Saturday, March 31, 2007

KGO slammed over interview policy

In his "Multimedia Notes" column, Bill Mann says KGO-AM has a policy of refusing to book guests who have appeared first on another Bay Area station. KQED-FM's Michael Krasny is quoted by Mann as saying the policy is ridiculous. Krasny adds: "However, we've found that, despite their clout derived from their No. 1 berth, we have leverage at 'Forum' based on the simple fact that our numbers are significant and more books are purchased by our listeners. And when necessary, my producers can and do play tough."

Newspapers make new pitch to stop trial

MediaNews Group and Hearst are arguing in court papers that San Francisco businessman Clint Reilly (left) doesn't have the right to sue them in order to stop their plans to consolidate newspaper operations in the Bay Area. The Bay Guardian ran an editorial this week that explains this tactic and argues against it. Reilly's case goes to trial April 30, unless U.S. District Judge Susan Illston agrees with this new argument advanced by the two newspaper companies.

MediaNews puts buildings up for sale

A couple of the region's landmark newspaper buildings -- in Santa Cruz and San Mateo -- are soon going up for sale as the papers' new owner, Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group, scrambles for cash. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports today that its 54,000-square-foot Church Street building, where the daily has been composed and printed since 1967, will go on the market in a number of days. Starting May 1, MediaNews's San Jose Mercury News will print the Sentinel at its plant and the papers will be trucked over the hill to Santa Cruz each day. Today's story quotes Merc publisher and MediaNews exec George Riggs as saying:
    "We're going to be exploring options including staying downtown or moving out to a business park ... We're not committed strongly one way or another. It's just wherever we get the best deal. We would like to stay downtown or in the Santa Cruz sphere of influence, but we wouldn't want to rule out anything."
Riggs is quoted later in the story as saying the value of keeping a newspaper downtown has evaporated with improvements in technology. He said a newspaper is no longer comparable to civic institutions like libraries and city halls, where people go to do business on a daily basis.

In November (as the Press Club reported at the time), the San Mateo County Times building at 1080 S Amphlett Blvd. would be going on the market as soon as MediaNews found a new home for the employees. As in Santa Cruz, the printing operation had been moved to another location. The Times' building will go on the block as soon as the company leases space for its offices.

Perhaps the most famous newspaper landmark in the region is the Tribune Tower in Oakland. As reported here Nov. 4, MediaNews is in the process of leaving that building for a location in the Airport Corporate Center on Oakport Drive on I-880 across from the Oakland Collesum.

Editor removed over 'I Hate Blacks' column

Samson Wong (right) has been removed as editor-in-chief of AsianWeek due to the fire storm that erupted over the publication of a column headlined "Why I Hate Blacks," the Chronicle reports. The publication's president, Ted Fang, said Wong will work as a consultant doing outreach for the weekly paper. Kenneth Eng, whose column in February gave reasons why Asians should discriminate against blacks, was dismissed from the 45,000-circulation weekly a few days after the piece ran. (Photo from New America Media's 2003 profile of Wong.)

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mel Wax, 88, anchor of KQED's 'Newsroom'

Mel Wax, a reporter who became the principal anchor of KQED Channel 9's "Newsroom" and then a spokesman for San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, has died after a long illness in Berkeley at age 88, the Chronicle reports. A City Hall reporter for the Chronicle in the 1950s and early 60s, he got started in TV during the 1968 newspaper strike when reporters went on Channel 9 every night to read their stories. After the strike ended, those broadcasts evolved into "Newsroom," a highly acclaimed local news-and-discussion program that Wax directed and anchored until 1977. After leaving KQED, Wax became the press aide to then Mayor Moscone and the Chronicle obit notes that Wax was unflappable on that day in 1979 when Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated by former Supervisor Dan White. (Chronicle file photo.)

Singleton's MediaNews accuses Ridder's son

A story involving allegations of corporate theft is playing out in Minneapolis involving a number of newspaper executives with ties to the Bay Area.

Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group, the Bay Area's largest newspaper operator, also operates the St. Paul Pioneer Press. This morning, the Pioneer Press printed a story accusing its former publisher, Par Ridder (pictured), of taking a laptop containing "sensitive and confidential" personnel data when he suddenly resigned March 5 and went to work for the competiting Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Par is the son of former Knight Ridder chairman Tony Ridder of Woodside. The MediaNews executive accusing Ridder of theft is Fred Mott, a longtime Knight Ridder executive who was also briefly publisher of MediaNews Group's ANG Newspapers in Alameda County.

Mott describes the alleged theft as "highly unusual." Mott says he sent a Pioneer Press employee to the Star Tribune the day Ridder quit to retrieve the laptop. Ridder gave back the laptop, but Mott alleges that Ridder has data from the hard drive, including five years worth of W-2 income information for all Pioneer Press employees, sensitive e-mails and other data about the company.

MediaNews is threatening legal action against one of the two senior-level employees Ridder took with him when the jumped to the Star Tribune. According to the Pioneer Press, Jennifer Parratt had a non-compete clause in her contract that prevents her from working for the Star Tribune for one year.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Group petitions KGO-TV to keep Aguirre

Sources tell the Contra Costa Times' TV writer Chuck Barney that KGO ABC7 doesn't plan to renew the contract of Jessica Aguirre when it expires at the end of the year -- and an Hispanic organization has launched an online petition drive urging the station to keep the veteran anchor.

"Jessica Aguirre has a track record of commitment to the Latino community and now it is time we show our commitment to her," states the petition by the Oakland-based Centro Legal de la Raza. The group cites Aguirre's Emmy winning work on child molestation and migrant worker stories. Her 6 p.m. newscast, co-anchored by Pete Wilson, is also No. 1 among English-language newscasts at that hour.

Aguirre isn't talking, and neither is news director Kevin Keeshan, according to Chuck Barney. Noting that only a few months ago, KTVU parted company with Leslie Griffith, Barney remarked, "You've got to wonder if someone has declared open season on veteran female anchors."

Journalism class has unique Web site

James Logan High School in Union City may have the only school paper whose Web site is updated 365 days a year, according to class adviser Patrick Hannigan. The Hayward Daily Review says that on days when there are no articles written by student journalists, students update the site by posting stories from other media outlets or items such as the school's daily bulletin, which includes the lunch menu.

The school's student newspaper, the Courier, began in 1959. But last year the print edition was retired due to printing costs. The online edition continues however, celebrating its first anniversary on March 20. More than 600 visitors log on to the site each day, on average, compared with about 70 when the site first launched. Last week, The online Courier recorded its 1 millionth online hit.

In a story about its first birthday, Courier staff writer Michelle Morimoto says, "Mr. Hannigan not only created an extra ciricular activity, but also a well needed source of information. At a campus as diverse and crowded as Logan, it is difficult to track down information. The Courier is a way for students to express their opinions and report on the news that the district keeps under wraps."

The paper's anniversary comes as both the Peninsula Press Club and the California Scholastic Journalism Initiative are examining the state of student journalism. The Press Club's board is concerned that many high schools are shutting down their journalism programs. The California Scholastic Journalism Initiative is conducting a statewide survey (see second item) of middle school and high school journalism to derive an accurate picture of the condition of journalism in the schools.

