Friday, December 30, 2011

Bay Area MNG papers, Santa Rosa Press Democrat buyer have a common shareholder

One of the owners of the MediaNews Group’s papers in the Bay Area, billionaire Warren Stephens, is also a partner in the group that has acquired the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and 15 other newspapers owned by The New York Times Co.

Stephens Media Group owns 26.28% of the MediaNews Group papers in the Bay Area, such as the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and Marin Independent Journal. Gannett holds a 19.49% stake and MediaNews is the majority partner with 54.23%.

The Press Democrat and the other papers in the Times’ Regional Media Group are being acquired for $143 million in cash by Halifax Media Holdings LLC.

The Press Democrat reported that Halifax’s investment group includes Little Rock, Ark.-based Stephens Capital Partners, headed by Warren Stephens, as well as Jaarss Media and Redding Investments. The portion of the company owned by each investor wasn’t disclosed in the article.

The PD quoted the Poynter Institute’s Rick Edmonds as saying that Stephens is clearly the deep pockets behind the purchase, and noting that Forbes lists Warren Stephens as being worth $2.8 billion.

Edmonds said he wouldn’t be surprised to see management from Stephens Media — which owns 11 daily and 64 weekly newspapers in nine states — brought in to help run Halifax as a stand-alone company or to merge it with Stephens Media.

Other points from the Press Democrat story about the sale:

1. The paper’s existing contract with the Guild expires on Saturday (Dec. 31).

2. Times officials are quoted as saying that the “vast majority” of the paper’s 330 employees will be offered jobs at comparable salary and benefits. Those who will be offered severance packages were to be contacted on Thursday.

3. The CEO of Halifax Media, Michael Redding, did not return a phone call from the author of the story, Press Democrat staff writer Kevin McCallum.

Vacaville opinion editor sees digital future

Karen Nolan, the opinion page editor at The Reporter in Vacaville, says in this column that the new manager of her paper’s owner, MediaNews, is on the right track when it comes to becoming a digital content provider. “Yes, we still have to serve our loyal readers who want a paper product at the breakfast table. But if we expect to be in business 20 or 30 years from now, we have to start serving the Internet generation's needs, too. And it's not just the 20-year-olds whose habits are changing. Even an oldster like me is changing the way I consume information.”

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Marion Softky, longtime Menlo Park Almanac writer, dies

Marion Softky in front of the Almanac's offices.
File photo from the Almanac.
Marion Softky, who wrote thousands of articles for the Menlo Park-based Almanac over more than 40 years, died at a Portola Valley nursing home on Christmas evening of complications from long-term abdominal cancer, the Almanac reports. She was 84.

Softky started at the Almanac in 1965 and her bylines continued to appear until two years ago. Her favorite topics included the environment, local history, the town of Portola Valley, science and San Mateo County government.

Here’s a link to a story about her career at the Almanac by her longtime colleague Majorie Mader, and here’s a YouTube video of Softky being interviewed by Portola Valley historian Nancy Lund. Softky’s son bill has posted many of her stories on this website.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Limbaugh jumps from KSFO to Clear Channel's 910

Clear Channel is beefing up the lineup on its 910 AM frequency, first by hiring fired KGO hosts Len Tillem and Gene Burns, and now by adding Rush Limbaugh. The new lineup starts Jan. 3. Limbaugh’s move was revealed publicly in a tweet by 910 morning hosts Armstrong & Getty.

There are two schools of thought about why Limbaugh is changing stations. One is that his show is expensive and KSFO’s owner, Cumulus Media, is cutting costs. That’s why they laid off most of the talk hosts at KGO and replaced them with less expensive news staffers. Another theory is that Limbaugh’s syndicator, Premiere Networks, is owned by Clear Channel, and it wanted him to throw his weight behind 910 to help it attract an audience.

Here's the schedule of KKSF 910 (formerly KNEW) starting Jan. 3: Armstrong & Getty 6-9 a.m., Rush 9-noon; Tom Sullivan noon-3; Len Tillem 3-4 and Gene Burns 4-7.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Former Los Gatos reporter to join PBS NewsHour

Christina Bellantoni, a former reporter for the Palo Alto Daily News and later chief of that paper’s Los Gatos bureau, has been named political editor of PBS’s “NewsHour.”

She has been associate politics editor at CQ Roll Call since October 2010, and she has appeared regularly as political analyst on “Hardball,” “Countdown,” “On the Record w/ Greta Van Susteren,” “Reliable Sources,” “TopLine,” “The Rachel Maddow Show,” and “The Daily Rundown.” Bellantoni left the Daily News in 2003 for Washington and has worked at The Washington Times and Talking Points Memo.

KGO-AM paying for news tips

KGO Radio, which recently switched to all-news from noon to midnight, is opening its checkbook for news tips. “Become a part of the KGO 810 Mobile News Team and you could win $810!” the station’s website says. “Send us breaking news 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and at the end of each month we will pay $810 to the listener who submits the best story.”

Doug Wilks moving on to Deseret News

Doug Wilks, local/regional editor at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, is moving to Utah to become managing editor of the Deseret Media Companies News Division. In his new capacity, Wilks will oversee an integrated newsroom that provides content to the Deseret News, KSL-TV, KSL NewsRadio and their websites, all properties of the Mormon Church. Wilks has been at the Press Democrat for the past 12 years.

Press Democrat launches digital ad agency

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat has created a digital advertising and marketing agency that builds and hosts custom websites for local businesses.

The PD Media Lab, overseen by Digital Director Greg Retsinas, specializes in search engine optimization, mobile and tablet platforms, social media and reputation management, e-commerce and digital advertising.

“We've been building successful websites and mobile sites for our own business,” Press Democrat publisher Bruce Kyse said in a statement. “Now we can give other businesses the opportunity to benefit from our experience and expertise.”

Monday, December 19, 2011

Len Tillem, Gene Burns land at Clear Channel 910

Len Tillem and Gene Burns, two of the hosts KGO-AM fired when it switched to all-news from noon to midnight, have been hired by Clear Channel to do shows on the soon-to-be-reformatted 910 AM, according to media blogger Rich Lieberman.

Tillem, formerly KGO's "loyah," will do his show from 3 to 4 p.m., followed by Burns from 4 to 7.

CC is moving most of the KNEW 910 programming to its 960 frequency on Jan. 3, and moving the liberal talk "Green 960" format to KKSF-FM 103.5's HD2 channel.

Back at 910, Armstrong and Getty will continue to do the morning drive, simulcasting on KSTE-AM Sacramento. Two syndicated shows will be heard midday, Clark Howard from 10 a.m. to noon, and Tom Sullivan, noon-3 p.m.

The new 960 will air entirely syndicated programming: conservative Glenn Beck mornings, financial adviser Dave Ramsey 9-noon, liberal host Randi Rhodes noon-3, and conservative John Gibson during afternoon drive. Beck, Ramsey and Gibson had been on 910 a.m.

NY Times in talks to sell Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat is among the 16 local newspapers The New York Times Co. is in talks to sell to Halifax Media Holdings, a newspaper company based in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The Wall Street Journal quoted an analyst at Barclays Capital as saying that the 16 papers could fetch between $150 million and $175 million, based on their earnings.

