Saturday, July 31, 2010

Three stations switch to auxiliary transmitters

If you're having trouble picking up digital TV signals, you're not alone. An electrical problem at Sutro Tower has forced KPIX 5, KRON 4, and KTVU 2 to switch to their auxiliary antennae located toward the bottom of the 977-foot mast that overlooks San Francisco, according to the Sutro Tower website. The problem hasn't spilled over to the eight other TV stations using the tower or the four FM stations transmitting there.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Salaries exploded without news coverage

Terry Francke, general counsel for Californians Aware, writes in the Voice of OC online news serivce, "The explosive self-dealing scandal that has in a matter of weeks blown away the city of Bell's senior administrative tier was probably inevitable, given the gaps in the Brown Act and the newspaper publishing tradition that once provided small towns with a watchful eye and a voice to be reckoned with."
    In short, the Bell spectacle is what happens to communities without their own old-fashioned diligent news coverage by veteran newspaper reporters, or at least smart reporters led by veteran newspaper editors. 
    The result need not be on paper, but it must be done with the community memory and professional savvy almost unique to newspaper-trained journalists with experience watching small-town politics. [MORE]
In a related note, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today in a speech in San Diego challenged cities to post officials' salaries on websites if they have nothing to hide.

In 2003, San Mateo County Judge Rosemary Pfeiffer ruled that the salaries of government employees were secret. Her ruling came in a case where the cities of Atherton, Burlingame, Foster City, San Carlos and San Mateo along with unions representing employees in those cities sued the Palo Alto Daily News over its request to obtain their salaries.

An appeals court upheld her ruling, and the Daily News dropped the case. The now-defunct Knight Ridder chain, which jumped in to assist the Daily News fight the suit, decided to battle the case in a different venue.

Knight Ridder had its Contra Costa Times request salaries for all Oakland city government employees making over $100,000 a year. The unions there sued over the request. A trial was held in Alameda County, and the Times won. The unions appealed and the Times won again.

The unions appealed to the California Supreme Court, which ruled on Aug. 27, 2007 that the salaries of government employees are a matter of public record and must be available upon request to "ensure transparency in government." [Full disclosure: The editor of the Press Club blog, Dave Price, was an owner of the Daily News during the salaries lawsuit, a case known as Teamsters v. Priceless.]

The new tool of journalists, Wikileaks

Peter Scheer, an attorney and executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, says that the leak of Afghanistan war documents to Wikileaks represents a sea change in how reporters will report on national security issues.

He points out that Wikileaks was founded after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals of court orders in the Scooter Libby case from journalists who were forced to reveal confidential sources.
    The Supreme Court’s inaction laid bare the vulnerability of American journalists to the coercive power of federal judges who are determined to extract information for a grand jury or trial. Most journalists can’t or won’t go to jail to protect a source. And those who would do so may find that their employer, typically a public corporation with an obligation to shareholders, doesn’t share their commitment to civil disobedience. Even without the intervention of courts, federal agencies conducting national security investigations can gain access to reporters’ phone records, often without the reporters’ ever knowing about it.
    Wikileaks, in short, is a response to journalists’ loss of control over their information.
    Using technology both to erase leakers’ fingerprints and to place wikileaks and its files effectively beyond the reach of any one country’s judicial  process, wikileaks offers a degree of anonymity and security that, while imperfect, exceeds the capability of US media companies.[MORE]

Report: Copeland tapped for ABC7 3 p.m. show

Media blogger Rich Lieberman reports that comedian, commentator and radio host Brian Copeland has been picked by KGO ABC7 to host a weekday show at 3 p.m. Lieberman based his report on a reliable broadcast source, and he quotes Copeland as saying, "That's an interesting rumor." Copeland's show would replace "View from the Bay," but no date has been set for its start. A live audience is planned, according to Lieberman. Copeland was a regular for several years on "Mornings on 2," he's received great reviews for his stage show "Not a Genuine Black Man," and he does a show on KGO-AM on Sundays from 9-11 a.m.

Update, July 29, 7 p.m.: The Chron followed Lieberman's story and added that Copeland's show will start Sept. 13. One touch from the old day, Copeland will do some of the commercials himself life. (The Chron didn't credit Lieberman. Funny, isn't it, how newspapers complain about bloggers stealing their stuff, but when newspapers do it ...)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Financial reform bill has FIOA loophole for SEC

"The Society of American Business Editors and Writers is appalled at a little-noticed provision of the new financial reform legislation that allows the Securities and Exchange Commission to ignore legitimate requests for information made by the public or the press," the SABEW's president, Rob Reuteman, said in a statement Wednesday.

"The Freedom of Information Act, which became law in 1967, has been of immeasurable aid to public understanding of government operations - and sometimes its misdeeds. Often, through the workings of a free press, government agencies have been forced to comply with public information requests even if the information released places those same agencies in a bad light. The public has been served by such practices.

"For instance, we now know that the SEC itself botched investigations of Bernie Madoff, who fleeced investors of tens of billions of dollars and now sits in prison. The SEC has been forced to institute internal reforms as a result of its own investigative shortcomings that came to light. Hopefully the SEC is better able to protect the public from financial crooks as a result.

"But under the provisions in this new law, the SEC no longer has to comply with such requests for information. They claim it will better allow them to obtain the documents they need to prosecute criminals, that such documents will be withheld from them if there is a chance they will see the light of day.

"Don't fall for that line of reasoning. Government agencies have always been able to censor the documents they are forced to release, in order to withhold such sensitive information. Journalists have been able to construct important stories from heavily redacted government documents for decades.

