Thursday, August 30, 2012

Retired Merc columnist Leigh Weimers dies

The Mercury News is reporting on its website that Leigh Weimers, a columnist who had been at that newspaper for 47 years, died this morning at age 76. On an Aug. 28 entry on his blog, Weimers said he was going to have surgery Wednesday to repair or replace a valve in his heart. Funeral arrangements are pending. Weimers retired on his 70th birthday, Nov. 11, 2005. From the obit the Merc posted today:
    "He was a class act -- a smart journalist, a courtly gentleman and a real champion for arts and culture in the valley and for his alma mater," said Linda Zavoral, assistant features editor for the Mercury News and, like Weimers, a former Spartan Daily editor. "When he walked out of the Mercury News on his retirement day, he walked out to a standing ovation from the entire newsroom, and lots of tears." 
    Weimers began his career as a general assignment reporter in 1958, when San Jose's population was 148,200. He started writing a column for the paper in 1965. 
    Raised in Napa, Weimers graduated in 1957 from San Jose State University, where he edited the Spartan Daily. After his retirement from the paper, he continued to write for a local magazine and on his blog.
UPDATE, FRIDAY (8/31) 11 A.M.: Here's the obit Sal Pizarro of the Merc posted:
    He was known as "Mr. San Jose" in part because he knew everyone but mostly because of his sincere belief in the city's ability to become a great metropolitan area. He was a founding member of the Silicon Valley Capital Club and a member of the downtown San Jose Rotary Club for more than 30 years.
And here's a link to Leigh's final column on Nov. 13, 2005. He ended the column by talking about what he planned to do next:
    On a personal level, people ask what I'm going to do now that my 47-year Mercury career is ending. I tell them, two things for sure: In the morning I'm going to turn off the alarm. And when I do get up, I'll start practicing the piano. All and any future projects still are under consideration, but I've always wanted to spiff up my piano skills, and now I'll have time to do that. If I can become a halfway decent saloon pianist, I'll be very happy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Students oppose cuts to Berkeley High paper

The Daily Cal reports that dozens of Berkeley High School students and supporters of that school's student newspaper appeared before the school board on Wednesday (Aug. 22) to protest cuts in the student journalism program. Principal Pasquale Scuderi said the cuts are planned because enrollment in the journalism class, which supports the student-run Berkeley High Jacket newspaper, is down.

Harpers prints devastating profile of Singleton

Dean Singleton is no longer running the MediaNews Group chain of 56 newspapers, such as the San Jose Mercury News, but he’s still publisher of the Denver Post and the company's executive chairman. And, according to a profile in the September issue of Harper’s Magazine, he’s using his position in Colorado to push his political views.

The Harpers story by Dave Sirota says the Denver Post has become so bastardized that it ran a profile of Singleton that called him “the Superman of the American newspaper industry.”

Here are the links:
    • If you want to pay $16.97 for a one-year subscription to Harpers to read the story, here’s the link.

    • In Humboldt, Calif., where Singleton ran a competitor out of business and then gutted the newsroom of the paper he controlled, a blog has posted this review of the Harpers article that uses an unkind term to describe Singleton. Apparently people don’t like him in that town.

    • Here’s an article Sirota wrote in the August edition of Harpers about Singleton, titled “The Citizen Kane Era Returns.” It gives a taste of the complaints Sirota has about Singleton.

    • The Denver Post’s longtime TV columnist, Joanne Ostrow, defended Singleton against Sirota’s criticisms. Ostrow points out that Sirota’s contract with the paper was terminated.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Stan Burford to retire after long career

Traffic reporter Stan Burford is retiring Sept. 28 after 51 years in the Bay Area broadcasting business, including 32 years at KGO-AM.

"I've achieved everything over the years that I've set out to do and my various roles have been extremely rewarding. Now, I'll get to spend more time with my wife and family," he said.

In the 1960s, he was the traffic reporter on radio powerhouse KSFO, a station headed up by icons such as Don Sherwood and Jim Lange. But Burford lost his job after a joke he made on the air rubbed Sherwood the wrong way, according to his bio in the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Northern California newsletter.

He went on to bigger and better things including jobs at KPIX, Metromedia's KNEW Channel 32 and Kaiser's KBHK Channel 44. He would eventually head the production department at KGO-TV, where he oversaw 22 producers, 19 directors and a dozen production assistants. He also was an executive with a production company that made shows for the Disney Channel and PBS.

In 1988, he returned to KGO TV and began reporting traffic from the Sky7 helicopter, and he was on the air, and in the air, when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit on Oct. 17, 1989.

