Sunday, February 28, 2010

NY Times reports on Palo Alto newspapers

New York Times reporter Miguel Helft writes in Sunday's edition:
    People in Palo Alto frequently call Dave Price a contrarian. While they typically mean it as a slam, Mr. Price, the co-founder and editor of the Palo Alto Daily Post, considers it a badge of honor.

    “We are contrarian, but there are good reasons to be that way,” said Mr. Price, whose newspaper opposes just about everything that the city government does.

    Mr. Price’s contrarian streak extends to his take on the newspaper business. He started The Daily Post in 2008, as the recession forced further cutbacks and closings at many of the nation’s already suffering newspapers. And in a time when most newspaper publishers spend much effort figuring out how to profit from the Web, The Daily Post is proudly print-only.

    “Giving away news online is a dumb way to do business,” according to its Web site, which does not post any news.
    Yet Mr. Price said the Daily Post broke even within a year. “Every month, revenue goes up,” he said.

    Mr. Price is not the only one defying conventional journalism wisdom. Palo Alto, a highly wired Silicon Valley community, is, too.

    At a time when many cities struggle to support one newspaper, Palo Alto has three: The Daily Post, The Daily News, which began publishing in 1995, and The Palo Alto Weekly, which has a daily online edition and has been around since 1979. ...

    This month, in the days after the crash of a small plane caused a 10-hour blackout in Palo Alto and killed three employees of Tesla Motors, the three papers, combined, published some 30 articles examining everything from the city’s response to the power grid’s connection with the city-run electric utility.

    And in a city where laptops, iPhones and Kindles are standard issue, many residents still walk a block or two to pick up one of the city’s newspapers, all of which are free.

    “It is phenomenal to go into a coffee shop in the morning and see people reading local newspapers,” said Ted Glasser, a professor of communications at Stanford. “These are manageable newspapers. You can read them in 15 or 20 minutes.” ...
Photos: Top, The Daily Post's Dave Price. Middle, Jay Thorwaldson, editor of Palo Alto Weekly, talking with Tyler Hanley, the online editor; Bottom, Daily News executive edtior Mario Dianda. All photos by Ramin Rahimian for the New York Times.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

KCBS takes over No. 1 spot in ratings

The decision by CBS Radio to acquire an FM channel for All News 740 KCBS seems to be paying off. KCBS AM-FM was first in the January Arbitron ratings for listeners 6+ with a 6.4 rating compared to 5.8 for perennial leader KGO-AM.

A year ago, KCBS (which had just started its FM service) had a 5.6 compared to KGO's 5.8. In one year, KCBS has grown its listenership by 14%.

Here's the usual disclaimer: Advertisers don't use these numbers when buying air time. They use ratings for particular demographics.
PPM 6+
          San Francisco Radio Metro
         Monday-Sunday 6am-Midnight
               Jan 09   Dec 09   Jan 10
1.  KCBS-AM/FM   5.6      5.8      6.4
2.  KGO-AM       5.5      5.8      5.8
3.  KOIT-FM      4.8      5.4      5.7
4.  KQED-FM      5.3      4.8      4.5
5.  WILD-FM      3.4      3.8      4.0
6.  KBLX-FM               4.0      3.9
7.  Star 103.1   3.6      4.1      3.9
8.  KNBR-AM               3.6      3.5
9.  KSOL                  3.4      3.5
10. MOViN 99.7            2.8      3.5
11. KDFC-FM               3.4      3.2
12. KRZZ                  3.2      3.2
13. KMEL-FM      3.7      2.6      2.9
14. KSFO-AM      3.3      3.1      2.7
15. KISS-FM               2.5      2.5
16. KFOG-FM               2.4      2.4
17. KSAN-FM               2.0      2.3
18. KBAY-FM               2.7      2.0
19. The Band              1.9      2.2
20. Alice                 2.4      2.1

Chauncey Bailey Project reporters win McGill Medal

The University of Georgia has announced that four reporters associated with the Chauncey Bailey Project -- Thomas Peele, Josh Richman, Mary Fricker and Bob Butler -- will receive the McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage. A news release says:
    “Peele, Richman, Fricker and Butler’s reporting was truly courageous,” wrote Oakland Tribune editor Martin G. Reynolds in his nomination. “A reporter was killed and they continued and expanded his work despite obvious dangers.”

    The reporter was Chauncey Bailey, editor of the Oakland Post, who was murdered in 2007 while investigating black Muslims and their Your Black Muslim Bakery, headquartered in Oakland, Calif. The man charged with Bailey’s killing told a court he was ordered by the group’s leader to murder Bailey “to stop this story.”

