserve old newspapers

This is a digitized page from the San Francisco Call that can be accessed online thanks to the California Newspaper Project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and managed by the Library of Congress. Cathy Cockrell of the UC Berkeley public affairs office explains explains in this story about the efforts of librarians to save old newspapers by digitizing them and putting them online. She quotes UC Riverside history professor Henry Snyder as saying, "Newspapers are the most important printed record for local history in the U.S. ... They are the most-used media held by local libraries, used by everyone from schoolkids doing homework up to seniors doing genealogical research."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ex-Detroit publisher to head Daily News

Carole Leigh Hutton, former editor and publisher of the Detroit Free Press, has been appointed publisher of the Palo Alto-based Daily News Group and vice president of California Newspapers Partnership (CNP), the company controlled by Dean Singleton's MediaNews. Hutton replaces Shareef Dajani, who was publisher of the free daily newspaper chain for 12 months. Dajani will become CNP's vice president of targeted publications, which include Jobs & Careers, Autofinder and Silicon Valley Homes.

Hutton comes from news side of the business while Dajani's background was in advertising. Most recently, Hutton was Knight Ridder's vice president/news. She replaced Jerry Ceppos on Sept. 6, 2005 and remained with KR until it sold its newspapers and closed in July 2006. Hutton previously was at the Detroit Free Press, starting as city editor in 1990. According to a Knight Ridder press release from 2005, she steadily moved up through a series of management jobs at the Detroit paper to become executive editor in June 2002, then editor and publisher in 2004.

Hutton earned a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University in 1978. Her first jobs out of college were with newspapers in Natick, Mass., and Hammond, Ind. In March 2002, Hutton was named one of the 100 Most Influential Women of southeast Michigan by Crain's Detroit Business.

In her new role, she will become publisher of the Daily News Group, which publishes six newspapers in the Bay Area (Berkeley, Burlingame, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Redwood City and San Mateo), and will oversee the San Mateo County Times, Silicon Valley Community Newspapers and the Pacifica Tribune.

Financial trouble for 'hyper local' web site

Tough times for Backfence, which operates "hyper local" community news web sites in Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and San Mateo as well as several others in the Washington, D.C. and Chicago area. Chief executive and co-founder Susan DeFife (right) has resigned and the company has laid off 12 of its 18 employees, according to Peter Krasilovsky, who blogs on the subject of New Media. DeFife is quoted as saying, "Ultimately, we did not share the same strategic vision for the company as the Board of Directors." DeFife says Backfence sold 550 ads to local businesses since April 2006. Co-founder Mark Potts will take over the company. Krasilovsky got a number of comments that reveal the state of online community journalism today.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Jerry Roberts diagnosed with cancer

Jerry Roberts, an award-winning editor at the Chronicle and the Santa Barbara News-Press, is fighting non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He writes in the Santa Barbara Independent: "As cancers go, it’s not a bad one to have. For one thing, the doctors found it at an early stage. ... Fortunately, it’s very treatable."

Roberts, longtime managing editor of the Chronicle, took the top newsroom job at the Santa Barbara paper in 2002. He resigned July 6, 2006, along with several other editors and reporters, in a dispute over newsroom interference by owner Wendy McCaw, who was upset among other things by the publication of actor Rob Lowe's address in a story about a zoning hearing.

Roberts writes: "Religious reading and reflection offer the view that having a life-threatening illness is a gift — a rare opportunity to ask yourself exactly what you’re doing with your life, what you really want to be doing with it, and, most importantly, how you should spend your time, here and now, to seek and find meaning in it. As one very smart doctor put it, 'Begin by asking yourself why you needed this illness.'"

Mayor walks out of KGO-TV interview

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom abruptly ended an interview and walked away when KGO ABC 7 reporter Dan Noyes asked him about a report in the Chronicle's Matier & Ross column about his drinking. According to video on the ABC 7 web site, Noyes first asked Newsom a couple of questions about the beating of a group of Yale students in San Francisco and then asked for a comment on the column.

Newsom: "I thank you very much and that was a great cheap shot. You can't help yourself. (Claps his hands.) You cannot. Just know, just know, for the record, it's increasingly impossible to have a conversation with you because I don't trust you."

Noyes: "Mayor, it was out there. It was out there."