"I was in a plane over Berkeley at the time," he told the NATAS Norcal newsletter. "I flew until 1 a.m. the next morning. I reportred what I saw below — the detours, the devastation — for days. Those were four days of my life I will never forget. ...

"It was important for me at the time to get information out over the air. ... The status of the Bay Bridge, the freeways ... where you could go, where you couldn't go," Burford said.

Burford has won 14 Emmy awards and 10 RTNDA awards, and is a member of the Bay Area Broadcast Legends. (Photo credit: KGO-AM)

College of San Mateo newspaper adviser retires after classes supporting paper are canceled

Ed Remitz, the faculty adviser behind the muckraking student newspaper at the College of San Mateo, announced his retirement Friday (Aug. 18), a few days after he learned that four of the five journalism classes he taught were canceled this fall.

The student newspaper, The San Matean, often went head-to-head with college administrators, questioning how money was spent and the secrecy behind those decisions.

Administrators said the courses supporting the paper were canceled due to a lack of enrollment this year, although there had been similar problems with low enrollment in previous years.

More broadly, Remeitz felt The San Matean taught its young journalists to question authority and ask tough questions of powerful decision-makers.

But Remitz said that school officials told him that The San Matean — which was entirely produced by students, with no editing by Remitz — contained too many typographical errors and didn't present a positive image of the tax-supported San Mateo County Community College District.

"Every effort should be made by a college to protect its journalism program and I don't think every effort was made here to save it," Remitz told the Daily Post.

Remitz had taught at CSM for 23 years. Previously he was a reporter at the Sacramento Union newspaper. He's also a member of the board of the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Student starts petition to save newspaper

The San Mateo Daily Journal reports that a former editor of the College of San Mateo student newspaper has launched a petition drive to save that student publication. The college, part of the tax-funded San Mateo County Community College District, has decided to eliminate the classes that support The San Matean due to low enrollment.

“We are collecting signatures because we want to show how many people truly care about The San Matean,” former editor Kayla Figard said in an email to the Daily Journal. “We are also hoping to use it as a tool where people can comment and share what kind of impact the San Matean had on them. It may not get CSM to reinstate the classes but at least it will show how many people were impacted by the San Matean.”

Here's a link to the petition. 

The president of the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club, Marshall Wilson, has offered to speak with college officials as to why the classes were canceled and to offer assistance in reviving the journalism program or to continue journalism education at CSM and the publication of the San Matean as a club activity.

“The College of San Mateo has run an excellent journalism program for many years and it is extremely unfortunate that classes were canceled,” Wilson said. “Journalism teaches students to ask tough questions and to dig into important issues. Journalism also teaches students the craft of writing, an extremely important skill in this information age. All public institutions are facing difficult decisions due to budget constraints.”

(The San Matean's faculty adviser is Ed Remitz, who is a member of the Press Club's board.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

College axes journalism classes

The College of San Mateo has canceled all journalism classes that support the college newspaper for the fall semester, leaving the fate of the well-regarded student publication up in the air, the Palo Alto Daily Post reported today (Aug. 15). The following is from the Post's report:
    Students with the paper have clashed with the administration previously over the future of the classes and over what they say were its attempts to control some of the paper’s reporting.
    Journalism professor Ed Remitz said he was “disappointed and puzzled” at the college’s decision, which he learned about on Monday. ...
    College President Michael Claire told the Post last night that all four classes lacked sufficient enrollment. The college wanted each class to have around 20 students, and they weren’t remotely close, he said. 
    Remitz acknowledged that underenrollment has been a chronic problem. He said that in the 23 years he’s taught at the school, he’s never seen 20 students enroll in any one of those classes. ...
    But he said the program which produces The San Matean student newspaper has been extremely successful, earning a slew of awards — including one from the Society of Professional Journalists that papers from two-year schools almost never win. 
    "We have very high standards and are involved in very serious competitions,” he said. 
    He said The San Matean is produced on an unusually low budget for a community college newspaper — $4,600 compared to $16,000 for the typical community college paper.
    The college has produced The San Matean since 1928.
    Claire, the college president, said the canceling of the classes did not necessarily mean axing the paper. He said students could form a club and run The San Matean. He also said students will be offered the journalism classes at Skyline College as an alternative. 
    Claire said the college has lost 22% of its now $28 million budget over the past four years, making hard choices inevitable. Other classes have also been cut for low enrollment, he said. 
    “I kind of saw it coming,” said Kayla Figard, who was executive editor of the paper last year.
    She said the administration had issues with the way the paper reported some budget cuts at the school, which led to some tense meetings between the student editors and some administrators.
    Claire disagreed, characterizing one of those meetings as officials offering the students friendly advice. 
    "I think they saw that they had a good reason to cut the program now because (of the low enrollment),” Figard said. “It’s really disappointing.” 
    She said she’d been contacted by people who saw her articles and then wanted to take the journalism classes and write for the newspaper. 
    "People really wanted to take that class,” she said. “They wanted to get that experience they won’t get anywhere else.”
(The San Matean's faculty adviser is Ed Remitz, who is a member of the Press Club's board.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Peninsula columnist Kreitman enters hospice

