Saturday, April 28, 2012

BANG shifting to a ‘once-and-done approach’ to copy editing — 10 to 12 jobs will be cut

Dave Butler, who has responsibility over editorial operations at all of the Bay Area News Group’s publications, says in a memo (via Poynter) to Contra Costa Times staffers that he wants to cut 10-12 newsroom jobs.

He says that digital revenue is rising, but print is declining, and the result is that the company needs to cut costs. Copy editors will feel the brunt of the cuts.

Instead of two or three editors handling a story, one editor will review it with a “once-and-done approach.”

“A second or third edit on most stories has become a luxury most newspapers no longer can afford,” Butler writes.

And to help editors, reporters will be asked to put suggested headlines atop their stories.

Contra Costa Times copy editors will be allowed to apply for any vacancies in the reporting staff. Layoffs will be finalized May 15.

“Anyone laid off will get two weeks’ pay in lieu of two weeks’ notice — the same way we have handled this in the past,” Butler says.

Bay Citizen cuts ties with NY Times

Steven T. Jones of Bay Guardian reports that this Sunday is the last day The Bay Citizen will provide stories for The New York Times, which prints a Bay Area edition twice a week.

The Bay Citizen, a nonprofit started with $5 million from the late Lehman Brothers executive Warren Hellman, has merged with the 35-year-old Center for Investigative Reporting, headed by former Chronicle editors Phil Bronstein and Robert “Rosey” Rosenthal.

The Guardian headlined its piece “The Bay Citizen divorces NYT to marry CIR.” With the merger, which seems more like a takeover, The Bay Citizen will stop covering breaking news and instead focus on investigations and “accountability journalism.” Dropping the exclusive deal with the Times will allow The Bay Citizen to provide its work to newspapers and broadcasters. CIR has already been doing that through its California Watch label.

Jones says in his Guardian piece:
    But CIR wasn't as successful as The Bay Citizen in creating a stable, long-term financial base. Starting with Hellman and a handful of his wealthy friends, The Bay Citizen sought donations from a wide variety of sources that totaled more than $15 million. By contrast, CIR had limited term foundation funding for a staff of talented journalists.
In the end, it comes down to money. As Bronstein told Jones: “We're betting on the idea that quality journalism is something people are willing to pay for.”

Thursday, April 26, 2012

LaCuesta retiring after 35 years at Channel 2

Lloyd LaCuesta, one of the best known and most tireless reporters in the Bay Area, announced Wednesday that he’s retiring on June 15 after 35 years as a reporter at KTVU.

"I have spent half of my life at KTVU which makes it all the more difficult to say goodbye. But it is time,” said LaCuesta. “I need to slow down and truly enjoy life.”

The Chronicle’s Peter Hartlaub calls LaCuesta the “iron man” of local journalism. Hartlaub starts out his piece on LaCuesta’s retirement by saying, “A mere 'congratulations' seems a little weak for KTVU reporter Lloyd LaCuesta, who announced this week that he’s retiring after 36 years of covering every brutal storm and quadruple homicide since 'Afternoon Delight' was No. 1 on the charts.”

LaCuesta is the longest tenured reporter at KTVU and has held the title of South Bay Bureau Chief for decades.

He has won numerous awards including six Emmys and numerous honors in the Press Club’s annual contest over the years.

KTVU, in a statement Wednesday, said that LaCuesta’s live reporting was integral to “The Ten O’Clock News” winning a national Edward R. Murrow Award for Newscast Excellence in 2004 from RTNDA.

“Lloyd has such great contacts in the community," said Channel 2 News Director Ed Chapuis. "He has always been able to break stories and get interviews that other reporters can’t get. People trust him ... It has been an honor to pencil ‘Lloyd LaCuesta’ into the line-up each night. He made KTVU better just by stepping onto the field each day.”