SF may ban plastic newspaper bags

Now that San Francisco's supervisors have banned plastic bags in supermarkets, the city is looking to prohibit the use of plastic bags to keep newspapers from getting soaked by rain. The Chronicle reports today that Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi wants to ban the use of plastic newspaper bags unless they're biodegradable. Biodegradable bags are also more expensive. Mirkarimi said that in the coming months, he will study how many plastic bags are generated by newspapers, restaurants and other sources to determine their impact on the environment. He could not say when legislation on those bags might be introduced.

New editor named for Pacifica weekly

Elaine Larsen, a longtime Pacifica resident and journalist, is the new editor and publisher of the MediaNews-owned Pacifica Tribune, that newspaper reports. She replaces Mario Dianda, who will become the top editor at the company's Palo Alto Daily News Group. Larsen, 44, will be the paper's third editor in four months. In January, Dianda was stripped of his job at the Oakland Tribune and transferred by MediaNews to run the Pacifica Tribune.

Larsen, 44, has been employed at the Pacifica Tribune since 1987. The Palo Alto native has a bachelor's of arts degree in mass communications from the University of California, Berkeley and a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University in Chicago. She will report to Carole Leigh Hutton, vice president of Community Newspapers for MediaNews's California Newspapers Partnership, which includes the Pacifica Tribune, San Mateo County Times and the Daily News Group.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New daily celebrates 1st year, profitability

Here's a change of pace from the predictable story line about how newspapers are going out of business. Former Palo Alto Daily News managing editor Jeramy Gordon (pictured) is celebrating the first anniversary of the free daily he started in Santa Barbara. What's more, he says the paper is in the black. The Santa Barbara Daily Sound became profitable 9 1/2 months after it started.

Gordon's timing couldn't be better. The community's incumbent daily, the Santa Barbara News-Press, has been self-destructing over the past year. Most of its news staff has quit or has been fired amid allegations of newsroom meddling by billionaire publisher Wendy McCaw.

Gordon's Daily Sound prints 9,000 papers a day, five days a week. Over the past year, the paper has more than tripled its page count, circulation and staff. Beginning with only three full time staffers, the Daily Sound currently employs nine full-time employees and numerous part-timers and freelancers.

Obituaries take on a life of their own

The Baltimore Sun has an intriguing story (free registration required) today on obituaries -- about the growing number of Web sites devoted to obits and the rise in commissioned obits for people who want a say in how their legacy is described. Among those offering such services is Larken Bradley (pictured), obituary writer for The Point Reyes Light in Marin County, who has the Web site According to the Sun, Bradley's service, called Obituaries Professionally Written, provides obituaries for people who want their final story written before death or for relatives in need of death announcements or obituaries.

The Sun story mentions Marianne Costantinou, who was the San Francisco Chronicle's chief obit writer -- a position for which she volunteered -- until she left the paper last year after taking a buyout.
    Costantinou, some of whose obits have been posted on the Web as stellar examples of the craft, prefers not to write about the famous or newsworthy.

    "I would look through the classified ads, the deaths column, to find one that had some little tidbit that caught your fancy and made you smile, like the lady who watered plants in San Francisco office towers," she said. "I would try to make them as personable as possible, because this was their last hurrah -- and very often their first."
The story also notes that a magazine devoted to obituaries is being planned. Of course it will be called Obit. And it is reported that the New York Times is taking obituaries to the next level and begun producing video obituaries in which the subjects are interviewed about their own lives. (Photo is from Bradley's Web site)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Fewer high school papers worries PPC

A sharp drop in the number of high school newspapers has prompted the Peninsula Press Club to explore ways it can promote student journalism. After all, many of today's journalists got their first taste of the business on the high school paper. On Wednesday, Press Club board members met with high school journalism advisors and other educators. Suggestions that emerged from the meeting included:
    1. Mentoring/partnering -- Allowing current and retired journalists to mentor high school students and advisors

    2. Create an ad syndicate that would allow high school journalism programs to tap into bulk ads

    3. More teacher training -- having teachers intern at newspapers, preferably at the copy desk

    4. Establish scholarships for teacher training

    5. More outreach to journalism advisors, possibly in cooperation with the California Newspaper Publishers Association, or CNPA

    6. Meet with principals and/or superintendents and tell them what's what

    7. Create online synergy

    8. Having newspapers allow for student journalists to blog

    9. Creating a speakers' bureau of journalists who can talk to classes or give critiques

    10. Job shadowing

    11. Allow a newspaper venue for journalism advisor socializing

    12. Create a way for journalism advisors to communicate

    13. Invite advisors/students to Press Club events like Bench/Bar media

    14. Approach foundations for financial assistance

    15. Wider publicity about Press Club awards to high school journalists -- including e-mails to the school's principal, superintendent, PTSA president, etc.

    16. Printing photos taken by student journalists in community newspapers

    17. Forming a coalition of student papers to get the best prices on printing
The discussion also yielded reasons why high school newspapers are disappearing. Teachers said the move toward standardized testing means fewer "frills" in the classroom, such as journalism and art. Also, journalism teachers tend to be newer teachers who are less likely to want to take risks since they lack tenure.

The Press Club's board plans to explore all of the suggestions listed above. The board is also interested in hearing from others in the news business. Contact executive director Darryl Compton.

One more note: The deadline for the Press Club's annual high school journalism contest is March 31. Click here for more information. (Above are some of the winners of the Press Club's 2006 High School Journalism contest. Photo by Erik Oeverndiek.)

Los Gatos laments loss of newspaper

A couple of years ago there was a newspaper war in Los Gatos, an upscale community of 28,000 west of San Jose. The hard-charging Los Gatos Daily News (led by Christina Bellantoni, now a Washington muckraker) was battling the equally independent Los Gatos Weekly Times. The San Jose Mercury News was trying to "out local the locals." The three newsrooms battled for the hearts and minds of West Valley readers.

That changed in 2005 when the Merc's parent company, Knight Ridder, bought the Palo Alto Daily News group, which included the Los Gatos Daily News. Eight months later, KR bought the parent company of the Los Gatos Weekly, Silicon Valley Community Newspapers, headed by David Cohen. The three papers are now held by the California Newspaper Partnership, a majority of which is owned by Dean Singleton's Denver-based MediaNews Group. A few months ago, MediaNews cut the Los Gatos Daily back to three days a week and renamed it the "Los Gatos News."

Now the online Los Gatos Observer is lamenting what has become of local news coverage. "Apparently, it makes economic sense to the executives in Denver that Los Gatos should have two weak newspapers instead of a single paper with a strong local focus," the Observer writes. "If you, as a reader, have a problem with the way the Weekly Times is run, do you think that Mr. Singleton will listen?"