"But allowing a government agency to ignore such requests for information, as this provision does, appears to roll back 43 years of transparency in government under the Freedom of Information Act. SABEW finds it particularly distressing that this new cloak of secrecy comes in spite of President Obama's declaration that the new law will 'increase transparency in financial dealings.' "

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Guild leader 'insulted' by Chronicle's latest offer

"There is nothing just, fair or even close to decent in what Chronicle management has offered at the bargaining table," writes Chron reporter and union leader Michael Cabanatuan (right). "Frankly, the company's offer is an insult. And we should all feel insulted."

He says the Guild wants:
    • More time off -- workers gave up two weeks of vacation when Hearst was threatening to close the paper 
    • More money to keep health benefits intact 
    • More sick leave 
    • "Some kind of retirement plan (New employees get zip)"
    • "Some sort of pay raise."
Cabanatuan said management has offered five more days of sick leave (what workers gave up in 2005) and little else.

Management is asking for an 18-month extension of the contract (which expired June 30) without any raises, according to a bulletin the Guild released last week. The Guild said it asked for a two-year contract that would include pay increases tied to business results.  (Photo credit: California Media Workers Guild website)

Items for Monday, July 27

WSJ: Tribune CEO says company will try a newscast with no anchors (scroll to bottom)

Forbes: IRS demands $45M from Clear Channel founder, used same tax strategy as Anschutz

E&P: Audit rules loosened to allow newspapers to count readers multiple times

Friday, July 23, 2010

A new way for newspapers to make money

A Las Vegas firm named Righthaven has opened with the sole purpose of enforcing the copyrights of newspapers by suing blogs and websites that re-post articles without permission, Wired magazine reports.

The vision of Righthaven chief executive Steve Gibson is to scour the internet for infringing copies of his client’s articles. Then he sues, relying on the harsh penalties in the Copyright Act — up to $150,000 for a single infringement — to compel quick settlements, according to Wired.

Wired reports that since Righthaven’s formation in March, the company has filed at least 80 federal lawsuits against website operators and individual bloggers who’ve re-posted articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, his first client.

The Wired story says: "The Review-Journal’s publisher, Stephens Media in Las Vegas, runs over 70 other newspapers in nine states, and Gibson says he already has an agreement to expand his practice to cover those properties."

Actually, Stephens (formerly known as Donrey Media Group) only owns about 30 papers outright -- in Nevada, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Washington and Hawaii. But it is a minority shareholder in the MediaNews Group newspapers in California, including the Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Marin Independent Journal, San Mateo County Times, etc.

The "70 newspapers" probably includes the MediaNews properties in which Stephens is a shareholder, so it may not be long before MNG is suing people through Righthaven who use their content.

Wired interviewed Fred Bouzek, a Virginia man who runs a user-generated site about hardcore biker news, who was sued by Righthaven last week on allegations the site ran a Las Vegas Review-Journal story about police going under cover with the Hell’s Angels. Bouzek said that even if he had grounds to fight the case, he says it would be cheaper to settle. “The only choice I have is to try to raise money and offer a settlement,” he says.

The story about Righthaven comes less than a month after a Denver political blogger announced he had received a cease-and-desist letter from several newspapers in Colorado including MediaNews Group's Denver Post for quoting copyrighted material.

Also read: An earlier story on Righthaven by MediaPost.

Examiner owner loses $144 million tax ruling

San Francisco Examiner owner Philip Anschutz -- a billionaire with interests in oil, railroads, real estate, sports franchises and movie theaters -- has been ordered to pay $143.8 million after the U.S. Tax court ruled that he owes money on a complicated set of transactions designed to avoid taxes. Bloomberg and the Denver Business Journal have details. Anschutz's spokesman says he will appeal.

Newsman Aaron Edwards remembered

Chronicle radio columnist Ben Fong-Torres ran a tribute this morning to newsman Aaron Edwards, who had been on the air in the Bay Area for 45 years. Edwards died June 30 at age 90. He was probably best known as the morning newscaster during the Don Sherwood show on KSFO in the 50s and 60s. Edwards later became a reporter for KGO-TV.

Fong-Torres includes a quote from former KSFO broadcaster Jim Lange about one of the pranks Sherwood pulled on Edwards. "Don took a tape recorder and recorded a message -- 'Help! Help! I'm trapped in here! -- and put it in the wastebasket in the newsroom. He timed it so it'd come on while Aaron was on the air. It came on, and he panicked. 'There's somebody in the wastebasket!' Then Don went into the newsroom and threw a match into the basket. And when Aaron started laughing, he couldn't stop."

Today's article includes several quotes from fellow broadcasters who felt that Edwards never got the recognition he deserved for his outstanding work. (Photo credit: Broadcast Legends)

YouTube announces partnership with KGO-TV

Remember all the cell phone videos people made of the Oscar Grant shooting? KGO-TV ABC7 wants to make it even easier for people to submit video they've shot themselves. Yesterday, the station and YouTube announced a partnership designed to help people upload their videos. Channel 7 will now be promoting a version of YouTube Direct, called "ABC7 uReport." ABC7 will feature newsworthy videos during newscasts and online. The place to submit the videos is

'Evening Mag' duo reunite at Academy of Art

The Chron's Peter Hartlaub reports that the former co-hosts of Channel 5's "Evening Magazine," Jan Yanehiro and Richard Hart, have reunited to teach at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Their show aired on KPIX from 1976 until 1991. Hartlaub writes, "Yanehiro, 62, and Hart, 61, still finish each other's sentences, and will occasionally step outside together to show students how to work a live shot. "Evening" fans passing by the downtown San Francisco campus must be surprised to run into the pair, especially considering how little they've aged in 20 years." (Photo credit: Lacy Atkins, Chronicle)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A one-day session on public relations

Justin.TV, a San Francisco company that helps people share live video, is hosting a one-day conference on public relations on Thursday (July 22) in San Francisco.

