Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hellman eyes city funding for news project

Investment banker and Wells Fargo heir F. Warren Hellman told Forbes that he may seek funding from the city of San Francisco, and other governments, for the nonprofit news organization he's planning:

Forbes' Dirk Smillie asked Hellman: You're contributing $5 million from the Hellman Family Foundation to start this venture, but how will you make it sustainable?

Hellman replied:
    "It will take a fair amount of money, raised annually. Contributions to public broadcasting in the Bay Area are up this year. We can sell memberships and get support from local and national government sources, wealthy individuals and some corporate backing. We may be able to get city funding. The mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, and the president of the board of supervisors, David Chiu, are very supportive of what we're doing."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chron vows to 'smash' 'naive' New Media

SF Appeal has posted a memo Chron Metro Section Editor Audrey Cooper sent to her troops in which she says:
    "You are going to smash whomever is naive enough to poke their noses in our market. Bring it on!"
Cooper didn't mention F. Warren Hellman's $5 million Bay Area News Project, but what else could she be talking about? Certainly SF Appeal, headed by Eve Batey, thinks Cooper is talking about the Hellman project.

Sutro upgrade taking longer than expected

The Merc reports that it will take until Oct. 20 for the stations broadcasting from Sutro to complete the work of installing new antennas at the top of the tower. Originally the work was supposed to be done this week.
    "[D]uring the upgrade, many of the Sutro stations have had to broadcast at a lower power than their authorized levels because they were on interim antennas. During the daytime hours, when work was being done on the antennas at the top of the tower, stations have throttled down their power further so as to not harm workers, [tower general manager Gene] Zastrow said.

    Thanks to such issues, many area viewers ... have been unable to tune in stations that they previously watched. The South Bay has been affected more than many locations because signals tend to weaken the farther they have to travel and can be impeded by tall buildings or mountains.

    Following the upgrades, all of the major Sutro stations will be broadcasting from the top of the tower. That's where their older analog antennas were, but the stations have been unable to broadcast from there while those antennas were being replaced. The new antennas will also broadcast at the maximum power each station is allowed."
If the Sutro stations still aren't reaching the South Bay after the upgrade, it's likely the stations will add low-power translator stations in that area.

Weekly serving Lathrop and Manteca closes

The 20,000-circulation weekly serving the San Joaquin County communities of Lathrop and Manteca has closed. The paper is owned by the Matthews family, which also owns the Tracy Press, the Scotts Valley Press Banner and the Patterson Irrigator. Here's the note that appeared on the Sun Post's Web site:
    Dear readers,

    After nearly four years of delivering the Sun Post free to your home and more than 20,000 others in Lathrop and Manteca, we need to take a publishing break.

    As you know, the newspaper industry is experiencing tough times, and so is the local economy. Advertising sales are down, and the costs of publishing and delivery are up.

    We don’t believe for a minute that your appetite for local news has diminished. If anything, we’re sure it has increased. You’ve shown us that you want quality reporting and local news and information more than ever.

    While this severe recession has brought many businesses to their knees, including ours, we’re convinced it will pass, and when it does, our community newspaper company will rebound. We’re certain we’ll be back, in some form or another, in Lathrop and Manteca.

    Meanwhile, thank you for your support over the years. It’s been a fun ride, and we hope we’ve provided not only information and breaking news that you don’t find elsewhere, but some entertainment as well.


    Robert Matthews, publisher

Readers offer ways to improve Merc

The Merc's Mike Cassidy says he received more than 1,000 e-mails and many dozens of phone calls responding to his column two weeks ago in which he asked for suggestions about how to improve his paper.
    "Some readers sent pages of suggestions ranging from changing the size of our type face (bigger type means less content) to putting the puzzles in the same section every day (a good idea that we're working on) to becoming a nonprofit, similar to National Public Radio."
Still off the table is any discussion about eliminating what some readers see as the Merc's left-wing political bias.
    "Going back and forth (and back and forth) on the issue gets us nowhere in terms of addressing the steep decline in advertising revenue that has us in this mess. And so I'll hope against hope that we can move on."
Cassidy says the e-mails have given him material for several columns that will address specific areas of concern, such as local news coverage.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hellman's plan not a panacea to all