SJ stuck with 57,000-pounds of KR signage

Knight Ridder chairman Tony Ridder cleaned out his desk a year ago, but his company's signs -- San Jose's highest and perhaps largest -- will remain a fixture in the South Bay skyline until the landlord at 50 W. San Fernando St. finds a tenant to replace the defunct newspaper company. KR occupied floors 15, 16 and 17 of the building, a total of 19,800 square feet. If those three floors were leased at the market rate of $2.65 per square foot per month, the new tenant would pay $52,000 a month or $630,000 a year. The Mercury News quotes Diana Beechie, a spokeswoman for landlord Forest City Commercial Group as saying, "We would hopefully find someone who would take all three floors and would want their name on the building." The two Knight Ridder signs, weighing a total of 57,000 pounds, can be changed for a new tenant. (Photo by Photo by John Pozniak)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wolf forms First Amendment group

Josh Wolf, a San Francisco freelance blogger and photographer who has been jailed for more than seven months because he won't provide federal prosecutors with outtakes of a videotape he shot of an anarchist protest, is forming a group called Free the Media. In a letter to the Bay Guardian, Wolf says the group will "organize and agitate whenever and wherever the free-press guarantees under the Constitution are threatened." The group, which will have an online presence, will explore "the complex issues and controversies that continue to develop within this changing media landscape."

If you think your paper has problems ...

Recent downsizing at the Minneapolis Star Tribune left that newspaper with a Washington bureau staffed by only an intern. But, as reader rep Kate Parry explains, the intern is "experienced" and can handle things in the nation's capital until new reporters are cycled in. Must be a great intern.

August Maggy, 60, a stickler for clarity

Longtime Chronicle copy editor August Maggy, who was regarded by colleagues as a stickler for clarity and grammar, died at his home in El Sobrante on Wednesday (March 20) after a long illness at age 60, according to an obit that appeared today in the Chron. Maggy had been a copy editor at the Chronicle since 1984, arriving there from the Richmond Independent. The Independent's former editor, Tim Porter, said: "He cared about journalism, he cared about doing good work, and he cared about his colleagues. It doesn't get much better than that in a newsroom." (Chronicle photo by Jerry Telfer.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Wendy Tokuda jumps from KRON to CBS 5

Longtime Bay Area news anchor Wendy Tokuda announced yesterday on Gary Radnich's KNBR radio show that she is leaving KRON 4 and joining KPIX CBS 5 on April 9. She will co-anchor "Eyewitness News at 5 p.m." with Allen Martin.

“We are thrilled that Wendy is coming back to KPIX, her home for many years. She is a wonderful broadcast journalist” said CBS5 vp and news director Dan Rosenheim.

Tokuda began her broadcasting career at KING-TV Seattle as a secretary in public affairs and then as a news reporter. Next she worked at KPIX for 14 years as an anchor and reporter, co-anchoring the first place 6 and 11pm news. She then moved to Los Angeles and co-anchored the 6 p.m. news at KNBC-TV for five years before returning to the Bay Area in 1997 to work as an anchor/reporter at KRON.

In addition to co-anchoring the 5 p.m. news, Tokuda will take her series “Students Rising Above” to CBS 5. The series has won a Peabody Award, a National Emmy for Public Service, the national Sigma Delta Chi Public Service Award, and the NAB Education Foundation’s “Service to America” Award. It has raised more than $3.8 million in scholarships. (Photo by Akilah Monifa of CBS 5.)

Battle of the biggest, baddest I-Teams

A lot of reporters are trying to get an interview with Ruby Tourk, the former City employee with whom Mayor Gavin Newsom had an affair. The efforts of ABC 7's Dan Noyes (left) to get an exclusive one-on-one were highlighted in the Chron's Matier & Ross (middle, right) column.

In an e-mailed pitch for a sit-down, Noyes suggests it wouldn't be in her best interest to talk to the Chron -- "Do you really want to use the newspaper that has done so many favorable articles on Gavin and has ignored critical stories?''

M&R also quote a Noyes e-mail as saying:
    "When people want to get their side out, they go to the toughest, most well-known journalists. Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton go to 60 Minutes, others go to 20/20. Locally, it's me ...''
When Noyes got a call from Andy Ross asking for a comment about his e-mailed pitch, the ABC 7 reporter posted all of his correspondence on his I-Team blog to show he had nothing to hide.

But where did M&R get Noyes' e-mails? Their column doesn't say. However, as Noyes' blog makes clear, they came from Benefits Magazine's Tim Gaskin, where Tourk once worked. Noyes sent Ross an e-mail after the column item ran saying, "Really curious why the source of the e-mails was not explored in your column – wasn’t it newsworthy to whom I was writing?" says the feuding shows "we have a little competition going between the two-biggest/baddest investigative teams in the city. Yes, it's an investigative team catfight. Meow."

Differrent results in media access cases

In the past few days, in unrelated cases, local media has won access to a trial in San Jose but was denied the names of government employees identified in public records.

The victory came in San Jose, where Judge Roger Efremsky reversed himself Thursday and agreed to open the trial of chip-maker Nvidia, which is being sued by creditors. Originally the judge wanted reporters to sign a confidentiality agreement before attending the trial. First Amendment attorney James Chadwick, representing the Mercury News, convinced the judge to drop the unusual requirement, according to the Merc.

There was a differrent outcome in San Francisco, where KGO ABC7 reporter Dan Noyes has been fighting to get the city's bus agency, Muni, to release more than 1,000 complaints the public has filed against 25 drivers. Noyes reports that a superior court judge decided not to release the names of drivers mentioned in the complaints due to privacy concerns. However, based on the documents Noyes has been able to see, he has put together a story about gaps in Muni's system of discipline.

Trial of SF Weekly owner delayed

A judge has delayed until October a trial involving San Francisco's two alternative weekly newspapers. The Bay Guardian, owned by Bruce Brugmann, is suing Village Voice Media, owner the SF Weekly and East Bay Express. Brugmann claims the chain violated state law by using profits generated at its 16 other papers to subsidize illegally cheap ads in San Francisco in order to run his paper out of business. The trial had been set for July 16, but San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard A. Kramer changed the date to Oct. 15 because Village Voice Media has new counsel and the new counsel just learned about a number of documents that needed to be given to the Guardian. The Guardian has been covering every development in the case, even routine pre-trial conferences, while the SF Weekly hasn't printed a word about it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

New editor for San Mateo County Times

John Bowman, editor of the Hayward Daily Review, will replace San Mateo County Times executive editor Jennifer Aquino, who will become assistant city editor of the San Jose Mercury News. All three papers are owned by MediaNews Group's California Newspapers Partnership. A date for the changes hasn't been set.

Bowman has been editor of the Hayward paper since December 2004. He was previously editor of the San Mateo paper for two years. Before joining the Times in 2002, Bowman was a reporter and editor at Business First, San Jose/Silicon Valley Business Journal and Electronic Business magazine.

Aquino, who is on the Press Club's board of directors, became executive editor of the Times last August after having served as the paper's managing editor. While executive editor, the Times won a James Madison award from SPJ for forcing health officials to report facilities where patients suffered from norovirus. Prior to joining the Times in 2005, Aquino was associate editor of the Palo Alto Weekly. She previously worked as an editor for the Independent Newspaper Group and was a reporter at the Stockton Record.