Newsom: "So just know (snaps fingers) it's not personal when I walk by you. Just send some other reporters, it's gonna be a lot easier."

The two got into it last April when Noyes wanted some answers about the city's lack of emergency preparedness. At that time, the mayor told Noyes: "Dan you are seriously one of the greats ... one of the great jerks of journalism."

Audit: Cops keeping public info secret

Most California police departments and law enforcement agencies received failing grades when it comes to fulfilling basic public information requests, according to a new audit by the non-profit, non-partisan public information advocacy group Californians Aware. CalAware sent 65 people from 31 newspaper and broadcast news organizations, posing as ordinary citizens, to visit 184 police and sheriff's departments and 32 CHP offices. These average citizens asked to see information about recent burglaries, armed robberies and sexual assaults and any related arrests as well as copies of the senior officer's employment contract and legally required disclosure of investments, property owned and other financial interests. Most of these "citizens" got little or nothing -- and one was asked her Social Secuirty number so the cops could see if she had any outstanding warrants. Thomas Peele and Matt Krupnick wrote this report on the audit.

Great minds think alike?

In the stories about conservative KSFO-AM's three-hour response to liberal bloggers, we were struck by the similar conclusions reached by Brad Kava of the Merc and Joe Garofoli of the Chron.
    Garifoli: "The controversy, fueled by liberal bloggers, showed the increasing power of new media to affect traditional outlets by going after their advertisers."

    Kava: "The power of the Internet over other media seems to grow every day."
Kava had some interesting observations about the show: 1. "[H]ow could Rodgers and crew make fun of Spocko for having a dumb, made up name, when they cohost with 'Occifer Vic?'" 2. "How could Morgan say she wouldn't get in the way of people's right to express themselves and earn a living when she organized protests and boycotts of Michael Moore's film?" 3. "[H]ow could Spocko and crew not acknowlege that most of the over-the-top humor of these hosts is no worse than that expressed by Howard Stern, Saturday Night Live or Jon Stewart, not to mention Bernie Ward or Ray Taliafero?"

Friday, January 12, 2007

Prosecution lines up key witness in HP case

If you were disappointed at the $14 million hand-slap Hewlett Packard got from California Attorney General Bill Lockyer for spying on journalists, there's an indication that the criminal case in Santa Clara County might not go as well for the Palo Alto company. That's because a private detective who used the stolen Social Secuirty numbers of journalists to obtain their phone records for HP pleaded guilty today (Jan. 12) and will become a prosecution witness. The AP reports that Bryan Wagner, 29, of Littleton, Colo., acknowledged using a form of subterfuge known as "pretexting," or pretending to be someone else, to fool telephone companies into coughing up records on former HP directors Tom Perkins and George Keyworth II, and reporters Pui-Wing Tam of The Wall Street Journal and Dawn Kawamoto of CNet's Wagner's lawyer, Stephen Naratil, told the AP his client would testify for the prosecution as it pursues other figures tied to the scandal including former chairwoman Patricia Dunn, former HP ethics chief Kevin Hunsacker and Boston private detective Ronald DeLia. (Oct. 10 photo by Paul Sakuma of AP.)

KSFO hosts shoot back at critics

In a three-hour special, conservative radio station KSFO-AM 560 today (Jan. 12) shot back at a liberal blogger named Spocko who posted audio clips of the station's hosts allegedly comments he claims are "hate" speech. The hosts -- Lee Rodgers, Melanie Morgan, Brian Sussman (pictured) and Officer Vic (Tom Benner) -- said the audio clips took their comments out of context, and to prove it, they played longer clips that apparently put the remarks in context. "This blogger takes 20 seconds of my program, throws it on the Internet for all to behold, for newspapers to use, for television stations to use," said Sussman, a former KPIX CBS5 weatherman. "I'm on the air 10 hours a week; he takes 20 seconds. I'm on the air 500 hours a year; he takes 20 seconds." CBS5 was among the stations covering today's three-hour special. KSFO said it has repeatedly offered Spocko a chance to participate in the broadcast, but he declined. The Chronicle, which interviewed Spocko but would not reveal his real name, called him a "communications professional" but not an employee of a competing station nor a former KSFO employee. As the Press Club reported Saturday, Spocko sent letters to KSFO advertisers asking them to listen to the sound bites on his Web site and then decide if they wanted to continue advertising. After at least two advertisers pulled their commericials, KSFO's owner, ABC Radio/Disney, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Spocko and his ISP demanding that the soundbites be taken off the Internet because they violated the station's copyright. The ISP pulled the plug on the web site, but other bloggers obtained the sound bites and posted them. The letter also seems to have propelled the dispute into a major news story.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

