Friday, November 30, 2007

CNN will send Sara Sidner to India

A follow up to our item a few days ago on Sara Sidner's jump from Channel 2 to CNN. CNN says in a news release that it is sending Sidner to India, where she will become the network's correspondent in New Delhi starting in January. CNN is expanding its presence in India and will have also have a correspondent in Chennai, a city in southern India formerly known as Madras.

Union organizing of EB-BANG advances

Guild organizers report that they have been to "coffees, lunches, even a few evening get-togethers" in their quest to organize Contra Costa Times employees. A reported 170 CC Times newsroom staffers were combined into the same bargaining unit with 130 unionized Alameda Newspaper Group employees on Aug. 13. MediaNews, owner of both papers, declared the merged newsroom unit (East Bay-Bay Area News Group) to be nonunion, and that sparked complaints from the Guild.

Josh Richman, writing for the Guild, reported that "BANG-EB managers were called to a mandatory meeting Nov. 5 at the companyʼs San Ramon business offices, where they were provided talking points for touting the company and smearing the Guild."

Richman writes, "Weʼre busy making sure our people know the truth of the matter, especially as the company prepares to bring an anti-union dog-and-pony show to all of our worksites. Just as in our daily work, we relish the opportunity to speak truth to power."

And ... "BANG-EBʼs union members, current and future, send their heartfelt thanks to all The Chronicle staffers whoʼve given their time and efforts in recent months to support our struggle," Richman writes.

Former Press Club President Dan Cook dies

Dan Cook, a former writer and editor at the San Mateo Times who served as president of the Peninsula Press Club, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 65.

"He was talented and dedicated to his chosen craft," Times columnist John Horgan wrote. "His deft editing touch and his way with words will be greatly missed by all of us who knew him."

Cook, who died Nov. 16, was a reporter and assistant city editor at the San Mateo Times for several years. More recently he worked for the Los Gatos Daily News. Cook was president of the Press Club in 1974 and 1975.

A celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. on Dec. 9 at American Legion West Valley Memory Post 99, 1344 Dell Avenue, Campbell, according to an obit in the Mercury News. Several friends and relatives have left comments about him in the guest book.

Holy aggregation Batman! Shut up Robin!

This Web site,, gives the headlines of nearly all of California's newspapers, updated on an hourly basis. In other words, you can see what your competitor is posting as well as other papers in the state. The site, owned by State Newslines LLC, says its vision is to "provide busy executives and professionals an easy to use, one-page website of an entire state's business, sports, local and political news. Our goal is to save you time by letting you quickly & conveniently find news articles of interest in your state. Hourly updates ensure news is always current."

After the breakup, who gets the sources?

Ron Russell of the SF Weekly asks a logical question about the breakup of the Chronicle's steroid scoopers Lance Williams (left) and Mark Fainaru-Wada (right): Who gets custody of their sources? These were the sources for which they were willing to go to jail to protect. Now that Fainaru-Wada is at ESPN, what kind of custody arrangement have they worked out?

"I'm sure there will be times when it may be slightly complicated or even a little awkward, but it won't be a problem between us," says Fainaru-Wada tells the SF Weekly.

Says Williams, the one who remains at the Chron: "We've gone through a lot together ... We're great friends and we're going to miss working with each other a great deal."

The SF Weekly says that Fainaru-Wada's Chron colleagues threw him a farewell bash on Nov. 8. Two days later, the feds announced Bonds' indictment for obstruction of justice and lying to a grand jury about his use of steroids. Although Fainaru-Wada wasn't slated to start his new gig until Nov. 26, ESPN immediately pressed him into service.

"They called, and said, 'So, are you ready to work?' And so here I went again." [Yesterday, HBO buys rights to 'Game of Shadows'] (Photo credit: Brad Mangin, Sports Illustrated)

Book by late Bill Woo gets a thumbs up

Writing in the American Journalism Review, Carl Sessions Stepp says the late William Woo had a loyalty that served the public trust. Woo, the longtime St. Louis Post-Dispatch editor turned Stanford professor, died last year at age 69. But his last book, a compilation of notes he gave to his students, is attracting positive reviews. Sessions quotes Woo as saying:
    "Humanity is inseparable from everything else. Every piece of public policy has its human component. The more we are able to connect that human component with the policy – be it taxes, defense, crime and punishment, whatever – the more it will mean to our readers... How do we connect those things? By becoming wiser about life... By understanding the details and implications of policies... By reading the news becoming interested in documents and specialized writing..."

Ostrom nominated to lead Guild at Merc

Reporter Mary Anne Ostrom (pictured) has been nominated to become the next unit chair of the Guild at the Mercury News, according to the unit's Web site. She is running unopposed in the Dec. 10 election as are the following candidates:
    Vice Chair -- Heidi Denison

    Secretary -- Amy Pizarro

    Representative Assembly (7 to be elected) -- John Fensterwald, Mary Ann Ostrom, Bill Russell, Cindy Kolander, Leslie Griffy, Connie Skipitares, Cali Pettiford and Hilary Enriquez
At the Monterey Herald, the following employees were nominated for Guild offices:
    Unit Chair -- Claudia Melendez

    Vice Chair -- Andre Briscoe

    Secretary -- Larry Mylander

    Representative Assembly (1 to be elected) -- Clarissa Aljentera
The following members were nominated at the Merc or Herald unit meetings or the general membership meeting for the Guild office indicated:
    President -- Sylvia Ulloa

    Vice President -- Lilia Valencia, John Fensterwald

    Secretary-Treasurer -- Jack Davis

    The Newspaper Guild Sector Conference: (2 to be elected) -- Luther Jackson, Sylvia Ulloa

    Communications Workers of America Convention (1 to be elected) -- Sylvia Ulloa
(Photo credit:

Thursday, November 29, 2007

HBO buys rights to 'Game of Shadows'