    The four reporters wrote more than 100 stories about the group, the murder, and the police investigation. Reynolds wrote, “Their reportage forced the indictment of the group’s leader on murder changes for ordering the assassination.”

    Peele and Richman are reporters for The Oakland Tribune/Bay Area News Group. Peele is an investigative reporter whose work focuses on government malfeasance and corruption. A 25-year veteran of newspapers on both coasts, Peele has won four national reporting awards. Richman covers state and federal politics. He reported for the Express-Times in Easton, Pa. for five years before joining the Oakland Tribune in 1997.

    Fricker and Butler are independent reporters. Fricker retired in 2006 from the Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif., where she covered business. She is the author of the New York Times best-selling book, "Inside Job: The Looting of America’s Savings and Loans."

    Butler’s career in broadcast journalism began in 1981 when he was hired by KCBS in San Francisco. He has reported about economics, politics and disasters throughout the U.S. and from Brazil, Europe, Namibia, Tanzania and Senegal.

    The medal will be presented to the four on March 24, at the University's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

BA News Project uses Twitter to announce CTO

Chris Rauber of the San Francisco Business Times reports that the Bay Area News Project announced the name of its chief technology officer via its Twitter feed. The new CTO is Brian Kelley, former co-founder of Reputation Defender in Redwood City, and prior to that similar posts at The Academic Approach and TicketRESERVE, according to his online bio.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

MediaBistro pulls plug on Baynewser

BayNewser, a blog with two paid writers covering the Bay Area media scene, is shutting down after nine months in business.

The blog was created by New York-based MediaBistro, which also owns local blogs such as FishbowlLA, FishbowlNY and TVNewser.

BayNewser's co-editors, E.B. (Liza) Boyd and Jason Turbow, said they were paid a flat rate per post. Their compensation wasn't based on pageviews, so they weren't compelled to write outrageous things just to draw traffic.

BayNewser started out covering TV, print and online news operations, but shifted in the past few months to reporting on Facebook, Twitter and Google.

MediaBistro, in a statement on the BayNewser site, said that its acquisition of and were duplicating much of what BayNewser was covering.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chron to outsource some sports reporting

Bleacher Report, which was started a year ago by four “obsessed sports fans from the Bay Area," has landed a deal with Hearst Corp. to provide sports coverage to the Chronicle and other Hearst papers, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.

Bleacher Report was founded by Dave Finocchio, Zander Freund, Bryan Goldberg and Dave Nemetz. They call their site “the world’s largest publisher of exclusively fan-generated sports reporting.”
    Our community of fan-experts creates hundreds of original stories each day, and we publish their work to the millions of people who visit Bleacher Report on a monthly basis. In addition, content created by the Bleacher Report community is used by several major partners, including CBS Sports and Fox Sports.

    How does Bleacher Report accomplish all this?

    Simply stated, we provide our community of talented writers with the best possible experience. Our publishing platform enables them to create first-rate content, and our wide reach delivers their work to countless sports fanatics across the globe. Thus, for many writers, contributing to Bleacher Report is a superior experience than operating an independent blog.
According to Bleacher Report, the special local sections of the newspapers will have original articles written by Bleacher contributors, and also “aggregated content from across the Web.”

Paulo Pereira, Jamie Casini depart Daily News

Paulo Pereira started at the Palo Alto Daily News in 1999 as a receptionist and by 2005 was in charge of an advertising department with 25 employees in four cities. Monday, however, was his last day. Publisher Justin Wilcox told his staff in an e-mail:
    I wanted to let everyone know that effective today Paulo Pereira is no longer with the Daily News. I want to thank Paulo for his years of service and dedication to the company and wish him great success with his future endeavors.

    Any duties or activities that Paulo was participating in can be directed to me moving forward and I thank everyone in advance for your assistance during this transition.
Last month, Managing Editor Jamie Casini (top right) left the Daily News after five years for a new hyper-local Internet news service called Patch, an AOL-funded venture that plans to roll out hundreds of local news blogs by the end of the year. Before the Daily News, Casini was city editor at the San Francisco Examiner from June 2002 to October 2005. She is also a past president of the Press Club.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Clear Channel sacks 2 program directors

John Scott, program director at progressive Green 960 (KKGN) and KNEW 910, and Stacy Cunningham, PD of KMEL, have been shown the door by Clear Channel, according to Friday Morning Quarterback and AllAccess. Clear Channel cluster operations manager Don Parker will add PD duties at KMEL. KISS FM assistant PD and music director Ricci Filiar will become PD of KISS, KKGN and KNEW.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rodgers fired moments after show ended

Lee Rodgers has written a letter to listeners to clear the air about his sudden departure from KSFO 560 on Thursday: "It was forced upon me with no notice," he says.
    While KSFO & KGO were and are profitable, Citadel Broadcasting, the parent company that owns ABC Radio is in bankruptcy.