KSFO hosts to discuss Spocko on Friday

Hosts at conservative talk station KSFO-AM, including Lee Rodgers (left) and Melanie Morgan (center), will be part of a special program on Friday (Jan. 12) to address criticism by a liberal blogger named Spocko, whose Web site the station's owners shut down. By threatening Spocko's Internet servivce provider with a copyright infringement lawsuit, KSFO owner ABC Radio/Disney temporarily silenced a critic, but the audio clips of the station's hosts were picked up by other bloggers -- and the story picked up momentum.

The audio clips are from KSFO programs where the hosts advocate the killing of liberal critics, ridicule Muslims and where host Brian Sussman calls Sen. Barak Obama a "halfrican" because his father was from Africa but his mother was white. The Chronicle, today in its first story on the controversy, agreed not to identify Spocko but described him as a "communications professional" from San Francisco but not an employee of a rival radio station or a former KSFO employee. Spocko, who said he got 15 visitors to his site per day, wrote to KSFO's advertisers, asking them to listen to his audio sound bites and two of them, Bank of America and MasterCard, pulled their commercials from the station.

The Chronicle quoted a statement KSFO-KGO spokesman Ken Berry released: "Many of the remarks attributed to KSFO on the Internet are old, lacking context and, in some cases, outright lies. When our hosts have stepped over the line, they have apologized and have been reprimanded."

Berry declined to specify which remarks were old or lies or who was reprimanded, the Chron said. As for Friday's program, Berry said: "I don't tell people what to say, but I do think there will be some mea culpas there." Spocko has been invited on the show, but he declined saying it would "be just another revenue generating 'event' for them to their audience, and they would love that kind of 'controversy' because it would MAKE them money and they still had control." (Chronicle file photos by Kim Komenich (of Rodgers) and Carlos Avila Gonzalez (of Morgan).)

PC World tech editor killed; drug tie alleged

Rex Farrance, 59, a San Francisco-based technical editor for PC World magazine, was fatally shot when four masked men broke into his East Bay home Tuesday (Jan. 9) in what police claim was a drug-related attack. The assailants, who remain at large, also pistol-whipped Farrance's wife, Lenore Vantosh-Farrance, 56. The AP quoted Pittsburg police Inspector John Conaty as saying, "We have substantial reason to believe that the victim and his wife were involved in the possession and, potentially, the distribution of illegal narcotics." Conaty wouldn't say what kind of drugs were supposedly involved. The couple's son, 19-year-old Sterling Farrance, blasted the police assertion that his parents were involved with illegal drugs, telling the Chronicle that he grew and stored medical marijuana at their home with his parents' permission. Meanwhile, PC World senior editor Denny Arar said Farrance's colleagues are shocked by the killing. They described Farrance as a fitness buff, rock-music fan and a dedicated husband and father who excelled at his job.

Columnist suggests boycott HP

Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam says he's boycotting Palo Alto-based Hewlett Packard because it hired private detectives who monitored the phone calls of journalists, went through their trash and invaded their privacy. When it came time to buy a new computer, Beam said he picked another brand instead of an HP Pavilion.

In related news, private investigator Bryan Wagner (right) was charged Wednesday with federal identity theft for allegedly using the Social Secuirty number of an unidentified journalist to access the reporter's phone records at the behest of HP to investigate board room leaks, the AP reports.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

January 2007 Press Club board minutes

Meeting was brought to order at 6:40 p.m. by Vice President Dave Price with President Jamie Casini presiding later.

Board members present: Peter Cleaveland, Jon Mays, Jennifer Aquino, Ed Remitz, Dave Price, Aimee Lewis Strain, President Jamie Casini, Diana Diamond and past president Micki Carter. Executive Director Darryl Compton was also in attendance.

Absent: Jack Russell

Minutes: Minutes of December meeting were not approved.

Treasurer's Report: It was reported that the Christmas party cost the club $547.26. Income and expenses are flat, Compton said. Treasurer's report was approved unanimously.

