Friday, February 29, 2008

Newspaper says it will close if it loses lawsuit

Talk about a dramatic finish! The attorney for the SF Bay Guardian told a jury Thursday that if his paper will close if it loses its predatory pricing lawsuit against the chain-owned SF Weekly, according to the San Francisco Daily and the SF Weekly. The Guardian has yet to post its report on closing arguments in the month-long trial in San Francisco Superior Court. The Chronicle and Examiner haven't reported on the trial at all. Here's how Richard Cole's story in the independently owned SF Daily began:
    The predatory pricing trial pitting the San Francisco Bay Guardian against the Phoenix-owned SF Weekly went to jurors yesterday, with the Guardian saying it would be out of business soon if it lost.

    The Guardian had filed suit in 2004 charging that for 12 years the Weekly has lost money by undercharging advertisers in order to strangle the local paper, "and be the only game in town," as their Executive Editor Michael Lacey reportedly said in 1995.

    The Guardian estimated its damages since 2001 at between $4 million and $11 million.

    "If this continues, it will be out of business," warned the Guardian's lawyer Ralph Alldredge in closing statements. "The mathematics is inevitable."

    But the Weekly's lawyer countered that the Guardian is blaming his newspaper, now owned by the Village Voice group, for its inability to compete in an advertising world that is increasingly moving to the Internet and other media.

    "This trial is a microcosm of what is going on around the United States," said H. Sinclair Kerr. "Print media is struggling." More
The SF Weekly's online edition includes blog postings by Andy Van De Voorde, executive associate editor of Village Voice Media, who came to San Francisco to cover the trial. Here's a portion of what he wrote about closing arguments:
    Alldredge repeatedly sought to cast the Guardian as the victim in a morality play pitting it against a voracious out-of-town competitor — despite the fact that the paper made more money last year than the Weekly and continues to have a higher circulation.

    Moments earlier, Alldredge had invoked author Lewis Carroll in an effort to drive home his claim that the Guardian, despite being the larger and more profitable of the two papers, was more accurately viewed as a helpless mollusk about to be devoured by an angry marine mammal. ...

    “The walrus and the oysters were having a party on the beach,” began Alldredge in a rare storytelling moment that broke up a closing consisting mostly of dry recitations of the Guardian’s circumstantial case (the paper has provided no direct evidence of a predatory scheme).

    “The walrus ends up eating an oyster. And the walrus feels really bad. He says he really didn’t want to hurt the oyster, he just wanted to eat him.”

    Alldredge paused and smiled at the jury.

    The suggestion was that Alldredge’s client, Bruce Brugmann (right), who watched the day’s proceedings from the gallery, was the shell-shocked oyster in the tale, and New Times executive editor Michael Lacey, who was also in attendance in the next row, was the flippered beast about to gulp him down.

    It was a somewhat inconvenient analogy given the 6-foot-5 Brugmann’s sheer heft. More
The parenthesis five grafs up were De Voorde's. He also notes that the jury met briefly after the proceedings came to an end, but chose not to work on the case until Friday morning. The panel will begin deliberating at 8:30 a.m. at the courthouse on McAllister Street.

Oakland Tribune editor responds to blogger

As newspapers cut back on local coverage, bloggers are attempting to fill the void. An example is which is written by Echa Schneider, who writes on the site under the screen name VSmoothe. The Chron's Chip Johnson discusses her blog and others covering Oakland politics in his column today. Schneider is critical of news coverage her town receives from the Oakland Tribune. She recently asked, "Why is Oakland’s political coverage so piss-poor? I mean, the Trib has basically one and a half writers covering government here, and the Chronicle has one plus a twice a week columnist." She got a response from Tribune Managing Editor Martin Reynolds, who said:
    Frankly, the economics of the news business these days don’t allow you to have that many reporters covering one city’s government. To do that, we would have to not cover Oakland schools, the port, Alameda County — something would suffer.

    We have to make choices. ...
Reynolds says of Schneider's blog:
    I find this blog to be one of the more informed I have come across. Most recycle what news organizations produce and then run on with Exlax of the fingertips with no journalistic contribution, other than the valuable notion of opinon, which of course has its place.

    That said, I find the need for these kinds of forums essential, and that blogs like this are an important part of the conversation, but rarely do they amount to journalism. I am pleased to see this one at least endeavors to adopt a measure of standard. And I frankly agree with your premise: More information is good.

    I would completely agree, there needs to be more resources devoted to the coverage of Oakland government, but rest assured, it is a priority.

    Reporter Kelly Rayburn is hot on the trails of the Dellums administration and has a weekly column “Citywise” that sums up the various goings on with the City Council without the burden of an entire story for each item. This enables him to focus on more step-back pieces.

    As a news organization we have had to decide what’s most important: Process or perspective. And we have largely chosen the latter. We need to frame what is happening in the city for readers, around issues like Children’s Hospital, the Port, police, City Hall and the like.

    It’s easy to sit back and denounce what is not being covered. It’s entirely more difficult to figure out how to make sure what needs to be covered gets covered.
Johnson points out in his column today that since Schneider began, a dozen sites have been erected and gone dormant, including a site titled Common Sense. Still others, like update irregularly. A new blog entry,, started last month.

How many people are reading this stuff? On Schneider's biggest day, she drew about 600 hits with a blog on an AC Transit story. And traffic on the site has doubled since December, jumping 30 percent the day after Dellums' speech in early January, she told Johnson.

LA Times discusses Merc's future

From this morning's LA Times:
    At the San Jose Mercury News, reporters have been instructed to wait at home on the morning of March 7. If they don't get a phone call by 10 a.m. telling them that they've lost their jobs, they should head to work.

    Long the oracle of Silicon Valley technology and the go-to spot for government and community news in Santa Clara County, the Mercury News has pared back coverage on several fronts as its news staff has shrunk to about 200 from twice that number in 1999.

    What's happening in San Jose is being repeated to a greater or lesser degree across California. Buyouts and layoffs are being imposed at newspapers all over the country, of course, but California is especially vulnerable because of the severity of its real estate downturn. Along with real estate, advertising in related categories such as home furnishings, hardware and even big-box electronics retailing has been slowing, newspaper executives say. More.
The Times points out the appetite for news is as strong as ever. But the problem is that few news organizations have yet found a way to make the kind of money online that they had generated from print.

Columnist predicts Ward will get a wrist slap

Joseph Farah, founder of the conservative Web site and former editor of the Sacramento Union newspaper, says that based on his experiences as a reporter, he's surprised authorities didn't remove the children from the home of now former KGO-AM host Bernie Ward when he was accused of transmitting child pornography. Farah writes:
    As a newsman, I can tell you it is the rule, not the exception, for children to be removed from the household in these circumstances. Interviews with the children are not even considered by law enforcement to be valid if they are not protected from possible victimizers.