Keith Kreitman — a columnist who wrote about politics, theater and other subjects for the Daily Journal in San Mateo for the past six years — has entered a hospice at the VA in Palo Alto.

Journal Editor Jon Mays reports that while Kreitman is in good spirits, he can no longer write a column, though he “has found plenty of people with whom to share his viewpoints.”

Mays writes:
    Keith is also a heck of a nice guy, with a cutting humor in even the most dire of situations. At the VA, he remarked how he is often prodded and poked and how a pair of nurses asked him where he would like his head. “I’d like it to remain on my shoulders, if I could.” 
    While Keith will no longer be writing for the Daily Journal, he made an impact on the community and on the staff here at the newspaper. I thank him for his service.

Redwood City publisher Steve Penna raises $4,000 for Police Athletic League

Alex and Cherlene Write give Steve Penna, center, a cupcake.
Steve Penna, owner of Redwood City’s Spectrum Magazine, celebrated his 54th birthday by requesting that guests at his party donate to that city’s Police Activities League instead of giving him presents. That resulted in $4,000 donations to the PAL, according to Patch Redwood City. Patch says local politicians who turned out for Penna’s bash included Redwood City council members Ian Bain, Rosanne Foust, Jeff Gee and John Seybert, city staff members Bob Bell, Silvia Vonderlinden and Chris Beth, and state assemblymen Jerry Hill and Rich Gordon. (Photo credit: By James Kaspar, from Patch)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

KCBS veteran George Harris dies at 61

Longtime KCBS Radio reporter George Harris died on Monday night of kidney failure, according to this Facebook post by KCBS colleague Bob Butler. Harris was 61.

"He was unflappable on the air and was known as the best breaking news reporter in the Bay Area," Butler writes.

Harris began his broadcasting career in 1975 at stations in Portland and later Seattle. His KCBS bio says he started at that station in 1987 as an anchor and reporter. He became the station's San Jose bureau chief in 1996. He retired in March 2011.

Highlights of Harris’ career include coverage of the Mt. St. Helens explosion, the Loma Prieta Earthquake, the East Bay Hills fire and the riots in South Central Los Angeles.

Harris also worked in TV, first at KING-TV in Seattle and was a part-time anchor for KRON.

Harris lived in Hayward.

(Harris' death was first reported by San Francisco media blogger Rich Lieberman.)

Roberta Gonzales moved to weekends

While Roberta Gonzales is being replaced as the weeknight weather anchor at KPIX CBS5, but she won't be leaving the station.

She said on her Facebook page on Friday that she has been in talks for the past five months to develop a new position in which she would report on the weather. A press release Tuesday from CBS5 said she will do weekend weather and have additional reporting responsibilities during the week.

"I want to thank all of you for your love and support during this time of change," Gonzales writes on FB. "And I need all of you to give me your ideas on weather stories."

As we reported on Friday, CBS5 has hired the No. 2 meteorologist at Seattle’s KOMO Paul Deanno to replace Gonzales as weeknight weather anchor. Gonzales has been at KPIX for 16 years and became the weeknight anchor in July 2007, replacing Samantha Mohr, who went on to the WeatherChannel.

A CBS5 press release on Tuesday said:
    Roberta Gonzales is taking on a new role anchoring weekend weathercasts, with additional weather reporting responsibilities in the field during the week. Gonzales has brought a unique blend of talent and enthusiasm to morning and evening news for many years at CBS 5 and CW Bay Area, and she has been extensively involved in the community. 
    “I am very excited both to welcome Paul and to have Roberta in a dynamic new role,” said Dan Rosenheim, Vice President and News Director. “With Paul, Roberta, and morning weather anchor Lawrence Karnow, we have three exceptionally talented weathercasters, and we will now be the only station in the Bay Area with three full time staff weather anchors.”

