Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bay Guardian lays off 3 editorial staffers

The San Francisco alt-weekly Bay Guardian has laid off three of its editorial staffers — about a third of its staff, according to reports from rivals SFGate and the SF Weekly.

The SF Weekly says that among those who lost their jobs was veteran reporter Sarah Phelan.

The cuts come just months after the Guardian received an out-of-court settlement from the SF Weekly. The Guardian, owned by Bruce Brugmann, won a $21 million verdict from a jury that found the SFWeekly sold ads at below the cost of production in order to take market share, an illegal practice under state and federal law. The SF Weekly and its parent company, Village Voice Media, was unsuccessful in appealing the case. The amount of the settlement has not been disclosed.

Editor Tim Redmond told SFGate: "Like a lot of newspapers and media companies, we've had to do some cutbacks … We’re facing challenges and have to make sure our revenue and expenses are in line. We're looking forward to a future with, you know, changes in the publishing model. We're looking to make sure our future is secure."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Former SFO spokesman Ron Wilson dies at 70

Ron Wilson, the spokesman for San Francisco International Airport for 43 years, has died over the weekend at age 70, KGO-TV ABC7 reports. After Wilson's retirement from SFO, he became an aviation consultant for ABC7.

ABC7's Wayne Freedman recalled that Wilson was uncannily honest and trusted reporters:
    In the days before tightened security, Wilson would load reporters into his airport sedan and onto the tarmac, close enough to practically touch the planes. Later, as ABC7's aviation consultant, he provided a mine of information. 
    Crash landing in the Hudson River? Call Ron -- he would get us through it. Beyond that, Wilson was a walking encyclopedia of institutional history. Wilson took photographs of every minor and major incident throughout the decades. 
    When ABC7 asked Wilson about a Pan Am flight that caught fire and lost 27 feet of wing in 1965, Wilson furnished our reporter with 8mm home videos and helped us find the crew.

Mabel from Livermore, don't bother calling KGO

Bay Area media blogger Rich Lieberman says that KGO-AM is cutting off older callers as the station attempts to reach a younger demo. “It’s no secret that younger (read: A25-54) cute-sounding housewives from, say, Walnut Creek or Burlingame are given far more time than the old geezer from the outer avenues. Sounds harsh, but it's true and it’s entirely consistently with KGO's almost obscene over-embracement of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.”

Who says radio doesn’t pay well?

Farid Suleman, the CEO of KGO-AM and KSFO parent Citadel Broadcasting Corp., is going to make $30 million this year for heading a company that was recently in bankruptcy. and analyzed SEC documents filed by Cumulus Media (owner of KNBR and KFOG) ahead of its acquisition of Citadel and found that Suleman will get a $2 million bonus this year for hitting a $232 million profit target. He’s also getting $1,125,000 in annual salary and $27.4 million in stock options.

RadioInk points out that chief operating officer Judy Ellis will get $478,391 in salary, a $250,000 bonus for hitting the profit target, and $1.4 million in stock options. Grand total: $2.1 million.

Cumulus’ acquisition of the 223-station Citadel chain should close on Labor Day, meaning that KNBR, KFOG and KSAN will be apart of the same happy family as KGO-AM and KSFO.

If you use your tablet to read news ...

The Missouri School of Journalism is surveying users of iPads and other tablets about their news consumption habits. This survey contains 22 questions and shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

NBC Bay Area gets points for diversity

The Asian American Journalists Association, or AAJA, is praising NBC Bay Area (KNTV) for hiring KGO-TV’s Janelle Wang and putting her on the 5 p.m. news alongside Raj Mathai. The association says they will be the only U.S. team of Asian American main news anchors outside of Hawaii.

“This move clearly demonstrates NBC Bay Area's strong commitment to diversity and to creating a newsroom that reflects the communities it serves,” AAJA National President Doris Truong said in a statement. “We hope that other newsrooms will follow NBC Bay Area's example, and AAJA is ready to help in any such diversity efforts.

