Sunday, August 28, 2011

Marin IJ moves to San Rafael

The IJ is abandoning this location.
The Marin Independent Journal moved its offices back to San Rafael on Saturday after 30 years in Novato.

The IJ, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in March, was headquartered in San Rafael for its first 120 years before moving to its southern Novato complex in January 1981.

A story in Saturday's IJ said the ewspaper executives said it will be business as usual at Marin's only daily newspaper.

"Our goal is to make this move as transparent as possible to 130,000 readers who depend on the Independent Journal's print newspaper and websites every day," said David Rounds, the IJ's publisher and president. “We fully intend to not miss a beat as we start business at our new home. In fact, Sunday's newspaper will be produced from our new location.

"Moving will be bittersweet for many of our long-term employees, but we are all looking forward to getting settled in and to work," he said.

The IJ's new address is 4000 Civic Center Drive, Suite 301, San Rafael 94903. The IJ's news, advertising and circulation operations all moved to the building across Highway 101 from the Northgate mall.

The IJ's 60,000-square-foot complex at 150 Alameda del Prado will be put up for sale.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bey gets life without parole in Bailey murder

Yusuf Bey IV was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole for ordering the killing of three men, including Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey, who was working on a story about the financial troubles of Bey’s Your Black Muslim Bakery.

As the AP notes, Bailey was the first American journalist killed on U.S. soil for reporting story in nearly two decades.

Bailey, 57, was gunned down in broad daylight in downtown Oakland while walking to the newspaper in 2007. Co-defendant Antoine Mackey, also 25, a bakery supervisor, was sentenced to two life terms in prison for the murders of Bailey and Michael Wills, who was shot and killed in a separate incident.

BANG asked to reconsider closing Walnut Creek office

City leaders in Walnut Creek are urging the Bay Area News Group to reconsider its plans to close the Contra Costa Times main office and printing presses in that city. The closure is part of a consolidation plan that will result in 120 layoffs throughout the East Bay (see below).

“We were surprised to learn of the closure, and we certainly want to keep the Times here,” said Assistant City Manager Lorie Tinfow, according to a report in the Coco Times.

What the city can do to keep the office open isn’t known, but city leaders plan to discuss the issue with BANG executives.

Mayor Cindy Silva said the Times is important to Walnut Creek.

"First, The Times represents good jobs and important jobs that we want to keep here in the community," she said. "But to me, historically, it's where (the Times) has been headquartered. (Founder) Dean Lesher and the Lesher family were a part of Walnut Creek when the city came to age. It's a piece of our foundation. It would be really sad to just let it go."

Longtime Examiner newsman Gale Cook dies

Gale Cook
Gale Cook, who covered the Zebra murders among other major stories in his four decades at the San Francisco Examiner, died in his sleep Tuesday at his home in San Rafael. He was 92.

From the Marin Independent Journal obit:
    As a reporter, he covered stories ranging from the 1953 Korean War prisoner exchange and the 1974 trial of four black Muslims convicted of the Zebra murders in San Francisco to five executions in what he considered "torture" in San Quentin's gas chamber. He was honored by Common Cause for a 1978 series on how campaign contributions influence state legislators. 
    Jim Finefrock, who worked under Mr. Cook in San Francisco and with him as a reporting colleague in Sacramento, called him an easy-going, inspiring gentleman with exceptional people skills, a "reporters' editor" quite unlike the hard-bitten, barking Hollywood caricature. … 
    Jim Houck, former news editor of the Examiner, recalled that Mr. Cook was a stellar leader who built the backbone of a legendary reporting staff, and hired the paper's first black and Asian reporters, along with "young hotshots, oddballs and geniuses."
The Chronicle obit notes that Cook was married 68 years to Helen B. Cook, who predeceased him by 17 months. (Photo credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Cook Sterling via

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

East Bay papers consolidate, 120 jobs cut

Three familiar newspaper names — The San Mateo County Times, The Contra Costa Times and The Oakland Tribune — will soon become history.

Mac Tully, publisher of the MediaNews Group newspapers in the Bay Area, announced today that he's consolidating his East Bay papers and putting them under the titles "East Bay Tribune" and "The Times."

Starting Nov. 2, the San Mateo County Times will carry the Mercury News flag on page one, but will continue to report local news.

The Contra Costa Times, Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times, Tri-Valley Herald and the East County Times will now be branded under the masthead "The Times."

The Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Daily Review, Argus and West County Times will be rebranded as the "East Bay Tribune."