He was the first elected national president of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and the first president of Unity Journalists of Color. He is on AAJA’s prestigious list of pioneer Asian American journalists and is a recipient of AAJA's Lifetime Achievement Award. LaCuesta was inducted into the NATAS Silver Circle in 2004 for his many years of outstanding Bay Area reporting.

Students to fund Daily Cal with fee

Students at UC-Berkeley apparently will now pay $2 per semester for the next five years to support The Daily Californian, the student newspaper at UC-Berkeley.

The fee was approved in the student government election but not without controversy, according to the Daily Cal. On the second day of the three-day election, the student government president issued an order invalidating the initiative after the campus “whistleblower” program had received complaints that the measure violated UC policy. But then the student government Judicial Council decided that the president had overstepped her authority.

The measure passed, 5,977 to 4,054. However, other legal challenges remain.

The Daily Cal reports that it is running a “nearly $200,000 annual budget deficit partly due to a loss of advertisement revenue as a result of structural shifts in the journalism industry.”

Brugmann sells building and newspaper

Bruce Brugmann has agreed to sell the Bay Guardian, the longtime progressive weekly, to the new owners of the Examiner for an undisclosed price, according to a report by the Chron’s Andrew S. Ross. The transaction will close next month.

The deal, which had been rumored for weeks, was announced after Brugmann sold the Guardian’s 27,000-square-foot building at 135 Mississippi St. for $6.5 million, according to a report by J.K. Dineen of the San Francisco Business Times.

The sale price is 28% higher than the $4.7 million Brugmann paid for the building a decade ago, Dineen pointed out.

Brugmann said the time has come to “turn things over to the next generation … I’m going to be 77 on June 14, and Jean (Dibble, his wife) and I have been doing this for 45 years.”

“It's not an easy thing to do, but it made sense economically, and it made sense to Jean and me,” said Brugmann. “It's the best way to keep the Guardian intact, and hopefully keep it alive for another generation.”

Todd Vogt, the Examiner’s president and publisher, said the editorial departments of the Examiner and Guardian will remain separate. Tim Redmond, a 30-year veteran of the Guardian, will remain. His title will be editor and publisher.

“We have no intention of changing the editorial voice of the Guardian. If anything, a refreshed progressive voice is needed in the city,” Vogt told the Chron.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bob Melrose retires from KCBS after 36 years

Bob Melrose, one of the most familiar voices on KCBS 740/106.9 over the years, has retired after 36 years on the air. The Contra Costa Times ran a profile of the 61-year-old Melrose yesterday and here's a few grafs from the story KCBS and CBS5 did announcing his retirement on April 12:
    Melrose has raced to the scene of news events so often, and his live reports have become so much a part of KCBS, that many were incredulous to learn he would enter retirement once his last story was filed on Thursday. 
    "You’re telling me that Melrose is retiring? You’re kidding. Melrose?” said former KCBS reporter Bob Safford when he learned the news. 
Bob Melrose (CBS5 photo)
    Melrose managed the deadlines and daunting logistics of live radio to deliver news as it happened. For 36 years, his squeaky tennis shoes and ancient Sony TCM-5000 tape recorder have been a reliable presence at press events all over the Bay Area. 
    “He truly personifies the old-time newsman. He lives it. He breathes it,” said Rita Williams, a veteran television reporter at KTVU-TV who worked closely with Mel, as he is affectionately known, for decades. 
    “They used to call us the Odd Couple. Bob and I shared an office at the Hall of Justice press room for 20 years,” she said. 
    Mel was not the Felix Unger character, but his dedication to news has been impeccable and constant. Williams said it’s no secret that he slept with a scanner to make sure he was never far from the news, whenever and wherever it happened. 
    "He’s trained himself. While he’s sleeping, I think that he can pick up when there’s excitement in the voice of a dispatcher and he awakes. And he runs out and covers a story,” she said. 
    Melrose arrived at KCBS in the mid-1970s, a San Jose State University graduate with experience at a number of small town Northern California radio stations. He went on to cover every imaginable beat, from presidential visits to the murder of Polly Klaas. 
    Melrose and Williams served as media witnesses to the last gas chamber execution at San Quentin when serial killer David Mason was put to death on Aug. 24, 1993. 
    "I will tell you that that was a very traumatic time. Bob and I held hands during part of that process as we have our pencils and are taking our notes,” Williams recounted. 
    That experience shook even a gruff reporter who knew his way around crime scenes and the courthouse. 
    “When I left the gas chamber to come out across the way to where they had us frisked and everything, I thought, my God, you just saw a man die,” Melrose said later. 
    Melrose was a radio reporter through and through. That usually meant plunking himself down front and center at a news conference to make sure he got the best quality sound he could. And a lot of times that meant a cameo appearance on television or the front page of the morning newspaper.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Why the Examiner wants the Bay Guardian