Hayward Daily Review sports illustrator dies

Clyde Schmidt (pictured), described as an institution at the Hayward Daily Review for his illustrations of local athletes for 40 years, died Tuesday at age 86, the newspaper reports. ANG sports columnist Carl Steward, the subject of a Schmidt drawing in 1987, wrote Tuesday that he cherishes it "more than a Monet or Picasso." Hundreds of originals are believed to be in the possession of the athletes who starred in them. A few of his youthful Prep of the Week subjects, such as former Hayward High School football player Jack Del Rio, went on to become national stars. Most did not. "He was definitely an institution at the Review," said Jon Becker, sports editor for The Daily Review. "For any high school kid playing sports, that was the ultimate thrill: to be the Prep of the Week. To see how old Clyde could make you look."

Matt O'Brien, a reporter at the Daily Review, informs us that the paper's "Hayword" blog has this item on Schmidt, which includes an example of his art work. The photo above is from that blog.

March 2007 Press Club board meeting

The Peninsula Press Club's board met on March 21, and instead of the usual board-meeting format, a roundtable discussion took place with high school journalism advisers. The board is concerned about the declining number of high school newspapers and wanted to know how it could help keep journalism in the public schools. The following suggestions came out of the meeting:
    1. Mentoring/partnering: Allowing active and former journalists to mentor high school students and advisors. Mentorship training was offered by members of the California Scholastic Journalism Initiative.

    2. Creating an ad syndicate that would allow high school journalism programs to tap into bulk ads.

    3. Teacher training; having teachers intern at newspapers (preferably at the copy desk)

    4. Establishing scholarships for teacher training


    6. Meet with principals and/or superintendents and tell them what's what.

    7. Creating on-line synergy.

    8. Having newspapers allow for student journalists to blog.

    9. Creating a speakers' bureau of journalists available to speak at schools or give critiques.

    10. Job shadowing.

    11. Allow a newspaper venue for advisor socializing.

    12. Creating a way for advisors to communicate.

    13. Inviting advisors/students to PPC events like Bench/Bar media

    14. Approach foundations for financial assistance.

Additional suggestions from Susan Callahan:
    1. Have advisers give the Press Club a list of names, addresses, fax numbers of people in the district they want notified if they win an award from the PPC. For example, principal, superintendent, PTSA president, etc. It can be a simple form letter. From my experience, the school likes it when outside people take notice of accomplishments and then are more understanding and willing to support your program.

    2. Set up an agreement with local pro papers to allow student papers to re-print photos from their papers gratis. Maybe we should set a limit. I'm not talking about sports photos because the photog went to his girlfriend's party instead of getting pics of the track team, but hard-to-get ones, like from maybe historical pics that we can't get.

    3. Have a pro or college prof teach a workshop to students like design or something.
Some interesting information that came from the discussion included:

    1. Moves toward standardized testing means less "frills" in the classroom and less electives like journalism and art.
    2. Journalism teachers tend to be newer teachers who are less likely to want to take risks since they do not have tenure.
    3. There may be a way to get groups of high school newspapers to form a coalition to get the best bulk price on printing.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Chains tell readers to butt out of dispute

Individual readers have no legal right to challenge newspaper acquisitions under antitrust laws, Hearst and MediaNews told the judge in a lawsuit over MediaNews Group's the recent purchases of the San Jose Mercury News and the Contra Costa Times. According to the Chron, the two newspaper chains filed briefs arguing that San Francisco businessman Clint Reilly lacks standing as a reader to challenge the MediaNews acquisitions. Reilly is trying to undo MediaNews' $736.8 million purchase last summer of the two papers, aruging that the deal will result in higher prices for subscribers and advertisers and fewer editorial voices. Reilly's lawsuit is set to go to trial April 30 before Judge Susan Illston in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The chains have asked for a hearing on their request April 6.

MediaNews layoff numbers kept secret

The Contra Costa Times, which has been apart of Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group since August, is not going to reveal how many of its employees have been laid off, Publisher John Armstrong (photo) said in a March 5 memo to employees. But he says that despite a downturn in advertising, the newspaper has a "shot" at maintaining its profit goals due to previous layoffs.
    Dear Colleagues: The announcement of job layoffs last week prompted a number of questions and comments from employees, which I appreciate. If this prompts additional questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

    Is our company profitable?
    Yes. Due principally to advertising revenue shortfalls, we are falling far short of the profit goals we established for the joint Contra Costa/ANG operation. But with the job reductions and other cost cuts we’re implementing this month, we have a shot at maintaining the profit level attained in the previous fiscal year.

    What is the future of our business? Is the future secure enough for me to stick around?
    I am optimistic about the future of our business, despite the current challenges we face on the advertising and readership fronts. Local newspapers remain one of the most effective ways for advertisers to reach a large audience.

    We’ll cycle through the current slumps in real estate and automotive sales. We’ll grow our share of local retail advertising. We’ll get more targeted advertising dollars through our niche publications, such as Fronteras, and through such services as TargetSmart. With the expanded San Francisco Bay Area Buy, we’ll grow our national advertising volume.
    A key to our success is escalating the pace at which we convert into a true multi-media company, offering effective advertising solutions on three fronts: daily and weekly newspapers, digital sites and services and targeted publications.

    I don’t sell advertising or circulation subscriptions. What can I do to help?
    Everyone can play a role in our success. Quality journalism, efficient production, strong customer service and compelling content on the Internet all are critical components of our growth plan.

    How many positions were eliminated last week? What are the names of those who lost their jobs (we’d like to show our support)?

    We are not announcing the number of layoffs. I can say the number at any one location did not fall under the provisions of the Warn Act, a federal law which requires 60-day notice if layoffs reach 50 at any one plant or office.

    For privacy reasons, we are not announcing the names of the employees whose jobs were eliminated. However, those who are interested in showing support for them should have little difficulty determining who they are.

    What divisions were affected by the job eliminations?
    As I stated in my announcement, the job eliminations were widespread, affecting all divisions to varying degrees -- Advertising/Marketing, Editorial, Circulation, Production and Administration/Finance/Human Resources.

    We preserved “feet on the street” –- those positions dedicated to selling advertising and gathering the news –- because sales growth and strong journalism can help lead us out of our current slump.

    Are more job cuts in the offing?
    I would like to be in a position to guarantee there will be no more job reductions, but I have to be realistic. There is at this time considerable uncertainty about our advertising revenue prospects. However, I can assure you there are no additional job reductions planned at this time. If we do find it necessary to further reduce our payroll, we first will attempt to accomplish reductions through attrition, not filling positions as employees leave the company in the natural course of doing business.
    John Armstrong

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Former Trib editor replaces Palo Alto editor

After 11 months on the job, Lucinda Ryan is being replaced as executive editor of the 55,000-circulation Palo Alto Daily News group by Mario Dianda (pictured), former editor of the Oakland Tribune. In January, Dianda was stripped of his job at the Oakland Trib and transferred by MediaNews to run the Pacifica Tribune, a weekly in San Mateo County.

This is the first high-profile move by Carole Leigh Hutton, who replaced Shareef Dajaini as publisher at the MediaNews-owned Daily News Group in January. Hutton was previously publisher of the Detroit Free Press and later a Knight Ridder vice president.

Ryan was hired by Dajani 11 months ago. They worked together at the weekly Alameda Journal. In January, MediaNews transferred Dajani to a job overseeing Jobs & Careers and other speciality publications.