The Times announced it was selling its regional papers just days after its CEO, Janet Robinson, announced she will resign at the end of the year. With the sale, The New York Times Co. would consist of the flagship Times newspaper, the International Herald Tribune, the Boston Globe and the About Group, a network of informational websites.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Top station has a new leader

Raul Rodríguez
Univision’s KDTV Channel 14, which has the highest rated newscasts at 6 and 11 p.m. (adults 18-49), has a new general manager and vice president.

Univision has hired Raul Rodríguez, whose previous jobs include general sales manager of Telemundo’s KSTS 48 in San Jose.

Rodríguez has been given a large portfolio consisting of:
    • Univision KDTV Channel 14; 
    • TeleFutura KFSF Channel 66; 
    • Latino Mix Radio (formerly La Kalle Radio) stations KVVF 105.7 Santa Clara and KVVZ 100.7 San Rafael; 
    • Estereo Sol stations KSOL 98.9 San Francisco and KSQL 99.1 Santa Cruz (format: regional Mexican music and talk shows); 
    • Recuerdo KBRG 100.3 San Jose (the oldest Spanish language station in the Bay Area) with boosters in Pleasanton and Sausalito; 
    • And the websites associated with the stations listed above.
Here’s the press release from Univision.

He replaces Marcella Medina, who headed the Univision's Bay Area operation for many years.

The release says Rodríguez will oversee news, programming, sales, promotion and community relations

He’ll report to Luis Patiño, senior vice president of Univision’s Television Group, and Peter M. Moore, senior vice president/western regional manager, Univision Radio.

Rodríguez most recently was GM and VP of Journal Communications, leading the company’s Palm Springs operations — KMIR-TV and KPSE-TV. Before that, he was director of Hispanic Sales for News-Press & Gazette, where he was responsible for the company’s Hispanic assets, including six TV stations and one radio station. Rodríguez was GM of KWHY 22 in Los Angeles from 2007 to 2010. He was previously general sales manager for KSTS 48, Telemundo’s San Jose station.

It should be noted that KDTV is a powerhouse that's often overlooked by Bay Area media, particularly by writers who cover the local TV scene. KDTV's local “Noticias Univision 14,” anchored by Maria Leticia Gomez and Alejandro Mendoza, is currently the No. 1 at 6 and 11 newscast among adults 18-49. The station also outperforms KNTV-NBC and KPIX CBS5 among sdults 18-34 in Monday through Sunday primetime. The station's offices are on the 41st floor of a building at Mission and Fremont streets in San Francisco's South of Market District.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Photos from the Press Club's Christmas Party

Press Club members, directors and elected officials enjoyed refreshments and conversation at the Press Club's holiday party in the press room of the San Mateo County Government Center on Wednesday night. Here are some pictures courtesy of Mike Venturino. The club event took on added significance because it was the last meeting for Micki Carter as a director of the club. She's stepping down after several years, and club members wished her well. Chuck Johnson, who worked in the San Mateo Times composing room, presented the club with an historic gift — the Nov. 22 1963 edition of the Times carrying the story of John F. Kennedy's assassination.
Back then the Times was an afternoon paper and
had the story the same day it happened.
Darryl Compton and Chuck Johnson
At right, Kristy Blackburn, a Press Club
director and Gunn High School newspaper adviser.
San Mateo County Manager John Maltbie.
Dave Price, a Press Club director
and editor of The Daily Post.
Center, Marshall Wilson, Press Club president
and San Mateo County communications director

Melissa McRobbie, a Press Club director
and managing editor of Bay City News.

Left, Paul Sakuma, Associated Press photographer.

Left, Peter Cleaveland, a Press Club director
and former KGO radio and TV newsman.
Right, Darryl Compton, the club's executive
director and former KRON news executive.

Wendy Sakuma

Micki Carter

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Examiner owner lays off 7 news staffers

The new owner of the Examiner has laid off at least seven newsroom employees, and possibly more, the SFWeekly reports. Most of the layoffs were copy editors. The ax fell on Tuesday.

Todd Vogt, the new publisher and president of the Examiner, confirmed to both the SF Weekly and Chronicle that there had been layoffs, but wouldn't say how many.

The layoffs weren't a surprise since the new owner had indicated cuts would be made after the sale closed on Nov. 30.

Correction: A previous version of this item incorrectly described the ownership of the Examiner. The paper is owned by a group that includes Canadian publisher David Black, Todd Vogt and Examiner CFO Pat Brown.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reporter's arrest under investigation

Los Angeles police are investigating the arrest of a wire service reporter during last month's raid to of an Occupy encampment at LA Cit Hall, the LA Times reports. Police initially said City News Service reporter Calvin Milam appeared intoxicated but now say the department's media relations department confused him with another arrest. Milam's attorney, Mark Geragos, rejected that explanation, saying he had several phone conversations with senior officials from the LAPD and city attorney’s office in the hours after Milam was arrested. “They knew exactly who he was," Geragos said. "They were lying then, and they are lying now.”

Press Club party is Wednesday

Where? Janet Parker Beck Newsroom, First Floor, plaza entrance.

Admission, non-perishable food items for the Second Harvest

It’s also our annual membership meeting, board election and collecting 2012 membership dues.
All are welcome, bring a friend and introduce them to the Press Club.

Protest planned over KGO 810 firings

The format change at KGO-AM and the firing of hosts such as Gil Gross, Gene Burns, John Rothmann, Len Tillem, Bill Wattenburg and Ray Talifero has sparked plans for a protest at the station, 900 Front St., on Thursday, Dec. 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Media blogger Rich Lieberman is encouraging people to bring signs. He writes, “Let the stooges know you won’t back down.” Here’s a link to the Occupy KGO page on Facebook. A second protest is set for Dec. 30.

In related news, KSCO-AM 1080 in Monterey (10,000 watts daytime, 5,000 nighttime) is offering jobs to all of the fired hosts, according to Wattenburg will be guest hosting the station’s morning show this week.

KSCO owner Michael Zwerling says the firing of the hosts is indicative of KGO owner Cumulus Media’s “contempt for both the talent and the listeners” and management’s “incredible, Darwin-award-winning stupidity.”

New MediaNews leader declares print is dead

The new leader of MediaNews Group, John Paton, declared in San Francisco on Monday that the print business model of newspapers is “irretrievably” broken. This report in MNG’s Mercury News says the company is embracing the new age of news gathering by relying more on user-generated content. He also said that the company will become more active as a venture capitalist by acquiring tech companies. The story says that Digital First, the company that controls MNG and the Journal Register Co., has about $1.4 billion in annual revenue, with 9% of that, or $130 million, from digital. He said digital advertising is enough to cover the newsgathering costs of the Journal Register’s 18 papers. He said the same is true for MNG’s Denver Post.