    I've seen a lot of ugliness and sin and depravity in my job as a journalist over the last three decades. Nevertheless, I am shocked about the way this Bernie Ward investigation has proceeded. Yes, even in San Fransicko, this is surprising to me.

    One of these days, we'll probably learn that Bernie Ward got off with a slap on the wrist. And, knowing his predilection for dominatrixes, he will probably enjoy it.
After a police report surfaced that detailed Ward's online conversations, the site for his defense fund disappeared.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

KALW plans new local news program

KALW-FM 91.7, a non commercial station owned by the San Francisco Unified School District, is launching a 30-minute local newscast that will air at 5 p.m., according to the station's Web site. The pilot editions of the program will air next week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The program will launch in August.

"The half-hour show will feature in-depth reporting on public policy, as well as the voices of the newsmakers, artists, and everyday people who make the Bay Area remarkable," KAWL says. The station is also asking listeners to e-mail them with feedback in order to make the new program as valuable and compelling as possible.

Nasdaq to delist KRON owner as stock falls

Young Broadcasting, owner of 10 stations nationwide including KRON Channel 4, has become a penny stock. Nasdaq has sent Young a notice saying that since the broadcaster's minimum bid price of its common stock had fallen below $1 for the prior 30 consecutive business days, its common stock is, therefore, subject to delisting by that stock exchange. Earlier this month Young said it was eliminating 11 percent of its work force to cut costs. This morning, Young was trading at 78 cents.

Carole Leigh Hutton to head United Way

Carole Leigh Hutton, who stepped down as executive editor and vp of the Mercury News on Jan. 3, has been named the new president of United Way Silicon Valley, the Merc reported today. The job pays $225,000 a year and she will have responsibility over an organization that has a $14 million annual budget.

Merc to share copy desk with sister papers

The Mercury News is making plans to relocate its copy desk, consolidating it with other MediaNews papers in the Bay Area, according to this story on the newspaper's job cuts that ran in Metro, the San Jose-based alt-weekly.

"The news of more cuts has hit the San Jose Mercury News hard," Metro writer Erin Sherbert says in a piece headlined "Panic Room." "The mood is pretty gloomy among staffers at the paper, which has lost stability with major turnover in editorial leadership and in its executive ranks over the last year."

Sherbert notes that the number of local news stories has dropped in the Merc. "The irony is that the few subscribers left will drop as the product declines," said Bill Briggs, director of the school of journalism and mass communications at San Jose State University. "No one has the solution yet, but I wouldn't look to MediaNews to lead the way." (Photo credit: AP)

High school paper returns after lawsuit

Novato High School has a student newspaper again seven years after a student's opinion piece on illegal immigration caused administrators to confiscate the paper, sparking a First Amendment lawsuit that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The student, Andrew Smith, sued the district for infringing on his free speech rights and won. The school district fought him in state and federal courts for several years, but last week the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a lower court ruling in favor of Smith, which ended the case. Smith was represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, which called it a "precedent-setting victory against any attempt to impose ‘politically correct’ thought codes on student journalists in California.”

As the case moved through the courts, the student newspaper collapsed. But now the school's journalism club has brought it back to life, according to a report in the weekly Novato Advance. The club printed its first issue earlier this year and is working on a second one. Journalism club adviser Deborah Thompson called the first edition "lighthearted," a departure from the issue following 9/11 which was confiscated by school officials.

Singleton swings the ax in Los Angeles too

The blog LA Observed says MediaNews, headed by Dean Singleton, is cutting 22 editorial staffers at the LA Daily News which serves San Fernando Valley. Word of the layoffs came down from Editor Ron Kaye at a staff meeting. "Kaye broke down as he tried to assure reporters, editors and others that the little paper in the Valley will plug along as an alternative to the Times and put out the best paper they can. But it sounds as if the room felt that today was the end of an era and the beginning of something much different," Kevin Roderick of LA Observed wrote.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Editorial page editor Wright to leave Merc

Steve Wright, Mercury News editorial page editor and vice president, has accepted a buyout offer and is leaving the paper, station KLIV-AM 1590 reported today. Wright also does commentaries at the San Jose radio station. Downsizing has hit all areas of the Merc including its editorial page, where the Perspective section on Sundays was eliminated last June.

The Merc has had several high-profile departures in the past two months. On Monday, Merc tech columnist Dean Takahashi left the paper to join a blogging company. On Feb. 5, Merc publisher Jeff Kiel was replaced after six months in that post by Mac Tully from the Kansas City Star. On Jan. 14, George Riggs, former publisher of the Merc and Contra Costa Times, stepped down as president of California Newspapers Partnership, the three-company group controlled by MediaNews that runs those two newspapers and many others. On Jan. 3, Merc executive editor Carole Leigh Hutton was replaced by David Butler, an executive with MediaNews. Last week, the Merc offered buyouts to its non-union employees as part of a downsizing move forced by a reduction in real estate advertising.

Brugmann called back to witness stand

On the last day of testimony in the Bay Guardian's predatory pricing lawsuit against the SF Weekly, Guardian owner Bruce Brugmann was asked to return to the witness stand.

The Weekly's lawyer, H. Sinclair Kerr Jr., asked Brugmann about his statement that he didn't know the Chronicle had lost more than $300 million in the past few years. The Weekly is arguing that all newspapers are losing revenue, so the Guardian can't blame its problems on the Weekly. Kerr pulled out a Guardian story from a year ago that reported on court records showing a $330 million Chronicle loss.

Here's how the SF Weekly reported the testimony:
    “The article reports the loss of $330 million, correct?” Kerr asked Brugmann (right). “Specifically the bottom paragraph on page one?”

    “Okay,” replied Brugmann.

    The publisher didn’t appear eager to acknowledge that he had angrily sought to discredit information that had been printed in his own paper.

    “Isn’t that correct?” continued Kerr.

    “I don’t know if it’s correct or not, but that’s what the sentence says,” answered Brugmann.

    The publisher then proceeded to repeat his claim that chain papers are not to be trusted when reporting their financial results.

    “I’ve been covering [Chronicle owner] Hearst since 1965,” said Brugmann, who failed to note that he has also sued the Chronicle, claiming, just as he has in the present lawsuit, that a competitor was to blame for his inability to sell sufficient advertising. “Their profit and loss statements have been a mystery to me for years.”
And here's how the Guardian reported it:
    The Weekly’s lawyers pulled a weird move at the very end of the trial, recalling Guardian publisher Bruce Brugmann to the witness stand and asking him a question that had almost nothing to do with the issues at hand. Brugmann had testified early in the trial, and on cross-examination, he was asked if he knew that the San Francisco Chronicle had lost some $300 million over the past few years.

    No, Bruce said; Hearst Corp, which owns the Chron, is a privately held corporation and nobody’s sure exactly what the numbers are.