Chevron ads play during fire coverage

During last night's coverage of the Chevron refinery explosion and fire in Richmond, All News KCBS aired a spot for Chevron at 7:26 p.m. The commercial, part of the oil company's "We Agree" campaign, touted the benefits of fracking. At 10:13 p.m., during Channel 2's coverage of the explosion, they also aired a Chevron "We Agree" spot. Doesn't anybody check the commercial log anymore?

A glimpse into Frank Sommerville's off-camera life

This photo on Channel 2 anchor Frank Sommerville’s Facebook wall is generating a lot of interest. It shows him patiently taking out the braids in his daughter’s hair. The SFGate’s Mommy Files writes:
    The photo resonated with Sommerville’s fans because it captured one of those daily moments that parents often come to value most — and it showed a white father bonding with his black daughter. 
    Frank’s daughter Callie is adopted and he says, “If someone were to ask me what I am most proud of in my life it is that we adopted Callie. Every day I can see the difference we made in her life, and everyday I experience the difference she’s made in ours.” 
    The image received over 18,000 likes, 3,600 shares and 2,000 comments.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Number of stolen news racks rises to 100

A Daily Post rack found in the
back lot at the Merc. Post photo.
The number of stolen news racks in the South Bay is up to 100 and the Merc is changing its story about how the racks ended up on its property. Here's KTVU's report from tonight's "10'O Clock News."
(Usual disclosure: the editor of the Press Club's Facebook page is me, Dave Price, the editor, co-publisher and co-owner of the Daily Post. The Merc took some of the Post's racks.)

CBS5 replaces Roberta Gonzales

CBS5 has decided to replace Roberta Gonzales as its main weather anchor with the No. 2 meteorologist at Seattle’s KOMO, Paul Deanno.

The move was first reported by media blogger Rich Liberman and now by others, such as the CCTimes' Chuck Barney.

Barney quotes sources as saying Gonzales contract is up and CBS5 has offered her a lesser role as its weekend weathercaster. She has yet to accept that offer. Barney says that a source at the station says Gonzales "has never been a favorite" of CBS 5 news director Dan Rosenheim, despite her high profile in the community and prolific charity work.

Lieberman put it more bluntly:
    “This move seems to be, early on, a direct power play by [KPIX news director, Dan Rosenheim], who likes to pick and choose his players. He's good buddies with sports anchor, Dennis O'Donnell, and has pushed hard for fellow weather bud, Brian Hackney. In fact, it was widely rumored that Rosenheim wanted Hackney to do weeknight weather and push Gonzales over to the weekend. 
    This much is clear. Gonzales, in addition to being a popular personality with Bay Area viewers, is also an active charity participant. Frankly, this move by PIX befuddles me and is sure to draw the ire of many of its core viewers, most notably, women. And yes, of course, men too.
Money is likely an issue too, since several of the station’s anchors and reporters have been forced to take pay cuts as local TV revenues continue to decline. That’s a familiar story at every local TV station.

Metro says Merc's lying about taking news racks

Dan Pulcrano, owner of San Jose's Metro, has this posted a point by point response to the Mercury News' claims about the discovery of its competitors' newspaper racks in a Merc dumpster. Again, my usual disclosure. The editor of the Press Club's webpage is Dave Price, editor, publisher and co-owner of the Palo Alto Daily Post. The Merc took at least three Post racks.

Competitors' news racks found in back lot of San Jose Mercury News, police investigate

San Jose police have opened an investigation of the Mercury News after dozens of newspaper racks from competing publications were found in the Merc’s back lot.

The company Circulation Management, which distributes free publications, discovered the racks on Wednesday. Many had been thrown into a metal recycling bin.

CBS5's live shot from outside the Merc

Publishers of San Jose Metro and the Palo Alto Daily Post said they never gave the Merc permission to handle their newsracks, yet their racks were found on Merc property.

Merc VP David Rounds says his employees, when they confiscated the racks, were simply responding to complaints from cities about news rack problems, and that taking the racks to help the cities is a standard procedure.

But when the Daily Post contacted Mountain View, Menlo Park and Palo Alto’s code enforcement personnel, they said that if they have a problem with a news rack, they would contact the owner of the rack, not a competitor of the rack’s owner.

(Full disclosure: The editor of the Press Club’s website is Dave Price, who is co-publisher of the Daily Post.)

Here’s how various media outlets covered this story:

KTVU made it the top story on its Thursday, Aug. 2, “10 O’Clock News.”

San Jose, a news site owned by Metro, one of the paper’s whose racks were taken by the Merc.

News media blogger Jim Romenesko posted the first online report about this controversy and included text from the Daily Post, which isn’t available online.

CBS 5, whose headline is "Competitors Find Their Newsracks Behind Mercury News Offices"