Below is Hutton's email to the paper's staff:
    Subject: New Editor Named


    The newsroom is making news today. Lucinda Ryan is leaving us to return to her Feature roots, and we are very fortunate to be replacing her with veteran newspaper editor Mario Dianda. A hard news journalist with deep editing and leadership experience, Mario was previously editor of the Oakland Tribune. Recently, he's been helping us out with a temporary stint as publisher and editor of the Pacifica Tribune. That foray into the business side has surely left him even more anxious
    to get back to a daily newsroom.

    That's where his roots are. In fact, some of those roots are right around the corner at the old Peninsula Times-Tribune, where he spent a decade reporting and editing before joining ANG.

    In addition to his six-plus years as Oakland editor, Mario's ANG accomplishments include stints as deputy executive editor and regional editor, as well as Hayward Daily Review editor and city editor.

    A native of Oakland, Mario is a long-time San Carlos resident who lives there with his wife, a Redwood City school teacher, and son, a student at Carlmont High School in Belmont.

    Lucy is headed over to ANG Newspapers, where she gets to fulfill her long-time ambition of writing and editing features content as a Deputy Features Editor. She also gets to work a lot closer to home, skipping the daily commute across the bay.

    Lucy joined the Daily News just a year ago and managed to oversee an entire newsroom reorganization in that time.

    Under her direction, we have improved both the quality and quantity of our local news report. She also helped implement a new deadline page flow that significantly enhanced our ability to produce good newspapers.

    Lucy was previously editor of the Alameda Journal for five years. She has also served as city editor of the Daily Review in Hayward, and as a city, schools and g.a. reporter for The Oakland Tribune, Alameda Journal, San Leandro Times and The Montclarion.

    These moves become effective March 26th.

    Please join me in thanking Lucy and welcoming Mario.

    For now, he can be reached at or in Pacifica at 650-738-4545.

    Carole Leigh
(Photo from the University of Colorado's J-school newsletter, which also carries a feature of Dianda, who graduated from CU in 1976.)

Editor Jerry Roberts roasted in SF

A roast of Jerry Roberts, a former editor at the Chron and Santa Barbara News-Press, drew more than 167 people to a swanky lounge at AT&T Park and raised $30,000 for Roberts' legal defense fund to help him and other journalists being sued by News-Press owner Wendy McCaw. Molly Freedenberg of the Bay Guardian wrote this account of Tuesday's roast for the Santa Barbara Independent. Roberts responded to the roasters by saying, "How come I spent 32 years working in journalism, and nobody noticed till I stopped?”

Roberts, who was a political writer and later managing editor at the Chronicle for many years, went to work for McCaw in 2003 and resigned last summer, saying she was meddling in the newsroom. After he quit, she sued him and he's counter suing. Many other reporters, editors and photographers have quit the Santa Barbara paper as well, and some of them are targets of McCaw lawsuits as well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ex-HP chair walks in reporter spying case

A San Jose judge today dropped the charges against former Hewlett-Packard board Chairwoman Patricia Dunn, who was accused of orchestrating a program to spy on Bay Area journalists and fellow board members, according to the AP.

Five other defendants in the case will avoid jail by pleading no contest to misdemeanors and performing community service.

The charges were dismissed by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Ray Cunningham who said Dunn's fight with ovarian cancer was one factor that played into his decision to dismiss charges against her.

Another factor was the change in state attorney generals from Bill Lockyer to Jerry Brown. Defense Attorney Tom Nolan told Bay City News, "The new attorney general played a significant role."

Jerry Brown defended his decision to offer plea bargains, saying in a statement quoted by Bloomberg News that pretexting "had become a widespread problem over the last several years. In the six months since the attorney general's office first filed criminal charges in the HP case, the use of pretexting has dropped dramatically.''

Pretexting is a euphemism for when a private investigator poses as a phone customer to trick a phone company into releasing phone records. Phone companies usually require part or all of a Social Security number to release such information. The fraudulent use of another person's SSN is prohibited by federal law.

Today's action does not preclude the federal government from filing charges.

The door also remains open to civil suits that might be filed against HP by the reporters whose phone records were stolen or the reporters employers. The nine reporters targeted by HP were Peter Burrows, Ben Elgin and Roger Crockett of Business Week; Pui-Wing Tam and George Anders of the Wall Street Journal; John Markoff of the New York Times; and Dawn Kawamoto, Tom Krazit and Stephen Shankland of CNET's Most of the reporters worked out of San Francisco bureaus.

Judge Cunningham's actions come the same day that HP is holding its annual shareholders meeting in Santa Clara and a group of shareholders, led by the giant state pension fund CalPERS, is seeking reforms in how the company selects its board members. Dennis Johnson, CalPERS' director of corporate governance, told the Chronicle that the HP the spying scandal was a factor in his organization's decision to support the reform proposal.

For the history of the spying case, see Feb. 19 edition of The New Yorker.

Save the date for Bench Bar Media

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Quentin Kopp will discuss California's Public Records Act (which he helped write as a state senator) and the recent CalAware audit of its application at the April 18 meeting of the San Mateo County Bench Bar Media committee. The group will meet at 6 p.m. at Vic's Restaurant, 1125 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos.

The Peninsula Press Club is organizing this event as a resumption of the Bench Bar Media committee which has been active on the Peninsula since the mid-60s. The goal is to protect "free press, fair trial" and public records issues and create smoother working arrangements among the bench, bar, law enforcement and media agencies.

If you cannot attend, we hope you will send someone else from your organization. RSVP to Michelle Carter at and let us know then if you have something else to add to the agenda. More information and directions will be posted later.

Lazarus: Consider charging for news online

As newspapers shift from print to online, they're discovering that the Internet doesn't generate enough money to pay the bills -- that after a decade of posting news stories online, Internet operations only account for 5 percent of a typical newspaper's overall revenue. Meanwhile, sites like Drudge and Google News are linking to the content of newspapers for free.

Chron columnist David Lazarus (left) says in today's edition that newspapers should consider charging people to read their stories. But he says it won't work if some papers still offer stories for free. So he says it's time papers "come together and unite in saying that the era of the free online lunch is over." To avoid legal problems, Lazarus says newspapers should ask Congress for an exemption from anti-trust laws to allow them to work together to charge for content. "Put simply, we need to charge a fair price for our products, and we need to do so together."