Robert Gammon of the East Bay Express says that some people might be surprised that the Examiner, with its conservative reputation, would be buying the liberal Bay Guardian. Under owner Phil Anschutz, a Colorado billionaire oilman and real estate mogul, the Examiner became a conservative newspaper in a staunchly liberal city. For instance, the Examiner put its endorsement of McCain and Palin on its cover. 

But Gammon points out that the Examiner's new owners, a group that includes Canadian community newspaper publisher David Black, have shifted the paper's editorial page to the left of the Chronicle though not as far left as the Guardian.

The reason the Examiner would want the Guardian, however, is the business side of the transaction, Gammon says. The two papers could cut costs by combining their circulation and advertising departments, and by borrowing content from one another.

Gammon notes that the Guardian has been losing money for years, but it's also believed that the Examiner was subsidized by Anschutz's paycheck. The challenge for Examiner President and CEO Todd Vogt is to strengthen his paper, and perhaps buying the Guardian will help. Vogt along with David Black and Examiner chief financial officer Pat Brown are among the investors who own the Examiner. A previous posting on the Press Club website incorrectly suggested Black Press was the owner.

ABC7 cancels '7Live' talk show

Bermudez and Copeland. ABC7 photo.
KGO-TV is canceling "7Live," its 3-4 p.m. talk show featuring Brian Copeland and Lizzie Bermudez, effective April 27, due to low ratings.

The cancelation was first reported by Matthew Keys, a social media editor at Reuters and a former KGO producer. He says KGO will fill the hour with syndicated programming until the fall when the station adds Katie Couric's new talk show. Keys says management informed the show's staff on Wednesday and that it's unknown if they will be reassigned to work on Channel 7's other newscasts.

“We’re tremendously proud of everyone involved with 7 Live and their terrific work that earned an Emmy Award and other recognition,” KGO gm Bill Burton said in a statement. “Unfortunately, 7 Live was unable to build enough of an audience to justify the major financial commitment necessary to continue the show.”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Examiner to buy the Guardian? Not yet

There are conflicting reports tonight (April 19) on whether the new owners of the Examiner have bought, or are in the process of buying, the Bay Guardian alternative weekly owned by Bruce Brugmann and his wife Jean.

Rachel Swan of the East Bay Express reported this afternoon that the sale had been finalized, attributing the information to two sources. Later, the Express quoted Guardian Executive Editor Tim Redmond as saying that the deal wasn't final but that he was "very optimistic." Then the SF Weekly got a hold of Examiner President and CEO Todd Vogt, who said:
    "Huh. That's very optimistic on their behalf ... I've met Bruce Brugmann twice in my life. When I heard he might be interested in selling, that was one of the two times. 
    "We haven't bought anything ... For the record, we believe in newspapers. If anything is for sale, we'd be bidders on it. If Bruce and Jean are gonna sell, we'd be interested."
The SF Weekly said the Guardian has been on the block for around two months at a price of $1 million.

It's no secret that the Examiner has been looking for newspapers to buy. Last month, the Press Club reported that the Examiner got into a bidding war for the Tracy Press, Scotts Valley Press-Banner and Patterson Irrigator, which were eventually bought by H. Lee Wilcox of San Angelo, Texas, for $1.25 million.