HBO has purchased the movie rights to "Game of Shadows," the book by Lance Williams (left) and Mark Fainaru-Wada (right), Daily Variety reports. HBO has assigned the project to director Ron Shelton, whose sports-film directing credits include "Bull Durham," the Ty Cobb feature "Cobb," "Tin Cup" and "White Men Can't Jump." Fainaru-Wada and Williams broke the Bonds story at the Chronicle. Fainaru-Williams has moved on to ESPN. The amount HBO paid hasn't been disclosed. (Photo credit: Brad Mangin, Sports Illustrated)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ceppos sole candidate for Nevada deanship

Former Mercury News executive editor and Knight Ridder vp Jerry Ceppos is the only remaining candidate for dean of the University of Nevada, Reno journalism school after the other finalist withdrew, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports. The president of the university, Milton Glick, could not be reached by the Gazette-Journal for comment on whether the university would choose Ceppos or reopen the national search. The head of the search committee is quoted by the Reno paper as saying that one reason for the small number of applicants is that Nevada's Open Meeting Law prevents applications from being kept private, as they are in California. As a result, employers often find out when their employees are applying for top-level Nevada jobs. Ceppos, a Saratoga resident, is an adjunct professor at San Jose State University and a consultant for Leading Edge Associates.

Honig resigns as Santa Cruz Sentinel editor

Santa Cruz Sentinel Editor Tom Honig will step down Friday after more than 35 years at the newspaper and 15 as editor. He will be replaced by current managing editor Don Miller. MediaNews Group does not plan to appoint a new managing editor, according to a story in the Sentinel.

Since MediaNews bought the paper earlier this year, nine positions out of 38 in the newsroom have been cut, Honig said.

Honig’s career began when the Sentinel was privately owned by the McPherson family. In 1982 it was sold to Ottaway Newspapers, a subsidiary of Dow Jones. Last year, Ottaway sold several of its newspapers, including the Sentinel, to Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., which in turn sold it to the Denver-based MediaNews earlier this year. In May, the Sentinel’s press was shut down, printing was moved to San Jose, and its building in downtown Santa Cruz was sold. Last month, the newspaper moved its office to Scotts Valley, where it opened for business with a staff of 92 (including those who distribute the paper) — down from a high of 132.

“If I had two wishes, this is what they’d be: that people would stop complaining about hard-working, honest mainstream journalists long enough to appreciate the work they do — and second, that the people could be paid what they’re worth," Honig said.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

J-school asks students not to ask questions

The UC Berkeley graduate journalism school is apparently requesting that its students refrain from asking questions about why an official from an upstate New York college rejected the $230,600-a-year post of journalism dean, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Times reporter Matt Krupnick reports that he was confronted with secrecy at every turn as he attempted to investigate Dianne Lynch's decision to turn down the job for a second time. UC Berkeley refused to provide Lynch's resume to him. Faculty members and students stonewalled him. And he even was refused an interview by former dean Orville Schell.

Krupnick reported that students have complained in blog postings about the secrecy, noting the irony of a journalism school asking its students not to ask questions. Student Timothy Lesle wrote online: "Remember Day 1 of journalism school: You are reporters and we expect you to act that way. ... Until we tell you not to."

Oakland Trib's Catherine Schutz dies

Oakland Tribune's Catherine Schutz, known for her love of the theater, has died at age 59 from breast cancer. She was assistant features editor from 1997 until last year when she went on medical leave. After graduating from UC Berkeley in the late 1960s, she was a reporter and city editor at the Berkeley Daily Gazette. She also worked for the Richmond Independent before coming to the Oakland Tribune, where she was an assistant city editor and city editor in the 1990s. An obituary in the Tribune points out that community theater was her passion. Since 1976, she had been involved with the Contra Costa Civic Theater where, in her own words, she served as a "chorus girl, costumiere, board member, photographer, publicist and all-around utility infielder." (Photo credit: Chad Jones via

Monday, November 26, 2007

Start of new radio ratings system delayed

Aribitron announced today that it is delaying the rollout of its new Portable People Meter system of measuring radio audiences in San Francisco, San Jose and seven other markets until September 2008 following complaints from broadcasters that the system's samples were too small to be reliable. (See Arbitron press release and AP report.)

A test run of the meters in New York showed dramatically reduced the ratings for black and Spanish-language stations, which led those broadcasters to call on Nov. 9 for an independent review of the new system's accuracy. Since then other broadcasters have complained about the People Meters including Clear Channel.

Locally, KGO-AM boss Mickey Luckoff was among the earliest critics of People Meters.

Arbitron will host a conference call at 6 a.m. PT (9 a.m. ET) tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov. 27) to discuss the change to its rollout schedule at (888) 694-4641 (Access code: 9500497). The call will also be available live at, and

The meters, a pager-like device that panelists carry (see pictures), are intended to replace the pencil-and-paper diary system Arbitron has been using since 1965. The meter picks up signals from radio broadcasts automatically and is aimed at providing more accurate ratings than the diary method, which relied on listener recall instead of registering what they heard. But in New York, according to MediaPost Publications, some panelists stopped carrying the meters during the survey, which forced Arbitron to recruit new panelists and increase the amount they're paid.

SF photography magazine launches spin-off

The company behind San Francisco-based JPG Magazine is launching a spin-off titled Everywhere, which will be devoted to travel, The New York Times reports.

JPG Magazine -- edited and published by Paul Cloutier (pictured) -- solicits photos from the public through its Web site and then asks its online readers vote on their favorites. The magazine prints the winners on high quality paper in six issues a year. The press run is about 50,000. The magazines are sold through $25 annual subscriptions and on newsstands for $6 each.

Halsey Minor, the CNET founder who is bankrolling the two magazines, says that 70 percent of the magaazines on newsstands are purchased, a surprisingly high “sell-through” rate; most magazine publishers would be thrilled with 50 percent, the Times says.

Minor admits to the Times that he's done an about face when it comes to print. When he was at CNET, he was trying to kill print. Now, through his investment in JPG and Everywhere, he is hoping to make money from print. (Photo credit: Jim Wilson, New York Times)

Craft looking for investors to buy AM station

Former TV anchor/attorney/radio host Christine Craft tells the Sacramento Bee that she's had some interest from investors who might want to help her buy KSCO-AM 1080 in Santa Cruz. Rumors about her possibly buying the station began a few weeks ago when she went on the air with owner Michael Zwerling (pictured with Craft) and talked about what she would do if she ran the station.