    The top management of Citadel, led by a CEO named Farid Suleiman -- widely regarded as the most incompetent executive in broadcasting -- decided that I was making too much money after 25 years with ABC and fifteen as morning host on KSFO, taking no note of the fact that I've generated large sums of money for the company.

    I was seriously considering retirement at the end of my contract in early July, and I certainly wouldn't have left without saying goodbye. Instead, within one minute of the conclusion of last Thursday's show, I got the word that it HAD been my last one; cut with no notice, in violation of my contract.

    This is typical Citadel tactics; they've carried out massacres at many of our sister stations. At the Chicago station, WLS, a highly respected newscaster was pulled from the studio in mid-show, during a commercial break, and fired! There's a certain justice in that outcome: the two management people who carried it out were themselves fired a week later.

    Understand, please, that this course was not chosen by the local management of KSFO. Mickey Luckoff and Jack Swanson have been helpful throughout my long run in San Francisco.

    I WILL tell you, in all candor, that thanks to Mr. Suleiman's Citadel management, I could no longer proudly say that the company had never told me what to say or what not to say. There was an obvious cave-in to some ultra-left and pro-Muslim groups, making it unlikely that I would have ever renewed my contract with the company, anyway.
Rodgers told Joe Garofoli of the Chronicle and SFGate that Citadel is trying to get out of paying him for the last 4 1/2 months of his contract, and AFTRA is going to bat for him.

Garofoli also reports:
    Jack Swanson, vice president for programming for KSFO and KGO -- and a friend of Rodgers for 30 years who has hired him twice -- told us that the station "spent several months trying to negotiate a new contract" but it didn't happen. Our goal was to retain Lee."

    Lee's response to The Chronicle: "I was offered an insultingly low salary to extend my contract, which I rejected."

    "I harbor no hostility toward the local management of KSFO/KGO; they were simply doing as ordered," Rodgers said. "They built the stations up; Citadel is tearing them down."
Rodgers, who has been doing his program from Arizona for the past seven years, says it is unlikely he will return to broadcasting after more than 50 years in the business. (Photo credit: Chronicle file, Kim Komenich)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

San Jose editor moves on to Connecticut

Norman Bell, former editor of the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, has been named the top editor at the Hartford Business Journal.

He has been the top editor at daily newspapers in Tacoma, Wash., Oakland and Trenton, N.J. Bell also has held managing editor or senior editor roles at daily newspapers in Detroit, Columbus, Ohio, Albuquerque, N.M., and Riverside.

Ex-Daily News leader Dajani now a Yahoo reseller

Shareef Dajani, who was publisher of the Palo Alto Daily News in 2006, has a new job at Yahoo as a "partner reseller manager," according to his LinkedIn profile.

During his 12 months at the Daily News, he is perhaps best known as the executive who fired editor Diana Diamond, a long-time Palo Altan who was also a columnist. She now is associate editor of the rival Daily Post.

Dajani ran the Daily News until January 2007, and then was transferred to a job handling niche publications for the Bay Area News Group (MediaNews). A few months after his transfer, he headed to Chicago to work for a billboard company, Titan Worldwide, where he was employed for nine months.

Last February, he returned to California to work as a salesman for Southwest Offset Printing, the contractor which printed the Daily News until May 2009. At that point, the San Jose Mercury News took over the printing of the Daily News, and the paper changed sizes, first to a square tab (from May to August 2009) and then to a broadsheet.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Attention high school journalists and advisers

The San Francisco Peninsula Press Club is now accepting entries for its annual High School Journalism Contest.

Click here to download an entry form which also contains the contest rules. The deadline for entries is March 31. Awards will be presented in April at Ralston Hall on the campus of Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont.

Categories include news story, feature story, editorial, column, sports story, layout and design, news photo, feature photo, sports photo, Web site design and Web site content.

In addition to the contest, the Press Club also hosts an annual boot camp for student journalists in the fall. The camp is an opportunity for students to learn from professionals and receive critiques of their work.

Anyone with questions about the contest is welcome to contact the Press Club's Micki Carter via e-mail.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

KSFO's Lee Rodgers retires

Lee Rodgers signed off KSFO 560 for the last time today, turning his morning show over to Brian Sussman, the former TV weather man turned conservative talk show host.

Rodgers had been transitioning to retirement for a couple of years by first moving to Arizona and broadcasting from his home, and then reducing his schedule to four days a week. Sussman, who has been working the 6-8 p.m. shift, had substituted for Rodgers.