Blogging experiment succeeds for KQED, KAWL

A one-year grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Knight Foundation to pay for bloggers for 12 public radio station websites will expire at year’s end. But what’s called the ARGO experiment has proven to be a success for those stations, including San Francisco’s KQED and KAWL, according to Andrew Phelps of
    “Really, by hiring just one person, you can build an audience, build engagement, and demonstrate knowledge of a particular topic,” said Joel Sucherman, the project’s director at NPR. The first year of traffic for the whole Argo network surpassed published traffic numbers for startups such as the Texas Tribune and the Bay Citizen in their first years, he said. … 
    KQED and KPBS [Los Angeles] were the top performers, each averaging more than 100,000 monthly visitors. Both stations have committed to keeping the blogs alive next year. … 
    At San Francisco’s tiny KALW, for example, Rina Palta covers cops, courts, and communities for The Informant. Early on, Palta caught a good story: California was short on sodium thiopental, the lethal drug used for executions. She became a leading reporter on the story, not by writing one big investigative piece but by filing frequent, incremental updates, Thompson said. (Even Stephen Colbert cited her work.) Thompson calls it the quest: The body of work makes a bigger impact than any single post.

Special workshop planned for journalism students

Monday, December 12, 2011

New set for Univision 14 anchors

KDTV Univision 14, home of the Bay Area’s top rated 6 p.m. newscast, has a new set for anchors Maria Leticia Gomez, Alejandro Mendoza, Guillermo Quiroz and William Bonilla. The set is also being used by the station's morning team. It was designed by Aldo Alvarez of SACBA Productions. Alvarez has designed sets for other Univision stations, WPLG ABC Miami, and CNN. Photos from

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Three MediaNews papers drop Monday editions

MediaNews Group will stop publishing Monday editions of three Northern California newspapers: The Vacaville Reporter, the Vallejo Times-Herald and the Eureka Times-Standard.

The move is intended to cut costs and send readers on Mondays to the websites of those papers to find local news. MediaNews plans to drop the paywall on those papers’ sites on Mondays.

Three other papers dropping their paywalls on Mondays are The Oakland Tribune, the Fremont Argus and the Hayward Daily Review. The three East Bay papers have stopped home delivery on Monday, but they are still available that day in news racks and stores. For more information, see PaidContent and this announcement in the Eureka paper.

UC-Berkeley J-school seeks new dean

The UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism is looking for a new dean after the resignation of Neil Henry last summer. Former dean Tom Goldstein is serving as interim dean.

The Daily Californian reports that a national search has started and that applications are due Feb. 12. The school hopes to have a new dean by July 1.

Advertisers dropping KGO-AM after format change

Media blogger Rich Lieberman was the first to report the shakeup at KGO 810. We earlier incorrectly said that Matier & Ross had the scoop. Rich has been following the story closely, getting a lot of reports from insiders. If you haven’t been to his blog, here’s a link.

He reports that Rector Porshe Audi, Airport Home Appliance, Just Remnants, Burgermeister and C Crane Radio have pulled their spots.

As for the mood at 900 Front St., Lieberman quotes on anonymous employee as saying:
    “It's been really bad. And unfortunate. They should have scheduled practice runs. There's lots of angry e-mails. And the number of listeners calling the station to protest the format switch has overwhelmed the newsroom phone system. There have been threats too.”
In addition to firing Gil Gross, Gene Burns, John Rothmann and Ray Taliferro, two other popular hosts were shown the door — Sonoma attorney Len Tillem ("How come you're cawlin' a loy-yuh?") and nuclear physicist and conservative Bill Wattenburg. Also fired was weatherman Lloyd Lindsay Young, replaced by ABC7 weather staffers.

Len Tillem.
Hosts who survived, in addition to the well-paid Ronn Owens (rumored to be making $1 million a year), were Pat Thurston, Karel and Brian Copeland.

Owens is on vacation in Hawaii this week and next week, and Copeland is filling in. Owens said his vacation was approved by management long before the shakeup, but for listeners tuning in between 9 and noon, it gives the impression that he was swept out the door, too.

Wattenburg, who has been on KGO since 1972, told blogger Ed Walsh that he was fired during a three-minute phone call. He said he viewed the switch to all-news in the afternoons as a mistake but he wished them luck.
Bill Wattenburg.
    “There are other stations that want to enter the talk radio business in the Bay Area and West Coast ... Killing KGO talk radio will make it much easier for new stations to build up instant audience very quickly. The hosts fired from KGO take with them a combined audience 10 times greater that any new talk radio station could hope to create in several years if they start with unknowns in the business. Surely, the new stations will have places for those released from KGO. And they will profit very nicely with no start up delays. Many of the talk radio sponsors want some place to go.”
Lieberman reports that shortly after Atlanta-based Cumulus Media acquired KGO in September, CEO Lew Dickey told Wattenberg that he had listened to him since Dickey was at Stanford, and that he wasn’t going anywhere.

Another casualty of the KGO shakeup is the ABC hourly news during daytime hours. Apparently the network on-the-hour newscasts will still air on weekends and overnight.

Meanwhile, KGO has moved the ABC Radio top- and bottom-of-the-hour news to :15 and :45 during daytime hours, and is promoting the fact that they now carry 10 minutes of Bay Area news at the top of the hour.

(Photo credits: Wattenburg shot by Michael Maloney of the Chronicle; Tillem from the JWeekly; Dickey from the Cumulus Media website.)

Friday, December 2, 2011

KGO-AM will go to news from 2 p.m. to midnight

In a stunning move, Cumulus-owned KGO-AM has decided to switch to all-news from 2 p.m. to midnight starting Monday, and has sacked hosts Gil Gross (2-4 p.m.), Gene Burns (7-10 p.m.), John Rothmann (10-1 a.m.) and Ray Taliaferro (1-5 a.m.).

Ronn Owens (9-noon) will survive as will Brian Copeland, who has a weekend show.

The story was first reported by media blogger Rich Lieberman, followed by Matier & has some interesting comments. (Earlier, we said Matier & Ross were first, but Lieberman beat them by a couple of hours.)

Radio-Info says the weekends will apparently stay mostly talk. As for overnights, there’s speculation that Cumulus Media-syndicated talker Doug McIntyre will take over Talifero’s slot. Talifero has been at KGO since 1977.

KGO had been the market leader for decades, but lost that position two years ago after KCBS added an FM frequency and moved up to No. 1.

The move means that the Bay Area will have three news stations, including KQED 88.5, which has added several local newscasts throughout the day.

Whether San Francisco listeners want that much news remains to be seen. Los Angeles can only support one all-news station, KNX 1070. Then again, KGO’s future might be brighter if Cumulus put KGO on one of its three FM stations.

With the switch, KGO is dropping its “Newstalk 810” label and replacing it with “KGO-810, the Bay Area news and information station.”

UPDATE, 10 a.m., Dec. 2: Peter Finch, the morning newsman on KFOG, will be joining KGO when it changes its format on Monday. Both stations are now owned by Cumulus Media.

Ronn Owens said on his show this morning that he has a sense of "survivor's guilt" for being the only major host to survive the shakeup. He said he feels sorry for his fellow hosts, who he regarded as his friends.

“When I heard about the new format, what we’re doing more news and all of that, if it included my friends, I’d be thrilled to death,” Owens said. “I’m still excited about the new format, but I feel guilty. I feel guilty being the one guy who is left."

Owens defended the format change, explaining that KGO had begun to slip in the ratings.

"This is an iconic station. We’ve been around forever. We’ve been known as the best station in the country. And all of a sudden we started to slip more and more and more. So management comes in and says, ’This is not working. We’ve got to do something that will work.’ They came up with a concept that I think will work," Owens said at the beginning of his 9'O clock hour today.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Two groups honor College of San Mateo Journalism students, newspaper and website awarded for General Excellence

College of San Mateo Journalism students captured the highest honors Saturday for their newspaper and website, along with individual awards, at a regional conference in Sacramento, just days before presentation of another honor for their coverage of the San Bruno Pipeline Fire.