Lazarus's column reminds us of a proposal California First Amendment Coalition executive director Peter Scheer (right) made last November:
    "Newspapers and wire services need to figure out a way, without running afoul of antitrust laws, to agree to embargo their news content from the free Internet for a brief period -- say, 24 hours -- after it is made available to paying customers. The point is not to remove content from the Internet, but to delay its free release in that venue. "A temporary embargo, by depriving the Internet of free, trustworthy news in real-time, would, I believe, quickly establish the true value of that information. Imagine the major Web portals -- Yahoo, Google, AOL and MSN -- with nothing to offer in the category of news except out of date articles from "mainstream" media and blogosphere musings on yesterday's news."
Scheer, an attorney, even offered a way to avoid antitrust issues. "[I]t needs to be clear that the newspapers are not acting as a cartel, but as a standard-setting body agreeing on a common standard for the timing of release of copyrighted content to the free Internet."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

KCBS's Jeff Bell writes book about disorder

KCBS AM 740 afternoon co-anchor Jeff Bell (pictured) has written a book about his struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder called "Rewind, Replay, Repeat." Ben Fong-Torres says in the Chron that the book is a fascinating read:
    "He knew there was something askew when he found himself fretting over a cabin cruiser that he may have bumped into while piloting his own boat. The cruiser was docked and seemed unscathed, but Bell found himself constantly returning to the dock, detouring from his work at KTVU in Oakland and KSFO in San Francisco, to inspect the boat, over and over again."
After seeing several therapists, Bell discovered he had OCD, which he says is a biochemical disorder, and began taking steps to recover. Not only has Bell been interviewed by KCBS but by competitors, such as Armstrong & Getty on KNEW. The Web site Local2Me posted this interview. (Photo by Kenny Wardell via the Chronicle.)

Pink Brick nomination irks Pete Wilson

KGO's Pete Wilson wasn't happy when he learned he might receive the San Francisco LGBT Pride Committee's Pink Brick -- a dubious honor given to those who are seen as opposed to gay rights. The LGBT newspaper The Bay Area Reporter said it called Wilson to get his reaction to the nomination. "I'm being nominated for expressing my opinion? I'm not allowed to express my point of view?" Wilson was quoted as saying. Then he reportedly said "no comment" and hung up.

Wilson, who has frequently stated his support for gay rights and gay marriage on his KGO-AM talk show, nonetheless ran into trouble last October when he criticized gay San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty's plan to raise a child with a lesbian friend. Wilson called the situation a "travesty" and said the child deserves two parents who love one another, not co-parents who plan to date different people. Initially the city's gay leaders called for Wilson's firing. Then Wilson made a partial apology, and Dufty called off critics.

Also nominated is "Grey's Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington who called co-star T.R. Knight a derogatory term for a homosexual. The Bay Area Reporter says members of San Francisco's LGBT community will vote on who gets the award. Then a look-alike of the Pink Brick recipient will be publicly dunked on Gay Pride Day.

Not all newspapers are dying

Next time somebody tells you that newspapers are dying, show them this article from the Washington Post. Yes, it's true that big metro dailies are in trouble, but smaller dailies and weeklies are doing just fine.
    "Why? Small papers face less competition from other media outlets, are insulated from ad slumps that have hammered big papers, employ smaller staffs of lower-salaried journalists and have a zealous devotion to local news, both in print and online, industry experts agree. Also, there is less competition on the Web for local news."
Smaller papers don't have to cover dozens of communities like major metros. They can focus on just one town, giving their readers more detailed news coverage. But the Post article warns small dailies not to go all local -- a paper in South Dakota did that and got so many complaints that it had to restore its national and international coverage.

For stock pickers, Lee Enterprises (Symbol LEE) was said to be thriving because most of its papers are small. "Over the past two decades, the company's stock price has likewise gone in the opposite direction of large-newspaper stock, climbing steadily from less than $10 a share in 1988 to more than $30 a share today," the Washington Post noted.

How would KR have done without selling?

Was Knight Ridder chairman and Bay Area resident Tony Ridder smart to have sold off his company's newspapers when he did? Or should he have continued to fight on? The Sacramento-based McClatchy Co., which bought KR's 32 dailies for $4.5 billion and kept 20 of them, continues to see its stock fall. On Monday, McClatchy stock hit a 52-week low. According to the AP, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services have placed McClatchy on a "negative watch" due to difficult industry conditions. S&P said the move "underscores our increasing concerns that McClatchy will not achieve credit measures aligned with the current rating within the near term."

KDFC-FM inks deal with SF Opera

For the first time in 25 years, the San Francisco Opera will have regular radio broadcasts. The San Francisco Business Times reports that classical station KDFC 102.1 will air monthly broadcasts of full-length operas recorded from performances starting Sunday, April 1. Additionally, a partnership with Chicago's WFMT Radio Network will allow opera lovers nationwide to hear the San Francisco company weekly from October through Dec. 1.

KRON sticks with MyNetTV despite ratings

The Hollywood Reporter quotes KRON 4 president and GM Mark Antonitis as saying his station is sticking with News Corp.'s MyNetworkTV despite disappointing ratings that have forced the network to re-work its primetime lineup. The network has cut back its telenovelas from five nights to two and will ad two movie nights as well as bouts from the International Fight League. "We're in with MyNetworkTV for the long haul," says Antonitis. "We know that they're doing everything they can in their power to make long-term success, and we're behind them."

Meanwhile, KRON's parent company, Young Broadcasting, reports that it is now in the black due to cost-cutting and strong sales. The company reported a net income of $726,000 for the quarter, compared to a loss of $14.7 million for the same period a year ago. Young owns 10 stations, the largest of which is KRON.

Scripps honors Fainaru-Wada, Williams

Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada (pictured) are winners of the "Destinguished Service to the First Amendment" award from the Scripps Howard Foundation. They faced 18 months in prison for contempt of court, a sentence the Chronicle vigorously fought until the source, a lawyer in the case, recently and voluntarily stepped forward. They'll share a $10,000 prize. John Diaz, Pati Poblete and Caille Millner of the Chronicle will also receive $10,000 from the foundation and the Walker Stone award for a series of editorials exposing a failed foster care system. (Photo credit: Brad Mangin, Sports Illustrated)

Chron case sparks new look at shield law

USA Today reports that Congress is reconsidering a bipartisan proposal to allow reporters to protect the identity of sources in the wake of several several high-profile cases of journalists threatened with jail time for not revealing their sources, including one involving Chron reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams. Lawmakers are still negotiating language in the bill and say one sticking point is concern over whether national security exceptions are too broad, according to USA Today. Also at issue is whether bloggers should be protected. Some groups, including the ACLU, say bloggers working as reporters should also be protected.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Merc food editor Mary Frances Phillips dies

Mary Frances Phillips, a gastronome who was the editor of the San Jose Mercury News food section for nearly 20 years, has died at her Aptos home at age 75, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Santa Cruz daily to be printed in San Jose

Six weeks after acquiring the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Dean Singleton's MediaNews group has decided to print the 25,000-circulation daily at his Mercury News plant in San Jose. As many as 33 of the Sentinel's 120 employees will be looking for work as a result of the switch.

The move comes a week after MediaNews voided the paper's contract with its 10 Teamster pressmen. They will receive two weeks of severance pay for every year of service with a cap of 24 weeks. In addition, 23 employees in the paper's mail room will be let go, but it is unknown how much severance they will get, if any.

The Sentinel said that its last edition to be printed in Santa Cruz will be on April 30. The paper has been printing on its own presses for 151 years.

When MediaNews bought the Sentinel in February, it said it wasn't planning to close the Santa Cruz press room. But Mercury News publisher George Riggs, who oversees the MediaNews Group's papers in California, said Wednesday that a sharp decline in advertising revenue in the first weeks of the year has company executives "scrambling as fast as we can to offset those" losses.

Riggs said it is also possible that the Sentinel will move from its current home on Church Street since it will not need so much space with the closure of its press.