Yee honors McKee by putting his name on bill

The CalAware website reports that state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, has amended his SB8 to bring openness to foundations supporting state universities and colleges “The Richard McKee Transparency Act of 2011” to honor the champion of open government who died April 23. McKee was a co-founder and first president of Californians Aware, a non-lawyer whose efforts to bring sunshine to local government were unrivaled in their frequency and success.

Food inspection reports harder to find

San Mateo County Times columnist John Horgan, who regularly reports when restaurants and food stores are shut down by health inspectors, says the county government has halted its weekly online reports about food purveyors.

The San Mateo County Health Department’s website says will no longer issue those announcements.

Instead the reports are now buried on the county’s website. Here’s how you can find them (thanks John for figuring this out!):

Go to:

On the right side, click “departments”

In the list that appears, scroll down and click “Health System.”

Then click “Environmental Health.”

Click on “Food Facility Closures and Administrative Hearings.”

Are you following this?

Individual restaurant reports are available on that last page by clicking on "Food Inspection Results Online" at the bottom of the page.

There are a lot of restaurants and stores listed. To make it easier, pick a city and hit return.

You’ve got to look up each establishment to see if there is a new report.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Illegal immigrant journalist loses driver's license

The state of Washington has canceled the driver’s license of Jose Antonio Vargas, the former Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle reporter who revealed last month that he is an illegal immigrant. The Seattle Times says that while illegal immigrants can still obtain licenses in Washington state, licensing officials said they canceled Vargas’ license because he could not prove he lived in the state when he obtained it, as required by law. In a New York Times Magazine piece he wrote under the headline, "My life as an undocumented immigrant," Vargas laid bare details of a life built on lies that started with his arrival as a 12-year-old on a fake passport from the Philippines 18 years ago.

App encourages readers to take news photos

Instead of sending a photographer out to shoot a news event, why not ask a reader who happens to be on the scene to take the pictures with their smartphone and email them to the newsroom? That’s the idea behind a new photojournalism application called TapIn.

TapIn is the product of a Silicon Valley startup called Tackable whose founders include Luke Stangel, formerly a reporter with the Palo Alto Daily News and KLIV 1590.

The San Jose Mercury News offices were used as an incubator for the startup, Stangle told in March.

“It’s a fairly unique arrangement — we’re building a special version of Tackable which features MediaNews content and they’re paying us development fees, which have allowed us to expand the team,” he said.

MediaNews is now using TapIn at its 20 Bay Area papers, which include the Merc, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune and Palo Alto Daily News.

Not only are readers asked to take pictures of assignments posted by editors, but they’re encouraged to send in live, breaking photos.

Tackable’s team told E&P that their goal is to have 150 newspapers participating in TapIn in the next few months.

The TapIn app appears to be just the beginning for Tackable. Since TapIn is oriented to a user’s location — that is, you can tap a map on the application and see what’s happening in a particular area — it can also be used to deliver location-specific information about restaurants, concerts, shopping bargains, and so on. Users can also access area and neighborhood news and events provided by California Newspapers Partnership journalists and one another.

Lois Kazakoff wins opinion journalist honor

Chronicle deputy editorial page editor Lois Kazakoff has been named “opinion journalist of the year” by the National Conference of Editorial Writers. She won in the category of newspapers with 100,000+ circulation. “Founded in 1947, NCEW is a professional organization dedicated to advancing the craft of opinion journalism through education, professional development, exploration of issues of public importance and vigorous advocacy within journalism,” the organization said in a statement. She will receive her award at the group’s conference in Indianapolis Sept. 15-17.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

CBS5 photographer attacked during protest

KPIX CBS5 photographer Patrick Sedillo was attacked Tuesday in San Francisco while covering a protest of the fatal police shooting of Kenneth Harding. While Sedillo was recording an interview reporter Elizabeth Cook was doing of a protester at 16th and Mission streets, another protester grabbed the camera and tried to run away with it. Police helped get the camera back and arrested the woman who stole it. Neither Sedillo or Cook were injured.