Topics include: "Guerilla PR," "Cultivating Evangelists," "Digital Advocacy & Community Relations," "Social Networking & Web 2.0/3.0," "Marketing/PR to diverse communities and market segments" and "Combining old-school print PR with modern PR."

The boot camp is geared toward business owners, media consultants, PR professionals, brand managers, marketing professionals, nonprofits, the press, bloggers and students.

Click here for more information.

Monday, July 19, 2010

'Hyper local' news sites looking for journalists

Patch, an arm of AOL, is setting up a group of hyperlocal Web sites. Here's an announcement Patch is circulating:
    How would you like to run your own local news operation — a robust, relevant site that makes a real difference in people’s lives? With Patch, you can make it happen. We’re radically reinventing community journalism and looking for passionate people to help us bring the spirit of hometown news to the internet. 
    We’re currently seeking smart, innovative journalists to join our team as full-time online editors. When you join us, you’ll run your own news site, with control over all that goes into it — and with a network of colleagues and innovative technology to support you. As a Patch local editor, you’ll be helping to build your community by providing the hyper-local news and information that makes your town unique. 
    Patch welcomes journalists from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, including those just starting their careers. If you’re interested in taking a lead role in defining the future of online journalism, learn more and apply at Patch is an equal opportunity employer.
Here's a list of cities where Patch needs journalists.

Ken Doctor, former Knight Ridder digital chief who is now a news industry analyst for Outsell, says:
    AOL’s Patch is ambitiously adding websites, lately going after MediaNews territory in the East Bay of the Bay Area — San Ramon, Danville, Walnut Creek and Pleasanton — and penetrating SoCal, from Fairfax and West Hollywood to Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach. Hundreds of local reporters are being hired as hundreds of new sites are being replicated from California to Illinois to Maryland to Rhode Island, joining the early sites in Connecticut and New Jersey. 
     On Thursday, San Ramon saw a big breaking news story, of a 24-year-old menacing police outside a 7-11. They shot and killed him, after a standoff. Take a look at the coverage and you can see that the Contra Costa Times’ story has more depth, background and nuance. Patch’s story is straightforward, but lacking in those same qualities. That quick comparison may be typical for how a newspaper responds to the big, breaking story — one of unusual suburban daily drama — as compared to AOL’s user-gen start-up.

KQED hires more reporters, adds radio newscasts

KQED Public Media announced today that it is making a "significant expansion" of its news services, adding eight staffers and 10 newscasts to its radio schedule. The expansion was detailed in the Chronicle and the SF Business Times.

Of the eight new hires, six will be journalists who will work for KQED Public Radio, KQED Public Television and the new online news service, officials said.

The Chron notes that the additional newscasts — which will air weekdays, mostly in two-minute segments — will be the first local news-only reports on KQED-FM in several years and will air on the half hour from 6:04 a.m. to noon and at 4:33 p.m. The two minutes of air time will be subtracted from the NPR newscasts that precede them.

According to the most recent Arbitron ratings, KQED-FM (88.5) ranks second behind KCBS-AM in weekday morning drive time and third behind KCBS and KOIT-FM in evening drive time among all listeners, the Chron reported. But among adults ages 25 to 54, KQED-FM is the top-rated station in the Bay Area during both the morning and afternoon drive times.

Priya David is back on KTVU

Priya David, who is now going by her married name of Priya David Clemens, has returned to KTVU after leaving the station two years ago. She left Channel 2 for CBS News as a correspondent primarily for "The Early Show" and the weekend "CBS Evening News." Last year, she returned to the West Coast to co-anchor the 4 p.m. news on Portland CBS affiliate KOIN. She was back on KTVU, with her first report airing last week. (Photo credit: CBS News frame grab)

Pay cut likely for KRON parent's top execs reports that the top executives at KRON owner Young Broadcasting, including CEO Vincent Young and CFO James Morgan, are going to have to negotiate new employment contracts with the owners of the company.

Young and Morgan wanted the creditors, who have taken control of Young Broadcasting during Chapter 11 proceedings, to honor their current three-year contract. But the creditors resisted, and on Thursday, Young and Morgan dropped their demands.

MediaPost writes:
    The 2007 employment agreement that Vincent Young wanted the new owners to assume called for his annual base salary to be $1.4 million, and him to get a possible bonus of more than $2.8 million per year. 
    A provision for payments helping to cover his tax obligations was included -- along with provisions that could provide millions of dollars more should he be terminated, while the company was required to cover all costs attached to a leased automobile. 
    But the new owners favored a deal that emerged during the bankruptcy process that had Vincent Young's base salary at $840,000, while he could receive a $250,000 bonus should provisions be met involving the MyNetworkTV affiliate in San Francisco [KRON]. 
    There was also a clause for him to get a bonus of between $250,000 and $840,000 if the Chapter 11 reorganization closed by a certain date, but that did not kick in. CFO Morgan's 2007 deal that he wanted to continue called for a base salary of $671,000, and a bonus that could exceed $1 million annually, along with tax payments and a leased automobile. 
    The lesser deal that the lenders preferred called for a base salary of $302,000 and no bonus.