    This time around, Weekly lawyer H. Sinclair Kerr pulled out a Guardian story from a year ago that reported on court records showing a $330 million Chronicle loss. I guess the implication was the Bruce didn’t remember what was in his own paper (frankly, I didn’t remember the exact figure either; I review almost every one of the hundreds of news stories we run every year, but I can’t swear to recall every detail of every single one).

    Bruce’s response: Sure, we reported on the best figures we could find. And the point was?

    Of course, the Weekly is trying to argue that since some daily newspapers are losing money, it would be reasonable to expect any an alternative newspaper in San Francisco to lose money, too. And thus any financial hit the Guardian has taken over the past seven years is the fault of market conditions, not predatory pricing by a big Phoenix-based chain.
Also testifying yesterday was Bill Johnson, who heads a six-paper chain that includes the Palo Alto Weekly. He pointed out that dailies have been hit much harder by the Internet than weeklies, a statement that should help the Guardian in its claim that it would have done better in recent years had it not been for unfair competition from the chain-owned SF Weekly. Johnson is quoted as saying: most non-daily publishers I know have done very well” during the past seven years, the time period the lawsuit covers.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Marla Miller is giving attorneys for both sides today (Wednesday) off to prepare final exhibits for inspection by the jury, the SF Weekly said. Closing arguments are set for Thursday morning. The case should go to the jury late in the day Thursday.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Deadline near to enter Press Club contest

It's not too late to enter the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club's Greater Bay Area Journalism Competition. Entries need to be received by midnight Friday, Feb. 19. In many categories, entering is as easy as printing a story from a PDF, filling out the entry form (download here) and mailing it in. Details can be found here.

Hearst Examiner archives sold at show

A follow-up to our Feb. 11 item from the SF Daily about how photos from the historic Hearst Examiner archives, which were supposed to have been donated to UC Berkeley, are actually being sold on eBay.

Now it appears they were also sold at an antiques show by, the same company that's selling them on eBay. The publication Antiques And The Arts carries a report about the show in Hartford, Conn.:
    "The 'mosh pit' crowd at was intent on finding priceless images among the piles culled from the huge archive of the San Francisco Examiner that the Seaford, N.Y., firm acquired last year for a 'seven-figure sum,' according to principal Josh Evans. 'We bring about 25,000 images to each show we do,' said Evans, 'Everything is priced at $3, and people have found photos valued at up to $800' among this collection of news photos, local San Francisco subjects, sports, entertainment and military."
The article gives no indication as to who sold the items to The Examiner's owner, billlionaire oilman Phil Anschutz, got a $18.4 million tax write-off for the donation — more than the $10.7 million he paid the Fang family to buy the newspaper in 2004.

Ken Doctor: NYT should sell Santa Rosa

It's no secret that the New York Times is under pressure to make more money. Ken Doctor (right), a former Knight Ridder executive who is now with the research firm Outsell, says that while "it pains me to suggest it," it may be time for the Times to sell off its regional papers like the Press Democrat so that it can concentrate on its core business. The Times jettisoned its TV stations last year, so selling off its regional papers isn't far fetched.

Doctor writes:
    "[T]he Times runs above-average regional properties, from Boston to Sarasota to Santa Rosa. Most observers will tell you that it seems to devote more resources to those newsrooms than the average newspaper, and the communities served are better for it. The companies largely do good journalism, and they've made a lot of the right moves online, as good management overall and in the digital business pushes forward.

    ... Maybe, in our ideal world, the Times -- if it isn't forced to take a fire-sale approach to a sale -- could look for buyers who value the newspapers as community institutions and have the deep pockets to fund them as traditional revenue falls."

Closing arguments Thursday in SF Weekly trial

After more than four weeks of testimony, closing arguments will likely take place Thursday in the San Francisco Bay Guardian's predatory pricing lawsuit against the SF Weekly and its parent Village Voice Media.

It's a case in which a locally owned independent claims that a national chain is cutting its ad prices to below cost with the intention of running it out of business. Kind of like how Wal-Mart, when it moves into a small rural town, cuts its prices so low that people stop shopping at Main Street businesses. Once those local businesses close, Wal-Mart jacks up its prices to recoup its losses. Then it moves on to other towns.

Both sides in this lawsuit agree that Bruce Brugmann's Guardian has had tough times. But the SF Weekly says he has only himself to blame for his business bloopers. The Weekly has argued that the Guardian was out of touch with younger readers, didn't keep up with changing market conditions and didn't adapt to the Internet soon enough.

The Chronicle, Examiner and AP haven't written a word about the trial being heard in SF Superior Court judge Marla Miller's courtroom. Only the little SF Daily and SF activist/lawyer Randy Shaw's Beyond Chron Web site have covered it.

Mark Fitzgerald of E&P reported yesterday on how each of the weeklies is covering the trial with blogs that "that are gleefully unconcerned about appearing objective, and recall the great newspaper feuds of yesteryear."

It's possible that the blogs are aimed at jurors. While judge Miller has told jurors not to read news accounts of the trial, the blogs have picked up on incredibly small details of each day's testimony and attempted to spin them. It wouldn't take a fan of John Grisham to conclude that somebody was hoping to commit online jury tampering. Why else would the SF Weekly's writer, who was brought in from headquarters to cover the trial, recite in detail the evidence that the judge had excluded from trial? But, of course, jurors never go online when return home every night.

'60 Minutes' probes local editor's murder

If you missed it, here's a link to the script and video of the "60 Minutes" segment Sunday on the murder of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey. While Anderson Cooper's report didn't shed new light on the murder, it acquainted the nation with a case that has made headlines in the Bay Area for the past six months.

The report included an interview with reporter Chris Thompson (right), who received death threats after writing the first stories about the criminal activities of Yusef Bey and his Your Black Muslim Bakery. "60 Minutes" also used dramatic video shot by KPIX of bakery employees outside an Oakland tow-yard, marching like Marines, demanding the release of a car.

Cooper also did a jail-house interview with Devaughndre Broussard, the 20-year-old bakery janitor charged with gunning down Bailey. Broussard repeated what he has told other interviewers, that he didn't do it, and that he agreed to take the fall at the request of Bey's son, Yusuf Bey IV. Cooper notes that Oakland police put the younger Bey and Broussard in a conference room together, where Broussard claims he was told he had to take the fall in order to pass a test from God. Cooper notes that cops didn't listen in or record the conversation, however. The report gives the impression that Oakland police have come up short in their investigation, pointing out that while the case is still open, Broussard remains the only one charged six months after the murder.

Dean Takahashi pens final Merc column

Tech journalist Dean Takahashi's last column ran in the Merc on Monday, closing a 20-year career in newspapers and magazines, he says. He's leaving to work as a full-time blogger at VentureBeat, a blogging company started by former San Jose Mercury News staff writer Matt Marshall.