ACLU considers lawsuit to stop police from withholding the names of officers in shootings

In most California cities, when a police officer kills somebody, the police department withholds the officer’s name from the public. If an ordinary citizen kills somebody, the suspect’s name is released. The double standard may not be legal, however.

The Chronicle reported this morning that the ACLU of Northern California is considering a lawsuit over the practice. The ACLU filed a public records request with BART seeking the name of the officer who shot a man at the San Francisco Civic Center Plaza on July 3. BART denied the request, citing what’s known as the Copley case, which strengthened a state law sealing off misconduct inquiries from public view.

However, the Chron’s Demain Bulwa reports that the law on releasing cops’ names is far from settled. In fact, the argument for disclosure was strengthened by an opinion by Jerry Brown, when he was attorney general.

Bay Citizen workers decide to unionize

By a vote of 7 to 5, journalists at the nonprofit news website The Bay Citizen have decided to affiliate with the Pacific Media Workers Guild, Local 39521 of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America.

The union reports that 14 votes were cast, but that two of the ballots are being challenged. The remaining ballot count resulted in a 7-5 win to form the union. The two challenged votes have not been opened, however the Guild said that whether these two voters are included in the unit or not, the concluding tally will remain in favor of forming a unit. The Guild is asking the NLRB to count all votes cast.

The majority of the organization's editorial staff signed union cards seeking to be represented by the Guild on May 26, the one-year anniversary of The Bay Citizen's launch. Voting was conducted June 27 at The Bay Citizen's San Francisco headquarters and by mail-in ballot. NLRB officials counted the votes on July 12.

“We believe The Bay Citizen, as one of the pioneering exponents of new civic journalism, should also be a leading example in the area of workplace democracy,” The Bay Citizen’s editorial staff wrote in a letter to TBC President and CEO Lisa Frazier ahead of filing cards with the National Labor Relations Board.

Support came from unionized journalists at The New York Times and KGO radio, which have agreements to obtain local news content from The Bay Citizen.

A statement from the Guild said, "Bay Citizen staff members are committed to the success of the organization and expect their new Guild unit to work in partnership with management to create a contract appropriate for their nonprofit startup."

July 2011 Press Club board minutes

July 13, 2011 — San Mateo Daily Journal offices

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

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

MINUTES: The April minutes were approved as read.

FINANCIALS: Darryl presented the financial statement noting that the awards contest and banquet netted $24,462.54 and cost $17,230.81. The two scholarships for $1,500 were paid out as well for a net gain of $4,231.73.

AWARDS CONTEST/BANQUET: Darryl reviewed the contest and noted that the greatest increase in participation was in the Broadband/Web category with 95 entries. He said was responsible for most of that increase as well as an increase in membership (140) since Patch paid for memberships and entries. He said that the Contra Costa County Jail, which makes the plaques, gave us a 10 percent discount. However, we ordered more than in the past.

The banquet drew 129 this year, compared to 105 last year. The board decided to order a banner with the Press Club logo on it to provide a better backdrop for photos next year and made plans to split the MC duties next year to ease the load on just one MC.

In recognition of the huge load the contest and banquet have become, Micki moved to increase Darryl’s pay as coordinator from $4,000 to $5,000. It was seconded and passed. Dave then moved to make the change retroactive to include this year’s contest as well. It was seconded and passed.

BOARD OPENING: Marshall announced that Jamie Casini White is moving to Boston and has resigned her board position. The board decided to provide a gift certificate to Jamie, a former president, for her devotion to the Press Club. Marshall said that Jamie had suggested Laura Dudnick,’s Belmont chief, as a replacement. He will invite her to attend the next board meeting to gauge her interest. Micki asked Marshall to write a short story on the opening for the newsletter.

PICNIC: Jon will reserve a picnic space at Beresford Park in San Mateo from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday Sept. 17. The Press Club will provide meat for barbecuing and some drinks; the rest of the food and drinks will be potluck. Peter will contact Al Bullock to see if he wants to barbecue.