The Examiner was purchased last November by a group that includes David Black 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. Other investors include Examiner President and CEO Todd Vogt and chief financial officer Pat Brown.

Correction: A previous version of this item incorrectly described the ownership of the Examiner. It has been corrected above.

Half Moon Bay High School to start print-only journalism class

Half Moon Bay High School is dropping its mass media class, which involves broadcasting and print, and is starting a print-only journalism class this fall, the Half Moon Bay Review reports.

The switch is due to the fact that the University of California wouldn't certify the mass media class for purposes of its four-year-university track. UC deemed the class, taught by former sportscaster Pat Olson, "too vocational."

The print journalism class, on the other hand, is apparently approved by the UC and CSU systems.

The Review says that 40 students have signed up for the new print journalism class this fall, which exceeds the 35-student threshold the school district set for funding a class. The instructor will be English teacher Alyssa Neilson.

Olson's mass media class produced both a quarterly newspaper, the Cougar Roar, and a daily TV newscast. The mass media class may become a club.

In April's Cougar Roar, student and school newscaster Dylan Gallup wrote about his frustration with the cancelation of the mass media class.

“It is much more likely that students will get a good job in the television or video field than as a newspaper writer," Gallup wrote. "Newspapers are becoming less common, and colleges across the country are eliminating journalism curriculum.”

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A look at the Press Club's high school boot camp

The San Francisco Peninsula Press Club holds a "boot camp" every fall for hundreds of high school students who are studying journalism. The event takes place on the campus of the College of San Mateo. This year's boot camp is set for Oct. 26. Above is a report by the college's newspaper and website, The San Matean, on the event. The report, by Jeffrey Gonzalez and photographer Mario Ayala, includes an interview with attorney Jim Wagstaffe, whose is an expert in media law. Wagstaffe has been a speaker at previous boot camps on media law, which is often an issue for student journalists.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Press Club to offer grants to high school journalism programs

The San Francisco Peninsula Press Club is now offering grants to high school journalism programs.

Grants can be used for:
    • Equipment such as computers, software, cameras, books, cabinets 
    • Training 
    • Students to attend journalism seminars, workshops, conferences and other educational opportunities and related travel expenses 
    • Public records fees
Grants will be awarded at the discretion of the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club. The grant program is open to all Bay Area high schools with journalism programs.

Applications may only be submitted by the school's journalism teacher or class adviser. To apply, send a one-page letter on school letterhead with the following information:
    1. Brief overview of the school's journalism program (number of students, curriculum) 
    2. The grant amount requested. 
    3. The purpose of the grant. Be as specific as possible and explain how students or the journalism program will specifically benefit 
    4. Whether the grant can be used to attract matching funds
Grants will be considered year-round. Applicants will typically be notified within six weeks of receipt of the request.

To apply, send the above information to or to the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club, 32 Robin Way, San Carlos, 94070.

Two finalists in bidding for KCSM announced

The Palo Alto Daily Post reports that two organizations from Colorado that rescue troubled public broadcasting stations are finalists in the bidding for KCSM-TV, the money-losing noncommercial station the San Mateo County Community College District has put up for sale.

One of the finalists, identified as San Mateo Community Television Corp., is an entity of Independent Public Media of Longmont, Colo., whose goal is to “recapitalize and sustain public television stations currently at risk,” according to its website.

The other finalist is FM Media, a corporation set up by Public Radio Capital of Boulder, Colo., whose website says, “We help public media to buy and finance new channels, preserve existing public radio outlets, and strengthen their organizations and services.”

The amount each bidder offered hasn’t yet been released.

In narrowing the list of bidders of KCSM from six to two, the college district rejected a bid from Community Television Educators of Orange County, a religious broadcaster.