The first awards were presented during the annual Northern California conference for the Journalism Association of Community Colleges, a statewide group serving community college journalism programs.

The college’s newspaper and website, The San Matean, were honored with General Excellence, the highest awards possible. The awards result from detailed assessments of the newspaper and website in numerous categories, including writing, editing, photography and graphics. The newspaper also was honored last spring for General Excellence by the JACC at its state conference.

Staff writer Jeffrey Gonzalez captured the first place award in the individual, on-the-spot contest for Opinion writing for his coverage of the event’s keynote speaker. Kayla Figard, Editor of The San Matean, also captured second place in the on-the-spot News category for her report on the keynote.

Gonzalez also garnered a second place for Photo Illustration. Yasmine Mahmoud, Managing Editor for The San Matean, received an Honorable Mention in the on-the-spot Copy Editing contest.
“It was excellent to meet other aspiring journalists, participate in workshops with professionals and compete with our future colleagues,” Figard said about the conference. "Our staff walked out of there inspired with ideas they could bring back to the newsroom."

JACC hosts northern and southern conferences each fall and a statewide conference each spring. Nearly 250 students and advisers from 18 colleges attended the event Saturday at Sacramento State University that featured a range of workshops and competitions. The event includes mail-in contests, for which work over the last year is sent in advance for judging, and on-the-spot contests that run during the conference under deadline pressure.

“This kind of honor helps students develop strong portfolios that help them in their four-year studies and in reaching their career goals,” said Ed Remitz, Journalism Professor and Adviser for The San Matean. “It is wonderful that our students were able to react quickly to this devastating event with diligence and compassion, and that professional’s chose to recognize their work.”

CSM Journalism students attended another event Tuesday night in San Francisco when the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter, presented them an Excellence in Journalism award for their coverage of last year’s San Bruno Pipeline Fire coverage. The award was announced on Oct. 18.

“This multimedia package, produced in the midst of a difficult-to-report disaster, demonstrates tenacity, accuracy and fairness,” the SPJ judges wrote about The San Matean’s entries. “The photographs and video captured the impact of the moment, and the reporting was thorough and highly detailed.”

The students who produced the coverage are Margaret Baum, Alex Farr, Raymond Cheung, Mario Ayala, Tyler Huffman, Sylvia Vasquez, Jeffery Gonzalez, Bruno Manrique, Jason Pun, Roger Boucher, Khiry Crawford, Petero Qauqau and Shine Gao.

The SPJ is a respected organization for journalism professionals providing a range of resources, including an ethics code considered fundamental to proper practices within the field. SPJ’S awards are for professionals, but CSM Journalism students collected top honors in its college journalism category — Student Project. About 200 Bay Area print and broadcast professionals attended the event Tuesday night.

The JACC and California College Media Association and Journalism Association of Community Colleges have honored CSM Journalism students in the past year for their San Bruno Pipeline Fire coverage.

This might be the best correction ever

This came over the AP wire Friday night:
    The Associated Press has withdrawn the 12th and 13th Ld-Writethrus of its story about the Natalie Wood investigation. The story mistakenly quoted Christopher Walken as telling Washington, D.C., sports talk radio station ESPN980 about his recollections from the night that Wood died. An Associated Press reporter mistook what was actually a station employee's impersonation of Walken as a real interview.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hearst unveils plans for Fifth and Mission

Hearst Corp. and a developer it hired, Forest City, on Thursday filed plans to redevelop four acres it owns at Fifth and Mission in San Francisco that would include 1.3 million square feet of commercial space. “Probably” the Chronicle would remain on the site, a story by David R. Baker said.

The historic Chron building would stay, something that pleased Mayor Ed Lee. But the former Examiner building on Fifth would be torn down and replaced with an office tower “slightly higher that the InterContinental hotel across the street.” The InterContinental, with 32 stories, is 340 feet and can be seen from miles away. In other words, Hearst and Forest City want to put up a skyscraper (at least by SF standards) next to the Chron.

According to the Chron story:
    “Forest City wants to turn the site into a home for the young tech companies that San Francisco is trying hard to attract and keep. They would share the space with arts organizations - some of which are already housed in the Chronicle building - and small retail shops. A public space on the Chronicle rooftop and a small plaza on the block's interior would give residents and workers spots to relax and meet.”
Of course the plans filed Thursday with the city are just the opening salvo in what could be a battle over the development. One concern is that the project could lead to the gentrification of the South of Market neighborhood to the southwest.

However, the plans don’t include the Chieftain Irish Pub or the Tempest, two well-loved bars near the Chron.

Marin County’s Commuter Times sold

The Commuter Times, a weekly distributed at ferry terminals in Larkspur and Sausalito as well as to news racks near bus lines in Marin County, has been sold to the former executive of USA Today and the Marin IJ.

According to the IJ, Doreen Burgin of Novato, who had been running the paper after her husband Al Burgin died three years ago, sold the paper to Fred Conner of Petaluma. Conner served as field operations manager for USA Today, director of operations for the Marin Independent Journal, and briefly as publisher of the Marinscope community newspapers. He’s now co-owner of Marin Sun Printing Inc. in San Rafael, which has been printing the Times.

The paper was founded in 1992 by Burgin and her husband, Albert "Al" Burgin, who had a long career at the San Francisco Examiner before founding the Commuter Times and the San Francisco Real Estate Journals.

The Commuter Times stopped printing in August, but Conner resumed publishing this week.

The paper features transportation-related articles, local news, a crossword puzzle, games, movie and local theater reviews and a club-and-pubs feature.

Conner said the paper's low overhead makes its advertising rates affordable to small businesses on tight budgets. The paper has no permanent employees; all of the work is done by independent contractors.

More layoffs may be coming to MNG

Ouch! After a painful round of layoffs at the MediaNews Group papers in the Bay Area, more be on the way. At least that’s one way to read a New York Times profile of CEO John Paton. He came from the Journal Register Company, which has papers in Ohio, New Jersey and other states in that part of the country.

His strategy is “outsourcing most operations other than sales and editorial, focusing on the cost side that might include further layoffs, stressing digital sales over print sales with incentives, and using relationships with the community to provide some of the content in their newspapers.”

While print ads pay the bills at most newspapers, Paton “is absolutely convinced that if newspapers are to survive, they will all but have to set themselves on fire, eventually forsaking print and becoming digital news operations.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Did you get a BANG buyout offer? Reporter is trying to figure out what happened

The website, which tracks buyouts and layoffs in the U.S. newspaper industry, is trying to track down information on the BANG layoffs a few weeks ago. Walnut Creek Patch reported that 24 employees were laid off and 10 more "voluntarily resigned." Erica Smith of wants to know if those 10 who supposedly resigned on their own actually accepted a buyout offer. So if you were one of those 10, or if you know what happened, you can contact her at

Design director promoted to publisher of the Half Moon Bay Review

Montara resident and Half Moon Bay Review design director Bill Murray has been named publisher of that newspaper, replacing Debra Hershon, who is retiring.