As part of this streamlining, the company will shut down its Walnut Creek offices, where it produced the Contra Costa Times, and consolidate its production operations to three existing plants located in Concord, Hayward and San Jose.

The move will result in 120 fewer jobs out of a workforce of 1,500. Whether those jobs will be cut by attrition or layoffs wasn't immediately known.

"These are challenging times for the newspaper industry," Tully said. "These adjustments, some of them very difficult position us to execute our strategic plan to maintain and grow our position as the leading multi-media company in the Bay Area."

Tully said the newspapers’ various web sites including;;; and will not change.

According to Tully's announcement, other changes include:
    • All the papers will have a separate, stand-alone local news section, seven days a week. 
    • Top local, national and international news will appear in the "A" section. The Morning Report section will be discontinued. 
    • The East Bay papers will have a stand-alone business section every day that will include business news from across the region. 
    • A section focusing on technology will be added to the East Bay papers on Mondays. 
    • The sports section in the East Bay papers will be expanded to include more pro and college coverage. 
    • The line-up of comics, which has varied from paper to paper, will become more uniform and will contain the most popular comics as determined by a recent poll of readers. 
    • Two weekly newspapers will be launched, the Valley Journal (serving Alamo, Danville and San Ramon) and the Times-Herald (serving Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore and Sunol).
The last CoCo Times and Oakland Tribune will be published Nov. 1.

UPDATE, 6:30 p.m.: The AP says the moves will help the company save money so it can invest in ways to bring in more revenue from the Internet and mobile devices.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Los Altos Town Crier co-founder dies

David MacKenzie, who co-founded the Los Altos Town Crier in 1947 and was publisher until 1972, died July 31 in Los Altos Hills after years of declining health. He was 93.

MacKenzie and Warren Goodrich initially started the Town Crier as a small advertising-only publication. The paper soon became known for its wit and irreverence. MacKenzie led the way with humorous observations on local life in his “Under the Oak” column, which ran from the Town Crier’s editorial beginnings in the 1950s until 1969.

“He was a little bit sardonic and satirical about some of the foibles, some of the airs Los Altos people put on,” his friend Mort Levine recalled. “He kind of punctured those kinds of pretensions — which is rare, especially in community newspapers, which usually play it safe.”

Levine, who eventually bought the Town Crier and a group of other small newspapers from MacKenzie, said he first met MacKenzie in the 1950s when he was editing for a competitor, the Los Altos News. He said he was drawn to MacKenzie’s column, with its sparkling wit.

“It was the freshest kind of writing around,” Levine said. “I was intrigued and got to meet him.”
MacKenzie expanded the Town Crier and founded the Cupertino Courier and the Sunnyvale Scribe. MacKenzie sold his papers to Milpitas Post publisher Levine in 1972. The two remained lifelong friends.

Here's the full obit from the Town Crier.

MNG adds paywalls at 23 papers including Vallejo, Vacaville

MediaNews Group, owner of the San Jose Mercury News, is increasing the number of papers in its national chain that will have paywalls on their websites.

MNG has been testing a paywall at its dailies in Chico and York, Pa., since last year.

On Monday, MNG announced it was adding a paywall to the websites of 23 more papers, including The Reporter in Vacaville and the Times-Herald in Vallejo.

Under the model, all readers of the selected publications will have access to the home page, classifieds, obituaries and announcements section. Readers also will receive five free pages of editorial content per month before being asked to subscribe.

Current print subscribers may extend their subscriptions to include full digital access for an additional $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year.

Digital-only subscriptions will be available to those who are not currently print subscribers for $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year.

"The decision to begin charging for our online content introduces a new era for our organization that is reflective of the high value we place on journalistic excellence and serving the community," said MediaNews Group chairman Dean Singleton in a story in the MNG-owned Denver Post. "Implementation of online subscriptions will allow us to continue to support the quality writing and reporting that our readers expect from us."

The MNG papers in California adding paywalls, in addition to the dailies in Vacaville and Vallejo, are the Daily Democrat (Woodland and Yolo County), Lake County Record-Bee, Red Bluff Daily News, Redlands Daily Facts, Times-Standard (Eureka), The Ukiah Daily Journal and Whittier Daily News.

Newspaper cutbacks linked to city hall corruption

Cutbacks in the newspaper industry, resulting in a lack of local news coverage, created an environment that allowed for massive corruption in the Southern California city of Bell, where eight officials were jailed after their outrageous salaries came to light.