It also turned down bids from two Bay Area broadcasters:
    • KAXT LLC, which operates low-power Channel 22 in San Francisco, which broadcasts a Spanish-language Christian TV network, and 
    • KMTP-TV, operator of low-power Channel 32 in San Francisco, which airs multilingual, ethic programming. It’s offices are in Palo Alto.
The college district also turned down a bid from LocusPoint Networks, which wanted to use KCSM’s unused bandwidth for telecommunications purposes and would continue to air a public station on the station’s TV channel.

Jan Roecks, director of general services for the college district, told the district’s board Tuesday that the two Colorado-based groups are the best and highest bidders, and that she’ll recommend one of them when trustees meet again later this month.

Dave Mandelkern, president of the college district board, said the panel has a responsibility to San Ma- teo County taxpayers to get the best return possible on the sale of KCSM-TV. The college district decided to sell the station because it said it could no longer afford to subsidize its operation.

Several years spent looking at alternatives to a sale showed them to not be feasible and the district board cannot take up that issue again, he said.

The college district is selling KCSM-TV’s FCC license, its lease for a transmitter on Sutro Tower in San Francisco, and agreements for it to be carried on cable systems and satellite TV. The college is keeping its two TV studios on the San Mateo College campus, where students are trained in broadcasting.

The deal also doesn’t involve KCSM-FM, which is not for sale.

(Correction: An earlier version of this posting said Community Television Educators of Orange County was the licensee of KOCE in Orange County, which is incorrect. KOCE, a PBS station in Southern California, did not bid on KCSM.)

April 2012 Press Club board minutes

April 11, 2012, San Mateo Daily Journal office

PRESENT: Darryl Compton, Marshall Wilson, Dave Price, Laura Dudnick, Melissa McRobbie, Peter Cleaveland, Ed Remitz, Jon Mays. ABSENT: Kristi Blackburn, Antonia Ehlers

The meeting was called to order at 6:42 p.m. The board approved the minutes for January, February and March.

FINANCE REPORT: Darryl Compton updated the board on its finances, saying there was not much change from last month. Membership is down but the board is still in good shape financially. The press club received 440 entries for the awards contest this year, down from 523 last year but still up from 353 the previous year. The main reason is a decrease in the number of entries in the broadband/web category this year. Marshall Wilson suggested stepping up outreach to newspapers.

OPEN BOARD SEAT: The board still has one open seat, and several names came up as possible candidates to fill the seat, including Jamie Casini, a former board member; Mario Dianda of the Palo Alto Daily News; Joanne Bracco of Parenting on the Peninsula; and Elaine Larsen of the Pacifica Tribune. Marshall Wilson will approach them about their interest and invite them to a meeting.

HIGH SCHOOL JOURNALISM CONTEST: The number of entries dropped from 459 to 419 this year. Eleven schools are participating. Contest entries were all submitted online except in the overall excellence and general layout categories. The board discussed the awards themselves and decided to offer first-, second-, and third-place awards rather than first place and honorable mentions. Marshall Wilson will act as master of ceremonies for the awards presentation, and Laura Dudnick will present the awards. The board will show a video at the event promoting its High School Journalism Boot Camp.

HIGH SCHOOL JOURNALISM GRANT PROGRAM: The board approved a draft of a summary written by Marshall Wilson of the press club’s new grant program for high school journalists. The program will allow journalism teachers or advisers to apply for small grants for equipment, training, public records document fees, or costs associated with student participation in journalism workshops, conferences or other educational opportunities.

SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM: The board has not received any applications yet for its scholarship program. The deadline is April 15 and the board hopes to receive some last-minute applications.

CONTEST JUDGING: Darryl Compton reminded board members that judging needs to be done as soon as possible for the Press Club of Cleveland, Ohio, Excellence in Journalism Contest and the local High School Journalism Contest.

AWARDS DINNER: The board discussed the idea of combining daily and weekly newspaper entries in certain categories for its awards contest. The suggestion arose because some categories have only one or two entries. The board will discuss the idea further at a future meeting. The ticket price for the banquet will increase from $50 to $55, and Laura Dudnick offered to approach a contact about a possible wine donation. The board discussed details of a tribute to former board member Micki Carter at this year’s banquet.