Old business

Newsletter: Deadline for new items is Jan. 21.

Roster: The roster will be updated once the membership renewals come in with the contest.

New business

Meeting schedule: It was agreed the club will continue to regularly meet on the second Wednesday of every month.

Bench Bar Media. Carter said she will help organize the meeting with a suggestion by Aquino that the subject be public access to government records.

High school journalism. The board discussed what it could do to help high school journalism programs. It was agreed to hold a focus group with five to six journalism advisors sometime near the Ides of March to determine how best the club can assist high school journalism on the Peninsula. There was some discussion on the high school journalism contest to see if we need to change the criteria.

PPC Awards Dinner. There was some discussion on adding categories including those on the Web and in print. It was decided to add breaking news, blogs, multimedia and overall to the Web site category and ad design to the print category. There was some discussion on adding a general excellence category, but it did not move forward.
It was decided to explore the possibility of having the awards on a Saturday (like june 2) instead of weekday.
Price asked if someone could encourage East Bay papers to enter the contest and Aquino said she would.
Strain asked board members to think about speakers the club may want to have at the awards dinner this year.

Photo scholarship. Remitz suggested adding a scholarship in memory of Susan Caldwell.
Additions to the scholarship rules and language will be made by e-mail soon.
Price and Aquino agreed to serve on a committee for the student scholarships.

Meeting adjourned at 8:04 p.m.

Next meeting is Feb. 21 (note that it is not on the usual second Wednesday of the month [Feb. 14] as not to upset our better halves) at 6:15 p.m. at the San Mateo Daily News.

Minutes submitted by Secretary Jon Mays.

Mainstream media picks up KSFO story

The story the Internet has been buzzing about for days -- ABC Radio/Disney's attempt to silence a liberal blogger who is critical of its conservative KSFO talk station -- has been picked up by the mainstream media, and one of the station's hosts, Brian Sussman, has issued an apology. Tuesday night, KPIX CBS 5 aired a story by reporter Joe Vazquez on the controversy and played some of the audio files that Disney wanted off the Internet.

A liberal blogger only known as Spocko taped portions of KSFO broadcasts he found objectionable, such as hosts ridiculing Muslims or advocating torture, and posted them on his Web site. Spocko went a step further and wrote letters to KSFO's advertisers, asking them to listen to the sound bites and decide if they supported the station.

At least two advertisers pulled their commercials, according to CBS5.

Disney lawyers responded with a cease-and-desist letter (which CBS5 posted on its web site) that caused the Internet service provider hosting Spocko to pull his blog. Disney argued in the letter that posting the sound bites violated copyright laws. However, when Spocko's plight began circulating online, liberal bloggers began putting the same sound bites on their Web sites -- and now CBS5 has played them on the air (and they can be heard on that station's Web site as part of Tuesday's story). If Disney is going to sue, it will have a lot more people to sue, including CBS.

In addition to CBS5, the story also was printed Tuesday a Chicago-area newspaper, the Daily Southtown, and on Monday by the small San Francisco Daily, which printed transcripts of some of Spocko's sound bites.

Meanwhile, of the KSFO hosts whose remarks were posted by Spocko, Brian Sussman, has issued an apology "to my African American family members and precious friends" for comments he made about Sen. Barack Obama's heritage. Sussman, a former CBS5 weatherman, called Obama a "halfrican" because his father was from Kenya and his mother is white. To hear the other sound bites Spocko posted, click here.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Chron: Alternatives ignored in leak probe

The Chronicle, in a court filing Monday, argued that federal prosecutors failed to pursue alternative sources of information about the source of the leak of grand jury transcripts to reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, who now face jail if they don't reveal their source. The Justice Department says it issues subpoenas to journalists only as a last resort. The Chronicle contends the same standard is part of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press and was not met in this case. The filing comes in the Chron's appeal of an 18-month prison sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White. The imprisonment and possible fines have been delayed until the appeals court reviews White's decision. (The photo was taken by Darryl Bush of the Chron. In it, Williams, center left, and Fainaru-Wada, center, speak to reporters after leaving court Sept. 21.)