Sussman becomes permanent host of the morning show starting tomorrow, and KSFO will fill his evening slot with a syndicated program by John Batchelor. Batchelor, a novelist, holds down the 9-midnight slot at WABC-AM in New York. (Photo credit: Chronicle file, Kim Komenich)

UPDATE, Friday, 5 p.m.: Rodgers' former co-host, Melanie Morgan, says he was the victim of downsizing, and she ought to know since she's married to KSFO vice president of operations Jack Swanson. Morgan, who worked with Rodgers for 14 years, writes in her blog:
    We sure had a wild ride, recalling a governor, enacting legislation banning cancer-causing chemicals forced on us by environmental whackos, excoriating the dopes in politics, and adopting a lot of puppies (with your help.) Lee also is VERY proud of the fact that he has pissed off Media Matters and other left-wing liberals. There were never enough hours in the day to bitch-slap those people, politcally speaking, of course.

NBC, possibly others in talks with KRON

NBC and possibly one other network is in talks to take over management of KRON4, Broadcasting & Cable reports, citing bankruptcy court records.

KRON would presumably operate out of KNTV's building in San Jose should the deal be worked out. NBC Local Media apparently isn't the only network-owned group interested in running KRON4.

"The negotiations with NBC have progressed, and there is at least one other network interested," reads a brief filed in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case of KRON owner Young Broadcasting. NBC said in a statement, "There have been some discussions around shared technical services, but there is no agreement at this point."

Broadcasting & Cable contacted ABC and CBS, and each denied being in negotiations with Young. No word about KTVU or KOFY. If a deal happens, Young would sell the KRON building on Van Ness Avenue, appraised in the $10 million neighborhood.

Weeklies again arguing their cases online

The SF Weekly's latest post on its ongoing predatory pricing lawsuit with the Bay Guardian seemed like old time. It was just two years ago that the two weeklies were filing detailed, lengthy reports on their latest legal maneuvers against one another. After the Guardian won at trial and now is attempting to collect its $21 million judgment, the online "stories" about this legal saga have trailed off.

Now Andy Van De Voorde of the SF Weekly's home office in Phoenix has a report on his company's appeals brief. He makes these points:

• The $21 million award is more than twice the amount the company that operated the Cosco Busan had to pay after spilling tons of toxic bunker fuel into the Bay.

• The size of the judgment "far exceeds the net assets of the SF Weekly and its parent company, New Times Media.

• That if the SF Weekly case were stand, "would likely have a chilling effect on commerce in California, particularly in the publishing and Web start-up industries, where companies often lose money during their initial years of operation."

The SF Weekly also makes a novel argument about lower prices. The Guardian, and countless plaintiffs before it, have successfully argued that they were damaged when a competitor seeking a monopoly position lowered prices below the cost of production to drive rivals out of business. It's the Walmart argument. The store rolls into a small town and charges less than the retailers on Main Street. Those stores close and then Walmart raises its prices to recoup its earlier losses.

The SF Weekly is arguing that because anti-trust laws are about protecting consumers instead of business interests, "lower prices should always be encouraged, unless a plaintiff can prove that the defendant could reasonably expect to recoup its losses by ultimately charging monopoly prices."

One thing is for sure. The Guardian will soon be posting its response to this brief.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mercury News increasing subscription rates

Subscribers to the Merc have been getting letters that begin "Dear Loyal Reader." The letters tell of a subscription rate hike and they provide the reader with a username and password to log on to the Merc's e-edition.

Because of discounting, the Merc's rates vary greatly. But for a subscriber who now pays $145.44 a year, the rate will increase by "about" 5 cents per day, the letter said. That would come to $18.25 cents per year, bringing the annual rate to $163.69 — a 12.5% hike.

The e-edition is an exact replica of the printed paper with type sizes that can be enlarged. E-edition readers also get access to a year of the Merc's archives.

Former KQED official to become president, CEO

John Boland, the former "chief content officer" for KQED parent Northern California Public Broadcasting, has been named that organization's new president and chief executive, replacing Jeff Clarke, who is retiring after a 45-year career.

Boland's appointment ends a search process of several months where it was rumored that three internal candidates were rejected by the board.

Boland, who left for PBS in 2006, will take over on March 22. Here's the press release.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Reporter kicked out of PG&E debate

A reporter for the San Francisco Bay Guardian was escorted out of a debate on Prop. 16, the June ballot measure that would limit the creation or expansion of government-owned power agencies, the Guardian reports.

