Monday, March 31, 2014

Thieves take equipment from KTVU van

The Chronicle is reporting that thieves broke into a KTVU news van parked in Oakland's Fruitvale District on Sunday and stole camera equipment. It was the latest in a series of crimes targeting the media in Oakland. The theft happened after Reporter Katie Utehs and photojournalist Jacob Unger parked their van in a lot at 35th Avenue and East 12th Street at about 10:45 a.m. Sunday to cover an event. When they returned to the van, they found that someone had smashed the locks on the passenger side and stolen a LiveU portable camera-backpack system used for live broadcasting, a laptop computer, a tripod and other gear.

Metro Newspapers buys papers in Santa Cruz, Gilroy, Morgan Hill and Hollister

Metro Newspapers, publisher of the Metro alt-weekly in San Jose, is buying four MainStreet Media Group newspapers: Santa Cruz Good Times, the Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Free Lance and Morgan Hill Times.

Terms were not announced.

Metro principal owner Dan Pulcrano told the San Jose Business Journal that there were multiple bidders for the properties and that his group paid for the purchase with private investment and other financing that he declined to describe. He said the papers he bought are profitable.

"We believe the South County is a very good area to be in, with a lot of potential growth," Pulcrano said.

Pulcrano said he plans to seek local investors for each of the titles to create additional bonds with those communities.

In Santa Cruz, Metro, which already owns the Santa Cruz Weekly, is acquiring its primary competitor, the 39-year-old weekly Good Times. Starting next week, the Weekly and Good Times will be combined into one publication under the title "Santa Cruz Good Times, incorporating the Santa Cruz Weekly."

Pulcrano told the Santa Cruz Sentinel that he would be retaining "the majority of both staffs," but declined to state who would be the editor of the new product.

Currently, Greg Archer is the editor of Good Times, which has a staff of 19; Steve Palopoli of the Santa Cruz Weekly. Good Times publisher Ron Slack told the Sentinel that he would "probably" not be retained.

"We're actually excited about the future of print," said Pulcrano. "It has shown tremendous resilience. Even during the last 20 years of digital media, weeklies seem to have been the survivors."

Slack told the Sentinel that once MainStreet Media sold its papers in San Diego in late 2013, he knew that Good Times was also on the market. He said that he tried to put together a local investment group to purchase Good Times, but was unsuccessful, partly because the Gilroy and Morgan Hill papers were to be part of any sale.

Here's the press release from Metro Newspapers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

San Jose City Council offers incentives to lure Mercury News to downtown

The Mercury News, which has sold its building at Brokaw Road and I-880, is looking for a new home for its newsroom and business departments, and San Jose officials are trying to lure the paper to move downtown.

They're hoping a parking incentive program that would save the paper $864,000 over five years will do the trick.

Mayor Chuck Reed said the Merc would be a "marquee tenant" downtown.

"They do buy ink by the barrel, still," Reed said.

The Merc said in today's edition that it is still exploring other office space around Silicon Valley and hasn't yet committed to a downtown move.

Under the offer approved by council Tuesday, the Merc would get 160 of its 200 spaces for free for four years and at half-price in the fifth year, while all the spots would be the full $100 monthly price in the following 2½ years.

College backtracks on policy restricting employees from talking to reporters

Skyline College in San Bruno is backing off a policy that required employees to go through the public relations department before answering media questions, the San Mateo Daily Journal reported Wednesday.

The student newspaper, The Skyline View, complained in an editorial that the policy restricted all faculty and staff from speaking to reporters for any reason.

“This stops the flow of information at the very place we need to access it, our teachers and our mentors,” the editorial stated. “Without being able to ask questions we are losing the edge that makes us journalists. In this new system we would have to e-mail our questions to the Office of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations.”

The Daily Journal reported Tuesday that the head of the teachers union, Teeka James, objected to the policy, too.

“It’s a perfect example of prior restraint on employee speech,” she said. “An employee has the right to say their experience in the college. … It still has the effect of chilling conversation and making employees feel like they’ll be in trouble if they speak to the press. It’s unclear if it’s just a recommendation, but that’s the way people are perceiving it.”