Despite deal, Gizmodo editor could still be charged

The deal Gizmodo editor Jason Chen made with prosecutors doesn't stop them from charging him in connection with the prototype Apple iPhone 4 that he bought from a man who claimed he found it at a bar.

Under the deal revealed Friday, Chen will get the computers and other items that the REACT (Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team) law enforcement task force took from his Fremont home on April 28.

In return, Chen agreed not to sue police and prosecutors for a search that some legal experts have called illegal.

However, San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said that no deal was made regarding whether Chen would be charged.

The search appears to have violated California's shield law for journalists and the federal Privacy Protection Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 2000 aa et seq.) which is designed to stop police from seizing materials from newsrooms.

In addition, Section 1070 of the California Penal Code prohibits the government from seizing items that a journalist has with the intention of sharing with the public, even if those items are suspected of being obtained illegally.

In addition, the warrant submitted to San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Clifford Cretan does not mention that Chen is a journalist. That raises the question of whether the task force agents kept Chen's occupation out of the warrant so that the judge wouldn't reject the warrant based on the shield law.

It appears that none of these issues will be fought out in court, however, because of Chen's deal.

"The search was clearly illegal," Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Matt Zimmerman told the Associated Press.

Related stories

AP: Free speech fight ends quietly in lost iPhone saga
Chron: Search warrant dropped in Gizmodo iPhone case
EFF: San Mateo D.A. Withdraws Controversial Gizmodo iPhone Warrant

Friday, July 16, 2010

Judge drops most bias claims against KPIX

A federal judge has thrown out most of a discrimination lawsuit that John Lobertini and Bill Schechner had filed against CBS and KPIX-TV over their firings in 2008.

Lobertini (left) and Schechner (right) argued they were victims of age and sex discrimination because they part of a round of layoffs involving five on-air employees who were all older men. At the time, Lobertini was 47 and Schechner was 66.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, in an 18-page order released Wednesday (download), dismissed four of the plaintiffs' five claims, finding their evidence was "insufficient."

Schechner claimed that a pattern of discrimination against older reporters led to their firings. He said that in 2005, prior to his firing, KPIX news director Dan Rosenheim replaced him with a 39-year-old, calling Schechner's performance "lackluster."

"Despite plaintiffs' protestations to the contrary, the word 'lackluster' is not generally used as a synonym for 'old,'" she wrote. "Rather, it means “1. lacking brilliance, radiance, liveliness, etc; dull or vapid. 2. a lack of brilliance or vitality," she wrote, quoting from a dictionary.

Attorneys for Lobertini and Schechner also hired a statistical expert who concluded, "If age were not a factor in the selection of the five (5) individuals to be laid off, then there is only a 1.58% probability (or a 1 in 63 chance) that the mean age of the five (5) laid off individuals would be as great as it was ...”

Later in her order, the judge wrote, "Plaintiffs have failed to present any other evidence that independently or viewed in tandem with the statistical analysis, could give rise to an inference of age discrimination."

The judge dismissed four claims by the reporters — age discrimination, gender discrimination, punitive damages and lost wages — but left open the door for arguments on the issue of "disparate impact." The argument is that while it can't be proven that KPIX intended to discriminate, its actions nonetheless harmed employees based on their race or sex. The judge gave both sides 30 days to file briefs on that issue. (The case number is C 08-05049 MHP.)

Editor's note: An earlier version of this posting didn't mention the "disparate impact" claim that remains open.

Update, Monday, July 19, 7 p.m.: Chronicle: Ex-KPIX reporters lose ruling in age-bias suit

Ray Ratto joins Comcast SportsNet

Comcast SportsNet announced Wednesday that former Chronicle sports columnist Ray Ratto has joined the network as a "senior insider" and a "multiplatform reporter."

He will write a column for and, contribute to the network’s "SportsNet Central" and other studio shows and will serve as a network correspondent. The announcement was made by Jen Franklin, senior director of digital media for and

Ratto has been a fixture in Northern California sports pages since 1973, most recently with the Chronicle (1986-1990, 2000-2010). In addition, he has worked at the Examiner (1973-1981, 1991-2000), the now defunct Peninsula Times Tribune in Palo Alto, (1981-1986) and The National (1990-1991).

Ratto has also written national columns for CBS Sportsline and and is a frequent guest on local and national radio and television sports programs. He is an alumnus of St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda and is a graduate of San Francisco State University.

Ratto, 56, lives in Alameda with his wife, Beth, and their children Meredith and Christian.

UC bars filmmaker from taping regents meeting

The Chronicle's Nanette Asimov reports that a filmmaker who has been shooting a documentary on the UC system was prevented from entering a public meeting with a video camera Thursday because he lacked a press credential.

Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, told the Chron that the filmmaker had every right to be in the hearing room and record the event under the Bagley-Keene open meeting law.

Unfortunately, film maker Ric Chevez wasn't aware that he had a right to film the meeting, and asked UC's PR people for permission. After questioning him about the content and purpose of the film, which is also illegal, they denied him access.

The Chron said that one of the three UC PR people involved in the fiasco, Lynn Tierney, said she had never heard of Bagley-Keene.