Takahashi wrote in his final Merc blog posting:
    "I will be working out of my home, preferably in my warm-ups, and will still try to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s interesting in Silicon Valley. Our coverage will covering startups in the digital media space, including video games, but it will also include important digital media developments at companies such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, Electronic Arts, and Apple."
In his final printed column, he adds:
    "As with any start-up, I have no idea if this is going to succeed. It's a roll of the dice. Now that I know the feeling of sailing off into uncertainty, I have more admiration for the people who have taken such risks over and over again. I am not going to be sitting on the sidelines, watching and commenting. I'm going to be a participant in creating something new.

    "... The great advantage that this newspaper will always have, which the Internet will never take away, is its sense of place. It is the hometown newspaper. It is right in the middle of the most interesting place on Earth.

    "I hope readers will continue to be involved in the newspaper and help it steer a course. If the newspaper keeps the readers front and center, then I have to believe it will stay relevant, the same way that radio has kept alive in the face of innovations such as TV, satellite radio, and the Internet. Wish us all luck."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

'60 Minutes' to report on Bailey's death

"60 Minutes'' will air a story tonight (Sunday) on the killing of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey (right). It includes an interview Anderson Cooper did with Devaughndre Broussard, 20, (left) who is charged with gunning down the veteran journalist on Aug. 2. As he has in the past, Broussard denied killing Bailey, 57, and tells Cooper that someone else was the triggerman, according to a the "60 Minutes" Web site.

CBS5 to launch 10 p.m. newscast on Ch. 44

CBS5 plans take on Channel 2's top rated "10 O'Clock News" in a head-to-head competition starting in one week.

Dana King, Ken Bastida, Dennis O’Donnell and Roberta Gonzales will anchor a 30-minute 10 p.m. newscast on the CBS's Channel 44 starting March 3 which will be broadcast in HD. The same quartet will continue to anchor Channel 5's 11 p.m. news.

The move follows the introduction of primetime newscasts by ABC7 on Channel 20 in January 2007 and KTVU on Channel 36 in January of this year. But the Channel 20 newscast airs at 9 p.m. and Channel 36's news is at 7 p.m. No TV station in the market has an 8 p.m. news.

While the Channel 20 and Channel 36 newscasts air five days a week, the new Channel 44 "Eyewitness News" will be seen seven days a week. Ann Notarangelo and meteorologist Lawrence Karnow will anchor the weekend shows. Rick Quan will be the sports anchor on Saturday nights and Dennis O’Donnell on Sunday nights.

CBS5 will launch its 10 p.m. newscast just 11 weeks before longtime KTVU anchor Dennis Richmond retires on May 21 after 40 years at the station.

Channel 2's competitors have launched numerous 10 p.m. newscasts over the years but haven't been able to knock off KTVU in the ratings.

In 1992, KRON 4, then the market's NBC affiliate, and KPIX 5 switched their network primetime lineups from 8-11 p.m. to 7 to 10 p.m. so that they could air their late newscasts at 10 p.m. against Channel 2. CBS and NBC executives in New York were irate, but couldn't do anything about it -- they didn't own those stations. At the time KPIX was owned by Westinghouse and KRON was owned by the families that also owned the Chronicle. KGO-TV, owned by ABC since it went on the air in 1949, didn't change its schedule and kept its late news at 11.

However, neither Channel 4 or 5 were able to beat Channel 2 at 10 p.m. A year later, under heavy pressure from NBC, KRON 4 moved primetime back to 8-11 p.m. KPIX 5 stuck with early prime until 1998.

Just as KPIX was moving its late news from 10 to 11, Channel 20 launched the "WB20 News at 10," a one-hour newscast anchored by Cheryl Hurd, formerly of KPIX, that was intended to have "edge and energy," according to a Tim Goodman column. The newscast was canceled in 2002.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Newspaper Web sites losing readers

Outsell Research analyzed unique visitors to 25 newspaper sites and found the worst performer on the list was, which lost 30 percent of visitors during a one-year period that ended last July, according to E&P. Gannett's network of 100 sites fell 2 percent, the LA Times was down 3 percent and USA Today declined 9 percent. dropped 12 percent during the period, though its top columnists were on the paid side of its site then.

"We see that many news Web sites actually lost ground year-over-year, welcoming fewer unique visitors," wrote Outsell's Ken Doctor, a former Knight Ridder Digital exec. Here's Outsell's press release describing its research. The actual report can be obtained for a fee.

Union may have to pay paper's legal fees

A union that tried to stop the Marin Independent Journal from getting the salaries of government workers might have to pay the legal fees that newspaper incurred in its fight to get the information. The AP's Paul Elias reports that the California Court of Appeal in San Francisco heard arguments in the case Thursday.

In September 2006, the Marin County Management Association, representing 300 middle managers among the 2,100 county employees, convinced Judge Michael Dufficy to block the release of the salaries to the newspaper. The MediaNews paper appealed. While the appeal moved through the courts, the California Supreme Court ruled on Aug. 27, 2007 that government salaries were public record. So it is likely that Marin County will soon release the salaries to the Marin IJ. However, Thursday's hearing concerned whether the union has to now pay the newspaper's legal fees. The AP story did not give a dollar amount for the legal fees.

Student wins battle over immigration essay

The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling in favor of a Novato high school student who sued when school administrators confiscated student newspapers containing an essay he wrote on immigration in 2001. The California Supreme Court also rejected the school district's appeal last September. It was not immediately clear what the district spent pursuing appeals to both the nation's and the state's highest courts, the Marin IJ reported.

The student, Andrew Smith, graduated and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He now works in the construction industry and is in a reserve unit. His essay, which urged stronger enforcement of immigration laws, prompted school officials to seized copies of the Novato High School Buzz newspaper. Administrators also delayed publication of another article and apologized to parents and students. Smith was represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, whose Paul Beard II told the IJ that the Novato district filed a petition with the federal court even though the lower court ruling was based entirely on state law. The district asserted the federal court should weigh in anyway.

"Their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court was so frivolous we decided not to even respond," Beard said. "The (lower court) decision was based entirely on California law and the unique protection California law provides to students."

"The California decision is published and binding across the state right now," Beard told the IJ. "It makes California, probably, the most protective state for students - the federal is a much lower standard."

Channel 4's owner to cut work force by 11%

Young Broadcasting, owner of 10 stations nationwide including KRON Channel 4, announced Thursday that it is reducing its work force by 11 percent company wide. Also to cut costs, Young put KRON 4 up for sale last month and it hopes to select a buyer by the end of March. A press release on the budget cuts did not say how many jobs would be eliminated in San Francisco, but the company plans to increase its use of the VJ or video journalist concept where reporters also operate cameras.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dan Farber replaces Jai Singh at CNET

After 12 years at CNET News, Jai Singh (left) is leaving the San Francisco internet news company and will be replaced by two people -- Dan Farber (right), the new editor of CNET, and Scott Ard (far right), who will head CNET Reviews. Farber had been editor in chief of CNET's ZDNet, and Ard had been an executive editor in charge of CNET Reviews and Larry Dignan will take over Farber's job at ZDNet, a business technology web site run by CNet.