A memo sent to employees last week said, “Please do not agree to conduct an interview with a member of the media. If you are asked to be interviewed, please gather information on what the nature of the interview is, get the questions the reporter plans to ask in writing and consult (Marketing Director) Cherie Colin.”

The memo advised employees not to “talk off the record with a reporter. Nothing is off-record when speaking to the media.”

Colin told the Daily Journal that the policy was designed to protect the brand of Skyline College, which is part of the tax-funded San Mateo County Community College District.

The college said last week’s memo simply restated a policy that had been in effect since 2006, though union head James said the policy was news to everyone she knew. After the Journal’s story on Tuesday, college administrators sent out an email apologizing. They said they would reevaluate the policy.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Jack Russell, San Mateo Times reporter, columnist, editor, Press Club co-founder, dead at 87

John Henry "Jack" Russell, who worked for the San Mateo Times for 39 years and was co-founder of the Peninsula Press Club, died Saturday (March 15) at age 87, according to an obit in the San Mateo Daily Journal.

Russell was born in San Jose, graduated from Fremont High School in Cupertino and served in World War II as an infantry Sergeant. After the war, he enrolled at San Jose State University and became editor of the Spartan Daily newspaper, where he met the love of his life, Marion Summers. They married in 1951.

He started at the San Mateo Times in 1952 where he was a reporter, columnist and editor. He retired in 1991.

"He was a wealth of knowledge," said Micki Carter, who worked with Russell at the paper. "He was really such a sweet guy. He had an excellent sense of news."

Carter, former managing editor of the Times, described Russell as a people person, saying that he would always look for "the story behind the story."

"He was in the newspaper business back in the days when it was fun; when people actually depended on print for their information," said Carter, who taught journalism at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont from 1996 to 2012.

John Horgan, a columnist for the San Mateo County Times who worked with Russell for almost 30 years, echoed Carter's sentiments.

"That generation, by and large, existed in completely different era for journalism," Horgan said. "I guess you could call it the golden years."

Horgan said Russell was well versed on a variety of different subjects, which is one thing that made him a good editor.

Russell was on scene for some of the biggest news stories of the last half century, including the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, child star Shirley Temple Black's bid for Congress in 1967 and the 1964 Republican National Convention at San Francisco's Cow Palace.

Horgan remembered Russell as a sports enthusiast who loved boxing long after the sport's heyday had come and gone.

"He was very bright, he was very well read," Horgan said. "He appreciated art, he appreciated good writing."

He said Russell was a Democrat back in the days when the majority of voters in San Mateo County were Republicans. "When he was a younger man back in the 50s and 60s, San Mateo County was very conservative. It is nothing like it is now," Horgan said. "A Democrat couldn't get elected back then."

In April 1963, Russell co-founded the Peninsula Press Club (now the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club). He was the first president of the club. Other founding members were vice president John Kane from the Redwood City Tribune, treasurer Vince Mager from the South San Francisco Enterprise Journal, secretary Mary Jane Clinton from the San Mateo Times, and program chairman Bob Foster from the Times.

He served as vice president of the San Francisco-Oakland Newspaper Guild.

Russell, a Belmont resident, was a member of the Sons in Retirement Branch 90 and a 10-gallon blood bank donor at Peninsula Memorial Blood Bank.

He is survived by his children Kevin Russell, Valerie Russell, Tracy Stoehr and his grandchildren Caleb Hanscom, Catherine and William Stoehr.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Belmont at 10 a.m. Friday, March 21, followed by a private interment. Due to Lent, no flowers please.