"Michael Zwerling wants to sell the stations but doesn't want to sell them to a corporate conglomerate," Craft says in a e-mail to Sam McManis of the SacBee. "It would be my dream to buy them and have a blast for the next twentyplus years programming great radio for the central coast. I've had some interest from investors and am seeking more. Can't hurt to ask?" (Photo credit:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Channel 2's Sara Sidner headed to CNN

KTVU announced yesterday that weekend anchor Sara Sidner will leave Channel 2 on Dec. 31 to become a correspondent for CNN International. TV columnist Susan Young said last week that Channel 2 wanted Sidner to sign a five-year contract, but she didn't want to be tied down that long since she had network prospects. In a press release from Channel 2, Sidner is quoted as saying: "A station is made up of people, and at KTVU I respect and love the people. That is what makes this decision so difficult. It’s like leaving a family but sometimes you need to jump at opportunities. That still doesn’t make it easy.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stations line up legal experts for Bonds trial

Bay Area TV stations are lining up attorneys to provide analysis for the Barry Bonds case, though Channel 2 is looking for a replacement for its regular legal expert, John Burris. Bay Area Newspaper Group columnist Dave Del Grande points out that Burris works for Bonds, so viewers can expect a fresh face on Channel 2 when Bonds goes to court on Dec. 7. As for the other stations, Channel 5 will use former Santa Clara County judge LaDoris Cordell and Channel 7 will rely on former prosecutor Dean Johnson, now a defense attorney in San Mateo County. Cordell and Johnson were analysts for the Scott Peterson trial. Channel 4 refused to reveal its game plan to Del Grande and a Channel 11 representative said that station has no plan as of yet.

Mark Fainaru-Wada, who along with Lance Williams broke the Balco steroids scandal in the Chronicle, starts Monday at ESPN. ESPN will likely use Fainaru-Wada and trial lawyer Roger Cossack, former host of CNN's "Burden of Proof," as its analysts.

KOIT begins wall-to-wall Christmas music

Remember when the Christmas season began the day after Thanksgiving? If you remember that, you're as old as this site's 40-something webmaster. Christmas now is starting earlier and earlier. On Nov. 16, San Francisco's highly rated KOIT-FM 96.5 switched to all Christmas music. Here's a link. To us, however, the season doesn't begin until we hear the first KCBS or KGO traffic report about a Christmas tree falling on a freeway.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

ABC anchor answers grammar complaint

Former Merc radio columnist Brad Kava, who now covers that beat as an independent blogger, lamented about what he says is poor writing on weekend newscasts:
    Today at 11 a.m., an ABC news reporter on the national ABC news on KGO-AM (810) was talking about the case of a police officer who had apparently murdered his wife. She was found "drownded" the reporter said.

    DROWNDED???? OW. And it sounded like English was her first language.
Kava didn't mention the ABC Radio News anchor by name. But that anchor, Pam Coulter (pictured), read his posting and offered this reponse:
    I was alerted to your blog because I was the anchor of the 2pm ET ABC newscast on Saturday. Here is the exact wording of the story mentioned in your critique:

    "A nationally known medical examiner has examined the body of the third wife of former Chicago police officer Drew Peterson and concluded she was MURDERED. Kathleen Savio's death was originally ruled an accidental DROWNING. Her father Nick Savio said the new findings bring them some comfort…

    I listened to the air check of the newscast, and I said MURDERED, not DROWNDED. However, as I was reading, I did add a "d" sound to the word DROWNING, making it sound like DROWNDING. It was completely inadvertent, and things like that sometimes happen in live radio. It was more of a "slip of the lip" than a grammatical error. I would hate to think my English skills brought dishonor on the excellent public schools I attended or Cornell University.
Kava said he respected Coulter for responding and he admitted that he erred in saying "drownded" when she actually said "drownding." He added: "Hey, this immediate Internet feedback is keeping us all honest." (Photo credits: Kava column sig from the Mercury News; Coulter mug from this Web page titled "The faces behind the voices of ABC News Radio", posted by an ABC Radio affiliate.

Another opinion on saving the Merc

"[B]efore the Merc editors decide to turn it into some kind of amalgam of an iPod and a Furbie they should remember that there are people who still appreciate good ol' fashioned print-edition newspapers," Washington Post blogger/columnist Joel Achenbach writes in reponse to a column by the WaPo's Howard Kurtz on the Merc's efforts to reinvent itself (see below). "The circulation is 200,000. Many of those readers have surely been devoted to the paper for many years. They shouldn't be jettisoned, but rather enlisted in the next stage of the paper's evolution," Achenbach writes.

Achenbach offers some wistful memories of the Merc:
    "The Mercury News is not a random paper in trouble, at least not here on the A-blog. A skinny college kid interned there in 1981 and got his first taste of professional journalism. In those days no one worried about the future of newspapers. Newspapers printed money. Journalists swaggered around, looking for presidents to bring to heel. No one other than a few hobbyists had ever heard of a "personal computer." The Mercury was a darn good paper, with all-star reporters, like Miles Corwin, Carl Cannon and David Hoffman, to name just a few. And the entire newspaper chain, Knight Ridder, had a great reputation. The future was so bright you had to wear shades, you know? Those were the days.

No-contest plea in Halberstam crash

UC Berkeley graduate journalism student Kevin Jones pleaded no contest today to a charge of misdemeanor vehicular homicide in the car crash that killed Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam, AP reports. Prosecutors and witnesses to the April 23 crash have said Jones ran a red light while making an illegal left turn. Jones, 27, was driving Halberstam, 73, to an interview with football legend Y.A. Tittle when the fatal crash happened on the westbound Bayfront Expressway at Willow Road.