While much of the reaction to F. Warren Hellman's proposal to start a nonprofit to cover local news has been positive, Robert Gammon of the East Bay Express says it could hurt traditional news organizations.
    "It's true that the Bay Area likely will experience an increase in local news coverage right away, but if the new venture forces traditional news organizations to further contract, then the public will be forced to increasingly depend on inexperienced, unpaid students to inform them about what's happening in the region.
The nonprofit will use UC Berkeley journalism students who will work for free. Gammon said the idea of a nonprofit news organization has merit, but using what amounts to slave labor to make it happen is bad for journalism."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hellman forms nonprofit to cover local news

Investment banker and Wells Fargo heir F. Warren Hellman is teaming up with KQED and the UC-Berkeley J-school to create a nonprofit news organization to fill gaps in local news coverage left by the decline of the Chronicle and other daily papers. The Hellman Family Foundation is contributing $5 million to the Bay Area News Project, which is also in talks with The New York Times and other potential participants.

(Coverage: NYT, SF Business Times, Chronicle, AP and press release from Hellman.)

"We've lost a lot," Hellman told the Chron. He bemoaned dwindling reporting on subjects like the San Francisco Ballet, local business openings and vetting of political candidates. "We're going to be meeting an unmet need."

"I was appalled by how much the Chronicle has shrunk, how thin the Examiner is, and how little coverage there is for local news," he told AP. "I couldn't help but believe that local politics will be affected. We will have even weaker candidates than we have now with less local coverage, and it seemed to me there was something we could do about it."

Berkeley J-school dean Neil Henry told the AP that collaborating with Hellman makes sense both for the school and its 120 students, who already are producing stories for Web sites focused on seven San Francisco Bay area communities. Besides content for the new news venture, the journalism school expects to provide overall editorial guidance and possibly technological and fundraising expertise, Henry said.

Singleton: Free online content has no value

Dean Singleton, head of MediaNews Group which owns the Mercury News and several other Bay Area dailies, told the National Conference of Editorial Writers on Thursday that his papers will start charging for news online beginning next year.

"We can't continue to give everything away for free," Singleton told the group, which is meeting in Salt Lake City. "When you give it away for free, it has no value. When you begin charging for it, it has some value."

"I think most companies will begin to take their most valuable content — think sports, think hyper-local news, perhaps entertainment, and put some of that content behind a pay wall," Singleton said, according to a report by KSL-TV.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Streetsblog hires full-time Muni reporter

Streetsblog San Francisco is one of those blogs that does original reporting rather than just using the material of other publications. It has a small staff that interviews people, digs into records and covers hearings. What a concept!

As the name implies, Streetsblog covers transportation in San Francisco.

Today Streetsblog announced that it has hired a full-time reporter to cover Muni, which seems to make more than its share of news.

"Considering the often difficult time we have getting the MTA [SF Municipal Transportation Agency, Muni's parent] to cooperate with our requests, it became crystal clear that the only way we can really cover Muni is to have a full-time Muni reporter. That time has come," writes Bryan Goebel of Streetsblog.

The new reporter is Michael Rhodes (pictured), "who surpassed our greatest expectations in his role as a Streetsblog intern," Goebel wrote.

That brings the number of full-time reporters at Streetsblog from two to three, and Goebel tells us the blog has plans to hire a reporter in Oakland and San Jose in the next six months.

Streetsblog reported that the hiring of Rhodes was made possible by a donation from software entrepreneur andn Muni rider Jonathan Weiner. (Photo credit: Myleen Holero via

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Press Democrat workers reject contract

The Guild unit at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that workers at the paper have rejected a new contract that called for a continuation of an earlier 2.5 percent wage cut plus a new 3 percent cut.

The Guild says 80 percent of its members voted, and 81 percent of them turned down the contract.

Management suggested a yes vote would mean no more layoffs, but Publisher Bruce Kyse wouldn't offer any guarantee, the Guild said.

The Guild unit at the PD reported the vote at It does not appear as if the New York Times-owned Press Democrat reported the vote in its Saturday edition, if its Web site is any indication.

Danville Weekly to cease printing, online only

The Danville Weekly, a sister paper of the Palo Alto Weekly, will publish its last print edition Oct. 2 and shift its focus entirely online.

"While it saddens us to discontinue the print version, we believe the future of community news is online," publisher Gina Channell-Allen said in a report posted Thursday. "We look forward to continuing our tradition of quality journalism, just delivering it via a different medium. And we are excited about introducing new features that help build a stronger and more interactive community."