Murray has worked at the Review since 2005 and a story about his promotion noted that he has deep roots in the community and is a well respected newspaper man with a

host of design awards.

In 1997, he was hired as a designer and illustrator for the Palo Alto Weekly and was quickly promoted to design director for the Weekly's sister newspapers, the Mountain View Voice and Menlo Park Almanac.

"Working for a weekly newspaper is very satisfying," Murray said. "There is an intense amount of work, but the payoff is being able to see evidence of your labor around town and in the hands of readers."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chinese, Japanese journos in Hawaii pressured not cover Falun Gong protests, says news site

A reporter for Honolulu’s Civil Beat website, which has won journalism awards, says that journalists working for Chinese and Japanese media from New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco won’t report on protests by worshipers of the Falun Gong sect at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Honolulu. Apparently some are fearful of retaliation by their censors in China.

NBC Bay Area to launch i-team, hires 2 reporters

Look out Dan Noyes! NBC Bay Area is launching an i-team early next year. A press release from NBC Bay Area says the station has hired two reporters for its investigative efforts:

• Tony Kovaleski, an investigative reporter at KMGH-TV, the ABC affiliate in Denver, since 2001. Previously he worked for KIEM-TV in Eureka, KTVN-TV in Reno, KTVK-TV and KNXV-TV in Phoenix, and KPRC-TV in Houston. He was born in Michigan but grew up in San Jose. Here's how the Denver Post covered his departure.

• Jenna Susko, a general assignment reporter for WPMI-TV, the NBC affiliate in Mobile, Ala. Here’s her bio.

Richard Cerussi, president and GM of NBC Bay Area, said, “As we increase our investment in high-quality local journalism, we are very pleased to welcome these two investigative journalists to the Bay Area and into our newsroom. … Tony and Jenna are the first of many new team members who will allow us to bring Bay Area viewers more of the kind of in-depth investigations that result in positive change.”

Valari Dobson Staab, who employed Noyes when she was GM of ABC7, jumped to NBC in May to become its president of its O&Os. And now NBC is launching an i-team. Maybe it's just a coincidence.

Private investigators in HP spying case may get jail time, company execs skated

The HP execs who told their security personnel to snoop on reporters covering the company were either let off the hook or given hand-slaps. But the Florida father-and-son team of private investigators who were hired by a contractor for HP went before U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of San Jose on Wednesday (Nov. 9), where their plea agreement (which is apparently secret) was discussed. CNET quotes Judge Koh as saying, “There’s no reason to do this hastily.” It’s only been four years since HP began snooping on journalists. “This could be 10 [months], 12 [months], a year in jail.”

CNET’s Michelle Meyers wrote:
    The DePante's Melbourne, Fla.-based private investigation firm, Action Research Group, was hired indirectly by HP (through another contractor) and used the now illegal practice of "pretexting," which involves obtaining personal information under false pretenses. 
    Among the journalists and board members targeted were three CNET News reporters and one reporter's father, according to court documents filed by assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Cheng. Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Business Week reporters were also targeted in the HP investigations. 
    The two directed other investigators, who posed as account holders or employees of phone companies, to fraudulently obtain personal information including phone numbers, date of birth, Social Security numbers, call logs, billing records and subscriber information, according to the court documents.
HP's chair at the time, Patricia Dunn, had all charges against her dropped even though she ordered the company's security team to find out who was leaking information about private board of director meetings.

Dunn claimed she didn't know about the methods HP's investigators used to spy on journalists. After she was charged, Dunn argued that she was dying from Stage IV ovarian cancer, which was a factor in the decision by Santa Clara County prosecutors to drop charges.

Dunn remains alive today, four years later. She is married to William Jahnke, a former head of Wells Fargo Investment Advisors. The couple owns a winery in Australia, a home in Hawaii and property in Orinda.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Examiner sold to group that includes Canadian publisher

Billionaire oilman Phil Anschutz has agreed to sell the San Francisco Examiner to an investor group that includes the owner of Black Press, a Canadian firm that owns more than 170 community papers in Vancouver and northern Washington state as well as the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal and the Honolulu Star Advertiser in the U.S.

Black Press also has a stake in the private equity group that bought the San Diego Union Tribune from the Copley family in 2009.

The company is headed by David H. Black (no relation to disgraced Canadian publishing mogul Conrad Black), who has been looking for newspapers to buy, now that their prices have declined.

"Black has a reputation for operating leanly but with some imagination and business flair," said the Poynter Institute's Rick Edmonds in this piece about the sale of the Union Tribune.

In 2008, the Examiner
put its endorsement of
John McCain and Sarah
Palin on its cover
"I sat at the same table as Black during the luncheon where Hillary Clinton spoke at last year’s Newspaper Association of America convention, awkwardly overhearing a business conversation with a colleague before I realized who he was," Edmonds wrote. "The talk confirmed what I had heard secondhand — that Black was an optimist about the business and a potential buyer when many were bailing out."

The Examiner was founded in 1863 as the Democratic Press, a pro-slavery paper that opposed Abraham Lincoln. Its offices were burned down two years later and the paper resumed publishing as the Daily Examiner.

According to legend, mining engineer and entrepreneur George Hearst acquired the Examiner in 1880 as partial payment of a poker debt. When he was elected to the U.S. Senate, he turned the money-losing paper over to his son, William Randolph Hearst, who went on to build a newspaper empire with the Examiner as its flagship. Among the writers whose bylines appeared in the paper were Jack London and Mark Twain.

Fast forward to the 1950s. At the start of the decade, San Francisco had four daily newspapers. Within a few years though, the San Francisco Call-Bulletin would merge with Scipps-Howard's San Francisco News, becoming the News-Call Bulletin. Then, in 1965, the News-Call Bulletin merged with the Examiner.

At that point, the Examiner and Chronicle entered into a joint operating agreement in which the two would share the same advertising staff and presses but operate separate newsrooms. The Chronicle would continue to print in the mornings, Monday-Saturday. The Examiner remained an afternoon paper. On Sundays, two papers put out one edition, with the news sections being produced by the Examiner and the feature pages by the Chronicle.

That arrangement lasted until 2000 when Hearst bought the Chronicle for a reported $660 million and was forced by the U.S. Justice Department's Antitrust Division to sell the Examiner to the politically connected Fang family, then publishers of the Independent newspapers in San Francisco and San Mateo County. Hearst was also forced to pay the Fangs a subsidy of $66 million.

Paid circulation dropped and in 2003, the Examiner became a free daily and switched from a broadsheet to tabloid. A year later, the Fang family sold the Examiner and its printing plant to Anschutz. He brought a conservative voice to San Francisco media, going as far as to endorse John McCain and Sarah Palin on the front page.

Anschutz's newspaper company, Clarity Media, used the Examiner name to start similar papers in Baltimore (which closed in 2009) and Washington, D.C. The Examiner name is also used on the company's national website, which has thousands of bloggers who are paid based on the number of pageviews their stories get.

In September, Anschutz bought the daily paper in Oklahoma City. With that acquisition and Clarity's Washington Examiner, it was "clear that owning a single newspaper asset on the West Coast was no longer consistent with our evolving business plan," said Clarity CEO Ryan McKibben in a statement yesterday.