John Bowman: Singleton's Waterloo is near

After hearing about MediaNews Group's staff reduction plans in the Bay Area, former San Mateo County Times editor John Bowman wrote on his blog:
    "The slow-motion train wreck that has been Dean Singleton's latest foray into the Bay Area over the past two years is clearly gathering steam. ... [The buyouts are] more evidence that Singleton is a one-trick pony whose one trick -- slashing jobs, slashing pages, slashing quality, slashing costs -- isn't working very well."

Guild disturbed by job cuts at Merc

"We know the damage layoffs will create for our families and our community and the further deterioration it will cause to our news product," the San Jose Guild unit said on its Web site. "While we understand the revenue difficulties and debt obligations facing MediaNews, we firmly believe the Mercury News cannot sustain continued cutbacks. It must invest in its workforce, through training and good-paying jobs." More

As major metros shrink, free dailies grow

While Singleton and Hearst lay off workers, free daily newspapers continue to sprout up. reports that the Tribune Co., which is cutting jobs at most of its papers, plans to launch a free daily in Baltimore on April 14. Tribune's free dailies in Chicago (the RedEye) and New York (amNewYork) are making money, so why not have more?

The Baltimore paper would be the third free daily to launch this year so far.

In Salt Lake City, Dean Singleton's paid daily started a free afternoon daily called The Buzz on Feb. 1. And in Halifax, Nova Scotia (we had to look at the map, too -- it's a seaport town in a Canadian province east of Maine) one of the town's two paid papers was replaced by a free daily that started Feb. 14. also reports that there are 67 free dailies in North America. A big jump from 1995 when there were just five.

The Bay Area is home to one of the earliest free dailies, the Palo Alto Daily News, founded in 1995. Others include the San Mateo Daily Journal (2000), the San Francisco Examiner (which went from paid to free in 2003), the San Francisco City Star (November 2006, held by Examiner owner Phil Anschutz) and the San Francisco Daily (May 2006). The SF Daily is owned by Palo Alto Daily News founders Dave Price and Jim Pavelich. They sold the Palo Alto Daily News in 2005 to Knight Ridder. (Full disclosure: Price is the Press Club's webmaster.)

The big players in the U.S. free daily business are Tribune (RedEye in Chicago and amNewYork), Metro (with editions in N.Y., Boston and Chicago) and Anschutz (with Examiners in Baltimore, Washington and San Francisco). By the way, the three Metro papers are for sale.

Investigative reporting fellowships available

The Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism is now accepting applications for its annual competition for three year-long fellowships. They are open to all working journalists, but preference will be given to graduates of UC Berkeley's master's program in journalism. The deadline for applications is April 1. Here's the link.

"Supporting the development and practice of in-depth journalism in the public interest is critical given continuing cutbacks in broadcast and print newsrooms across the country,” said Lowell Bergman, director of the Investigative Reporting Program.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Correction regarding MediaNews job cuts

Pete Carey at the Merc informs us that members of the Guild at his paper are not being offered buyouts. Thanks Pete for the correction.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

MediaNews offers buyouts to 1,100 workers

MediaNews announced today that it plans to cut jobs across the board at its Bay Area newspapers due to a reduction in real estate advertising.

Nearly all of the company's employees in the Bay Area are being given two weeks to decide if they want to apply for a buyout. If an insufficient number of employees apply, management will decide who will lose their job on March 3.

The offers are being made to 1,100 employees in the East Bay (Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, etc.), including 300 newsroom staffers. (CORRECTION: Pete Carey at the Mercury News informs us that members of the Guild at his paper are not being offered buyouts. This item previously said they were.)

The Merc posted this story about the cuts it will make, the third round of layoffs since MediaNews acquired the paper in August 2006. The number of job cuts was not specified.

More information was available about cuts in the East Bay. According to this memo from Bay Area News Group-East Bay publisher and president John Armstrong, the buyout is being offered to all employees except him and the "operating directors" of the company.

Armstrong did not say how many jobs the company intends to eliminate or how much money it hopes to save.

"For one thing, the number can change depending on who applies and is accepted for a buy-out," Armstrong wrote in the memo to employees. "Second, we are seeking a dollar savings, not a reduction in a specific number of jobs. But I will say this: The number of jobs that will be eliminated will be significant.

He said the cuts were forced by the slump in the real estate industry, which has resulted in less advertising.

"Almost without exception, real estate forecasters believe the Bay Area will be saddled with a housing slump for 12 to 18 months, and talk of a recession is now commonplace," said Armstrong.

After reviewing its finances, management concluded that it had to reduce its operating expenses quickly, the story said.

"We cannot get to where we need to be without reducing the size of the work force," Armstrong said.

Armstrong called these "very tough times of historic proportion."

The papers are owned by California Newspapers Partnership, which is controlled by MediaNews Group, headed by Dean Singleton. MediaNews owns 54.23 percent, Stephens Group of Las Vegas has a 26.28 percent interest and Gannett has 19.49 percent.

Slain editor Bailey to receive Polk Award

Long Island University announced today that Chauncey Bailey, who was gunned down last August while in the midst of investigating a Muslim bakery, will posthumously receive the George Polk Award for Local Reporting. "In a career spanning more than 30 years, Bailey earned a reputation as a tireless, hard-nosed journalist who was dedicated to addressing the concerns of black communities in California’s Bay Area," the university said in announcing the award.

Oakland Post Publisher Paul Cobb told Josh Richman of the Oakland Tribune that the award is deserved "because Chauncey is now universally known as one of the hardest-working journalists ... because of the sheer volume of the work he produced, the fact that he was writing for three or four newspapers at the same time while producing his own television show and writing a movie. . . . He lived and breathed journalism. Ironically, he was killed for a story he never wrote ... and he's now being honored for the stories he did write."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Chron to shrink Monday, Tuesday papers

The SF Weekly's Will Harper says he's heard from some Chronicle staffers that the paper plans to shrink its Monday and Tuesday editions. On those days, the business section will be combined with the sports section, and classifieds will be integrated into the Datebook. The change is expected to take place a week from today, Feb. 25, Harper says. The shrinkage is one of the first moves of Ward Bushee, who replaced Phil Bronstein as executive editor. Bushee came from Gannett's Arizona Republic, which did the same thing, Harper points out.

February 2008 Press Club board minutes

Feb. 13, 2008 -- Meeting was brought to order at 7:55 p.m. by President Jamie Casini at the Starbucks on 17th Avenue.

Board members present: Jon Mays, Michelle Carter and Jamie Casini. Executive Director Darryl Compton was also in attendance. Absent: Peter Cleaveland, Dave Price, Ed Remitz, Jay Thorwaldson, Aimee Strain, Jennifer Aquino and Jack Russell were not in attendance.  