Oddly enough, reporter Brady Welch had been invited to the debate by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, an opponent of the measure. The Guardian is also well known as a critic of PG&E, which favors Prop. 16.

The debate was hosted by the Northern California Power Agency, a public agency that represents 15 cities that own their utilities including Palo Alto.

Here's Welch's account:
    At Sacramento's Doubletree Inn, I headed to the lobby of the California Ballroom, where I found a woman sitting at a table adorned with the logo of the NCPA. "I'm a reporter here to cover the debate between Sen. Mark Leno and a representative from PG&E," I said. "Would this be the right place?"
    She smiled politely. Sorry, she said, you have to be an NCPA member and registered for the conference.
    "I was invited by the senator," I told her.
    "Then you will have to wait until he gets here," she said curtly.
    I walked upstairs to the front desk — and just then, Leno walked through the main lobby's sliding doors. I introduced myself, walked with him to the conference room, and quickly slipped in with some other attendees. Within three minutes, a man sitting next to me was called to the side by a steward who whispered something to him, and then just as quickly, returned to his seat. He turned to me.
    Are you with the media? he whispered.
    "I'm with a newspaper," I said.
    He then informed me that the conference was actually private, and sorry, I would have to leave. They would explain more outside.
    After I was escorted out, Leno came up to me and explained that there had been a miscommunication. Turns out [PG&E political consultant David] Townsend didn't want the media around. And worse, the NCPA folks appeared to be taking his side. Leno arranged for me to hear his opening statement, but that was all.
Attorney Terry Francke of Californians Aware, an open government advocacy group, posted the following in the comments section on the Guardian's Web site:
    The NCPA is a joint powers agency, which means that its board (as well as the governing bodies of its 15 constituent public agencies) is subject to the Brown Act.

    Under that law, a majority of the members of such bodies may gather to hear presentations on public issues relevant to their bailiwicks without triggering the open meeting rule only under certain circumstances, namely if they are attending:
      1. "an *open and noticed* meeting of another body of the local agency, or at an open and noticed meeting of a legislative body of another local agency ..."

      2. "a purely social or ceremonial occasion ..."

      3. "an *open and noticed* meeting of a standing committee of (the same) body ..."

      4. "an *open and publicized* meeting organized to address a topic of local community concern by a person or organization other than the local agency (that they represent) ..."

      5. "a conference or similar gathering *open to the public* that involves a discussion of issues of general interest to the public or to public agencies of (their type) ..."

    Situations 1 through 3 clearly don't apply here. Situation 4 is closer, and might apply to the attendance of any board majority from any of the 15 agencies. But situation 5 is right on the money, and what it means is: for the NCPA or any of its 15 member agencies, if there was a majority of even one board present, the Brown Act was violated if the conference was not "open to the public."

    Moreover there might be damages liability for violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, as the court of appeal found there was when a plainclothes police officer was ordered to leave a conference otherwise open to the public and sponsored by the ACLU. (Long v. Valentino, 216 Cal. App. 3d 1287 (1989)).

    Your reporter's ouster was more than stupid. It was almost certainly unlawful, and could prove costly.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

February 2010 Press Club board minutes

Feb. 10, 2010 — Board Room, San Mateo Daily Journal. The meeting was called to order at 6:40 p.m.

Present: Jon Mays, Micki Carter, Dave Price, Marshall Wilson, Melissa McRobbie,
Darryl Compton. Absent: Ed Remitz, Jamie Casini, Kristy Blackburn, Antonia Ehlers

Minutes of January were approved as read.

Treasurer’s Report: No change from last month.

Evening of Excellence: Darryl will check to see if June 5, 12 or 19 will work for the Crowne Plaza since the room they offered for our first choice was unacceptable. If those dates don’t work, Darryl will check with other venues.

A discussion on possible speakers followed. Among the suggestions, Willie Brown, Ward Bushee of the Chronicle, Dave Eggers of Panorama, the Google exec who can talk about the economics of the news business and someone from the Bay Area News Project. A decision will be made at the March meeting.

Professional Development Workshop: Micki reported that she couldn’t do any work on the Math for Journalists workshop this spring. Other topics were suggested: Ins and outs of getting news from the San Mateo County Courthouse, how to get mug shots of defendants, how to cover teen suicides. Members were asked to return with firm ideas at the March meeting.

High School Journalism Project: Jon suggested the club by ads in the local high school papers as a funding resource. Micki urged the group to consider a broader approach such as creating an ad consortium that would allow local merchants to buy into all the San Mateo County high school papers at one time. She also mentioned purchasing national ads through a group like Alloy Media which offers national ads for college papers. More discussion on this will follow.