KPFA fires Sunday a.m. host Peter Laufer

Bay Area Radio Digest reports that KPFA-FM 94.1 has fired Peter Laufer (pictured), who did a two-hour Sunday morning show on current events. Laufer writes, "There has been an active campaign against me by a group of KPFA activists who were miffed from the day I was hired because I am not a 'person of color' and because of my 'mainstream' credentials." Those credentials include reporting news for ABC, CBS and NBC's radio networks. He also worked at KSFO and KNEW in the 60s. Laufer isn't out of work, however. Radio writer Ben Fong-Torres (who couldn't report on Laufer's firing due to the Pink section's early deadlines) noted Sunday that Laufer has two other shows: "Washington Monthly," which he co-hosts weekly on XM and terrestrial stations, and "Business Shrink" on Sirius satellite. (Photo credit: Sherry Loeser, Chronicle)

Monday, November 19, 2007

WaPo's Kurtz reports on Merc's reinvention

Two plans are emerging for the reinvention of the Mercury News, reports Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz. Under one prototype, the paper would be cut back to three sections: Live, Play and Innovate. In a second blueprint, it would junk everything except Silicon Valley business news.

Kurtz writes:
    "In an era of declining circulation and shrinking budgets, virtually every paper in America is trying to jazz up its product while beefing up its online presence. But the effort in San Jose, where the Internet bubble popped hard in 2000, may be the most ambitious -- or the most desperate."
Kurtz (left), perhaps best known for his CNN media review program, quotes Merc Executive Editor Carole Lee Hutton (above right, standing in the newsroom) as saying the impetus for the reinvention effort was budgetary. "We have to have a print product that requires fewer people and less newsprint," Hutton told him.

As for the idea of combined Live or Play sections, Kurtz quotes Pete Carey as saying, "It's going to be a little weird to put the cooking in with the sports section."

Kurtz says the editors' blog chronicling the reinvention discussions has been "brutally honest" with one person saying the paper has no personality and another saying "staffers are cynical that the process is going to lead anywhere." (Photo credit: Randi Lynn Beach, Washington Post)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Newspaper merger leads to a radio career

Josh Suchon decided to quit as the Oakland Tribune's A's beat writer and become a radio sports announcer in Modesto after the great Bay Area newspaper merger, the Modesto Bee reports. Instead of writing exclusively for the Oakland Tribune, he also had to answer to editors at the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times, with each having their own idea about the perfect angle.
    "My main story ended up being edited to the point where I had three different leads in three different newspapers," said Suchon, who covered the San Francisco Giants from 2000-03 and the Oakland Athletics from 2004-06. "The Mercury must have thought my lead was horrible because they completely rewrote it. That was the event that signalled to me that it was time to get out of the business because it was getting harder and harder every day."
Suchon, 34, has just completed his first year as the voice of the Modesto Nuts minor league baseball team. He also hosts a daily sports talk show and calls high school football games. He's shown here preparing to do such a game on Nov. 9. (Photo credit: Ted Benson, The Modesto Bee)

Viewers upset Ch. 2 dropped Mark Curtis

TV columnist Susan Young says viewers have "flooded her blog" with complaints about Channel 2's decision to replace 5 a.m. anchor Mark Curtis with L.A.'s Dave Clark. "You need to keep it 'real' here in the Bay Area and bringing in plastic talent from the lesser part of the state is not welcome," wrote one viewer. Curtis, who has been on Channel 2 for 14 years [bio], has been demoted from anchor to reporter, and the station has not offered him a contract past January, when his current contract expires, according to Young. She quotes Curtis as saying: "I want to stay in the Bay Area if I can. My children (12 and 15) want to stay here. I'm finishing my Ph.D. and I'd like to cover national politics, which is my area of expertise, or perhaps teach."

Sara Sidner moving on from Channel 2

Weekend co-anchor Sara Sidner is leaving Channel 2 after nearly three years at the station, according to TV columnist Susan Young's blog. The station wanted Sidner to sign a new five-year contract, but she didn't want to be tied down that long. Young said Sidner is a network prospect who would be "foolish to spend that long at a local station given her potential."

Traffic reporter pays fine over sign theft

Veteran radio traffic reporter Joe McConnell has agreed to pay a fine to settle a petty theft charge that he stole a political lawn sign placed by a Burlingame City Council candidate.

The San Mateo County Times says the fine was for $342.75 while the San Mateo Daily Journal says McConnell paid $375.75.

McConnell's wife headed the campaign of candidate Jerry Deal, who defeated incumbent Russ Cohen in Tuesday's election. McConnell, who does traffic reports for several stations including KGO-AM and KQED-FM, was accused of stealing two signs for a third candidate, Gene Condon. Condon claims to have caught McConnell on tape in a sting operation to find out who was stealing his signs. McConnell previously told the San Mateo County Times he had removed one of the signs because Condon's signs "are a blight on the neighborhood, just as he would be a blight on City Council."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Williams surprised by Bonds indictment

Lance Williams (left), who co-authored the Chronicle stories that broke the Barry Bonds steroid case open years ago, tells E&P he did not think the home run king would ever be indicted.

Williams, who who with former Chronicle scribe Mark Fainaru-Wada (right) first revealed leaked testimony tying Bonds to steroids, said he had no prior knowledge of the indictment coming down, although he noted that Thursdays were often "indictment days" in federal cases.

Williams also told E&P that a trial would show critics the evidence he used in his stories. "By the time we are done with this, the public will get to see all of the evidence that has been kept secret," he explained.

As reported below, Fainaru-Wada left the Chron this week for ESPN. (Photo credit: Brad Mangin, Sports Illustrated)

Examiner turns front page over to advertisers

The Chronicle raised eyebrows on April 18 when it began publishing ads on the front page. Now the Examiner, owned by conservative billionaire Phil Anschutz, is running full-page front page ads. The ads contain the regular "Examiner" flag at the top. But below that is a 9.75 x 10.5-inch ad. Yesterday's front page ad was for the movie "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium." The way the ad was designed, a quote from a Gene Shalit review appeared at the top in 48 point type, where a news headline would normally go. On the third page of the paper, the news begins with another Examiner flag and headlines. For what it's worth, the front page does contain the words "advertising supplement," as if people couldn't figure out that it was an ad.