That’s the assessment of highly respected former San Mateo city manager Arne Croce, who yesterday took over as Bell’s interim city manager.

Croce will replace City Manager Robert Rizzo, who was arrested and jailed after it was learned he had paid himself $1.5 million in the previous year and was paying huge salaries to numerous other Bell officials. The city’s mayor, assistant city manager and five council members were also thrown into jail in what became a national story about government corruption.

“As newspapers pulled back on resources and stopped covering local government, it helped create an environment that people could take advantage of that environment,” Croce told the Palo Alto Daily Post on Monday.

The Los Angeles Times broke the story about corruption in Bell, which earned the paper the coveted Pulitzer Prize.

But the corruption had been going on for years, and it went unnoticed by the public because papers such as the Times weren’t covering the routine local government stories that keep the community informed.

Croce said he spoke to one of the 20 Times reporters who broke the story. He said that reporter agreed that there wasn’t enough news coverage before the Times broke the story.

“It’s easy to fly under the radar,” said Croce. He said news coverage and public scrutiny are a key part of our democracy.

But the absence of watchful reporters wasn’t the only thing that contributed to the scandal, he said.

Bell, a blue-collar city where one in six people lives in poverty, didn’t have enough residents paying attention to their local government, said Croce.

“With or without media, it’s important for citizens to recognize it’s their city government and it has to reflect their values and be engaged,” said Croce.

But the residents have stepped up to the plate since, including the current council members who replaced those that now face criminal charges, said Croce.

“The community has come forward, saying that we want our city government to put us first as residents and want an ethical, professional city government,” said Croce.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chron reporters can't get their own columnist (Willie Brown) to call them back

It’s no secret that Willie Brown rarely returns phone calls from reporters. But now that the former San Francisco mayor is a columnist at the Chronicle, you’d think he’d call back his newsroom colleagues.

However, the SF Weekly’s Joe Eskenazi reports that Brown is stiffing them for comment as well. And Brown’s refusal to talk to his own newspaper is awkward for Chronicle reporters who are covering the entry of Ed Lee into the mayor’s race. Brown is apparently backing Lee, but not talking to his own paper about his backroom role. Eskenazi writes:
    The closest Brown has come to discussing his role in Lee's ascendancy was a January column that manged to be both coy and triumphalist. 
    "As for my behind-the-scenes role in all this? If people ask me for advice, I give it. Nothing says they have to take it," he wrote. "Of course, I was the first to suggest Ed Lee right here in the column for all to see. Some columnists report the news, some of us make it." 
    Reached on his cellphone, Brown, in fact, took our call. When asked if he could talk about his column at the Chron he quickly responded "you call the paper and they'll tell you about it, George." He then hung up.

Gizmodo editor cleared in iPhone case

Jason Chen posted this photo of himself
as part of his review of the iPhone prototype.
In a victory for California’s journalist shield law, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe has decided he won’t prosecute editor Jason Chen for buying an iPhone prototype that had been lost at a Redwood City bar by an Apple employee.

Wagstaffe decided that Chen bought the phone for a legitimate journalistic purpose — in this case, reviewing a product months before it was to become public — and therefore was covered by the shield law that protects the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.

The shield law apparently wasn’t on the minds of law enforcement when cops raid Chen’s home in Fremont on April 28, 2010. The search warrant law enforcement presented to San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Clifford Cretan didn’t identify Chen as a journalist.

The night-time search was carried out by members of the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT), an anti-high-tech crime strike force made up of cops from various departments in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. In the raid, police took his computers, cellphones and documents.

The search appeared to violate both the state shield law (Section 1070 of the California Evidence Code) 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.

No members of law enforcement will be charged, however. But the two men who allegedly sold Chen the phone for $5,000 will face misdemeanor charges.

Wagstaffe’s decision, coming more than a year after the search, appears to be a slap in the face of Steve Jobs, who was angered when he discovered Chen had obtained the phone. Jobs called the head of Gizmodo’s parent company, Gawker Media, to demand that the phone be returned. And then he contacted the REACT task force. The task force’s board includes a representative of Apple.

Jobs indicated at a 2010 All Things Digital D8 conference that he didn’t feel Chen was a journalist. DA Wagstaffe felt he was and invoked the shield law.

J-school texts can’t keep up with digital world

Professor and former reporter Alexa Capeloto, writing for’s MediaShift, says that the textbooks used in high school and college journalism classes don’t reflect the latest advances in digital media.