The board also focused on using the SFPPC Web site for posting media resources such as the workshops from the September boot camps and online media kits.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:35 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Micki Carter, Secretary

Berkeley Daily Planet to stop print edition

The owners of the Berkeley Daily Planet announced today that they will stop their print edition next month, but continue a Web site with one reporter.

Owners Becky and Mike O'Malley blamed the closure on a decline in advertising in general and a boycott led by "a few misguided zealots who represent themselves as friends of Israel."

The Berkeley Daily Planet has gone out of business before. It started on April 7, 1999 by a group of journalists and Stanford MBA students, according to this account in the Chronicle. It closed on Nov. 22, 2002. Employees learned about the shutdown by arriving at work and finding a note on the door, the Daily Californian (the UC-Berkeley paper) reported.

More than a year later, on April 1, 2003, the O'Malleys revived the Daily Planet, but only published it twice a week. Last August, they switched to once a week.

The O'Malleys said in today's statement that they tried everything to keep the paper afloat including "free-will subscriptions, donation boxes, web contributions and direct fundraising."

"The only way to cut expenses further is to give up print publication for the moment," the O'Malleys wrote. "We know that many if not most of our 40,000-plus faithful readers prefer paper, and frankly, we do too. But our central mission continues to be reporting the news, and new technology has made online news delivery very attractive."

Becky O'Malley told the Daily Californian: ""We had hopes when we started that we would be able to break even from the advertising sales, but that never really happened ... Nowhere these days is a good place to sustain a newspaper through advertising sales."

Meet the editor of the Bay Area News Project

Your chance to meet the new editor of the Bay Area News Project is coming up on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

The new editor is Jonathan Weber, co-founder of The Industry Standard and a former LA Times staff writer. Weber intends to hire at least 15 journalists this year. Hear about his vision for "building a stellar newsroom to cover Bay Area government and politics, the arts, business, entertainment, community news and other topics."

The event is set for 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the World Affairs Council, 312 Sutter St., Suite 200.

Presented by California Media Workers Guild and co-sponsored by: Asian American Journalists Association, SF Bay Area Bay Area Black Journalists Association, Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism, East Bay Press Club, National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, San Francisco Peninsula Press Club, SF Public Press and the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California chapter.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

KRON grounds copter, KTVU changes beats

SF media blogger Rich Lieberman reports that KRON 4 no longer operates a traffic helicopter due to financial constraints. For the same reason, almost all of the station's employees are being paid at an "at-will" scale, which means "no personal services" contracts that bump up one's take-home pay. Even Gary Radnich, perhaps the station's best known personality, is on the "at-will" scale, Lieberman indicates.

At Channel 2, David Stephenson will replace Rob Roth as SF Bureau Chief. Rob has been doing that job for at least 15 years. John Sasaki will be doing more weekend shifts and Maureen Naylor will work more weekdays, a tipster tells Lieberman.

Brown's press aide off the hook for taping reporters

The Alameda County District Attorney's office has decided that Attorney General Jerry Brown's press spokesman didn't break California's eavesdropping law when he recorded an interview with Chron reporter Carla Marinucci.

Communications director Scott Gerber is off the hook because, according to District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, the interviews were "meant for publication and airing."

The eavesdropping law, Penal Code Section 632, only applies to "confidential communications" and it excludes "any other circumstance in which the parties to the communication may reasonably expect that the communication may be overheard or recorded."

Gerber recorded interviews conducted by reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle, the Associated Press and other media organizations.

"The investigation concluded, therefore, that the recorded conversations were not confidential and there is insufficient evidence to support any conclusion that they were meant to be confidential," says a press release from the District Attorney's Office.

According to the Sacramento Bee, the attorney general's office responded Thursday, "The Alameda County District Attorney's independent conclusion validates the Department of Justice's earlier finding that Scott Gerber only taped conversations intended for the public, which was well within the provisions of law. All of the recordings were on-the-record discussions intended for public consumption."

Gerber resigned in November after news of the secret recordings sparked a political firestorm around Brown, who is expected to run for governor.

Former Stanford Daily editor wins Pearl internship

Devin Banerjee, former editor-in-chief of the Stanford Daily, has been awarded the 2010 Daniel Pearl Memorial Journalism Internship, which will have him working in one of the Wall Street Journal's foreign bureaus this summer, according to the Stanford News Service.

Banerjee is working toward a degree in management science and engineering, with a concentration in technology and policy. He expects to graduate in 2011.

The internship was established to commemorate the work and ideals of Pearl, a Stanford graduate and Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002.

Banerjee is from Calabasas, in Southern California, and he has previously held internships at the Mercury News and the JoongAng Daily in Seoul, Korea.