The new features include an e-mail that will be sent to readers five days a week with links to local news stories.

In January, Bill Johnson, the head of Embarcadero Media which owns the Danville paper and other weeklies in the Bay Area, predicted that the papers in his chain might drop their print editions and only appear online in four or five years. Embarcadero Media papers include the Palo Alto Weekly, The Almanac (Menlo Park), Mountain View Voice, Pleasanton Weekly, Danville Weekly and Pacific Sun (San Rafael).

"With the cost and environmental impact of printing and mailing a newspaper continuing to rise, we have been planning for the day when we felt an online alternative could more efficiently fill the same needs in the community as a newspaper," said Channell-Allen, the Danville publisher. "Unfortunately, the dismal economy has accelerated these plans."

Chron lays off 5 newsroom staffers

Five members of the Chron's newsroom staff were told Wednesday that they are being laid off as the newspaper attempts to reduce operating losses, the Guild reported. Six positions were cut in classified advertising just before Labor Day. Much of the classified operation is being shifted to Hearst's Houston Chronicle.

This year the Chron has cut 481 jobs: 151 in news and ads, 100 drivers and 230 printers.

What's worse, there's no sign that management has a plan to staunch the staff cuts or implement a forward-thinking strategy for the paper, union rep Carl Hall told the San Francisco Business Times.

"It's disheartening to see layoffs without a plan guiding them," Hall said.

The Guild is putting on two "unemployment workshops" -- 5:30-7 p.m. Oct. 1 and 1-2:30 p.m. Oct. 2 -- in The Chronicle's Golden Gate Conference Room (basement). To RSVP, please e-mail

Fill-in host Pat Thurston gets regular gig

KGO NewsTalk 810 has decided fill-in host Pat Thurston will get the weekend slot made available after John Rothmann was promoted to the 10 p.m.-to-1 a.m. slot last week. She's been doing substitute hosting at the station since 2007 but has a career in broadcasting dating back to her days in the Army when she hosted a TV show. Her resume also includes employment by the Secret Service. She live in Marin county with her husband and 6-year old triplets.

Thurston’s show began this morning (Sept. 19) and air Saturdays from 1-5 a.m. and Sundays from 1-6 a.m.

New publisher for Daily News, other papers

Justin Wilcox, vice president of a group of Hearst-owned weeklies in San Antonio, Texas, has been named publisher of MediaNews Group's Daily News (formerly Palo Alto Daily News).

Wilcox, 37, will also serve as general manager of the Community Newspaper Group and oversee the Silicon Valley Newspaper Group, Milpitas Post and Pacifica Tribune, according to a report in Friday's Daily News.

Wilcox was the vice president of sales and marketing for Prime Time Newspapers, a group of 14 weeklies published by Hearst in San Antonio, Texas, with over 200,000 combined circulation, 45 employees and five offices. Prior to Prime Time, Wilcox was associate publisher for Heritage Newspapers with the Journal Register Co., where he oversaw the operations of 27 individual publications.

Wilcox received his journalism degree from Michigan State University. His wife Lisa will be moving to the Bay Area shortly. (Photo credit: Daily News)

Universities form nonprofit wire service

Stanford and UC-Berkeley are among the 35 universities that have joined to form a wire service to feed their own accounts of their discoveries directly to top news sites on the Internet.

The new servict, Futurity, will provide articles to Yahoo News, Google News, MySpace and Twitter.

"We've been really concerned. Our preference would be to have the level of coverage of science and research that we enjoyed for decades," Lisa Lapin, assistant vice president for university communications at Stanford, told the Mercury News. "But the major news organizations haven't had the resources to provide that independent, objective look at what we are doing. It's been declining."

The Merc story quotes Charlie Petit, a former science reporter at U.S. News & World Report and the Chron, as saying the university-written content should be clearly labeled so the public is aware of the difference between it and stories written by independent journalists.

FM stations swap frequencies

At 5 p.m. Friday, Clear Channel moved alternative-rock Channel 104.9 to 92.3 FM.

KSJO 92.3 had been airing the syndicated La Preciosa format of Mexican oldies. Apparently CC plans to put La Preciosa on 104.9, but at the moment there's just a tape-loop announcement telling Channel 104.9 listeners to switch to 92.3.