UPDATE, Friday, July 16, 7 p.m.:SPJ NorCal sent the following letter to the UC Regents:
    The Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter (SPJ NorCal) is deeply concerned over reports that a local filmmaker, Ric Sanchez, was prevented from videotaping your meeting of Thursday, July 15. 
    There is more at stake here than the question of whether the conduct by your security staff violated the state open-meetings law known as the Bagley-Keene Act. 
    Equally or more important is the example that the Board of Regents and the University set for the students whom you are charged with preparing to participate in a democracy. 
    We would appreciate hearing from your offices on this matter. Thank you for your attention.
    Liz Enochs, SPJ NorCal President 
    Rebecca Bowe, Mark Conrad, SPJ NorCal Freedom of Information Committee Co-Chairs

Six months later, KCBS radio is still on top

Back in Janaury, it was surprising to see All News KCBS leading the ratings in San Francisco for listeners 6+. The question then was: Had KCBS dethroned KGO-AM? Or was it a fluke? Six months later, the trend has become clear, with KCBS on top and KGO 810 slipping to No. 4. CBS Radio's decision to put the all-news station on FM is paying off.

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
                     March   April    May    June  
    1.  KCBS-AM/FM    5.8     6.1     6.3     5.9  
    2.  KOIT-FM       5.6     5.5     5.9     5.7  
    3.  KQED-FM       5.1     5.5     5.9     5.7 
    4.  KGO-AM        5.4     5.4     5.1     5.6
    5.  Wild 94.9     3.9     3.6     3.8     4.0
    6.  Movin 99.7    3.4     3.0     3.2     3.6
    7.  KNBR 680      2.1     3.6     3.5     3.4
    8.  KDFC-FM       2.9     2.8     3.2     3.3
    9.  Star 101.3    3.8     3.5     3.1     3.0
    9.  KSOL-FM       3.7     3.6     4.0     3.0
    11. LaRaza 93.3   3.4     2.8     3.6     2.9
    12. KBLX-FM       3.7     3.2     2.8     2.8
    13. KMEL-FM       2.8     2.7     2.7     2.6
    13. KSAN The Bone 3.3     2.7     2.4     2.6
    15. KBRG-FM       1.9     2.1     2.0     2.5
    15. KKSF-FM       3.1     2.8     2.7     2.5
    15. Alice         2.5     2.8     2.2     2.5
    15. KSFO-AM       2.3     2.5     2.4     2.5
    19. KISS-FM 98.1  2.3     2.6     2.4     2.2
    20. KFOG-FM       2.7     2.3     2.2     2.1

Merc photographer nominated for an Emmy

The Merc reports that one of its photographers, LiPo Ching, was nominated for an Emmy on Thursday for his video on the disabled living in Vietnam (link). For the third year in a row, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has recognized new approaches to news, documentary and arts programming — categories that require entrants to demonstrate some form of innovation. This has led to a sizable representation of online productions, particularly by newspapers. Before joining the Merc in 2006, he had worked as a freelance producer in the film and TV industry in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Judge says county pension data should be public

A Sacramento judge has ruled that a county retirement system cannot keep information about workers' pensions from the public — a ruling that could help reporters doing stories on rising pension costs.

CalPERS has already released pension data. A list of all retirees drawing more than $100,000 a year from CalPERS is already online.

But many public employees are covered by county-run pension systems, and Sacramento County's system steadfastly refused to provide data to the Sacramento Bee, claiming it was confidential.
The Bee reports that Judge Allen Sumner disagreed and ordered the county system to release the information.

"Sacramento County faces difficult budget decisions. Its reduction of critical services has generated significant public debate. The public has a strong interest in knowing how government is spending their money, and a constitutional right to such information," the judge's final order said.

Historic radio day is Saturday in Berkeley

Join the California Historical Radio Society at the KRE radio building on Saturday (July 17) for a day of fun, music, food and entertainment under the radio tower on Ashby Avenue (at I-80) in Berkeley.

The event includes a live radio play, "The Romance of Helen Trent," performed by The Broadcast Legends. There will also be music by Frankye Kelly and The Radio Daze Band and an auction of vintage radios, phonographs, test equipment and amateur gear.

Carter B. Smith (formerly of KSFO, KNBR, KABL) will host the annual fundraiser for the historical radio society.

Tour the refurbished KRE Radio building, which has been converted into a world-class museum. For more information, go to The gate opens at 9 a.m., and the events take place from 10 to 2 p.m. Cost: $5 donation.

'Nasty' newspaper war erupts in Marin County

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Marin County community of Point Reyes Station, population 800, is ground zero in a "nasty" newspaper war between two weekly newspapers.

"Last month, the upstart West Marin Citizen accused the more-established Point Reyes Light of attempting a hostile takeover. The Citizen's owner-publisher, Joel Hack, having filed for Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy, says the Light's owners are trying to take advantage of his financial situation to snatch the paper from him. The chairman of the group that owns the Light, Corey Goodman, denies it is exploiting Mr. Hack's troubles." [More, WSJ subscription required]

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Deirdre Hussey named new SF Examiner editor

Deirdre Hussey (pictured) has succeeded Jim Pimentel as executive editor of the San Francisco Examiner, the paper announced today. Hussey joined the Examiner in 2002 and and was north San Mateo County editor, city editor and assistant managing editor before being appointed managing editor in 2007.

“We are fortunate to have in Deirdre a leader who combines a keen dedication to the news with a detailed understanding of San Francisco and San Mateo counties,” Publisher John Wilcox said. “We look forward to more growth with Deirdre at the news helm.”

Pimentel, who has been with the Examiner since 2001, resigned on June 18 to take the post of director of special projects for Clarity Media Group, the Examiner's owner. He will report to Ryan McKibben and will focus on a redesign and platform change for the San Francisco and Washington Examiner newspaper websites. (Photo credit: Examiner file)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Education publication honors Stanford student

The Chronicle of Higher Education has named Andrea Fuller, a 2009 graduate of Stanford University, as the winner of its David W. Miller Award for Young Journalists. Fuller won the $1,000 prize for three articles published in that publication during her spring internship there. In making its selection, the scholarship committee cited Fuller's balanced and energetic reporting, eye for telling details, and ability to tackle a range of topics.