ABC/Disney unable to suppress bloggers

The owner of KSFO-AM 560, Disney's ABC Radio, got more than it bargained for when it attempted to shut down a Web site that posted audio files of the station's hosts engaging in what one critic called "hate speech." ABC Radio's lawyers claiming copyright infringement were able to scare a small ISP into shutting down the Web site of a blogger known only as "Spocko," who is a liberal critic of the conservative station. But, as MediaPost Online Media Daily observed, the blogosphere united over the weekend and made sure that Spocko's audio files were available on a number of other sites. "[L]ess than 48 hours after Spocko's case was brought to light on the progressive news blog The Daily Kos, several new Web hosts, including YouTube, Blogintegrity and Firedoglake, stepped up to provide access to audio files from KSFO. Instead of one ISP to threaten, there were now many -- basically challenging MouseCorp to sue all of them." So far, ABC/Disney hasn't sued any of them.

"Disney is now left with the option of playing a virtual game of 'Whack A Mole,' as the Rodent Empire's lawyers will need to slap citations against a series of sites as swiftly as they pop up," MediaPost says, "Plus, it may only be a matter of time before the mainstream media rides the story for at least one new[s] cycle. That's got to be Disney's worst nightmare: 24 hours where 'Disney' and 'Hate Speech' are both part of the topic line."

Press Club, Saturday: ABC Radio silences Web site of KSFO critic

Ex-Santa Rosa publisher Weeks dies

James C. Weeks, the first publisher of The (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat after it was bought in 1985 by the New York Times Co., died Monday (Jan. 8), according to an obituary published this morning. Weeks, 64, died unexpectedly on a trip to New York. The cause of death was not immediately available. Weeks was publisher in Santa Rosa for two years, leading the newspaper through a period of economic growth and transition. He oversaw construction of a new printing plant in Rohnert Park, allowing the paper's first color images, and oversaw major circulation increases, Publisher Bruce W. Kyse said. He was the second former Press Democrat publisher to die in less than a year. Mike Parman, publisher from 1991 to 2005, died in July of cancer.

Former Petaluma editor Thompson dies

Ralph P. Thompson, who served as editor of the Petaluma Argus-Courier for 16 years, died Friday (Jan. 5) at the age of 88. He had been diagnosed with cancer of the lymphatic system in 2001. He began his newspaper career at the Napa Register, then served as editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

SF Press Club awards scholarships annually

Every year the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club awards scholarships to high school and college students in the memory of famed columnist Herb Caen (left). The details are announced in January and the deadline for applications is usually at the end of February or early March. Check back to the Press Club Web site for details.

Scholarship funds will be paid to the schools that the winners plan to attend, or are attending, to defray any college-related expenses.

Print and photo entrants should send:
    A one-page resume.

    Three to five clippings of stories mounted on letter-sized white paper; or photos on a CD, or video on a DVD-R.

    A letter of recommendation from an instructor in journalism, communications or English.
Entries should be sent to:
    Peninsula Press Club Scholarships
    Attention: Darryl Compton
    4317 Camden Ave.
    San Mateo, CA 94403-5007
Finalists will be interviewed in person by the Press Club's Scholarship Committee. Winners will be honored at the Press Club's Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards which are held in late May or early June of every year.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

MediaNews cuts back Los Gatos daily

The Los Gatos Daily News was published for the last time today (Jan. 6), four-and-a-half-years after it was started. Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group, which acquired it along with the Mercury News in August, plans to publish a new paper, the Los Gatos News, which will appear three times a week, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, starting Jan. 12. A "Dear Reader" announcement that was signed "Los Gatos News Staff" stated: "The reason for the elimination of days is the simple fact that our newspaper pick-up rate and downtown traffic are much greater toward the end of the week than the beginning of the week," the note said. The cover of Saturday's final edition is at right. MediaNews also owns the Los Gatos Weekly Times, which will apparently continue to publish.

Paper gets county to release norovirus data

The San Mateo County Times convinced local health officials to release the names Thursday (Jan. 4) of four previously unidentified senior homes that had norovirus outbreaks. According to a story by staff writer Rebekah Gordon, the county had originally refused, citing patient privacy rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as wanting to encourage facilities to report outbreaks early without worrying about media attention. The newspaper's attorney, Duffy Carolan, requested the names under the California Public Records Act, saying there was a compelling public interest in identifying the senior homes. Duffy noted that health officials in El Dorado County publicly identified two senior homes there that were hit with the virus last month.