A public visitation will also be held on Thursday, March 20 from 6-8 p.m. at Crippen and Flynn Carlmont Chapel in Belmont. (Photo credit: Micki Carter)

Friday, March 14, 2014

March 2014 Press Club board minutes

March 12, 2014, San Mateo Daily Journal Offices  

PRESENT: Kristy Blackburn, Peter Cleaveland, Darryl Compton, Laura Dudnick, Antonia Ehlers, Jon Mays, Melissa McRobbie, Dave Price, Ed Remitz, Marshall Wilson, Special Guest Jim Watson

OPEN BOARD SEAT: Jim Watson from the Foster City Islander is our special guest Board members met Jim Watson, who bought the Foster City Islander in January 2013 and is interested in becoming a board member. Board members explained purpose of club is to promote a sense of press community, as well as help with the transition into the online arena while recognizing the value of print. Board also outlined the major Press Club undertakings (awards contest/h.s. boot camp/h.s. awards contest/scholarships).

Jim told the board about his journey from studying engineering and going into sales, to working for The Boulder Shopper in Nev and then moving to CA and taking over the Foster City Islander. Plans for the Islander include expanding it to 12 pages (if not more) and making it more profitable than it currently has become. The board approved the motion to regretfully accept Melissa McRobbie’s resignation because she is moving to Grant’s Pass, Ore. (Jon Mays motioned, Peter Cleaveland seconded). The board also approved the motion to move Dave Price from Director to Secretary (Peter Cleaveland motioned, Melissa McRobbie seconded). The board currently has two director positions open, and discussed various people to approach.

FINANCE/MEMBERSHIP: Darryl Compton provided an update on the state of the club’s finances. We had a large drop in entries for the awards contest, mostly because the Mercury News pulled out and did not pay for their reporters to enter the contest. Many categories had a decrease in the number of entries, except for the Broadband/Web category. The idea of offering a free entry was good marketing, but did not really net us that many new members. Even though we have $12,000 in savings account, we need to figure out a more sustainable model for the contest for next year. Darryl also reminded board members to pay their dues as well.  

AWARDS BANQUET: We have a hold on the Crowne Plaza for Saturday, May 31. Keynote speaker? The board approved a motion to reserve the Crowne Plaza for Saturday, May 31 (Marshall Wilson moved, Laura Dudnick seconded). Darryl informed the board that due to the open call option for the contest, some independent reporters submitted entries to categories that may not have existed for a certain medium (for example, putting a sports column in broadband even though it should have been in writing). Board agreed to leave the entries as is for the judging.

The board discussed Ideas for a keynote speaker and if the lifetime achievement award was a one-off or an annual presentation. Possibilities for keynote speakers: Jon Mays suggested some of the Wall Street Journal/All Things D reporters who are in the Bay Area: Reed Albergotti, who wrote a book about the Armstrong doping scandal and has the Facebook beat; Scott Thurm; and Jonathan Krim. Laura suggested Marcia Parker, who is currently working with Slate, as well as her husband Bob Porterfield who’s won a Pulitzer. Melissa McRobbie suggested Vic Lee as a possible Lifetime Achievement Award winner in the future. Jon Mays offers to follow up with Reed Albergotti to see if he is interested/available.

The board also thinks that having someone from YouTube or Facebook present at the next Boot Camp would be worth following up on at a future meeting. High School Journalism Contest: Entry Deadline is 3/14 (Judges needed) Darryl Compton reported that we currently have entries from Carlmont, Aragon, Gunn and Convent of the Sacred Heart High School in San Francisco (Tracy Sena).

He asked for board members to help judge the contest once all the entries have been submitted. Depending on the number of features entries, they may be split among different judges to faciitate the judging. The board also set a date for the High School Awards Ceremony — Marshall will contact the Old Courthouse in Redwood City to see if May 1st or May 22nd are available for the awards ceremony.  

HIGH SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP DEADLINE: 4/15 Darryl Compton asked for assistance in getting the scholarship info out to the college students. Ed Remitz offered to send him some contact info for local advisers at the college level. Ed Remitz suggested that the board make it clearer in the scholarship application that students should submit a variety of articles, including news articles. Darryl Compton recommended that Ed Remitz revise the language and send it to the board for approval so that the new requirements could be instituted this year. The board agreed this was a good course of action.  

HAYWARD HIGH GRANT/KARSTEN BARNES: The board revisited the grant from Karsten Barnes submitted in the fall of 2013. Marshall Wilson will follow up with Karsten about what the money will be used for. Darryl Compton suggested that we limit the grant to $500. Marshall Wilson will report back to the board via email with the information that he gets from Karsten Barnes.  