Both stations (KSJO 92.3 and KCNL 104.9) are part of Clear Channel's San Jose cluster, which the Department of Justice has directed the company to sell off when CC went private. Clear Channel has placed them in what's called the Aloha Trust LLC as the company looks for a buyer.

The 104.9 frequency in the South Bay has been a Spanish language station on and off since 1983. From 1983 until 1997, its call letters were KBRG and it aired Spanish music, talk shows and broadcast the Oakland A's in Spanish. In 1997, the station was purchased by the Jacor chain, which moved its classic rock K-FOX format from 94.5 to 104.9.

A year later, Jacor moved K-FOX to its current home at 98.5, and switched 104.9 to a modern adult contemporary format that eventually became Channel 104.9, a full-fledged alternative rock station in January 2001.

But in January 2006, CC dropped Channel 104.9 for the Enamorada format, which was supposed to attract 25-54 Latinas. A year later the ratings had plunged by two-thirds and CC brought back Channel 104.9 in Feburary 2007. For the first year or so, it seemed the station had no live talent.

Now that the Channel 104.9 format is parked at 92.3, the station's new name is Channel 92.3.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Weekly papers move to central office

The Mountain View Voice and the west Menlo Park-based Almanac are closing their offices later this month and moving to a new, $5 million, 10,000-square-foot office building at 450 Cambridge Ave. in Palo Alto's Califoria Avenue District (see photo).

The Palo Alto Weekly will also move to the new building and close its offices in downtown Palo Alto. A story in the Voice noted:
    Owned and built by the Voice's parent company, Embarcadero Media, the new building boasts energy-efficient and other environmental features that will make it among the "greenest" buildings in the area. It will also meet the requirements for a national LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) "Gold" designation.
A March 2008 story said the Palo Alto Weekly has rented an 8,600-square-foot building at Forest Avenue and High Street since 1981. (Rendering courtesy of the Hagman Group via Palo Alto Online.)

CORRECTION:The Almanac newsroom will continue to occupy its office at 3525 Alameda de las Pulgas in Menlo Park, and there are no immediate plans for the newsroom to move to Palo Alto, the Almanac's Andrea Gemmet tells us. The Almanac's advertising and production departments have already moved in with the Palo Alto Weekly, she says. The Almanac newsroom's new phone number is (650) 854-2690.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Merc columnist asks readers for help

Merc columnist Mike Cassidy is asking readers to e-mail him with ideas about how to improve his newspaper. He writes:
    Silicon Valley is filled with brilliant minds and good hearts who want better things for this newspaper. Tell us: What is it that draws you subscribers to the Mercury News every day? What would get you non-subscribers to join those who do subscribe?

    What would you pay for on the Web? Are there benefits print subscribers should receive that Web users don't?

    What are the potential new business models?

Cassidy made it clear that he doesn't want to discuss claims about political bias. "Let's move past simplistic arguments," he writes, "and get on to something fresh, something stunning, something that might change the course of an industry or at least one newspaper."

Record turnout for high school boot camp

The Press Club's annual high school boot camp Friday attracted 88 students, six teachers and 11 speakers -- the largest turnout in the event's history.

The purpose of the afternoon of workshops, discussions and hands-on demonstrations was to help students who will be publishing school newspapers and Web sites in the coming academic year.

Students came from the following high schools: Aragon, Burlingame, Hillsdale, MetWest, Mills, Notre Dame in Belmont, San Mateo, Sequoia, Summit Prep in Redwood City and Washington High in Fremont.

Advisers included Scott Silton from Aragon, Linda McLaughlin from Burlingame, Clare Wadbrook from Notre Dame, Patsy Fergusson from San Mateo High, Kim Vinh from Sequoia and David Skllings from Washington High.

Speakers included Mercury News sportswriter Dan Brown, Nortre Dame de Namur University faculty member Micki Carter, freelance photographer Don Feria, San Mateo Daily Journal editor Jon Mays, Bay City News managing editor Melissa McRobbie, Daily Journal designer Erik Oeverndiek, publisher Barry Parr, Examiner photographer Juan Carlos Pometa, Daily Post editor Dave Price, College of San Mateo faculty member Ed Remitz, AP photographer Paul Sakuma, freelance photographer Terry Schmitt, SF State media law professor James Wagstaffe, and San Mateo County public communications manager Marshall Wilson.