Subpoenaed journalist prepares for jail

Oakland freelance writer and radio journalist Sarah Olson (left) tells the Chronicle she is preparing to go to jail rather than verify under oath the accuracy of the quotes in a story she wrote about Army Lt. Ehren Watada, who is being court-martialed for refusing to deploy to Iraq. Olson said she doesn't want to be part of a legal action that she believes will limit someone's free speech. "When speech is the crime, the journalist really can be the investigative arm, the eyes and ears of the government," she told the Chron. Olson, 31, asked the Chron's Joe Garofoli not to portray her as "some sort of martyr." Still she said she has spent the months since she learned she was being subpoenaed by the military emotionally preparing herself for the possibility of prison. Her boyfriend, parents and her grandfather, a military veteran, are supportive, she said. (Photo of Olson by Michael Maloney of the Chronicle.)

Friday, January 5, 2007

Chron finds itself in an ironic spot

The Chron reported this morning that it is joining two other publications, Bloomberg News and the legal newspaper The Recorder, in seeking the unsealing of documents related to back-dated stock options at Mercury Interactive, a Mountain View business software company. The three media outlets have filed court papers to unseal documents Mercury provided in the shareholder lawsuit under a confidentiality order. They say the documents might reveal the inside story on how backdating occurred. Ironically, the Hearst Corp., the Chron's owner, and MediaNews Group are fighting an attempt by the San Francisco Bay Guardian and the nonprofit Media Alliance to unseal records in Clint Reilly's lawsuit against the two newspaper chains. Hearst and MediaNews in September convinced U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to issue a confidentiality order sealing all documents in the case that weren't already public record.

Art school confiscates student magazine

Robert Ovetz, left, says he was fired from his part-time teaching position at the Art Institute of California-San Francisco campus after questioning the school's decision to halt distribution of a magazine produced by his students, Mute/Off. A spokeswoman for the 1,600-student school, Gigi Gallinger-Dennis, confirmed to the Chronicle that the magazine was confiscated, saying the class had distributed it without submitting it to administrators for review, but declined to discuss whether Ovetz was fired. According to the Chron, school administrators were concerned about possible copyright infringement and "potentially defamatory journalism" from a collage of corporate logos that was overlaid with the words "Organized Crime." One of the logos was that of Goldman Sachs, which bought the school in 2006. The Chron quotes Peter Scheer of the California First Amendment Coalition as saying that the school has created a legal problem for itself by confiscating the student publication. "A school administration in the business of teaching how to express oneself ought to be more sensitive to freedom-of-speech issues," Scheer said. (Chronicle photo by Frederic Larson.)

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Reporter sways judge in records case

A newspaper reporter representing himself has convinced U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney in San Francisco to order government agencies to speed up their search for records he has requested about government investigations into unauthorized disclosures of classified information. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reports that the Nov. 29 ruling is a victory for Joshua Gerstein, a reporter for The New York Sun who is seeking the information under the Freedom of Information Act. Gerstein has been trying since March to obtain information from the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency and Department of Defense. This is the third FOIA case Gerstein has pursued in court while acting as his own attorney.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

ANG to outsource ad production to India

Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group is increasing the amount of graphic design work it is sending to India. In November, the Press Club reported that MediaNews would be outsourcing ad production at the Contra Costa Times to Express KCS in India. Now, according to the trade publication Newspapers & Technology, MediaNews will send ad production for its Alameda Newspaper Group to that company as well. The ANG group includes The Oakland Tribune, The (Pleasanton) Tri-Valley Herald, the San Mateo County Times, The (Fremont) Argus, The (Hayward) Daily Review, The Alameda Times-Star and the Marin Independent Journal.

Above are some of the workers in Gurgaon, India who will produce ads for the MediaNews publications in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

At left is the facility for the outsourcing company, Express KCS, which will initially house about 40 workers to process MediaNews Group ads. That number could grow if other MediaNews papers decide to outsource their ad production. The San Jose Mercury News is among the papers considering such a move, the article said.

Robert Berkeley, chief executive of Express KCS, declined to say how much ANG and the Coco Times are saving by outsourcing their ad production to his company, but generally firms can save 25 percent to 50 percent of their costs, depending on the work involved. A total of 40 U.S. jobs will be eliminated by the outsourcing.

MediaNews isn't alone in outsourcing. The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch says it will turn over its ad processing this spring to Affinity Express Inc., a company with a plant in Pune, India. That will eliminate 90 jobs in the U.S.