Treasurer's report:
Compton provided the board with an updated treasurer's report.

Old business

New logo: There is a new logo with an updated name, but Mays said he will ask his graphic designer to come up with some new proposals.

Awards contest: The deadline is the end of the month, and it was suggested board members make some calls or send out correspondence to their colleagues to ensure people submit entries.

2008 calendar
    • Contest entry deadline. Still Feb. 29.

    • Scholarships/high school awards dinner. Information on scholarships was mailed and the high school awards program is set for the first week of May.

    • High school advisor forum. Tentative dates are April 4, 11 or 18.

    • High school boot camp. Left undecided.

    • Bench bar media. Left undecided.

    • Summer picnic. Left undecided.

    • Holiday party. Left undecided but there was some discussion about moving it from Harry's Hofbrau.

There was some discussion of holding a club-sponsored debate for the upcoming 12th District congressional election at Notre Dame de Namur University.

Meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.

Minutes submitted by Secretary Jon Mays. 

Saturday, February 16, 2008

MediaNews sales decline -- even online

MediaNews Group reports that its profits rose in the fourth quarter, but its sales dropped — even from its Internet operations.

The company, headed by Dean Singleton (left), also noted that it has been repaid $3.8 million in legal fees following its suit against a publisher who left one of its papers for a competitor, taking a laptop full of advertising data with him.

Perhaps the most startling news in the company's fourth-quarter report appears on page 24, where it says revenues from its Internet operations decreased 8.3% in the quarter (as compared to the same quarter in 2007). Singleton has repeatedly stated that the Internet is the future of MediaNews, and the company has been diverting its resources to its online operations.

The report has more bad news. The company's total revenues shrunk 7.3% from $372.5 million in Q4 06 to $345.2 million in Q4 07 on a same-paper basis, excluding papers acquired during the year (see page 20). Retail was down 16.0%, national 18.8%, classified 30.3% and pre-print inserts 4% (page 24).

While sales dropped, profits jumped 33.9% compared to the year-ago quarter, from $12.9 million to $17.35 million (also page 20).

On page 23, the quarterly report notes that in December the company recovered legal fees of approximately $3.8 million associated with its lawsuit against Par Ridder (right), who quit as publisher of the company's St. Paul Pioneer Press and went across town to head the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Ridder, son of former Knight Ridder chief executive and chairman Tony Ridder, took with him a couple of the Pioneer Press's key employees and a laptop loaded with financial information about the MediaNews paper. Singleton sued, saying "In Par's world, he could get away with anything because daddy would always take care of him." A judge removed Ridder from his job as publisher, citing his "cavalier" behavior.

While MediaNews Group is privately held, it posts its financials on the Security and Exchange Comission's Web site as if it were a public company. That may be due to the large number of parties that have lent MediaNews money over the years and want to see how the company is doing. MediaNews owns most of the paid dailies in the Bay Area including the Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, Marin Independent Journal and Palo Alto Daily News.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Crash injures Merc driver, kills passenger

The Mercury News reports that one of its carriers was critically injured and his passenger was killed after their car was struck this morning by an alleged drunk driver who police say ran a red light at Oakland Road and Murphy Avenue in San Jose.

The driver of the Buick seen here was Hao Duy Ngo of San Jose, who was believed to be on his way to the Merc to pick up his morning papers when his car was struck by a GMC Sierra. Police found several bundled up newspapers and a bag of rubber bands in the Buick.

The relationship between Ngo and his passenger was not immediately known. Her name isn't being released until next of kin are notified. Ngo was listed in critical condition at an unidentified hospital, police said.

Merc said its carriers earn about $1,500 monthly, and are paid by the number of newspapers they deliver. Ngo has been delivering the Merc since 2002. He is one of about 900 drivers for the paper.

Arrested for DUI and vehicular manslaughter was Guillermo Ruiz, 32, of San Jose. He was slightly injured in the accident, the Merc said. (Photo credit: (Lisa Fernandez, Mercury News)

Here's the Bernie Ward police report

The Smoking Gun, a Web site that posts police reports and other legal documents in high profile cases, has posted the police report that details the child porn case against former KGO-AM host Bernie Ward. Here's a link. See item below for background.

Prankster slips joke ad into Palo Alto paper

The Palo Alto Daily News reports that it ran a classified ad from a prankster known for placing humorous ads in papers around the country. The ad said: "Found: Tom Cruise's Lhasa Apso & heart-shaped bed." It ran Wednesday in the paper's free "found" classified section. "If I have to pay for it, I don't really consider it a hoax," said prankster Rory Emerald, a Los Angeles collage and oil painting artist who has placed 60 to 80 such ads in papers over the years.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

HP settles spying case with reporters

Hewlett-Packard has paid The New York Times and three BusinessWeek reporters an undisclosed amount of money after the Palo Alto company's private detectives obtained the journalists' private phone records, the Times reported on its Web site this afternoon. HP obtained the phone records of three BusinessWeek staff members — Ben Elgin, Peter Burrows and Roger Crockett — and the family phone records of Times reporter, John Markoff, and his wife, Leslie Terzian Markoff. The company still faces five lawsuits pending in San Francisco Superior Court brought by other journalists and their families. California Attorney General Jerry Brown dropped criminal charges against HP and its top executives when they agreed to pay $14.5 million in fines.

Bernie to 'Sexfairy': 'I like trading pictures'

Bernie Ward talks about having group sex in a San Mateo porn theater, being sexually humiliated and trading explicit photos online in a transcript of his Internet conversations with a woman who reported him to police, according to a police report obtained by ABC7's Dan Noyes. Here's a link to Noyes' report and the SF Daily's story.

The police report says Ward, a former KGO-AM talk show host, sent pictures of children ranging in age from 4 to 17 who were "engaged in or simulating sexual acts with adults or other children" to a woman in Oakdale, a town near Modesto. The woman contacted her local police department which began investigating. As part of the investigation, the police asked the woman to keep talking to Ward online.

Ward, a former Roman Catholic priest and now a father of four, was fired in December after he was charged in federal court. His trial is set for June.

Here's part of Noyes' story:
    It's Christmas week, three years ago. Ward's on his home computer using the screen name "Vincentlio." He begins the chat with "Good afternoon, mistress." The woman using the name "Sexfairy" answers, "How was your day, slave?" In explicit detail, Ward describes being humiliated sexually. At one point, he asks, "Are you going to make me feel dirty, mistress?" "Sexfairy" answers, "Yes, I am."

    Ward discusses group sex he had at an infamous porn theater in San Mateo. Then, nearly an hour into the conversation, he brings up photographs, "I love trading pictures." "Sexfairy" answers, "and why haven't I gotten any pics, slave? Send me some."
Former prosecutor Dean Johnson, now an ABC7 legal analyst, says the transcript of Internet chats knocks down "every defense that could be raised to possession or distribution of child pornography" including Ward's claim that he was researching a book. Ward's trial is set for June. (Note that while they share the same call letters and operate out of the same building, KGO Channel 7 and KGO-AM 810 have different owners. Disney sold the radio station to Citadel Broadcasting Corp. last year.)