Former Palo Alto circulation director heads east

Former Palo Alto Daily News circulation director Joseph Lauletta has returned to the East Coast where he holds the same job for a chain of free daily newspapers, according to The chain is called Metro (no relation to the San Jose alt-weekly of the same name), which has U.S. editions in Philadelphia, Boston and New York. He was Metro’s circulation director from 2000-05 in Philadelphia and helped launch editions in Toronto, Montreal, Boston and New York. After 2005, Lauletta went on to be Knight Ridder’s national distribution manager for free products and most recently was the circulation director for the Palo Alto Daily News.

Printing 3-D ad was no big deal

There's apparently nothing different a printer has to do when it comes to printing a 3-D ad. At least that's what the printer of the Chronicle reports after running a 3-D ad for Verizon on Friday.

"There was no problem. We just printed the files as supplied," Kathy Hunter, general manager at Transcontinental Northern California, told News & Tech. The only extra work required was inserting the glasses required to view the ad, Hunter said.

News & Tech says the Chronicle's production of a 3-D ad follows The Philadelphia Inquirer, which earlier this year published a special section with 3-D features. The Toronto Star in April 2001 published a 3-D issue, becoming the first North American paper to do so.

June 2010 Press Club board minutes

June 7, 2010 -- Board Room, San Mateo Daily Journal

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

The meeting was called to order at 6:40 p.m.

Minutes of April were approved as read. There was no May meeting.

Treasurer’s Report
Report was approved as read. Darryl noted that the current membership totaled 128.

Evening of Excellence
Jeanne Carstenson, the managing editor of Bay Citizen, will be the guest speaker at the Evening of Excellence Awards Banquet June 19 at the Crowne Plaza in Foster City. Marshall and Jack will handle the scholarships. By email the board approved awarding four $1,500 scholarships this year.
Darryl also reminded the group that no wine could be brought in for the banquet.

High School Journalism Contest
Micki reported that El Camino High School’s Colt Quarterly won the General Excellence award this year at a very successful reception April 21 at Ralston Hall at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont. Hillsdale Shopping Center continues to be a major sponsor.

High School Journalism Boot Camp
Ed will check dates for the Boot Camp at CSM. A Friday in early October is the first choice. Dave Price suggested using KCSM-TV studios for the large gathering with a speaker.

Professional development workshop
A roundtable discusson on how to reinvent yourself as a journalist in the current job market. Ray Ratto, Brian Murphy and Mike Sugerman were suggested as possible speakrs. A midweek evening session in November is a good time.

Summer picnic
It will be Sept. 19 from 2-4 p.m. at Micki Carter’s house, 2303 Wooster Ave., Belmont CA 94002.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:30 p.m.
Respectfully submitted, Micki Carter, Secretary

Friday, July 9, 2010

Chronicle prints 3D ad -- and it worked

The Chron this morning printed a full page ad from Verizon in 3D (see page A3). To view the ad, this morning's edition included cardboard 3D glasses. The 3D effect worked in that the man's head and chest appeared to hover above the paper. See what you can do with brand new presses in a $230 million printing plant.

Unfortunately, nobody in the Chronicle newsroom took the opportunity to publish a 3D news photo or graphic elsewhere in today's edition. Imagine doing the weather map in 3D. Or sports action photos. Or looting in Oakland. On June 5, England's Sun newspaper printed a special 3D edition to commemorate the World Cup games, and it contained 3D ads and editorial.

Twittering over KRON's Oakland protest coverage

Will Harper of SF Weekly reports Twitter users had a lot to say about KRON's coverage of the Oscar Grant verdict protests in Oakland last night. The network stations carried regular programming while KRON aired the protests all evening. From the SF Weekly:
    Around 11 p.m., as things appeared to be winding down, Mike Monteiro tweeted, "Thankfully, most of the protesters today were peaceful. With only a few inciting violence. And they all worked at @kron4news." 
    "According to KRON4 Foot Locker was the victim tonight, s----iest reporting ever," opined Raven Brooks, the executive director of Netroots Nation. 
    The Chronicle's pop culture critic Peter Hartlaub chimed in, "KRON folks must be nervous, wondering if we'll discover the apocalypse they were describing didn't happen." 
    An indicator of the buzz about KRON last night: At some point, someone busted out with a #KRON4SUCKS discussion hashtag.
Complaints on Twitter fell into two categories — those who felt KRON was egging on the demonstrators and others who hooted and howled at awkward comments by the station's anchors and reporters.

But the SF Weekly's Harper noted that even experienced reporters say odd things after several hours on the air -- remember all of those odd Texas saying Dan Rather would use during extended Election Night coverage. "As awkward as KRON's coverage got, much of the Twitter sniping came off as classic Internet armchair-quarterbacking," Harper wrote.

UC Berkeley hands out 2 i-reporting fellowships

UC-Berkeley journalism Professor Lowell Bergman announced Thursday that former Memphis Commercial Appeal reporter Trevor Aaronson and documentary filmmaker Lee Wang have been named as the school's investigative reporting fellows. They'll get a salary of $47,000, benefits, up to $10,000 for travel and expenses, and work out of offices in Berkeley starting in September.