Pearl, a 1985 graduate of Stanford's Department of Communication, was kidnapped in Karachi on Jan. 23, 2002, while working on a story retracing the steps of "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. A month later, on Feb. 21, his captors released a videotape of his slaying. He was 38. (Photo credit: Stanford News Service)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Agenda for Press Club's board meeting

Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010
6:30 p.m.
San Mateo Daily Journal
800 S. Claremont St., Ste. 210, San Mateo


1-Approval of Minutes
2-Finance and Membership Reports
3-Confirmation of date for annual awards contest, discussion of any details including guest speaker
4-Professional development workshop for members-upcoming
5-Discussion of ad purchases in school publications
6-Other business as needed

Former newspaper offices to be subdivided

The old Santa Cruz Sentinel building might soon become home of an Internet service provider and environmental group. The Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal reports that the new owners of the 44-year-old, 55,000-square-foot building at 207 Church St. are submitting plans to the city to subdivide the building into spaces for at least four tenants. The Sentinel vacated the downtown building in 2007 for an office park in Scotts Valley. Two years later, top management wished they were back downtown again.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

KTVU's mobile pageviews jump 300% in a year

KTVU is out with its report on its ratings in January, and perhaps the biggest headline doesn't deal with TV viewership at all. Channel 2 reports that pageviews for Mobile have increased by more than 300% to 1.6 million in January compared to the same month last year.

January's rain storms resulted in 641,000 pageviews for Channel 2's weather radar page.

When it comes to TV news ratings, we posted the grid above that Channel 2 provided for the January 2010 ratings (adults 25-54) and below the same demo for March 2009.

Looking at both charts, it shows that NBC KNTV has lost viewership in the morning, KTVU is doing better at 5 and 6 p.m., and everybody is down at 10 and 11 p.m.

When other stations put out their announcements about ratings, we'll post them. Usually we get more following the February sweeps.

MediaNews describes pay wall

MediaNews, which is making post-bankruptcy plans, tells Bloomberg News that it will give users access to as many as 25 "premium" articles monthly, after which they'll have to pay an undetermined fee unless they subscribe to a MediaNews print publication.

MediaNews is calling the "metered pay wall" similar to one at the Financial Times.

MediaNews plans to test the concept at its papers in Chico and York, Pa., in the next few months. Then the pay wall might be extended to the company's 52 other daily newspapers including those in the Bay Area.

MediaNews will use Steven Brill and Gordon Crovitz's Journalism Online to process payments for its sites.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jerry Roberts awarded $915,538

Former Chronicle political reporter and managing editor Jerry Roberts (pictured) has been awarded $915,538 in legal fees and arbitration costs in his dispute with the owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press, multi-millionaire Wendy McCaw, the LA Times reported today.

Arbitrator Deborah Rothman rejected all claims by McCaw's company and, in a 68-page ruling, ordered it to pay her $748,022 in legal fees and $167,516 in arbitration costs.

Rothman said McCaw (below) used her wealth to engage in a "scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners, go-for-broke, leave-no stone-unturned" campaign to punish Roberts for speaking out against what he saw as improper meddling in the news gathering process, according to the LA Times report.

"Mrs. McCaw is capable of great vindictiveness and appears to relish the opportunity to wield her considerable wealth and power in furtherance of what she believes to be righteous causes," Rothman wrote.

Roberts left the Chronicle in 2002 after 25 years to become managing editor of the Santa Barbara paper, but resigned in 2006, saying McCaw was meddling in the newsroom. She then sued him, saying his criticism of her violated his employment contract.

Among the allegations against McCaw is that she had a reporter and three editors disciplined for printing the address of a home "West Wing" actor Rob Lowe was planning to build -- a project that had spurred protests from neighbors and had been the subject of numerous public hearings.

McCaw became rich through marriage. She got $460 million when she divorced Cingular cell phone pioneer Craig McCaw in 1997. In 2000, she bought the News-Press from The New York Times Co. and, critics claim, used it to trumpet her own causes, such as animal rights, abolishing the Coastal Commission and barring public access to beaches -- at least those near her property.

When Roberts resigned, seven top newsroom staffers followed him. As public sympathy settled on the side of the departing newsroom staffers, McCaw's Ampersand Publishing announced that they had found pornography on Roberts' old computer. The smear fell apart, however, when it was revealed that several other people in the company had used the same computer, and that there was no way of telling who downloaded the pornography. Since the computer was purchased second-hand, it might have even been the previous owner. Roberts denied the allegations, and the matter has been dropped.

Roberts now writes a political blog, CalBuzz, with Phil Trounstine.

