It has been 10 years since the owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press, Wendy McCaw, declared war on her own newsroom staff and forced dozens to leave or choose between journalism or covering her friends her way. Some veterans of the News-Press meltdown and friends gathered over the weekend for a 10-year reunion.
I summarized the News-Mess situation in my 2006 end-of-year roundup:
It's a little outside our usual geography, but this year's drama at the Santa Barbara News-Press became one of the saddest media stories of the year. Owner Wendy McCaw had a nice little paper, far better than its low circulation deserved, and a newsroom stocked with real pros who loved coming to work. Then McCaw, her boyfriend and their editorial page gofer got ticked off over coverage of the gofer's drunk driving arrest and stories that were too fair to their political enemies. When the dust settled, just about every experienced journalist on staff had resigned or been fired, those who remained had formed a union, the National Labor Relations Board had filed charges and McCaw had become a national symbol for unethical journalism. Other than that, everything's fine.
Jerry Roberts, the genial editor who was persecuted by McCaw and who finally won damages for his treatment, writes the Capitol Letters column for the Santa Barbara Independent and is co-editor of the politics blog Calbuzz. If you remember, there was a time when she sued him for $25 million. She lost, eventually.
Previously on LA Observed:
Former News-Press editor gives piece of settlement to good journalism
Jerry Roberts may finally have won in Santa Barbara
News-Press ordered to pay Jerry Roberts $748,000
Wendy McCaw gets SLAPPed
Big layoffs at Santa Barbara News-Mess
Sold out in Santa Barbara
News-Mess union becomes official
'Grim saga for Santa Barbara'
Three Five Six more News-Press reporters fired
News-Press reporters tape mouths shut
News-Press reporters unionize, confront publisher
Media massacre in Santa Barbara