The facilities for the boot camp were graciously provided by the College of San Mateo.

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Energy 92.7" lays off staff, format to change

The new owner of KNGY, "Energy 92.7," is changing the station's LGBT-oriented format to Top 40 and has laid off about 30 employees including program director Don Parker.

The station made the flip to "92.7 FM The Revolution" or "The Rev" at 9 last night. The first song to play was Pink's "Get This Party Started." The station is also getting new call letters — KREV.

With the switch, "The Rev" will go head-to-head with CBS Radio's "Movin 99.7" and Clear Channel's "Wild 94.9."

Currently, 92.7 is playing all music without commercials or announcers, which is common after a format switch in order to attract listeners and allow management to hire a new staff.

The "Energy 92.7" formats lasted about five years, and the station referred to itself as the Bay Area's last independent station.

Bay City News co-founder Dick Fogel dies

Richard Henry Fogel, co-founder of San Francisco's Bay City News Service and former executive editor of the Oakland Tribune, died Wednesday in Thousand Oaks. He was 86.

An advocate on issues relating to the public's right to access government information, Fogel worked with other journalists and news organizations across the country to craft the basic principles of what would later become the landmark Freedom of Information Act.

After serving in World War II, Fogel returned to Stanford University, where he served as night editor for the Stanford Daily and interned as a reporter for the San Francisco News. Fogel graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1947 and worked as a correspondent and staff writer for UPI. He moved to Oakland in 1948 and joined the Oakland Tribune as a copy editor. He worked his way up through the ranks over the next three decades, ultimately serving as the paper's executive editor.

Along with his wife Marcia Schwalbe Fogel, business partner Wayne Futak and associate Joann Sutro, Fogel in 1978 launched BCN. [More]

Thursday, September 10, 2009

KNEW 910 drops Michael Savage

Clear Channel's KNEW 910 has dropped Michael Savage, the controversial San Francisco based talk show host, replacing him with KFI Los Angeles talk show hosts John and Ken.

"We have decided to go in a different philosophical and ideological direction, featuring more contemporary content and more local information," KNEW said on its Web site. "The Savage Nation does not fit into that vision."

But can two Los Angeles hosts make KNEW more local?

"These are Californians, doing a California based show, talking about things that are happening in YOUR state," the KNEW statement said. "Contemporary, funny, compelling. These boys are the real deal."

Savage can still be heard on KSTE 650 Sacramento.

KNEW is also adopting KFI's slogan, "More stimulating talk radio." KFI began using that slogan several years ago when they were sued by KABC-AM for calling their station "talk radio," a phrase the ABC station claimed to own.

As of 3:45 p.m. Thursday, Savage had not posted anything on his Web site about being dropped in his hometown. The Chron's Matier & Ross have a call into him, that apparently has not been returned.

Over the years, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors have complained to the FCC about Savage, calling his commentary hate speech. But ratings could have been the reason KNEW dropped Savage. KNEW was 28th in the August ratings measuring listners 12 and over. The other conservative station in the market, KSFO, was 6th.

UPDATE, 5:30 p.m.: The Chron reports that it got Savage on the phone but the conversation was brief: "Why don't you call Mao Zedong? He's your boss." Then he hung up, according to Joe Garofoli. Garofoli points out that Savage's show 23rd out of 75 in its time slot in the Bay Area market (total audience) in August, according to Arbitron.

John Rothmann gets the Bernie Ward slot

KGO Newstalk 810 announced today that long-time overnight weekend host John Rothmann will become the permanent host of the 10 p.m.-1 a.m. time slot beginning Monday.

That time slot has been vacant since the arrest of Bernie Ward on child porn charges in 2007. A number of hosts have been filling in, including Rothmann.

Rothmann has been at KGO since August of 1996 when he was brought on as a fill-in. Then, in October of 1997 he was pegged for the overnight weekend show where he has been ever since. He has lectured on American politics, the Presidency and the Middle East throughout the United States, Canada, and Israel.

“As an author, teacher, and political consultant, John will definitely keep up
his end of the of the conversation on the air,” said President and General Manager Mickey Luckoff.

“I’m thrilled”, exclaimed Rothmann “and can’t wait to get started!”