AMer cheaper than a house in Santa Cruz

Last weekend, promos airing on Michael Zwerling's KSCO-AM 1080 suggested that former TV anchor/attorney/KGO-AM fill-in host Christine Craft (left) was interested in buying the Santa Cruz station, which is for sale. On Monday, radio blogger Brad Kava spoke to Craft and knocked down the story, quoting her as saying she doesn't have the money. This morning, the Press-Banner in Scotts Valley resurrected the story by suggesting Zwerling (right) seems to be more interested in selling to the right person than in getting top dollar. “This radio station,” he told his listeners on a show where Craft was a guest, “will go for a lot less than houses go for in Santa Cruz.” While Kava actually interviewed Craft about her intentions, the Banner couldn't reach her and instead relied on what she said over the air. The Press-Banner said most callers during the two-hour show said they liked the idea of Craft buying the station. (Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the Scotts Valley paper. It is the Press-Banner.)

November 2007 Press Club board minutes

Minutes of the Nov. 14, 2007 SFPPC board meeting (teleconference)

Meeting was brought to order at 6:15 p.m. by President Jamie Casini. Board members present: Peter Cleaveland, Jon Mays, Dave Price, Ed Remitz, Diana Diamond, Jamie Casini and Aimee Strain. Executive Director Darryl Compton was also in attendance. Absent: Jennifer Aquino and Jack Russell were not in attendance.  

New business

Awards contest: The board decided to change how the annual awards are to be distributed by eliminating the honorable mention place. Now, judges will give out a minimum of first and second place and decide if there should be a tie in one of the places with a maximum of three total awards in each category. The board decided to change the Web site category to News Web site.

Ballot. The ballot for the 2008 Press Club officers is:
President: Jamie Casini
Vice President: Dave Price
Treasurer: Ed Remitz
Secretary: Jon Mays
Directors: Jennifer Aquino, Jay Thorwaldson, Peter Cleaveland and Diana Diamond
Jack Russell and Aimee Strain are not up for re-election. Micki Carter need not run as past president.

    • Holiday party is Dec. 5, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Harry's Hofbrau in Redwood City

    • Remitz said the College of San Mateo is willing to make the high school journalism workshop an annual event and is willing to give up more space including side rooms.
Meeting adjourned at 7:03 p.m.

Minutes submitted by Secretary Jon Mays.

Minutes from previous meeting in October 

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Allen Denton leaving NBC11

Allen Denton (left) will be leaving KNTV NBC11 on Nov. 30 after seven years at the station, according to Merc TV writer Charley McCollum. He also reports that morning weather anchor Shannon O’Donnell (right), who has been at NBC 11 for six years, is also leaving on that date. No reason for the departures was given by the station, but McCollum says "the handwriting was on the wall for Denton when [Jessica] Aguirre signed on with KNTV. She is a very fluid news anchor and fast on her feet with breaking news, something that seemed to throw Denton off-stride." Replacements haven't been named but it is expected that Aguirre, who is only anchoring the 5 p.m. weekday newscast, will have a larger role at the station. [Denton's bio] [O'Donnell's bio]

CORRECTION: A previous version of this posting said Denton was one of NBC's first hires when it bought Channel 11; actually Denton was hired by the station's previous owner, Granite Broadcasting.

Troubling news for newspapers online

Many newspaper companies have been saying for years now that their future is on the Internet, and they have been training readers to go online to get their news rather than picking up a newspaper. While online only makes up 7 percent of newspaper revenues nationally, online promoters have said the category will grow and print will fade away.

However, MediaNews Group's third-quarter earnings report released yesterday throws some cold water on that assumption. "Revenues from our Internet operations remained relatively flat," the report says on page 20. "Within the classified advertising category, we had decreases across all categories including real estate, automotive and employment."

Other chains are also reporting a slow down in the growth of internet revenues, though nobody else is saying it has gone flat. The trade publication MediaPost (subscription required) reports the following third-quarter growth figures:
    • Gannett (excluding USA Today): 7.5% (compared with 21 percent in the third quarter of 2006)

    • Tribune: 9 percent (compared with 28 percent a year earlier)

    • McClatchy: 1.4 percent (compared with 16.3 percent)

    • Dow Jones: 8 percent (compared with 13 percent)

    • E.W. Scripps: 19 percent (compared with 40 percent)
The Poynter Institute's media business analyst Rick Edmonds points out that the MediaNews and other chains were pinning their hopes on an online sales network being developed with Yahoo. "[The] “architects of the arrangement, like Dean Singleton [pictured above] of Media News and Robert Decherd of Belo, have been promising that the real action will kick in mid-2008 when technology is in place to allow Yahoo to sell national ads on a common platform in any combination of the member papers.”

However, it was reported earlier this month that MediaNews, Hearst and other partners in the Yahoo project said that they are considering a separate national online sales effort, which suggests the Yahoo project may be on the rocks or that the newspaper partners are hedging their bets in case Yahoo comes up short.

MediaNews reports $1 million loss

MediaNews Group, the largest newspaper publisher in the Bay Area, lost $1 million in the most recent quarter, down from $13.3 million in next income during the same period last year, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Costs rose faster than revenue, though revenue did increase by 13.3 percent to $334.7 million due largely to the papers the chain acquired last year in the Bay Area. Excluding the papers MediaNews acquired last year, advertising revenue fell 9.3 percent in the quarter, mostly due to dropping volume from retail, national and classified advertisers, the company said. [Last year's third-quarter report]

MediaNews, which is shifting its focus from print to online, said in the filing: "Revenues from our Internet operations remained relatively flat. Within the classified advertising category, we had decreases across all categories including real estate, automotive and employment." (Page 20)

Hearst, MediaNews do another deal

MediaNews and Hearst Corp., the Bay Area's two biggest newspaper publishers, have announced a joint purchase of 80 percent of the online classified-advertising software provider Kaango for about $20 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (See page 16).