Sentencing in crash that killed Halberstam

UC Berkeley journalism student Kevin Lloyd Jones, who was driving during a Menlo Park crash that claimed the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam, was sentenced today to five days in the sheriff's work program in San Mateo County Superior Court, according to Bay City News.

Jones, 27, appeared nervous when he read a statement apologizing to the Halberstam family. "His memory will guide my decisions ... my career as a journalist will be a tribute to his life," Jones said, according to BCN.

A probation department report recommended nine months in jail, but Judge Mark Forcum and Deputy District
Attorney Shin-Mee Chang felt the five-day sentence was appropriate given the level of Jones' remorse.

Halberstam's daughter Julia sent a letter to be entered into court, Chang said. In the letter she said that her father would not have
wanted Jones to go to jail, but because of his "chronic carelessness" behind the wheel of a car he should not have a driver's license. Jones has previous infractions including DUI, being the party at fault for an accident and speeding, BCN reported.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Channel 20 hires sales manager

Chris Flynn, a former KPIX CBS5 sales executive who most recently has been at the Internet-based television advertising agency SpotRunner, has been hired as sales manager of TV20, a news release from station owner Granite Broadcasting says. He will report to General Manager Craig Coane, who previously was the sales manager at KPIX. Flynn, a graduate of San Jose State, started out in broadcasting as a camera operator at Channel 11, then owned by Granite.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Solar cells to help power radio transmitter

KGO-AM 810 announced today that it is installing solar panels on its transmitter towers near the Dumbarton Bridge. KGO says it will become the first major broadcasting station in California to use solar power to transmit its 50,000-watt signal.

"As a trusted Bay Area news source, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to be a voice for important ecological issues," said KGO Radio President and General Manager Mickey Luckoff. "Solar power is one of many eco-friendly (environmentally sound) initiatives that deserve increased public awareness.”

For those interested in following the progress of the project, KGO has created a blog. The blog includes this photo of solar panels placed on the roof of the garage at the transmitter complex. (Photo credit: KGO-AM Transmitter Engineer Art Leberman)

Money for high school journalism advisers

The California Newspaper Publishers Association plans to award 20 grants of $200 each to high school newspaper advisers to cover training expenses. Get a grant application here. The postmark deadline is this Friday, Feb. 15. Applicants can decide how and where they will obtain their training.

Many say Los Gatos editor looks like McCain

Dick Sparrer of the Los Gatos Weekly-Times says dozens of people have told him he looks like John McCain. And it's been happening for several years, he writes.
    "At first, it was kind of fun to get all the attention. 'Excuse me,' a perfect stranger would say. 'Do you know that you look a lot like John McCain?' I would smile and nod and say thank you (I'm still not exactly sure why I was thanking them). Then it got to be a little annoying. So when someone would start to say, 'Has anyone ever told you that you look just like ... ' I would interrupt and say, 'Yeah, I know ... George Clooney.'

Monday, February 11, 2008

Historic Hearst archives discovered on Ebay

When billionaire oilman Phil Anschutz (right) bought the San Franicsco Examiner he donated the paper's archives, which date back to the 1860s, to UC Berkeley. He got a $18.4 million tax write-off for the donation -- more than the $10.7 million he paid the Fang family to buy the newspaper in 2004.

But now, as the San Francisco Daily reports, more than 700 original photographs from those archives are being sold on eBay. The SF Daily's Richard Cole reports:
    The archives, dating back to the 1860s, are from the era when Hearst Corp. owned the Examiner.

    "The archive was donated as an entire historical record, and that was where most of the value came from," complained history buff Anne Taylor. "If these archives were donated for a tax break worth millions of dollars, why are they being sold off picture by picture on E-Bay?"

    The University of California at Berkeley, which received the archives, insists it is not the seller.

    "We are aware of the sales, but it is not the university," said spokeswoman Kathleen Maclay.
The Examiner wouldn't return phone calls about the sales and eBay originally said it would put the SF Daily in touch with the seller, but later declined. Cole also wrote:
    College of San Mateo history Professor Michael Svanevik spent time in the old Examiner archives before the donation, and said it was possible the collection could have been pilfered when it was stored at the old Warfield theater.

    "The place was horrible," he said. "I found homeless people sleeping on the floor in the morning, and there were pigeons flying around, crapping on the archives."

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Listeners complain, host gets time slot back

The nationally syndicated Stephanie Miller show is back to three hours every morning on Clear Channel's KKGN "Green 960" after listeners flooded the station with complaints when the program was cut to an hour a day.

"The netroots feedback we have received is unlike anything I have ever seen for any show, in any format, in my entire career," program director John Scott was quoted in as saying, "It was real, it was raw and it was passionate. The bottom line: our audience loves her.”

Miller's show debuted in September on the liberal talk station when it was known as "The Quake." On Jan. 21, Scott cut Miller to one hour to make way for a morning news program that he hosted.

Scott told Chron radio writer Ben Fong-Torres that he cut Miller originally because her show wasn't bringing in ratings or revenue. After the complaints rolled in — some 3,500 letters — Scott dumped his own show and returned Miller to the 6-to-9 a.m. slot on Tuesday. Scott indicated the station will be using the letters when it talks to potential advertisers. (Miller bio.)

Former society editor Frances Moffat dies

Frances Moffat -- who took a hard-boiled rather than a fluff-filled approach to covering the society beat for the Examiner and later the Chronicle -- has died at her son's home in Albuquerque at age 95, the Chronicle reports today. Moffat left a note dated Jan. 2, 1969, on the back of this photograph that said, "Notice to my colleagues: In the event of my demise, election to high office, sentence to the pen, or any other story requiring a pix, I would prefer this to the others on hand ..." (Photo credit: Chronicle, 1969)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Google attempts to enter local news market

Google has added a new thing to its news page: "Local News." Just enter your Zip code or city and you'll get the local news being served up by newspapers that post their copy online. With this addition, Google will be competing against aggregators like EveryStreet, Topix, Yahoo and YourStreet. But, as John Murrell of the Merc's Good Morning Silicon Valley points out, Google's service is, at this point, like having a pile of random clippings thrown at your porch.

He writes:
    I live in a small city near San Jose, but my news neighborhood runs down one side of the bay and up the other. If I plug my home ZIP into Topix or Google’s new feature, I get a mixed bag of high school sports, space heater fires, senior events, police reports and such — all very local, and almost none relevant to my news needs. ...

    If only cities had small dedicated groups of people who worked fulltime to gather local news, organize it, give it some context and present it in a clear and sometimes even entertaining manner. Something like a local newspaper.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Press Club contest entry form now available

Here is the entry form for the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club's 31st annual Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards Competition. All journalists in the Bay Area are encouraged to enter. The deadline is Feb. 29.