HIGH SCHOOL BOOT CAMP: Ed reserved the CSM Theatre for Sept. 9, but that proved to be a difficult date for many. The following day he was able to reserve the theatre for Friday, Oct. 21. He will try to find out the maximum number of rooms around the theatre that we could reserve. That number will determine how many break-out sessions we can offer. We will expand hours to 12:30-5 p.m. and will include a 10-minute passing period between sessions. It was suggested that we begin with a greeting from Marshall and then go directly to Jim Wagstaffe’s presentation in the theatre. Then a break-out period and then back to the theatre for a panel of some sort, then another break-out. Jon and Marshall will work on the panel discussion, and Kristy will help Micki with the break-out sessions. Dave was urged to do a section on headline writing, and Micki suggested that session on PhotoShopping photos for print was needed. Micki will get a Save the Date notice out to high school advisors ASAP. This year only the schools represented at the Boot Camp can participate in the High School Journalism Contest in the spring.

NEWSLETTER: Micki asked for articles and gossip so she can get a newsletter out this month.


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

Respectfully submitted, Micki Carter, Secretary

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Reporters get roles in Rob Lowe movie

The Merc’s Dana Hull, the Chron’s Carla Marinucci, Dan Morain of the Sacramento Bee and CNN’s Howard Kurtz play themselves in a Rob Lowe movie about politics being shot on Treasure Island.

The movie, titled “Knife Fight,” was co-written by Clinton administration insider Chris Lehane, based loosely on his exploits. He helped Clinton manage the fallout from Whitewater and Lewinsky.

Lowe plays a Lehane-like character and Republican campaign strategist Steve Schmidt is cast in the role of a cardiologist for a former baseball player who is running for governor of Kentucky.

Morain said he and other California reporters play themselves asking questions of Schmidt, such as whether the former ballplayer used steroids. Republican analyst Jim Brulte also plays a reporter in this scene.

“Knife Fight” is expected to open during the last few months of the 2012 presidential campaign. Morain described the shooting of the movie and the tax credit the producers got, and sold, in the Bee. Here’s a link to the Merc’s version (second item).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Janelle Wang jumping to NBC Bay Area

Janelle Wang is jumping from KGO ABC7's "View of the Bay" to KNTV NBC Bay Area's 5 p.m. news, co-anchoring that show with Raj Mathai, the NBC station announced today.

They also announced that Jon Kelley, former host of the ABC primetime reality show "The Mole," will join Laura Garcia-Cannon as co-anchor of the weekday morning news program, "Today In The Bay."

Garcia-Cannon's co-anchor and husband Brent Cannon is anchoring the 7 p.m. news on NBC's California Nonstop channel (Comcast Digital Cable channel 186).

Wang will be filling the co-anchor spot most recently held by Jessica Aguirre, who will continue to co-anchor at 6 and 11 with Mathai.

Rural newspapers doing better than major metros

Stanford's Bill Lane Center for the American West today posted a story, essay and map on community newspapers in the United States, and the conclusion is that while major metro papers are declining, "rural journalism is surviving, even thriving."

Some facts in the report by Geoff McGhee jump out:

• 80% of dailies are owned by chains compared to 60% of community weeklies;

• Many community weeklies don't have websites, and their print editions generally don't face online competition. "Craigslist doesn't serve these kinds of communities. They have no effective competition for local news. Rural papers own the franchise locally of the most credible information," said Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky.

• "[T]he holy trinity of the small town paper is obituaries, the police blotter, and high school sports," said Judy Muller, a USC professor and former broadcast journalist who wrote a book about small-town newspapers.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bronstein to interview Vargas for Commonwealth Club

Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who has acknowledged that he is an illegal immigrant from the Philippines, will sit down for an interview with the Commonwealth Club next Monday, July 11, in San Francisco. Vargas, who graduated from Mountain View High School and worked at the Chronicle before going on to the Washington Post, will be interviewed by Phil Bronstein, the Chronicle’s editor-at-large. Bronstein has written that he felt duped by Vargas. But he also said that Vargas is “blessed with talent and brains” and that he sees him as a friend.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tracy Press files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

The Tracy Press filed for Chapter 11 reorganization on June 1 in a move designed to keep the company’s newspapers in Tracy and Scotts Valley operating while management reorganizes its debt. Recently the Tracy Press reduced its printing schedule from two editions to one a week due to declining revenue.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Steve Symanovich wins humor column award

When it comes to humor columnists, the Bay Area has a couple of the best. The National Society of Newspaper Columnists handed out their awards in Detroit on June 8, and in the category of newspapers under 50,000 circulation, Steve Symanovich, editor of the San Francisco Business Times, got the first-place award. Second-place went to John Philipp, columnist for Sausalito Marinscope.