In the past few months, the two publishing companies have become increasingly intertwined while still officially remaining competitors in the Bay Area in the eyes of federal antitrust regulators:
    • On Oct. 23, Hearst paid $317 million for a 31 percent stake in MediaNews Group's operations outside the Bay Area.

    • On Oct. 25, Hearst bought two newspapers in Connecticut that MediaNews will manage.

    • On Nov. 6, the Chicago Tribune reported that Hearst, MediaNews were talking about forming a national online advertising network with three other chains (Gannett, a MediaNews minority investor in MediaNews Group's Bay Area papers; Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, and Cox owner of KTVU Channel 2).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Chron's Mark Fainaru-Wada jumps to ESPN

Mark Fainaru-Wada (pictured), who along with Lance Williams broke the Balco steroids scandal, is headed to ESPN, San Francisco-based reports. Fainaru-Wada's jump comes on the heels ESPN's hiring of SI smart aleck Rick Reilly. Update: Chron spokesman Henry Ford confirms the move. (Photo credit: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images via Reuters)

MarketWatch hires Poletti, Pimentel

San Francisco-based has announced that it has hired Merc's Therese Poletti as a technology columnist and the Chron's Benjamin Pimentel as a technology reporter. The MarketWatch press release says:
    "Poletti, an award-winning staff writer at the San Jose Mercury News for the last seven years, will deliver real-time breaking news commentary to's audience of institutional and retail investors while providing fresh views of large, ongoing news topics in technology. Pimentel, previously a reporter with 14 years of experience at the San Francisco Chronicle, will cover manufacturers and fabrication equipment vendors in the semiconductor industry.
And the brain drain of major metro newspapers continues.

Burglars hit vacationing Chron subscribers

KGO-TV ABC 7's Dan Noyes (pictured) reports that a ring of burglars in Contra Costa County have been breaking into the homes of Chronicle subscribers who were on vacation. How did they know they were on vacation? They lifted the lid of a dumpster at the Chronicle's distribution facility in Concord and grabbed discarded printouts showing which subscribers had put their paper on a vacation hold. Noyes interviewed one of seven burglars arrested in the case. Grant Whiteman, in a jailhouse interview, admitted that he got the addresses of the homes he hit by diving into dumpsters at the Chronicle. Noyes talked to victims and he tried to interview somebody from the Chronicle on camera, but only got an e-mail from a marketing person. The Chron said it was the fault of their independent distributors. The victms and police say the information about vacation holds should be shredded before it is put in a dumpster.

Christine Craft isn't buying a radio station

Brad Kava has set the record straight regarding the notion that Christine Craft might buy KSCO-AM 1080 in Santa Cruz. "Do I have the money to buy it? " Craft told Kava by phone. "The long answer is No. The short answer is NO." The rumor started when station owner Michael Zwerling was booking her as a guest and she mentioned that she would love to buy his station, which happens to be for sale. Zwerling made a promo out of her comment. The Santa Cruz Sentinel picked up on the promo. The Press Club linked to the Sentinel's item on Craft. This is getting to be an exhausing circle. As Kava notes, "Strange that no one thought to call Craft for a comment."

He also says, "There are people looking for progressive millionaires who might be able to raise the capital to buy this strong signal that reaches the entire Monterey Bay, and San Jose on a good day."

There's also a lot to love about AM 1080, Kava says: "One of the most non-corporate stations anywhere, with the friendliness of a local diner. I'd sure love to see someone buy it whose views could reflect the political diversity of the region."

Journalist, Iran expert speaks in SF tonight

Award-winning author/journalist Reese Erlich is to speak tonight (Tuesday, Nov. 13) in San Francisco on "The Iran Agenda: the Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Middle East Crisis." Sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter, the event is to take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the London Wine Bar, 415 Sansome (at Sacramento). Erlich has traveled extensively in the Middle East -- he went to remote guerrilla bases to reveal how the U.S. supports ethnic minority groups carrying out terrorist attacks inside Iran. He has reported for Mother Jones, the Dallas Morning News, CBS and NPR, among other news outlets. For additional information, contact Lani Silver, (415) 485-4208 or

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Christine Craft may buy Santa Cruz station?

Former TV anchor/attorney/liberal radio host Christine Craft is apparently interested in a couple of AM radio stations on the block in Santa Cruz. At least that's what promos on those stations (KSCO 1080 and KOMY 1340) in the past few days are saying, according to this brief item in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Hearst has real estate plans in L.A.

As Hearst Corp. begins this week to hear proposals from developers about redeveloping its Chronicle headquarters at Fifth and Mission streets (left), it is moving ahead with its plans to redevelop the former Los Angeles Herald Examiner building (right), the LA Downtown News reports. The LA City Council has rejected appeals from a USC student housing organization that had wanted the site at 1111 S. Broadway. Now Hearst can go forward with its $350 million project which is expected to include 40,000 square feet of office space, 20,000 square feet of retail and a 10,000-square-foot health club in the lot's historic, Julia Morgan-designed Broadway building; it will also feature a new 24-story, 268-unit residential tower on the former press building site on Hill Street, plus a 37-story, 319-unit high rise at 120 W. 12th St. No groundbreaking date has been set. "I appreciate the continuing support from the city during this process," said Marty Cepkauskas, director of real estate for Hearst Corp. (Photo credits: Deanne Fitzmaurice, Chronicle, file;

Report: Jailed anchor fascinated by Lohan

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat has more details about the arrest of former KZST/KJZY anchor Ron Kirk (left) on charges of child molesting. The newspaper says former co-workers and associates said Kirk, whose real name is Ron Kirk Kuhlmeyer, had a fascination with Lindsay Lohan (right) and even managed a fan Web site. They said he took off at a moment's notice for Lohan's public apperances. The story also gives details about Kirk's alleged encounters with an 11-year-old girl in his Santa Rosa apartment. Kirk, 49, has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court next month. He is being held at Sonoma County Jail. (Photo Credits: KZST Web site, AP)

Friday, November 9, 2007

FCC fines KNEW, KSJO $10,000 each

The FCC has rejected a challenge to the renewal of four Bay Area radio station licenses held by Clear Channel by a politically liberal youth organization which objected to Michael Savage's (left) program on KNEW-AM.