The deal is expected to close on Nov. 30. The sale price hasn't been disclosed, and may not become public since both the buyer and seller are privately held.

The group buying the Examiner includes David Black, Todd Vogt and Pat Brown. Vogt will be President and CEO while Brown will be chief financial officer.

Correction: An earlier version of this posting incorrectly said that Black Press was buying the Examiner. Actually, it is the investor group described in the previous paragraph.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November 2012 Press Club board minutes

Nov. 2, 2011 — San Mateo Daily Journal offices

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

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

MINUTES: September minutes Approved as submitted.

FINANCIALS: Darryl reported that the Boot Camp refreshments cost $250.38, but we received a $100 donation from SFBAPPA through Paul Sakuma. He said he hasn’t received any receipts from the picnic yet, so the costs for it remain at zero.

Darryl reported that membership is up to 140. The report was accepted as presented.

BOOT CAMP: ed reported that everyone at the College of San Mateo was happy with the way the event went. He added that the club will not be charged for any services since the event was considered to be co-sponsored by The San Matean.

Micki estimated that 167 students attended from the following schools: Sequoia, Serra, Burlingame, Carlmont, Gunn, San Mateo, Notre Dame, Aragon, Washington Fremont, Mercy, Mills, Santa Clara, Jefferson, Eastside Prep and Summit Prep. There didn’t appear to be any glitches and everyone felt the “bookended” presentations (speaker R.B.Brenner and the student panel) worked very well. It was suggested that we try to book Jim Wagstaffe now and choose our date for next year around his availability. Topics suggested for next year: AP style, ethics and video-editing.
Micki noted that Dave Price suggested posting speaker handouts on our website along with links to resources.

BOARD ELECTION: Officers and board members for the coming year were discussed. Marshall agreed to continue as president for a second year, and Ed will continue as treasurer. Since Micki is leaving the board, Antonia volunteered to be secretary. Marshall will contact Melissa to see if she wants to continue as vice president and Dave and Peter to see if they will continue as directors. There will be at least one open director’s slot.

As far as committee assignments, Micki will be giving up responsibilities for the newsletter, high school awards and high school Boot Camp. Ed agreed to take on the Boot Camp and Laura will assume the production of the newsletter after the next edition. Antonia will assist Darryl with the high school competition.

The ballot will be distributed with the newsletter next week, and returns will be counted for the annual meeting Dec. 14.

CHRISTMAS PARTY: The party will be in the Janet Parker Beck Press Room at the Hall of Justice from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 14. This will also be the club’s annual meeting.

SAN MATEO TIMES WAKE Micki announced that the wake at The Broadway in Redwood City was a great success. More than 45 people attended.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:40 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Micki Carter, Secretary

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bill Mann’s TV-radio column ends

Bill Mann’s column today for BANG will be his last after 28 years of covering the local radio and TV beat. He was told by his editor in Alameda that he was part of this most recent wave of layoffs at BANG.

Mann was the Oakland Tribune’s radio-TV columnist under publisher Bob Maynard for over a decade, then went to the Hearst-owned Examiner as TV-radio columnist. He also worked as a newswriter at KTVU Channel 2.

He still does a radio show on the media Tuesdays at 4 on KSRO-AM 1350 in Santa Rosa as well as working as the senior media analyst on Norman Goldman's national radio show (heard here on KKGN-AM Green 960).

Mann has moved to Port Townsend, Wash., where he now covers Canada for San Francisco-based Readers can see his MarketWatch columns here.

BANG newsroom cuts: 10 quit, 24 laid off

Of the 34 newsroom positions cut by BANG this week, 10 were by voluntary resignations and the rest were firings, according to a report by Walnut Creek Patch.
Patch said those who left BANG include:
    • David Newhouse, longtime sportswriter and columnist for the Oakland Tribune; 
    • Steve Waterhouse, editor of the (Fremont) Argus and the (Hayward) Daily Review; 
    • Barry Caine, former movie critic for the Oakland Tribune and an entertainment editor for the Contra Costa Times; 
    • David Boitano, editor of the Berkeley Voice and El Cerrito Journal.
If you know of other names, email the Press Club at

One point overlooked in the news about the cuts is that BANG will halt home delivery on Mondays of the Oakland Tribune, The (Fremont) Argus and The (Hayward) Daily Review, starting sometime in November. The Monday papers will still be available at retail outlets, news racks and other locations, and there will also be electronic versions.

UPDATE: Nov. 8:, edited by Ron Russell, has identified additional layoff victims. We added their titles. Let us know if any of these titles are incorrect.
    • Karim Amara, CC Times multimedia producer;
    • Patrick Brown, copy editor;
    • Dottie Burdine, San Mateo County Times editorial assistant;
    • Chris Campos, Hayward Daily Review managing editor;
    • Laura Casey, features and arts writer, Oakland Tribune;
    • Dean Coppola, CC Times photographer;
    • Andrea Daum, state/regional editor;
    • James Gayles, graphic artist;
    • Anthony Gonzalez, Hayward sports desk;
    • Emmanuel Lopez;
    • Eric Louie, San Ramon Valley/Alamo/Danville reporter;
    • Shelly Meron, El Cerito/Albany/Kensington Journal;
    • Jennifer Modenessi, arts writer;
    • David Morrill, business reporter;
    • Tony Nguyen, sports copy editor;
    • Jonathan Okanes, Cal football writer;
    • Rick Radin, reporter, Pittsburg, Bay Point;
    • Nicholas Roth;
    • Jack Rux, Mercury News copy editor;
    • Vicki Walker, copy editor
Patch has one more name to add to the list -- Chris Metinko, who covered Alameda County for BANG.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

CBS News, KCBS Radio legend Don Mozley dies

Don Mozley
Longtime KCBS Radio and CBS News reporter Don Mozley died Thursday of a heart attack at the age of 90. He passed away at London’s Heathrow Airport on the way home from a solo trip to Europe.

Mozley enjoyed a broadcasting career spanning more than six decades. As KCBS reported on Friday, Mosley was the first reporter to break the news of Japan’s unconditional surrender in 1945. He covered the atomic bomb tests at Bikini in the Marshall Islands, and traveled on the presidential campaigns of Sen. Robert A. Taft, Richard M. Nixon and General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

He also was KCBS Radio's news director for 15 years and served as an anchor and reporter. In recent years, he covered the auto industry and did test drives of new cars for his long running "California Driver" features.

He knew how to be funny, even under the stress of something like the 1981 San Francisco Financial District gas leak evacuation, recounting his descent from KCBS studios, which were then on the 32nd floor of Embarcadero Center.

“As we progressed, the Embarcadero Center loudspeakers offered conflicting advice,” Mozley reported. “First they shouted 'use the stairway.' Well, we were already on the stairway. But as the steps became more and more jammed with newcomers at every floor, the loudspeaker yelled ‘use the elevators.’ Fat chance, all the doors in the corridor were locked.”

Of course, there was more to Mozley’s story. He was within an arm’s reach of 75-year-old U.S. Sen. S.I. Hayakawa during the incident.