• Press Club, Feb. 3: MediaNews buys Santa Cruz Sentinel

Monterey Herald gets new publisher

Gary Omernick (left), the publisher of a 24,000-circulation Gannett-owned daily in Battle Creek, Michigan, is taking the helm at the 34,000-circulation Monterey Herald, replacing Jayne Speizer (right), who is stepping down for health reasons. A story in the Herald said Omernick began his career as a 20-year-old advertising salesman for his hometown paper in Manitowoc, Wis. He has been a publisher of five newspapers in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Texas and South Dakota. The Monterey Herald was sold by the now defunct Knight Ridder to Hearst Corp. in August 2006. Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group operates the paper and Omernick will report to George Riggs, publisher of the San Jose Mercury News and president of MediaNews Group's California Newspaper Partnership.

Mediation fails to free Josh Wolf

Court-ordered mediation in the case of jailed journalist Josh Wolf (left) has failed, Bay City News reports. U.S. Magistrate Joseph Spero said in a brief order in the case of Josh Wolf, "A settlement conference was held; the case did not settle." The mediation was ordered last month by U.S. District Judge William Alsup, the judge who found Wolf in contempt for refusing to surrender a videotape of an anarchist protest he shot during which a San Francisco police officer was assaulted and a police car torched. Alsup wrote that he ordered the procedure "in the interest of reaching a resolution satisfactory to both sides." Wolf sold portions of the video to KRON and KTVU, but has refused to release the entire tape to prosecutors, saying it would make him a spy for the government.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

KOIT topples KGO-AM from No. 1 spot

For the first time in 29 years, KGO-AM 810 isn't the top rated radio station in the Bay Area. The latest Arbitron Arbitrends (via for listeners 12+ in November, December and January put KOIT in the top spot with a 5.7 share compared to a 5.5 for KGO. Third was KCBS 740 at 3.8, followed by KMEL (3.6), KSOL/KSQL (3.2), KYLD (3.2), KSFO (3.1), KDFC (3.0), KBLX (2.9) and KKSF (2.8). Such overall ratings are seen as a beauty contest but not particularly relevant to advertisers, who are more interested in demographics. In the 25-54 demo most valued by advertisers, KOIT was first followed by KFOG, KSOL, KGO, KBLX, K101, KISQ, KMEL, KRZZ and KKSF. All-News KCBS was 11th.

Wash. Post's Kurtz discusses Josh Wolf

Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz, in today's edition, discusses whether imprisoned blogger and photographer Josh Wolf is a journalist. Wolf, 24, is serving his 199th day in prison today for refusing to turn over a video he shot of anarchist protesters.

"Wolf's rationale for withholding the video, and refusing to testify, is less than crystal clear," Kurtz writes. "There are no confidential sources involved in the case. He sold part of the tape to local television stations and posted another portion on his blog. Why, then, is he willing to give up his freedom over the remaining footage?"

Kurtz quotes a UCLA law professor as saying that when something is taped in a public place -- and that's what Wolf did -- "it's hard to see even an implied agreement of confidentiality."

Kurtz also quotes a court filing by U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan who says Wolf's resistance "is apparently fueled by his anointment as a journalistic martyr" and that he needs "to come to grips with the fact that he was simply a person with a video camera who happened to record some public events."

But Wolf's mother tells Kurtz that she thinks prosecutors want her son to "testify so they can develop a list of who protests in San Francisco."

MediaNews names national accounts director

Mike Jung, who has held top advertising jobs at the Mercury News and Contra Costa Times, has been named director of national advertising for MediaNews Group's papers in Northern California. He served as national advertising director at the Mercury News before coming to Contra Costa as VP/advertising and marketing in 2005. MediaNews owns all of the paid dailies in the Bay Area except for the Chronicle.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Google attorney joins CFAC's board

Nicole Wong, deputy general counsel of Google, has joined the Board of Directors of the California First Amendment Coalition, the free speech and open-government advocacy group. An expert on legal issues concerning technology and the internet, Wong has responsibility at Google for litigation and legal strategies for all Google products. Before joining Google, she was a partner at Perkins Coie, a Seattle-based law firm, where she represented both traditional media companies --including Hearst Corporation, McClatchy Company, The Los Angeles Times, and Walt Disney -- as well as “new media” clients Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo! (File photo by Declan McCullagh/CNET

Ridder's son Par quits Singleton's paper

Par Ridder, son of former Knight Ridder chairman Tony Ridder, has abruptly resigned as publisher of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and has taken over as publisher of the rival Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Pioneer Press had been in Ridder's family for decades until it was sold last year to McClatchy, which then sold it to Hearst and now is being managed for Hearst by Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group. According to the Pioneer Press, Singleton personally went to St. Paul yesterday to talk to employees about Ridder's departure, admitting he was "surprised and disappointed." Ridder, 38, had been publisher of the Pioneer Press for three years after serving as advertising manager of the Knight Ridder-owned San Luis Obispo Tribune.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

New station plays airchecks from SF's past

Until it begins regular programming on March 15, the Bay Area's newest radio station -- KTRB-AM 860 -- is playing recordings of Bay Area radio personalities from the past. Voices we've heard so far include Dr. Don Rose, Al "Jazz Beaux" Collins, Van Amberg (on KFRC radio before his KGO-TV days), "Emperor" Gene Nelson, Tom Donahue and Alex Bennett. The recordings include jingles for stations and advertisers from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The recordings are from the collection of Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame director David Jackson, who runs The Merc's Brad Kava has details of KTRB's plans after it begins regular programming on March 15.

MediaNews nixes contract in Santa Cruz

The new owner of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group, has told the union representing the paper's 10 press operators that it will not honor its current contract, according to a story in the Sentinel which provided no salary figures. The 10 men are preparing to put in for union jobs at other papers in the area, though shop steward Jeff Styczynski said such jobs are few. Styczynski said about half of the Sentinel's 10 pressmen have told the union they would be willing to work in the press room of the Mercury News, also owned by MediaNews. But they would have to take a pay cut to do so. Union members at the Mercury News recently signed a two-tier contract that pays new employees a lower rate. It is possible that the Sentinel will be published in San Jose and trucked to Santa Cruz. The article notes that the Sentinel has been printed in Santa Cruz since June 14, 1856.

MediaNews starts 2 weeklies in San Jose

Silicon Valley Newspaper Group, a chain of South Bay weeklies owned by MediaNews Group, is adding two more neighborhood community papers. The Cambrian Resident, has an initial circulation of 14,879 and is being delivered to homes in the Cambrian Park area of San Jose. It is edited by Moryt Milo. The Branham Avenue paper, circulation of 12,471, is going to homes within a several-mile radius of Branham Avenue and Almaden Expressway south of Willow Glen and north of Almaden Valley. It is edited by Linda Taaffe.

Who edited the 'hate blacks' column?

A new question is being asked in the week-long controversy over a column headlined "Why I Hate Blacks" in the Asian Week newspaper: Who decided to print the column?

It's one thing for a 22-year-old writer to pen such a column, but what were the editors thinking when they decided to run it? That question was the focus of column by Jon Carroll of the Chronicle and it came up during a Town Meeting in Chinatown Friday that was called to deal with the controversy.