Youth Media Council made numerous claims against the stations including the assertion that Savage and former KNEW host Jeff Katz "consistently stereotype and advocate violence against undocumented workers, Muslims, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons" and that the station encourages “physical violence as a solution to social problems.” The group held protests outside KNEW's San Francisco studios, demanding management remove conservative shows from the air.

Youth Media Council complained that the stations had excluded local musicians from its airwaves, provided insufficient public affairs programming, broadcast indecent programming, disproportionately focused on crime and violence, and lacked an emergency preparedness plan.

The council also objected to the hiring of Rick Delgado on KYLD and Bill O'Reilly on KNEW. And it complained that KMEL fired talk show host "Davey D" supposedly because he interviewed Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee about her vote opposing the war in Afghanistan.

While the FCC renewed the licenses of Clear Channel's KSJO-FM 92.3, KNEW-AM 910, KYLD-FM "Wild 94.5" and KMEL-FM 106.1 it fined:
    • KSJO $10,000 for failing to disclose in its renewal application a previous FCC fine, and

    • KNEW $10,000 because its public file was missing certain required documents when members of the Youth Media Council visited the station.
Here's a link to the 23-page FCC decision.

'Can I make money blogging?'

The Asian American Journalists Association is holding a blogging workshop tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 10) from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at UC Berkeley's Journalism School. The worshop will answer the questions:
    • What the heck is RSS?
    • Can I make money blogging?
    • How will blogging fit into the future of journalism?
Panelists include Cooking With Amy's Amy Sherman, Robert Scoble of the technology blog Scobleizer, Chron TV writer Tim Goodman and Eve Batey, is the Chron's new deputy managingeditor for online. The morning workshop will feature a panel discussion and then a hands-on demonstration in the computer lab. Cost is $5 for students, $10 for AAJA members and $15 for non-members. Register at

Jerry Roberts receives ethics award

The international writers group PEN has presented its First Amendment award for ethical journalism to former Chron managing editor Jerry Roberts. The award “honors those who have courageously, and often at great personal loss, defended freedom of expression,” according to PEN.

The Santa Barbara Independent reports that Roberts received the award at a star-studded Beverly Hills Hotel dinner on Tuesday night.

Roberts left the Chronicle in 2002 after 25 years and joined the Santa Barbara News-Press in 2002. He quit the News-Press on July 6, 2006 in a dispute with owner Wendy McCaw over her meddling in newsroom decision-making. McCaw slapped him with a $25 million arbitration action, claiming breach of contract. He’s still fighting it, and has counter-claimed for $10 million.

Chron's Fagan talks about faith, journalism

Veteran Chronicle reporter Kevin Fagan tells the Jewish News Weekly that ...
    "When his daughter Molly, the only Jew in her class, asked why she 'couldn’t be a Christian like Daddy,' Fagan decided it was time to focus his ever-present yet amorphous sense of spirituality. He approached Rabbi Roberto Graetz, the spiritual leader at Lafayette’s Temple Isaiah, where the Fagans are members. 'I said, "How do I become a Jew?" And in typically Jewish fashion, he said, "Well, it’s not easy,"' recalled Fagan with a laugh."
Fagan, perhaps best known for his stories about the homeless in San Francisco, tells J-News that his faith plays an important role in his reporting. Fagan will speak at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 17 at Los Altos Hills’ Congregation Beth Am. His topic: “Reporting With Heart in a Cynical World.”

SF's dailies have different takes on oil spill

When a South Korean cargo ship hit a support for the Bay Bridge Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard initially reported that 140 gallons of fuel was spilled into the Bay. It wasn't until 9 p.m. when the Coast Guard admitted the real number was 58,000 gallons.

San Francisco's four English language dailies each had their own take on the news Thursday, ranging from light hearted to serious.

Joe McConnell charged, caught in a sting

The San Mateo County District Attorney has charged veteran radio traffic reporter Joe McConnell with two petty theft infractions for allegedly moving campaign lawn signs belonging to Burlingame City Council candidate Gene Condon a month before the election. Condon lost and the candidate McConnell was helping, Jerry Deal, was elected. Deal beat incumbent Russ Cohen by 84 votes.

The San Mateo Daily Journal points out that an infraction is similar to a citation in that it carries a maximum fine of $250 per count and the defendant does not quality for a court-appointed attorney or a jury trial. A verdict is rendered by a judge. The law allows a first petty theft offense in which the property is less than $50 to be charged as an infraction rather than a misdemeanor. A second offense, however, would probably not be charged as lightly for a person with a previous infraction, said District Attorney Jim Fox.

Condon, who finished fourth in a five-candidate field (top two to be elected), set up a sting to find out who was stealing his signs back in October, Michelle Durand of the Daily Journal reports. Condon used a friend’s surveillance system to capture the culprit. On Monday, Oct. 8, the tape reportedly recorded McConnell moving the sign from Rosedale Avenue and El Camino Real, the Daily Journal reported.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Forest Service spokesman kills wife, self

Matt Mathes, the U.S. Forest Service's predominant media spokesman in California for the past 17 years, shot his wife and two dogs to death before killing himself in his American Canyon (Napa County) home, police said Tuesday. Mathes, 54, calmly called a police dispatcher at 6:15 a.m. Saturday to say that his ailing wife no longer wanted to live and that he did not want to live without her, police Sgt. Craig Nickles said, according to the Chronicle. Mathes told the dispatcher that he planned to shoot his wife and himself and that he would leave the front door open for police.

When authorities arrived at the couple's home a few minutes later, they found the bodies of Mathes, his wife, Karen Pang Mathes, 52, and the two dogs, along with a handwritten suicide note.

"He was pretty detail oriented, and everything was kind of laid out in the note," Nickles told the Chron. "We don't see cases like this too often, but they aren't unheard of. Usually you'll see it with an elderly couple, when someone is terminal. We just don't know what the case is here."