(Photo credits: Roberts photo, Chronicle; Wendy McCaw, Santa Barbara Independent)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Oakland residents invited to become journalists

E&P reports that the Oakland Tribune and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Eduction are launching on a citizen journalist program in west Oakland that will open a media center in a branch library, and train residents in reporting, writing and photographing for the newspaper's community correspondents program. The six-month training program comes with a $1,000 stipend to residents who complete the entire course.

Book review: "Deadlines"

Pete Carey of the Merc says Paul McHugh's "Deadlines" is an entertaining tale that concisely captures life in a big-city newsroom. In fact, this amusing novel is more than a murder mystery. It's a portrait of metropolitan journalism amid its time of troubles. [More]

No local broadcasters going to Super Bowl

Bay Area media blogger Rich Lieberman checked around and discovered that not one local TV or radio station has sent anyone to Miami to cover Sunday's Super Bowl. Some newspaper people are going like David White of the Chron, but in far fewer numbers than in the past.

KGO-AM's Gil Gross now does show on KSFO 560

Gil Gross, who holds down the 2-4 p.m. weekday shift at KGO-AM, can now be heard on Saturdays on conservative "Hot Talk" KSFO-AM from 1-3, talking about real estate.

No, Gross isn't pretending to be a Rush Limbaugh wannabe one day a week. KSFO is simply picking up Gross' nationally syndicated "Real Estate Today" program which is heard on other big-market stations like WABC New York. In fact, WABC booted Bob Brinker and replaced him with Gross. KSFO, KGO-AM and WABC are owned by Citadel.

Gross' real estate program is heavy on interviews from experts. The KSFO version also includes a two-minute report Gross does on the Bay Area market.

The program is owned by the National Association of Realtors, but that hasn't stopped Gross from asking probing questions about the meltdown of the housing industry.

Gross, who replaced the late Pete Wilson at KGO in 2007, has been on national network radio for years, hosting a talk show on CBS Radio and doing hourly news on ABC. In fact, he became the youngest radio anchor at ABC at age 23.

Just say 'no' to giving it away for free

Alan Mutter, media venture capitalist and blogger, journalists need to stand together and stop giving away their services for free. In a blog posting that seems to be directed at the F. Warren Hellman-funded Bay Area News Project (which will use the free work of UC-Berkeley journalism students), Mutter says journalists should reject those who want to use their work for free:
    Instead of simply declining, I tell them something like this: Quality journalism takes training, time and tenacity. Although it’s easy to fill space with words, pictures and videos that are produced quickly and on the cheap, down-and-dirty “journalism” is the intellectual equivalent of empty calories. 
    The more empty calories you consume, the unhealthier you get. It won’t be good for our democracy – let alone our self-esteem as journalists – if we attempt to nourish vital local, state and national conversations with the journalistic equivalent of Ding Dongs and McNuggets. 
    The dangerous devaluation of journalism is the direct result of the contraction of the traditional media, which have idled tens of thousands of experienced journalists in the hopes of approximating their exceptional historic profitability. 
    The market is flooded not only with sidelined veterans but also with hungry, young journalists trying to land their first gigs (see also "Journicide: A Looming Lost Generation of Scribes"). This makes it easy for countless new media ventures, and even some of the older ones, to pick off writers, photographers and videographers on the cheap. 
    Such was the case last year when a freelancer got a measly $31.50 for a photo that ran on the cover of a Time magazine issue ironically devoted to “the new frugality.” The only way for journalists to fight back is to demand to be paid what they’re worth.
Here's a link to Mutter's posting.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jon Miller to enter Hall of Fame

The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced Monday that longtime Giants broadcaster Jon Miller was selected as the winner of the Ford C. Frick Award, given annually to recognize excellence in baseball broadcasting. Miller grew up in the Bay Area and spent hundreds of days and nights listening to Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons call Giants games.

"The first people I actually thought of were Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons," Miller said in a conference call, according to the Chronicle. "It really is kind of astounding to me, that I'm the recipient of the award, because Russ and Lon were larger-than-life people to me. They were as big as the biggest movie stars to me."

Monday, February 1, 2010

It's been 13 years since Herb Caen died

In this retrospective, the Chron's Carl Nolte said Caen had a special way of spinning items: "He called an L.A. cop 'an equal opportunity bigot — he hates everyone' ... he said the Catholic archbishop had closed so many churches he made an unholy mess ... he found a guy who played two saxophones at the same time and wondered if he was bisaxual ... he called a bus driver with a perfect attendance record the Cal Ripken of the Muniserable railway ... he gave Beaucaens, and sent Caengrats. He invented words. Beatnik was one."