Rothmann co-authored a book with David G. Dallin entitled "Icon of Evil" that comes out in paperback later this month.

John is a 4th generation San Franciscan and lives with his wife, Ellen, and their two sons, Samuel and Joel, in the city by the Bay.

NYT, WSJ planning San Francisco editions

With the Chron on the ropes, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are planning to launch San Francisco editions, the Times reports.

No launch dates were mentioned in the Times story, but the Journal said it is looking at November or December.

The Times didn't give many details of its proposed SF edition, but it said the Journal would add "a page or two of general-interest news from California, probably once a week, produced by the large staff it already has in the Bay Area."

The Times report ended with these three grafs:
    Both The Journal and The Times seem to be betting that the Bay Area is the place to try first. Its biggest newspapers, The San Francisco Chronicle and The San Jose Mercury News, have suffered through some of the sharpest downsizing in the industry, and a very high percentage of the region’s residents moved from elsewhere, which usually means less attachment to the local paper.

    National newspapers already sell better in the Bay Area than in almost any other part of the country. In the San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland market, The Journal’s weekday circulation (it does not have a Sunday edition) is about 98,000, while circulation of The Times, which charges much more for subscriptions, is about 49,000 on weekdays and 65,000 on Sundays.

    “I think the San Francisco area is the most obvious market to try this in, because it’s big, it’s sophisticated and it’s getting progressively more poorly served by its papers,” said Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst at the Poynter Institute. But if the strategy takes off in multiple cities, he said, the national papers should worry that “they’d be seen as administering the final death blows to these metro dailies.”

Political writer, editor Sydney Kossen dies

Sydney Kossen, a veteran newspaperman whose articles so irritated Richard Nixon that he tried to get Kossen fired, died Sept. 2 at the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living in Danville. He was 93. Kossen was declared "the dean of Northern California political writers," by Willie Brown. Here's a link to the obit.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Gross responds to comments about advertisers

KGO-AM's Gil Gross responded to some of the comments that were posted after our Aug. 28 item "Gil Gross drops sponsor over rape case." But a lot of people don't read the comment or only get the e-mail version of the Press Club blog (which doesn't include comments). So we've decided to repeat his response below for everyone to see.
    Hi, it's Gil. ... let me answer those questions. For Purina I actually met with their vets and ran by everything with my own vet who is one of the handful [78] of board certified feline specialists of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in the world. My two cats also use Purina One and have done amazingly well on it.

    The investment adviser you mention wasn't a sponsor of mine but he also wasn't touting AIG products. He made trades through them and that part of AIG was not a part of the CDO scandal. It just processed stock trades. In any case, because the tie lead to misunderstandings he switched firms, but the AIG name was on there until he could make the change because by law he has to state what firm he is using to make trades so people can check to make sure he IS making them [which is why Madoff never answered that question when clients asked him who processed his trades. The answer turned out to be no one, because there never were any. Ironically, if he had advertised, his ruse actually would have been unmasked at the start.]

    Yes, there are some spots on our station that drive us nuts, but they are generally not KGO generated, though I understand that is lost on the listener because it all sounds alike. Some are spots from the network and companies that help supply traffic, business reports etc; We have MUCH less of it than most stations because we don't use long form syndicated programming, but some of it is inescapable. I hope that clears it up. Frankly, I have never worked at a station that has stayed on the up and up on these matters as much as KGO, and when I made my decision in the case of this one client, there was absolutely no dispute from sales or management and I can promise you, that would NOT have been the case at 99% of other stations on the air.

    As for the advertising claims that newspapers and weeklies routinely accept, I'm much more comfortable with our standards. When we start running hooker and massage parlor ads and the like, we will have come down to print standards. That would be a long drop from where we are.

Student paper fights for its independence

The San Matean, the student newspaper at the College of San Mateo, said in an editorial Wednesday that it is concerned that the school has plans to interfere with the paper's content. Last spring, the paper obtained a document by a faculty committee proposing that faculty members edit the paper to make it is something the school could be proud of.

The paper has submitted public records requests to President Michael Claire to obtain more information about the college's plans for the student-run newspaper. The paper said its first request for memos, e-mails and other documents was ignored for two months. A follow-up letter resulted in the release of information which had previously been available, but none of memos or e-mails. Now, Claire is talking to legal counsel about what information he has to release to the paper.