“I’m sitting right here and thinking of how I almost asked an elderly U.S. senator to carry me the rest of the way,” Mozley said in his report. “This is Don Mozley, looking across the street at my office.” (Photo taken from the Broadcast Legends website.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wake for the San Mateo Times still on

The wake for the San Mateo Times is still taking place on Tuesday (Nov. 1) even though BANG has changed its mind and will continue to use the “Times” nameplate. Back in August, BANG said it was dropping the Times flag and the paper’s subscribers and single-copy buyers would get the San Jose Mercury News starting Nov. 2. The wake is planned from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Murf’s Broadway Cocktail Lounge, 700 Winslow at Marshall, Redwood City. About 40 Times people are expected. Above is a photo of the former home of the Times, which was demolished in September.

KRON plans to move out of 1001 Van Ness

KRON's home at 1001 Van Ness Ave.
KRON 4 owner Young Broadcasting wants to sell its longtime home at 1001 Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco and move to a smaller but more modern facility elsewhere in the Bay Area.

General Manager Brian Greif said the 90,000-square-foot building has much more space than the station needs.

“While we love the Van Ness building and the location, the space required for a state-of-the-art digital television station is a fraction of what we have here,” said Greif. “Relocating to a smaller facility will enable us to build a new platform to effectively serve our viewing audience within the San Francisco DMA with the best of today’s and tomorrow’s digital TV advances.”

Greif said the process to sell the building and find a new home will take about a year.

The story was first reported by media blogger Rich Lieberman, who attributed it to a "well placed station source," and was later confirmed on the record by the SF Business Times and Broadcasting & Cable among others.

The Van Ness building was designed by Gardner Daily, who also was the architect for the Chronicle building at Fifth and Mission streets in San Francisco. Back then, the Chron and KRON had the same owners.

It was completed in 1967. Young Broadcasting bought the four-story structure in 2000 for $8.4 million, or $185 a square foot, the Business Times reported.

KTVU responds to helicopter noise complaints

In response to complaints from Berkeley residents about noise from news helicopters, KTVU news director Ed Chapuis said his station’s aims not to fly below 1,000 feet, and much of the noise people are hearing could be from police helicopters, which fly lower.

Chapuis, in a Q&A with the news website, also said people may be noticing helicopters now because of the Occupy Oakland demonstrations.

We recognize that noise is an issue and we try to get in and out as quickly as possible. But sometimes the event we are covering is protracted, like a riot or march, and that requires us to stay up longer,” Chapuis said. “The police helicopters are usually lower than ours so they many be making more of the noise. We do try to mitigate noise though. I get a handful of calls about noise [when our helicopter is up] and I always talk to the caller.”

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tribune to retain Oakland in its name -- number of BANG newsroom layoffs reduced

The Bay Area News Group is reversing course and will retain the names Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times and other newspaper titles it uses in the East Bay. BANG also reduced the number of newsroom employees it will fire from 48 to 25.

Also, the San Mateo County Times will retain its name. The earlier plan was to distribute newspapers with the San Jose Mercury News flag to Times subscribers and single-copy buyers.

BANG President Mac Tully held a news conference yesterday to announce the changes to the company's original plan. According to Bay City News:
    ... [T]he Tribune also will open two new community media labs in Oakland, which are part of the news group's plan to emphasize social media and community participation that's focused on local news. 
    One of the community media centers will be located in the Tribune's newsroom when the paper moves back to downtown Oakland. The paper had always been located downtown since it was founded in 1874 but in 2007 it moved about five miles away to Oakport Street, near the Oakland Coliseum and the Oakland airport. 
    The other community media lab will be a satellite office. 
    Oakland Tribune Editor Martin Reynolds said, "Today is a very good day for Oakland. So much of the news about the newspaper industry is about its demise but today we're looking at building something." 
    Reynolds said the media labs are part of a plan to have "an open newsroom" in which community members contribute items to the newspaper and its website. 
    Reynolds also said he's "excited" that the paper will be moving back downtown sometime early next year, although the site hasn't yet been determined. 
    He said newspaper officials considered moving back into the Tribune Tower at 13th and Franklin streets, a landmark building that opened in 1924, but its now in foreclosure proceedings so moving back isn't feasible. 
    Reynolds said, "The staff never wanted to leave downtown and the community took exception to our move and thought we had somehow abandoned the scene even though that wasn't true. Now we'll be back where we want to be." 
    Tully said moving the Tribune back downtown "is part of re-engaging the community and inviting them in and this building (on Oakport Street) is not conducive to that."
The changes are set to go into effect on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Local reporters barred from Obama event

Local reporters will not be allowed inside San Francisco’s Hotel W today to cover President Obama’s appearance before hundreds of donors, the Chronicle reported this morning. Instead, coverage will be limited to White House pool reporters, who will feed reports to the rest of the media.

The Chronicle, which had previously been allowed to cover Obama’s events in San Francisco, contacted former White House press aides who called the move a mistake.
    Nicolle Wallace, a former press secretary to Republican President George W. Bush, called the ban "idiotic ... inexplicable on the politics side, let alone the press side." 
    "For a Democrat to go to San Francisco and not invite the local press is like George W. Bush going to Crawford, Texas" and doing the same, she said. "This is a place where people want to be reminded about what they love about the guy." 
    Chris Lehane, a former spokesman for Democratic President Bill Clinton, was also baffled by the move, saying they always had local pools. 
    "It's not only the right thing to do in terms of respecting the Fourth Estate, but it typically translates into better press coverage," he said. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that access results in the occupying of more real estate in the newspaper and on television."
    Ken Lisaius, who oversaw local White House press coverage as a former deputy director of the office of media affairs in the Bush administration, said he "simply can't recall a time where we didn't provide for a local pool. It's part of a transparent and identifiable government.”
The Chronicle this morning also had a scathing editorial that began, “The Obama White House's restrictions on media access to its fundraising events makes a mockery of its claim to be the most transparent administration in history.”

SPJ honors College of San Mateo's student paper for coverage of San Bruno pipeline explosion

The staff of College of San Mateo’s campus newspaper and website, The San Matean, has been honored with an Excellence in Journalism Award for print and video coverage of last fall’s San Bruno Pipeline Fire.

The Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter, announced the honors Tuesday for CSM amid an array of journalism professionals cited in their Excellence in Journalism awards program.

The professionals were awarded for work in 38 categories, including Journalist of the Year, Distinguished Service Award, Breaking News, Commentary, Community Journalism, Investigative reporting and Photojournalism.

The CSM Journalism students were honored in the Student Project category for stories and video covering the San Bruno tragedy in fall 2010. The coverage included a special section in The San Matean and video coverage shot and edited by students, then posted to YouTube with links on the newspaper’s website.

“This multimedia package, produced in the midst of a difficult-to-report disaster, demonstrates tenacity, accuracy and fairness,” the SPJ judges wrote about The San Matean’s entries. “The photographs and video captured the impact of the moment, and the reporting was thorough and highly detailed.”

Competition in the Student Project category is open to two-year and four-year colleges.

The students who produced the coverage were Margaret Baum, Alex Farr, Raymond Cheung, Mario Ayala, Tyler Huffman, Sylvia Vasquez, Jeffery Gonzalez, Bruno Manrique, Jason Pun, Roger Boucher, Khiry Crawford, Petero Qauqau and Shine Gao.

Baum, then Executive Editor for The San Matean, is a Journalism major at San Jose State University and an editor for the campus newspaper, The Spartan Daily. She was first to handle coverage of the fire.