Berkeley's investigative reporting program will also provide support in-residence to former Time bureau chief Tim McGirk, who has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the hunt for al-Qaeda. He also won the Foreign Press Association's 2006 Print Story of the Year award for his investigation into the deaths of 24 Iraqis at Haditha.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jim Goldman jumps to Burson-Marsteller PR firm

The PR firm Burson-Marsteller has hired Jim Goldman, CNBC's Silicon Valley bureau chief since 2003, as its new "U.S. Technology Practice Chair." He will be based in San Francisco and report to the company's U.S. president and chief executive Pat Ford and its "global chair of the technology practice" Jennifer Graham Clary.

Before CNBC, Goldman opened TechTV's Silicon Valley Bureau and was bureau chief for that network in its early days. Prior to TechTV, Goldman worked as a technology correspondent for ABC News in New York where he reported for “World News” and “Good Morning America." Goldman got his start in broadcast journalism at KNTV (ABC affiliate at the time) in San Jose after spending three years as a staff reporter for the San Jose Business Journal.

UPDATE, 3 p.m.: Replacing Goldman will be Jon Fortt, a senior writer at Fortune who was at the Mercury News from 1999 to 2006. He also appears on CNNi's "Quest Means Business," NBC Bay Area's "Press: Here," and occasionally on CNBC. Fortt announced his move on his Linkedin page, saying the move is effective July 19.

MediaNews, others go after political blogger

Thousands of websites link to MediaNews Group newspapers every day, including Huffington Post, the Drudge Report, Yahoo's Newser, Google News and MSNBC. But MediaNews and other newspaper companies in Colorado have decided to target a single political blogger in Denver, sending him a cease-and-desist letter that demands he stop quoting or linking to their sites.

The offending blogger, Jason Bane (right) of Colorado Pols, has complied with the letter. But he has also talked to his lawyer and posted a response, saying that he has done nothing illegal and doubts he can be successfully sued for using something that is free.

From Colorado Pols:
    Not only are we posting only a few paragraphs from stories THAT ARE ALREADY FREE FOR EVERYONE ONLINE, we have gone out of our way to name the publication, highlight the author in particular, and provide a clear link to the story."

Bane also suggests that the folks at MediaNews (which owns most of the dailies in the Bay Area) don't have a clue about how the Internet works.

From Colorado Pols:
    So here's what we are going to do: Not only are we going to stop referencing passages from The Denver Post and other news outlets listed in this letter, but we're going to go one step further. We're going to go out of our way to not even mention these news outlets at all. 
    We'll just link to our partners at The Washington Post, or other local news sites, or any other of the thousands of other potential sources out there. 
    We reserve the right to discuss something that might appear in one of these papers, but we'll just do what traditional media outlets like the AP have done for decades -- we'll just say, "Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall today, according to The Denver Post," and then continue on with our own writing. [The Denver Post is owned by MediaNews.] 
    But for the most part, unless it is a truly important exclusive story that no other news outlet is reporting, you won't again see us talking about The Denver Post or the other news outlets listed below. 
    We aren't overestimating our own importance to say that not linking to the Post will have a major impact on their traffic, but it certainly won't help. The bigger point is that we lose absolutely nothing by deciding to cease from pulling a few paragraphs out of one of their stories, but the Post and their quality reporters lose plenty of exposure that comes from other links -- which, of course, is the lifeblood of the Internet.
The Colorado Pols site includes the cease-and-desist letter and a dissection of a memo MediaNews CEO Dean Singleton (left) sent to his employees last year to explain his online strategy.

After Bane posted his response, it got a note from Washington Times deputy editorial page editor David Mastlo that said: "Subject: poor, silly newspapers. I hope you'll be forgiving when they come crawling back. Feel free to link to us however you like." (Photo credits: Singleton, MediaNews website; Bane, Westword.)

Update, 2:30 p.m.: Here's how the Denver alt-weekly Westword is covering the story. And here's a lengthy report from a political newspaper, the Colorado Statesman.

'Hit list' intercepted in Chauncey Bailey case

Yusuf Bey IV, who is about to go on trial for allegedly ordering the murders of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey and two other men, used his attorney to smuggle a witness "hit list" out of jail, according to an affidavit obtained by the Chauncey Bailey Project.

KTVU reports that two of those witnesses have been placed in protective custody.

According to the affidavit filed Tuesday, Bey’s previous lawyer -- Lorna Patton Brown -- "smuggled written communication and materials out of Santa Rita Jail (in Dublin) without the authorization of the sheriff's department and delivered the unlawful communication to others."

On one of the documents she smuggled out of the jail “witnesses’ names had been highlighted” so that (a hit man) would know who “he would have to kill so they would not be available to testify at Bey IV’s pending murder trial,” states the affidavit written by Inspector Kathleen Boyovich of the Alameda County district attorney’s office.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

3-D newspaper ad to be tested Friday

The Chron says it will print a full-page 3-D ad in Friday's edition. The ad will be for Verizon and the paper will also have an insert from the mobile phone company. We're assuming the viewing of the ad in 3-D will not require special glasses. The Chronicle's color reproduction has improved since it started using new presses owned by an outside contractor, so maybe 3-D is the next step.

ABC7 to replace Oprah with a 4 p.m newscast

Media blogger Rich Lieberman reports that KGO ABC7 is planning to launch an hour-long newscast at 4 p.m. to replace Oprah when she ends her syndicated show on Sept. 9, 2011. Word is that sportscaster Larry Beil will switch to news and anchor the program. Lieberman also reports that ABC7 is working on a new program to replace "View from the Bay" at 3 p.m. Apparently it won't be a news show, but will have a Bay Area theme.