Capeloto cites the case of SF State journalism Professor Rachele Kanigel, who just updated her 180-page text The Student Newspaper Survival Guide. The original came out in 2006 and she updated it for 2010 with mentions of Twitter and smartphones. But her publication deadline was too late for Google+, a platform that has a lot of potential for student journalists.

“A one-year turnaround between writing and publication is no big deal if the subject is history or literature, but it is a lifetime in today's fast-changing media landscape, and it means books can sometimes seem outdated almost as soon as they hit the market,” writes Capeloto, who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice/City University of New York.

KQED teams up with four local news sites

KQED-FM 88.5 has formed a news-reporting partnership with four local websites, Berkeleyside, OaklandLocal, NeighborWebSJs and SF Public Press.

The four local websites will provide KQED’s radio station and website with broader and more in-depth reporting. In exchange, the local sites will benefit from greater exposure of their work.

“Emerging news organizations such as Berkeleyside are vital to the information needs of the Bay Area,” said KQED News Director Bruce Koon. “It’s important for KQED News to support pioneering journalism efforts. Equally as important is what they can teach us about different communities and their issues and new approaches to news reporting.”

According to Berkeleyside, the collaboration is the latest result of Networked Journalism, a national project founded by J Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Networked Journalism aims to establish relationships between online-only media and more traditional news organizations. Other Networked Journalism projects are led by The Oregonian, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and The Seattle Times newspapers.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Berkeley J-School dean stepping down

Neil Henry is stepping down as dean of the UC-Berkeley journalism school 10 months after he was hospitalized for an undisclosed illness and then disappeared from campus. A press release from UC-Berkeley says he will return to teaching journalism and will serve as special assistant to the Athletic Study Center, helping student-athletes to maximize their academic experience during their time at Berkeley.

Journalist, author and Berkeley professor Tom Goldstein, who served as dean of the J-School from 1988 to 1996 and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism from 1997 to 2002, will assume the role of interim dean for the coming academic year.

The search for a new dean will begin shortly, according to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer, who said he expects that the school will have a full-term leader in place by July 2012.

CNN exec named president of SF's Current TV

San Francisco-based Current TV, the new home of Keith Olbermann, also has a new president. David Bohrman, previously with CNN, is joining Current TV and will work closely with the channel’s co-founders, Al Gore and Atherton attorney Joel Z. Hyatt. The hiring of Bohrman is the network’s second executive change in the past two weeks, Reuters notes. Hyatt, founder of the Ohio-based Hyatt Legal Services and an unsuccessful Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, took over as Current TV’s CEO in July, replacing Mark Rosenthal. (Photo credit:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Santa Cruz publisher takes top job in Boise

Mike Jung, a former Mercury News advertising executive who became publisher of the Santa Cruz Sentinel in 2009, has been named publisher and president of the McClatchy Co.’s Idaho Statesman in Boise. A story in the Statesman said Jung, 53, was recruited by McClatchy in part because of his accomplishments in Santa Cruz, where the Sentinel won the general excellence award from the CNPA this spring. The Statesman's daily circulation is about 50,000, double that of the Sentinel at 23,600. (Photo credit: Katherine Jones, Idaho Statesman)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Afternoon newspaper makes a comeback, online

Afternoon newspapers died in many areas, including here, because it was difficult to distribute the paper amid the daytime traffic. Online, traffic isn’t a problem. So now the Chronicle is now putting out a 4 p.m. edition for its iPad readers.

“The Afternoon Edition provides an update on all local, national and international news from the day, plus a recap of the day's financial news,” a press release from the Chronicle states. “Users can also get a preview of the night's sporting action, as well as plan their commutes home. The app also provides a listing of entertainment options for after work and photo galleries from events from the previous evening.”

Editor Ward Bushee says stay tuned for more features that will be added to the Chronicle app in coming weeks.

Newspaper launches in Cotati

A former city council member in Cotati, George Barich, has launched a monthly newspaper there that is focusing on city government in that community of 7,353 people in Sonoma County.

“I was urged by supporters and friends to do something about the propaganda and lies fed to the local press by our city government,” Barich said in an email to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “The misinformation just became too much for us to handle.”

Headlines in the first issue include: “New city budget does not balance and reveals alarming evidence town in serious decline,” “Cotati Speedway Unofficially Returns,” “Convicted Money Launderers in Cotati Laying Low” and “Citizen Complaints of Ethics Code Violations Ignored by Officials.”

The Independent is being delivered to homes for free and is for sale in newsracks for 25 cents. The paper is also available online at