Cop shoves TV photographer on GG bridge

The Marin Independent Journal reports today that Golden Gate Bridge officials are reviewing an incident in which a bridge officer shoved a KGO ABC7 photogapher as police closed the walkway to anti-war protest marchers on the south side of the bridge Monday. An officer used his palm to cover the lens of a camera held by KGO-TV cameraman Randy Davis, the IJ reported. Davis was then pushed by a bridge officer during a rally by the group Codepink, which had stationed protesters at each end of the bridge. Davis was cut in the face, said bridge spokeswoman Mary Currie. "What we saw was not acceptable, but the events are under internal review," Currie told the IJ. "We want to review all aspects of what happened and have all the facts before we make a determination, but it did not look appropriate."

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Old KNTV Ch. 11 transmitter catches fire

KNTV NBC11's old transmitter atop Mt. Loma Prieta near San Jose caught fire on New Year's Day, but the station -- which has been transmitting from San Bruno Mountain (see photo) since 2005 -- remained on the air. The old transmitter is used mainly as a microwave-receive point. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection responded at 3:24 p.m. to a report of the blaze, atop the mountain on Summit Road. No injuries were reported, a CDF spokesman said. The fire was contained around 5 p.m., according to CDF. Firefighters used hydraulic cutting tools -- called the Jaws of Life -- to access the structure, the CDF spokesman said. (Photo from Broadcast Engineering online.)

Partygoers vandalize three TV news trucks

While San Francisco's New Year's celebration on the Embarcadero was said to be less violent than in previous years, several hundred youths attacked three TV news live trucks parked at Justin Herman Plaza. KTVU reporter Renee Kemp reported that the crowd was doing a "hyphy" on the news trucks, a hip hop term for climbing on top of a vehicle and rocking it. The windshield of KGO's truck was smashed and had to be towed away. KPIX reported that a camera atop its news van was destroyed. Vandals also struck at the KTVU truck. While each of the three stations reported the damage on their newscasts yesterday, police said the violence this year was far less than this year compared to last year or during Halloween in the Castro when nine people were shot. This year only 47 people were arrested for public intoxication.

Monday, January 1, 2007

SF Peninsula Press Club Board and Staff

(One-year terms)
President: Jamie Casini, Daily News Group,

Vice President and Webmaster: Dave Price, Palo Alto Daily Post,

Treasurer: Ed Remitz, College of San Mateo,

Secretary: Jon Mays, Daily Journal,

Past President: Michelle Carter, Notre Dame de Namur University,

(Two-year terms)

Jennifer Aquino, formerly of the San Mateo County Times (term expires Dec. 2007)

Peter Cleaveland, Retired, AFTRA, (term expires Dec. 2007)

Diana Diamond, San Jose/Silicon Valley Business Journal, (term expires Dec. 2007)

Jack Russell, retired, San Mateo Times (term expires Dec. 2008)

Aimee Lewis Strain, Bay City News, (term expires Dec. 2008)


Executive Director: Darryl Compton

Financial Advisor: Dan J. Olmstead, E.A.

Legal Consultants: Cotchett, Pitre & Simon

Read the history of the Press Club

The Press Club's Web site is maintained and edited by Dave Price, editor and co-publisher of the Palo Alto Daily Post. Price welcomes suggestions for news items. Please e-mail him at

Past Presidents

2006 Michelle Carter
2005 Michelle Carter
2004 Michelle Carter
2003 Michelle Carter
2002 John F. Kane
2001 John F. Kane
2000 Dave Grey
1999 Dave Grey
1998 Dave Grey
1997 John Kane
1996 Jim Monroe
1995 Jim Monroe
1994 Bill Boldenweck
1993 Bill Boldenweck
1992 Mike McDevitt
1991 Mike McDevitt
1990 Bill Workman
1989 Bill Workman
1988 Janet Parker Beck
1987 Nick Thompson
1986 Nick Thompson
1985 Dave Murphy
1984 Dave Murphy
1983 Barbara Boyer Walter
1982 Al Bullock
1981 Al Bullock
1980 Joyce Golding
1979 Jack Russell
1978 Karen Petterson
1977 Peter Cleaveland
1976 George Golding
1975 Dan Cook
1974 Dan Cook