In the past 10 years, the number of entries has increased 31 percent to 522 for last year's contest.

The club has traditionally awarded prizes to print and broadcast journalists as well as PR professionals. But we're also reaching out to online journalists through our New Media division. The division has five categories:
    • Overall Excellence
    • Breaking News
    • General News/Feature
    • Multi Media
    • Blog
The New Media division is open to all journalists in the 11-county Bay Area whose work is posted online, whether they are employed by a newspaper, broadcast station, Internet operation or are freelance.

On Thursday, June 5, this year's awards will be presented during a dinner banquet at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 1221 Chess Drive, Foster City.

KTVU adds bilingual multicast channel

With the switch to digital television, local stations are able to add additional channels. The latest station to add a multichannel signal is KTVU, which today put the bilingual music/entertainment network LATV on its channel 2.2 (Comcast digital channels 188 and 622).

LATV, which has been in the LA market since 2001, hopes to reach the 18- to 34-year-old Latino with music, lifestyle and entertainment programs. KTVU is the network's 27th affiliate. Of the 840,000 households in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market, 60,000 are Hispanic, according to Broadcasting & Cable online.

Other multicasters include:
    KRON 4, which airs the Retro Television Network or RTN, featuring classic TV shows like "Hawaii 5-0," "Matlock," "Mission: Impossible" and "Streets of San Francisco."

    KBWB-TV 20, which broadcasts the Azteca America network on one of its multicast channels.

    • KQED Channel 9, which has four multicast feeds — an HD channel (9.1), "life-encore channel" (9.2), "world channel" (9.3) and a kids channel (9.5).

Retired news director Ray Jacobs dies

Former KTVU news director Ray Jacobs — who spent many years proving he was among the Marines in the famous Iwo Jima photo — has died of natural causes at a hospital in Redding at age 82, according to the Chron and AP. Jacobs started at Channel 2 in 1958 and worked as a reporter, anchor and eventually news director. He retired in 1992. Here's a link to a You Tube video of KTVU's 30th anniversary special (air date: March 3, 1988) during which Jacobs was interviewed by Dennis Richmond and Elaine Corral.

As for the 1945 Iwo Jima photo, newspaper accounts from the time claimed he was was on the mountain during the initial raising of a smaller American flag, though he had returned to his unit by the time the famous AP photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal of a flag-raising re-enactment later the same day. Jacob's face wasn't fully visible in that photo, but other negatives from the same roll of film clearly show his face, according to an expert quoted by the Chron.

CBS5 now doing local news in HD

Like the rollout of color television in the 1950s and 60s, the transition to high definition is going by station, year by year. KPIX CBS5 has become the third station in the market to air its local newscasts in HD. Its first HD newscast was at noon on Jan. 28. All of last night's local election coverage on CBS5 was in HD.

KGO ABC7 converted its helicopter to HD on Feb. 15, 2006. On Oct. 11, 2006, KTVU Channel 2 became the first local station to broadcast its local news in HD, followed by KGO ABC7 on Feb. 17, 2007. CBS5's "Eye on the Bay" went HD in May 2007. Still doing local news in standard definition are channels 4 and 11.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Merc names new publisher, 3rd in 6 months

Jeff Kiel (left), who has been publisher of the Mercury News since August, was replaced today by Mac Tully (right), a former Knight Ridder executive and more recently publisher of the Kansas City Star. Kiel, who was ad director of the Merc before he was promoted to publisher, is stepping down. He sent a message to the staff today saying his experience leading the Mercury News was "one I will remember fondly." Tully becomes the third publisher at the Mercury News since it was purchased by MediaNews in 2006. In addition to the Merc, Tully will oversee the Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, Marin Independent Journal and the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Here are links to the Merc's story, MediaNews press release and E&P's story. (Photo credit: Avila Maria, Mercury News)

New site connects freelancers and editors

A graduating Berkeley journalism school student and a former engineer for Amazon have created a Web site where reporters can pitch stories to editors.

"I saw a gap in the freelancing industry -- the process of pitching an article and getting it published had holes in it. It seemed like with today's technology it could be done in a more streamlined fashion," co-founder and Berkeley j-school student Sindya Bhanoo, right, told the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review. She and her husband Hemant Bhanoo, a former engineer for Amazon, have created

"Our larger vision is that it's the next generation wire service, like an AP or a Reuters," Sindya Bhanoo said. "The public wants high quality, relevant news. As the industry's cutting back, a lot of regions are under-covered. Most of the editors we spoke to say they're relying too much on AP or Reuters content. At Reporterist, they will be able to look at all these stories and sort them by region or topic. Our vision is to be a wire service for local, topical news."

Ground broken for Stanford Daily building

Lorry Lokey, who was editor of the Stanford Daily in 1949, removed a ceremonial pile of dirt at the site of the student newspaper's new building at Panama Mall and Duena Street. Lokey, who sold his Business Wire company to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway in 2005, donated $2 million for the $3.75 million project. Here's a link to the Stanford Daily's story about the project. The buiding 5,000-square-foot is set to open in the fall of 2008. (Photo credit: Masaru Oka, Stanford Daily)

Ceppos hopes to improve journalism

Former Merc editor and Knight Ridder vice president Jerry Ceppos (pictured) has started his new $175,000-a-year job as University of Nevada, Reno journalism dean. He tells the Reno Gazette-Journal: "I would love to perhaps be able to improve the journalism profession from the inside rather than trying to do it from the outside ... It seems to me to be a better chance to influence future journalists by working with students rather than directing and editing the copy of reporters." (Photo credit: David B. Parker, Reno Gazette-Journal)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Richmond's cancer surgery successful

On KTVU's 6 p.m. news Friday, co-anchor Julie Haener informed viewers that longtime anchor Dennis Richmond had undergone cancer surgery. "He's in good spirits and hopes to be back as soon as he is physically able," she said. Today, Chuck Barney of the Contra Costa Times reports that Richmond's prostate cancer surgery on Jan. 23 was successful and he is in the middle of a recovery period that is expected to keep him off the air for at least another week. It was the second major operation in less than six months for Richmond, who plans to retire in May. In the fall, he underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck -- a procedure that kept him out of the anchor chair for six weeks. Richmond, 64, tells Barney that his recent medical ordeals were not a factor in his decision to retire.

New publisher named for Vacaville daily

Gregg McConnell (pictured), publisher of the Lake County Record-Bee, has been named publisher of the Vacaville Reporter, replacing Steve Huddleston. Huddleston, who has been publisher of The Reporter since 2002, has accepted a position as vice president for public affairs at NorthBay Healthcare System. Huddleston has been at The Reporter for 32 years. Both the Lake County and Vacaville papers are owned by California Newspapers Partnership, whose majority shareholder is Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group.