There was third winner from the Bay Area, too, though not for humor. In the general interest category, Stanford’s Joel Brinkley (syndicated by Tribune Media Services) received a second-place award.

Kevin Keane, Pete Wevurski out at BANG

Big changes at MediaNews Group's newspapers in the Bay Area. Their newsrooms will be consolidated under one management structure, as described in the memo below from Publisher Mac Tully. As part of the changes, Contra Costa Times editor Kevin Keane and managing editor Pete Wevurski are gone, and Burt Robinson managing editor-print, and will supervise the operation from his office in San Jose.
    From: Tully, Mac 
    Sent: Thursday, June 30, 2011 10:15 AM 
    To: &SSC ALL; &EB All; &MN All 
    Subject: BANG Editorial Streamlining Announcement 
    June 30, 2011 
    To: All employees 
    Beginning today, we are taking another significant step in streamlining our organization to maximize our operating efficiency. Continuing the process that began with the creation of the Bay Area News Group, the news divisions of all Bay Area News Group newspapers will now operate under a single, common management team under the direction of Dave Butler, editor of the Mercury News and vice president for news for MediaNews Group. This move follows similar consolidations in our other divisions. 
    Dave's appointment and the announcement of the first official BANG-wide news management team are logical next steps in our efforts to make full use of the breadth and depth of the entire group. While a less-formal arrangement has been in place for some time, our recently negotiated labor agreements recognize complete consolidation. 
    This reorganization will have an immediate impact on top management, and it's with regret that we also announce that Kevin Keane and Pete Wevurski are leaving the company today. Please join with me in thanking them for their years of service and wishing them well in their new adventures. 
    Dave Butler has made the following appointments for the new BANG-wide management team:
    • Bert Robinson, managing editor of the Mercury News, was named BANG managing editor-print and will oversee all news gathering. 
    • Randall Keith, BANG director of digital content, was named managing editor-digital and will continue to oversee all digital efforts as well as breaking news coverage and photography.
    • Ron Kitagawa, assistant managing editor for production in the East Bay, was named managing editor-production and will oversee copy editing, design and graphics for all newspapers.
    • Mike Frankel, Mercury News metro editor, was named assistant managing editor for enterprise reporting and will oversee enterprise and in-depth stories, regional reporting and projects throughout BANG.
    • Lisa Wrenn, assistant managing editor in the East Bay who had also been coordinating features throughout BANG, was named AME-features.
    • Bud Geracie, Mercury News executive sports editor who had been coordinating sports throughout the group, becomes BANG executive sports editor.
    • Nick Lammers, director of photography for the East Bay newspapers, was named director of photography for BANG.
    • Steve Trousdale, Mercury News business editor who had been coordinating business coverage with the East Bay, was named BANG business editor. The opinion page departments, which work together when that is appropriate, will remain separate and editorial-page editors Barbara Marshman and Dan Hatfield will report to Dave. 
    The editorial boards will continue to have different members and to take different positions, based on the mission and values of each newspaper. 
    Many details still must be worked out on how this new team will work on a daily basis. The senior editors will be splitting their time between the East Bay and the South Bay. I know Dave welcomes suggestions on how best to proceed. 
    Please join me in congratulating this team of top-notch journalists. talked to one employee of the Contra Costa Times, who said, "The newsroom is not really in shock, I think we all realized it was only a matter of time before the big changes occurred. It's like slowly cutting a tree down branch by branch over the course of a few years. We all understand sooner or later all the branches will be gone and only the trunk will remain."