While Ted Fang, Asian Week's editor at large, has been the newspaper's spokesman during the controversy, the job of actually editing the weekly is that of Samson Wong, who has yet to explain publicly why he ran the column. In his column, Carroll tried to get into Wong's head:
    "He gets a new column from his feisty young columnist Kenneth Eng. The title of the column is 'Why I Hate Blacks.'

    "Maybe the first thing he thought was, 'I sure hope this is a fashion column.' It is true that this 'black is the new black' thing is way out of control, and it's about time some feisty young columnist started to ridicule it. But no, it was not a fashion column -- it was a column about why Kenneth Eng hates black people and, by extension, why you should hate black people too. Does it get more racist than that? ..."
Above, AsianWeek's editor-at-large Ted Fang, foreground right, listens as the Rev. Amos Brown, foreground left, speaks at a news conference in San Francisco on Wednesday (Feb. 28). Pictured at rear are Rev. Arnold Townsend, center, and Marie Franklin, vice president of the San Francisco NAACP. AP photo by Jeff Chiu.

Radio buffs open up old Berkeley station

A group of radio buffs is transforming a 1930s radio station in Berkeley from a building of a bygone era into a museum housing radio antiques dating back to the turn of the century, Doug Oakley of the East Bay Daily News reports. The California Historical Radio Society has been restoring the KRE radio station off Shellmound Street at the south end of Aquatic Park for three years.

Pictured is Steve Kushman, president of the California Historical Radio Society. Photo by Doug Oakley.

The story continues:
    "Our purpose is to present in an educational way the history of radio and the importance of radio to people who don't know anything about it," said Steve Kushman, president of the society. "There may be six generations of people who don't know what a vacuum tube is and who Marconi is. They don't teach this in schools."

    (Hint: A vacuum tube is a glass instrument used inside old radios that modified signals and was later replaced by transistors in integrated circuits; Guglielmo Marconi was best known for his development of the radiotelegraph system.)

    The building's control broadcast room was the location for Wolfman Jack and Richard Dreyfuss' scenes in the 1973 movie "American Graffiti."

    The building is owned by Inner City Broadcasting, which uses a room full of equipment and an outside radio tower to transmit signals for its radio stations that broadcast from other locations.

    The rest of the 4,600 square feet was left to the society.

    The group negotiated a free 10-year lease to build the museum. Since the group's formation, it has cleaned up the outside of the building and restored much of the interior, and brought in loads of memorabilia, including vacuum tubes, ham radios, AM and FM radios, televisions, phonographs, teletypes and a complete broadcast control room. Kushman said he has no idea how long it will take to open the museum. In the meantime, anyone who wants to join the society can get a peek at the old gadgets and equipment at society events like the radio restoration classes that start March 10 or during weekend volunteer work days. The next two are slated for March 19 and April 7.

    "We move very slowly, but we're making great progress," said Kushman, who added that all the work is done on a volunteer basis. "Our goal is to have a radio, television and audio exhibit, a museum store where we sell restored radios and publications, and a recording studio where people can record on digital or audio tape and cut a record."

    In addition, the museum will have a ham radio display with printed communications materials dating to the turn of the century and a vintage radio repair shop. The group recently made a presentation to the Berkeley Parks and Recreation Commission on its progress.

    "We want the city to know who we are," said society board chairman Mike Adams. "We didn't ask for anything. Some day we may. We want to be good citizens of Berkeley. We wanted to show what we've done with the property. It really was an eyesore; gangs had covered it in graffiti before we started."

    Adams said it would be great if someone came along and donated a pile of money to fund the museum.

    "We want someone who is interested in the history of broadcasting," Adams said. "Everybody thinks it's a great idea what we are doing. We want to make it something the public would benefit from."

Friday, March 2, 2007

Pete Wilson up for "Pink Brick" award

The LGBT's community's Bay Area Reporter says that KGO's Pete Wilson has been nominated for the dubious "Pink Brick" award for his criticism of gay San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty's plan to raise a child with a lesbian friend. Wilson, who has publicly said he supports gay rights and gay marriage, told his radio audience last October that the child deserves two parents who love one another, not co-parents who plan to date different people. Initially the city's gay leaders called for Wilson's firing. Then Wilson made a partial apology, and Dufty called off critics by saying he accepted the apology. Wilson kept both of his jobs, as a talk show host on KGO-AM and as an anchor on KGO ABC7.

Another nominee is "Grey's Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington who called co-star T.R. Knight a derogatory term for a homosexual. The Bay Area Reporter says members of San Francisco's LGBT community will vote on who gets the award. Then a look-alike of the Pink Brick recipient will be publicly dunked on Gay Pride Day.

Previous Pink Brink winners include Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (2006), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (2005), Attorney General John Ashcroft (2004) and Dr. Laura Schlessinger (2002).

Free interns illegal? Weeklies disagree

Media outlets who use unpaid interns who are not registered students are violating state labor laws, the SF Weekly claims in a story that allows it to bash its rival, the Bay Guardian, which is accused of using such help. The SF Weekly also points fingers at San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, Diablo Magazine, Dwell and Yoga Journal.

"If you're not a student getting [academic] credit, you're not a true intern," Stephanie Barrett of the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement is quoted by the SF Weekly as saying. "You're an employee and you should be paid like one."

The SF Weekly's Martin Kuz writes the following about the Guardian:
    "The Guild official [Doug Cuthbertson] contends that the Bay Guardian's dependence on unpaid interns contradicts its persistent advocacy of workers' rights. Recalling Brugmann's quashing of efforts to unionize the paper in the 1970s and '80s, Cuthbertson says, 'For all [Guardian publisher Bruce Brugmann's] liberal talk, he hasn't matched it with his actions.'"
However, Brugmann says he is obeying the law as it has been interpreted by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, whose legal counsel disputes the state's legal analysis that only students can be classified as interns.

The SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and their owner, Village Voice Media, are being sued by Brugmann's Guardian for selling ads at below the cost of producing them in an attempt to put the Guardian out of business. The trial starts July 16 in San Francisco.

Ch. 2 tops in late news, Ch. 5 first at 11

In the February sweeps, KPIX CBS5 is claiming a first-place victory among the four stations airing news at 11 p.m. though KTVU Channel 2 continues to top all of the news stations in the market with its 10 p.m. news. CBS5 says in a news release that it's Monday-Friday rating at 11 p.m. was 4.4 compared to 3.7 for KGO ABC7, 3.0 for KNTV NBC11 and 1.4 for KRON4. However, KTVU got a 5.6 rating for its "10'O Clock News," the market's long-time leader. KGO ABC7 was first at 5 and 6 p.m. In the early morning news race, KTVU was first at both 5 and 6 a.m.

Feinstein, Pelosi abstain on Wolf resolution

Richard Knee, writing for the online newspaper Fog City Journal, reports that the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee approved Wednesday a resolution backing imprisoned journalist Josh Wolf and urging the enactment of a federal shield law to protect journalists. Knee says none of the delegates opposed the resolution, though proxies for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Assembly member Fiona Ma abstained from voting on the resolution. Read the resolution.