Student Video Editor Mario Ayala directed video coverage of the fire.

“Shooting the return of the San Bruno residents to ground zero just one day after the fire and explosion was a mixed feeling,” said Ayala, who was selected this month for a $3,000 broadcasting scholarship from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

BANG's top financial executive quits, offers some suggestions and criticisms as he goes

BANG’s chief revenue officer, Jeff DeBalko, has quit four months after taking the job, and he’s posted to his personal blog some pointed observations about the company as it struggles to go from print to digital.

A couple of highlights:

• “You can’t transform a company if you don’t leave your office. You shouldn’t have to introduce yourself at all-employee meetings.”

• “When you make decisions, make them fast, like in hours not days, weeks or months. Eliminate forms, and processes, and approvals and procedures. How much time do you spend talking to yourselves instead of customers?”

• “My 71-year-old mother called me a while back and told me that she was calling to cancel her local paper (one of ours). When I asked why, she said, ‘They keep raising the rates on me. I don’t care about the money so much but there is nothing in the paper any more about my local community. They used to write about people I know, places I know, and businesses nearby. Now there is none of that.’ Nothing speaks louder to the failure of local media than a long, slow disconnect from the communities they serve.”

DeBalko was president of Reed Business Information’s Business Media Division before arriving at BANG.

Bay Citizen's well-paid CEO quits

After 21 months as the chief executive officer of The Bay Citizen news site, Lisa Frazier is stepping down from the $400,000-a-year job for what she said were personal reasons. Last month the news site lost its editor, Jonathan Weber, to Reuters.

“I set out to transform an idea into a reality and to build the foundation for that reality to continue,” Frazier said in a story posted on The Bay Citizen's website Friday afternoon. “I’ve created jobs in a field of journalism that is disappearing, in a recession, but to do so in a way that has a sustainable infrastructure.”

Frazier, who will remain on the board, launched The Bay Citizen with founder Warren Hellman. She was instrumental in raising $17.5 million in funding for The Bay Citizen since the idea was born in 2009.

“She really, to a substantial extent, was the founder of this organization,” said Hellman was quoted by The Bay Citizen as saying. “My druthers would be that she stay here forever.” (Photo credit: James Irwin, from The Bay Citizen website.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

A few chuckles at the Press Club's boot camp

Kit Dicioccio, left, and Jack Heffernon, of Serra High School in San Mateo, discuss some of the more humorous experiences they have had on their school's newspaper. Below, Alexis Stewart of Jefferson High School in Daly City talks about how she and her fellow staffers are working to improve their newspaper. They were part of a panel discussion of student journalists yesterday, hosted by the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club. The discussion was at the conclusion of an annual boot camp to hone the skills of more than 200 high school journalists held at the College of San Mateo. Photos by Dave Price.

MNG revising Bay Area consolidation plan

John Paton, the new CEO of MediaNews Group, has asked executives at the company’s Bay Area newspapers take another look at their consolidation plan, which were announced in August before he came on board, the Chronicle reported this morning.

The plan calls for consolidating 11 local newspapers into two regional newspapers, “The Tribune,” which would include the Oakland Tribune, and “The Times,” which would include the Contra Costa Times. The changes, which would include dropping the San Mateo County Times masthead all together and delivering the Mercury News to its subscribers, are due to go into effect on Nov. 1.

Dropping the name Oakland from the masthead has angered many in that city, who consider it yet another sight to their oft-maligned city, the Chronicle noted.

Mac Tully, head of MediaNews Group’s Bay Area operations, told the Chronicle that it is too early for him to make any announcements.

“We’re not making any announcements at this time, and things are still in flux. It’s not at a point where I can state with any precision what’s going to happen,” Tully said.

However, Tully said layoffs are still going to take place. The plan calls for 120 of the chain’s 1,500 Bay Area employees to lose their jobs.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

KRON, KPIX news editor Alex Johnson dies

Alex Jonsson, an Emmy and Peabody award-winning news editor who worked at KRON and KPIX, has died of cancer. He was 70.

Born in Los Angeles, Jonsson moved to San Mateo in 1955 and graduated from San Mateo High and Cal State Hayward.

He worked as a news editor for KRON from 1967 to his retirement in 2005, then continued to work at KPIX until January of this year. During his career he won six local Emmy awards, one national Emmy and two Peabody awards.

He was shop steward and chairman/trustee of the health and welfare plan for the Local 45 Union. He died Oct. 9 at his home in Redwood City.

He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Virginia; his sons, Charlie (Tiffany) and Tom; two grandchildren; and his brother, Stanley (Yvette), and his children.

Jonsson wished to be cremated and have no funeral. There will be a celebration of his life after the holidays in 2012. Donations may be sent to the American Cancer Society in his memory.

KTVU using 'over the top' technology to deliver programming via Internet reports that KTVU is among the stations that are quietly experimenting with technology that can deliver programming to Internet-connected TVs and conventional TVs linked to the Net through Blu-ray players and other set-top boxes.
The technology is called “over the top” or OTT. KTVU's OTT service is still in a soft-launch phase, running only on Vizio sets, News Director Ed Chapuis said. After some fine-tuning, he said, it will be launched later this year on more sets and promoted with a heavy campaign. To make money, he said, he plans on running 10-second spots in front of video clips.

Longtime KFTY manager changes careers

John Burgess, the longtime general manager of KFTY TV-50 in Santa Rosa, is leaving broadcasting to become a partner in launching Money Matters Sonoma County, a hyper-local business and investments website, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. He was news director and then station manager at KFTY, which on Oct. 1 became an affiliate of Azteca America under new ownership. Burgess said his toughest day at the station was on Friday, Jan. 26, 2007, when he carried out instructions by then-owner Clear Channel Communications to shut down the news department and fire the 13-person News 50 team.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Swanson out at KGO-KSFO as Cumulus takes over

Jack Swanson, longtime executive at KGO-AM and KSFO, is leaving the stations which recently changed hands from Citadel to Cumulus. He said in an email to his staff that he and wife Melanie Morgan will be “going to a very small island very far away to recharge, and think and reinvent.” He emphasized that he is not retiring.

“This has been a tremendous run,” Swanson said in the email.  “Cumulus is inheriting the greatest staff in the radio industry. To a person, they are all rock stars.”

"I will be popping up somewhere soon,” he said in the email with the subject line "Farewell.”

He has been with KGO for 28 years, rising to operations manager and has a string of 120 No. 1 rating books for KGO, an eye-popper for his resume.

Also leaving is Ken Berry, program director at KSFO since 2009. Berry was news director at KGO in the 1980s and 90s. Radio Ink says that in addition to Swanson and Berry, six other people were let go.

Swanson was the right-hand man of Mickey Luckoff, who headed the stations for decades and left last year in a noisy spat with Citadel management.

“He will be sorely missed,” said KSFO fill-in host David Gold in a post on his blog. “It is so sad to witness radio consolidation result in diminished radio. Sad day.”

Media blogger Rich Lieberman is predicting that management will cancel KGO's "Afternoon News," though he cites no source for that information.

Last week, longtime KABC/KLOS Los Angeles president and gm Bob Moore was let go by Cumulus, fueling talk of a bloodbath at the former Citadel stations.