Mathes, a frequently quoted spokesman, had been with the U.S. Forest Service for nearly 30 years and was just months away from being able to retire.

Janice Gauthier, the region's communications director and Mathes' boss, called him a consummate professional -- a bright, energetic and principled man with a penchant for backing the underdog. "Matthew was an intellectual," she told the LA Times. "He was a real thinking person, very well-read, very cultured."

[Other reports: AP, Napa Valley Register] (Photo credit: Forest Service via AP)

Dan Gillmor lands post at Arizona State

Dan Gillmor, a former Merc columnist and proponent of citizen journalism, is headed to Arizona State University to become the founding director of the new Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He starts Jan. 1 and will hold the faculty rank of professor of practice, ASU has announced.

What will he tell students? Here's what he said in a June 7 Chronicle op-ed:
    "There's never been a better time, I tell students, to be a journalistic entrepreneur -- to invent your own job, to become part of the generation that figures out how to produce and, yes, sell the journalism we desperately need as a society and as citizens of a shrinking planet."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Singleton puts anti-union feelings on page 1

Front page editorials are rare in major metro newspapers these days. But the MediaNews Group's Denver Post carried a scathing page one attack Sunday on Colorado Gov. Bill Ridder, calling him "Jimmy Hoffa" for siding with unions in a political dispute. A poliitcal blog, Colorado Confidential, says MediaNews CEO Dean Singleton ordered up the editorial. The paper's editor, Greg Moore, is quoted by the blog as saying he has nothing to do with editorials and wouldn't comment further. Instead, Editorial Page Editor Dan Haley said the front page editorial was "a collaborative decision between the publisher and myself." Singleton, a Colorado resident, serves as the Post's publisher. In the Bay Area, MediaNews owns most of the daily newspapers and has been accused by the Guild of illegally decertifying the union at the company's Alameda Newspaper Group.

Hearst, MediaNews eye online ad network

While Hearst and MediaNews Group have told antitrust regulators that they are competitors when it comes to newspaper publishing in the Bay Area, the two companies and three others are talking about forming a national online advertising network, the Chicago Tribune reports. The other chains involved in the talks are Gannett (a MediaNews minority investor in its Bay Area papers), Tribune Co. (owner of the Los Angeles Times) and Cox (owner of KTVU Channel 2). The Chicago Tribune article says:
    "Newspaper executives struggling to find ways to compete against their new online rivals are increasingly coming to the conclusion that they may be stronger in partnership than they can be alone. Companies are considering joint call centers, joint printing facilities, common delivery systems -- anything to reduce costs and increase competitiveness, sources said."
On Oct. 25, the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division refused to block Hearst's purchase of 31 percent of MediaNews Group's stock in holdings outside the Bay Area. The government accepted the argument by the two companies that they can still be competitors in the Bay Area newspaper business while operating as partners elsewhere.

Applicant rejects J-school deanship again

For the second time, Ithaca College's Dianne Lynch is walking away from the post of dean of the UC Berkeley graduate school of journalism. Lynch applied earlier this year but withdrew, leaving the other finalist, UC Berkeley journalism professor Neil Henry, as the likely replacement for Orville Schell. Then in April, Cal Provost George Breslauer convinced Lynch to apply for the job again. In May she was selected for the job with a start date in January. Now, according to the Ithaca College newspaper, Lynch has informed UC Berkeley officials that she plans to stay at the school in New York, where she is dean of its J-school. The East Bay Express reported in May that faculty in Berkeley thought Lynch was the the right choice she has a New Media background and was an outsider who had a good chance of healing a split in the faculty that had taken place under Schell.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Circulation stablizes at Merc and Chron

The Chronicle and Mercury News circulation numbers appear to have stablized after years of losses, according to new figures out today from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (as reported by E&P).

The Merc's daily circulation in the past six months was 228,537, just slightly less than the 228,800 reported for the same period last year. Sunday circulation was reported to be 252,404 compared to 254,454 for the same period last year. Last year at this time, the Merc was reeling with reports showing its circulation had fallen by 9.4 percent daily and 9.7 percent on Sundays.

The Chron reports a daily circulation of 365,234, off by 2.29 percent from the 373,805 for the same period last year. Sunday's circulation was off by only 0.66 percent -- from 432,957 to 430,115. Last year, the Chron was reporting a 5 percent drop in its daily circulation and 7 percent on Sundays.

Santa Cruz paper moves to Scotts Valley

As the Santa Cruz Sentinel packs up and moves from its downtown offices to Santa Cruz, Claudia Sternbach shares some of her memories of the big and boxy building that MediaNews is selling. She notes that because the newspaper was located downtown, it was always a good idea to take a notebook when you went on a coffee break — good stories could be found closeby.
    "This next week, the Sentinel staff will settle in to their new digs in Scotts Valley. I imagine it will be lovely. The carpet will be nicer, I'm sure. And eventually there will be employees who never worked in the Church Street office. Reporters and photographers who will build their own memories of working at the Santa Cruz Sentinel in the only place they have ever known."
The Sentinel has occupied the 54,000-square-foot Church Street building since 1967 and has been located in downtown Santa Cruz for 150 years. (Also see "Sentinel leaving Santa Cruz for Scotts Valley," Press Club blog July 27)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Future of Sinkovitz brothers unknown

Tom Sinkovitz, left, caught up with his brother Jim in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, according to the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, which ran this picture. Tom Sinkovitz left KRON in September 2006 after 17 years. His twin brother Jim, according to the Lancaster paper, lost his job as an anchor/reporter but is currently a finalist at another station in that market west of Philadelphia. Says Jim Sinovitz: "It's tough when the rug gets pulled from under you ... in Philadelphia, the anchors and most of the reporters don't leave [by choice] because it's a big market. ... There's so much news during the day, and you have to look good all the time." When Tom Sinkovitz left KRON last year, he said "I'm not saying 'good-bye' tonight. I'm just saying I'll see you later."