JUDGING: Milwaukee Press Club Judging Due This Friday. Ed Remitz reported that he had issues accessing the system but that they got resolved. Marshall Wilson reported that he followed up with the contest organizer because of the inconsistent entries in his category.  

NEWSLETTER: Laura Dudnick requested materials ASAP for the newsletter so that she can send out another newsletter soon.  

OTHER BUSINESS: Ed Remitz brought up the student intern issue and whether we would be able to offer a stipend to a student who could help with the website. The board agreed to return to this issue in September.

The meeting was adjourned at 8 p.m. Respectfully submitted, Kristy Blackburn

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Joel Brinkley, former NYT reporter, Pulitzer winner and Stanford teacher, dead at 61

Joel Brinkley, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who spent 23 years at The New York Times and moved to Palo Alto in 2006 to teach journalism at Stanford, died on Tuesday (March 11) at age 61.

He died at a hospital in Washington, his wife Sabra Chartrand confirmed to the AP today. The cause of death was acute undiagnosed leukemia which led to respiratory failure from pneumonia, Chartrand said.

Brinkley, who began his career at the AP in Charlotte, N.C., in 1975, won the Pulitzer Prize while a reporter at The Louisville Courier-Journal. He and photographer Jay Mather shared the prize for stories about the fall of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime.

He was also a Pulitzer finalist in 1982 in local investigative specialized reporting.

Brinkley left Stanford late last year to become a tactical adviser to John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

Brinkley's father, TV news anchor David Brinkley, died in 2003. A brother, Alan Brinkley, is a noted American History professor at Columbia University.

According to the Times, Brinkley was aware of his father’s long shadow and the questions it might raise in the minds of people first meeting another journalist of the same surname.

“I am not related to Christie,” he would volunteer.

Deadline near for high school contest

Friday, March 14, is the deadline to enter the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club's high school journalism contest, sponsored by Hillsdale Shopping Center. Awards will be presented at a reception in early May. Here's a link to the Call for Entries (PDF) (Word).

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New newspaper planned in Los Angeles

The owner of the Orange County Register, Freedom Communications Inc., plans to launch its latest venture, the Los Angeles Register, on April 16.

AP reports that the new publication is part of an ambitious expansion driven by Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz, who bought Freedom in 2012. The pair bulked up on newsroom staff at the Orange County Register, launched a new daily newspaper in Long Beach in August and bought the Press-Enterprise in Riverside in October.

Freedom said that the "community building" newspaper will cost $1.50 on weekdays and $2 on Saturday and Sunday and be distributed at 7,500 locations around Los Angeles County. That's roughly the same price as the Times.

Freedom also said it will launch more than a dozen monthly newspapers serving specific towns along the coast and as far east as Pomona, about 30 miles from Los Angeles. It said details on the monthlies will be available in the coming weeks.

State Supreme Court leans toward naming police officers in shootings

The Los Angeles Times reports that the California Supreme Court appeared inclined during a hearing March 4 to rule that the public has the right to know the names of police officers involved in shootings. During oral arguments, most members of the court seemed skeptical of contentions by police agencies that officer names must be kept secret because disclosure could jeopardize officer safety and involve protected police personnel matters.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, whose husband is a retired police lieutenant, suggested that the California Public Records Act contains a presumption in favor of disclosure and does not provide for blanket exemptions.

Justice Marvin R. Baxter questioned whether police agencies would refuse to release the names of officers involved in acts of heroism. And Justice Goodwin Liu noted that officers wear nameplates indentifying them to the public.

The case stems from a 2010 Public Records Act request by Los Angeles Times reporter Richard Winton to the city of Long Beach. Winton wanted the names of officers involved in shootings during the prior five years. The police union fought the request, losing at trial and at the appeals court.

The union was joined by other police unions across the state, saying state law bars disclosure of the names of officers involved in on-duty shootings.

A ruling by the court is expected within 90 days.