Keeping an eye on the situation is The Student Press Law Center, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and Adam Keigwin, Chief of Staff for State Senator Leland Yee.

The paper quotes Keigwin as saying, ""The (open records) law is there for good reason and the administration has to comply."

Ross McGowan announces retirement

Ross McGowan, host of "Mornings on Two," announced Thursday that he plans to sign off from KTVU for the last time on Friday, Oct. 2. He's been on KTVU for 17 years and before that was co-host of "People Are Talking" on KPIX for 14 years.

“I’ve had a great run at KTVU, and getting up at 2 o’clock in the morning for the past 17 years hasn’t been as difficult as you might think, although I’m looking forward to tossing out the alarm clock,” said McGowan. “Every morning, Bay Area viewers have allowed me into their homes. That’s an invite I’ve never taken for granted.”

“Ross McGowan is the master of the live TV interview. He’s the best I’ve ever seen.
His easygoing style puts people at ease, but he always asks tough questions,” said Tim McVay, vice president and general manager of KTVU.

McGowan has conducted more than 10,000 live interviews on “Mornings on Two,” going one-on-one with the likes of Walter Cronkite, Barack Obama and celebrities such as Paul Newman, Ellen DeGeneres, Dana Carvey and Bill O’Reilly.

A news release from KTVU says McGowan’s broadcasting career began while he was attending San Jose State University. He worked summers for KBMX in Coalinga, and later worked as an announcer for KSJO and KLIV radio in San Jose, KYOS radio in Merced, and KIRO radio in Seattle before joining KING-TV, where he hosted Seattle Tonight, a live nightly talk show. McGowan came to San Francisco in 1978 to co-host "People Are Talking."

McGowan will continue to spend a good deal of time in Mill Valley where he has lived for 20 years and at his new home in Healdsburg.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Caltrain plans rail safety media workshop

Caltrain, the peninsula's commuter railroad, is inviting journalists to a workshop on rail safety in San Carlos on Sept. 8 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. So far this year, 10 people have died on the Caltrain tracks including three Palo Alto students who committed suicide. From the Caltrain release:
    Expand your basic knowledge about railroad operations and learn about railroad safety regulations and procedures from experienced Caltrain employees. Representatives from Caltrain’s police force, operations, safety and public information staff will address basic railroad safety and the agency’s ongoing effort to improve safety. Caltrain’s internal response to fatalities, including the public information process, law enforcement’s role and the impact on train operations, also will be discussed.

    The workshop will conclude with a question and answer period.

    Lunch provided.

    RSVP by Friday, Sept. 4 to Public Information Officer Christine Dunn – (650) 508-6238

    Specific questions may be submitted in advance.

Channel 2 crows about August ratings

If you're wondering why KTVU's numbers are in red, that's because this is from a PowerPoint the station distributed today touting its August ratings. When we get releases from the other stations, we'll post those too.

It's no surprise that Channel 2 is on top at 10 p.m. and in overall late-news viewership. But it is worth noting that NBC11 is No. 1 among the three stations airing news at 11 p.m. in the crucial 25-54 demo, followed by CBS5 and ABC7 and KRON. NBC11 also won in 18-49 demo, but was second in the older 35-64 category.

Ex owner buys citizen journalism firm

Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz has paid about $25 million for a Canadian company, NowPublic, which hosts unpaid citizen journalists in 140 countries, according to

Anschutz, who paid $10.7 million for the Examiner in 2004, plans to use the Vancouver-based NowPublic to further his brand of citizen journalism sites,, where bloggers (or "examiners") are paid based on how many hits they get.

NowPublic says it has citizen journalists in 140 countries, while the claims to have 13,000 examiners in 20 markets across the U.S.

Berkeley j-school dean 'adjusts mission'

"We've had to adjust our mission," says Neil Henry, who's led Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism on an interim basis since mid-2007 and enters the fall semester as its first permanent dean since the departure of Orville Schell." It used to be you could just educate students for a career track," then send them off to work at one of the nation's roughly 1,500 daily newspapers. Now not only are those papers retrenching, but the future of the industry itself is in question.

His answer includes the creation of a half-dozen online news sites — staffed by students, with editorial supervision by instructors at the school — devoted to coverage of San Francisco's Mission District, North and West Oakland, West Berkeley, and much of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

Here's a link to an interview of Henry on UC-Berkeley's site.