Eshoo favors federal regulation of satellite TV

Once upon a time, the FCC only regulated terrestrial broadcasting, such as TV and radio. Now the government is telling companies such as DirecTV and Dish TV what they should offer customers, and Dish TV is fighting back. It sued the FCC on Thursday, saying such regulations violate the First Amendment. Specifically, Dish is balking at a requirement authored by Palo Alto Democratic Congresswoman Anna Eshoo that it must carry non-commercial stations in HD by 2011 in any market where they carry a station in HD. “If Dish has room to carry pornography, they can find room for PBS,” Eshoo said. Here's the story from The Hill, a website that covers Congress.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Live shots now being done VJ style

An item this morning in the Mercury News' political column "Internal Affairs" illustrates how much local TV stations have cut back their budgets. Used to be that it took two or three people to do a live shot. KNTV NBC 11 now has that down to one person.
    Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone likes to rise with the sun — about 5 a.m. most days. But Thursday morning, he found himself up an hour earlier than usual so he could go live on KNTV to talk about the county's historic drop in property values. 
    And boy, was it lonely. Channel 11 didn't even bother to send a reporter out for Stone's live appearance on the 5 a.m. news in front of the shuttered Mervyn's on Hamilton Avenue in Campbell. It was just Larry, with an earpiece, a bleary-eyed cameraman and, for a brief spell, a passing police officer who wondered what the heck was going on.
The Internal Affairs item noted what many South Bay reporters already know — that Stone is the most accessible official in Santa Clara County.

[A link to other stories we've posted on the VJ trend.]

Chron art critic ignores comments from readers

"I don't read comments at all [on my stories]. That's the lowest common denominator response," says Kenneth Baker, an art critic for the Chronicle for 15 years, according to PBS Media Shift. "It's pointless; they don't call for a response. It's mostly ad hominem when I have looked at them, or they respond to each other and not to anything I've said." Baker made his comments as a panelist discussing arts criticism in the digital age.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

What works in Socal doesn't work here

Clear Channel's KNEW 910 is changing afternoon drive hosts again as the conservative talk station struggles for ratings.

Last September, the station dropped Michael Savage, replacing him with "The John and Ken Show," which is No. 1 on the company's KFI Los Angeles. The hosts, John Kobylt and Kenneth Chiampou (right), attack government corruption, tax increases and lax enforcement of laws against child molesters among other topics. Most of the stories they discuss concern the Los Angeles area, which didn't help them here.

Now KNEW is airing promos saying John Gibson (left) will get the 3-6 p.m. slot starting Tuesday. Gibson is a syndicated host who used to have a weekday show on the Fox News Channel.

In the past year, KNEW seems to have had a revolving door for talk show hosts, trying and then jettisoning Laura Ingraham, Roger Hedgecock, Lou Dobbs, Dennis Miller, Bill O'Reilly, Rusty Humphries and Lars Larson. The only stable part of the station's schedule is the morning team of Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty, a show that Clear Channel imports from its Sacramento station, KSTE-AM 650.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Henry K. Lee's book on Hans Riser due Tuesday

Henry K. Lee's Penguin paperback on Hans Reiser, "Presumed Dead: A True Life Murder Mystery," will hit the bookstores on Tuesday, July 6.

He's having a launch party at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 7, at a Great Good Place for Books, 6120 La Salle Ave. in Oakland's Montclair district.

The 450-page book, complete with photos, details the bizarre case of the East Bay computer programmer who was charged with killing his beautiful Russian gynecologist wife, Nina Reiser, even though her body wasn't found.

Lee, a veteran Chronicle reporter, covered the trial in print and online (his blog is at

He says his book goes well beyond his coverage and gives readers an in-depth look at the fractured relationship between Hans and Nina Reiser, her mysterious disappearance, the anguish of her family and loved ones as they wondered where she was, the cat-and-mouse game between Hans and the Oakland police, his strange behavior (he spent the night in his car throughout the Bay Area and as far as Reno); his arrest, the six-month Alameda County Superior Court trial that took place even without Nina's body, his first-degree murder conviction and, eventually, the stunning development when Hans led cops to Nina's body in the Oakland hills -- in exchange for a reduced sentence for second-degree murder. The book includes never-before-revealed details and an intimate look at all the players in this case.

Lee is also available for interviews about the book. His e-mail is and his Facebook page is

Reporting pro's career recalled on 90th birthday

The Merc's Scott Herhold on Thursday profiled retired reporter Patricia Loomis on her 90th birthday. He pulled her clipping file out of the Merc's library and found that on the cover, in legible script that has to have been left by Loomis herself, she is identified as "newspaper woman, historian, weather prophet, sheepshearer, moonshiner, trout fisher and critic of librarians." She had nearly 40-year career at the afternoon San Jose News and is best known for her "Signposts" columns, historical vignettes that detailed the lives of pioneers who bequeathed their name to streets. [More] (Photo credit: Masaru Oka/Mercury News)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pimentel to work for Examiner parent

James Pimentel (pictured) has left the San Francisco Examiner, but will remain with the paper's parent company, Clarity Media Goup.

He will be director of special projects for Clarity, where he will report to Ryan McKibben and will focus on a redesign and platform change for the San Francisco and Washington Examiner newspaper websites.

The SF Appeal, an online newspaper, reported June 22 that Pimentel left on Friday, June 18, and that Publisher John Wilcox told the staff that "several factors" led to Pimentel's departure without elaborating.

The day after the SF Appeal report, on June 23, the Examiner ran a four-paragraph story on page 21 (circled in red at left) that announced Pimentel's resignation as executive editor. The story quoted Publisher John Wilcox as saying, "Jim made a strong contribution to the growth of The Examiner over the last several years and we wish him the best."