ANNUAL PICNIC: Darryl Compton floated the idea of having the annual press club picnic at his house in September. Dave Price also suggested putting together a night when local journalists can meet for drinks. Both ideas will be discussed in more detail at future meetings.

SAN MATEO COUNTY HISTORY MUSEUM: Marshall Wilson spoke with Mitch Postel, president of the San Mateo County History Museum, who said he has acquired boxes and boxes of decades-old news photos that came from the archives of the San Mateo County Times. He is seeking help in sorting through the photos and identifying the people and places in them. There is also an idea to create a “History of Newspapers on the Peninsula” exhibit. The board will inquire about the possibility of scanning the old news photos so they can be viewed online.

The meeting was adjourned shortly after 8 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Melissa McRobbie, Board Member

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bay Citizen will no longer supply stories to New York Times

The Bay Citizen will end its relationship with The New York Times as of April 29 so that it can have relationships with multiple media partners in the Bay Area, according to Steve Myers of Poynter.

The Times prints a section twice a week on Bay Area news that carries reports from The Bay Citizen, a nonprofit that also distributes its stories online.

The Bay Citizen has recently merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting in Berkeley, whose executive director, former Chron managing editor Robert Rosenthal, confirmed to Poynter that the Times deal is over.

“We want the opportunity to have multiple media partners in the Bay Area and not be in an exclusive relationship with, really, anyone,” Rosenthal said.

He said he wants to work with many outlets in the Bay Area, on all platforms. Another problem with the Times relationship, he said, was “being able to manage the creative process on our own deadline cycle.”

Cumulus cuts loose The Razor

Ralph Barbieri, who has been at KNBR for 28 years, was fired yesterday in a cost-cutting move, station manager Lee Hammer told the Chronicle. His co-host of the 3-7 p.m. show "The Razor and Mr. T," Tom Tolbert, will do the shift solo from now on.

The sports-talk station is owned by Cumulus Media, the same company that owns KGO 810 and fired most of its talk hosts in November. Barbieri, 66, revealed last year that he has Parkinson's disease. Gary Radnich, the other big name at KNBR, is staying on. He just signed a new contract, according to media blogger Rich Lieberman.

    UPDATE, April 12, 5 p.m. The Chron's Peter Hartlaub writes: "Ralph’s voice was actually one of my favorite attributes, because it was a reminder that you don’t have to be a Ken doll or sound like Morgan Freeman to make it here. This is the Bay Area, where we’re more concerned with what you have to say than how you look or sound saying it. CBS-5′s Dana King can let her hair go gray. Jon Miller can go on near-hallucinatory tangents during a Giants broadcast. And Barbieri, with that voice, could work 28 years in this market. I worry that his departure is a sign that something is changing."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Former KGO-AM host Gene Burns suffers stroke

Gene Burns, longtime KGO-AM host who was fired by that station last November in a cost-cutting purge, said Tuesday he suffered a stroke three months ago that has affected the speech center of his brain.

“I am enthusiastic and thankful for the progress I have made,” he said on the NewsTalk910 website. “Most days, I have speech therapy and visits from great friends and colleagues.”

Clear Channel’s KKSF-AM 910 hired Burns, 71, to do the afternoon drive shift in January, but he never made it on the air. Instead, various KGO personalities who were fired on the same day as Burns (John Rothmann, Gil Gross, Bill Wattenburg) along with those who left KGO earlier (Rosie Allen and Ed Baxter), have been filling in for Burns.

“Although I do not have a specific date for my return to the air, I listen each day to NewsTalk 910, giving me motivation to re-join the conversation about the issues of the day,” Burns said.

Burns, who has done talk radio in Philadelphia (WCAU-AM), Boston (WRKO) and New York (WOR), arrived at KGO in 1994. Adding a Libertarian voice to KGO, he held down the 7-10 p.m. slot. Here’s his online bio.