Editor's Note  | American Journalism Review
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From AJR,   December/January 2006

Editor's Note   

Online Exclusive Posted Dec. 19, 2006

By Rem Rieder
Rem Rieder (rrieder@ajr.umd.edu) is AJR's editor and senior vice president.      

As has been reported, the owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press is suing AJR senior writer Susan Paterno for defamation over an article Paterno wrote about the paper in AJR's December/January issue.

The article was very carefully reported. It was thoroughly fact-checked. And it accurately reflects the feelings and opinions of many people who have worked in that newsroom.

Paterno made every effort to solicit comment from the paper's owner, Wendy McCaw, and other top executives at the paper. They declined through a spokesperson. When Paterno continued to try to seek comment, she received a letter from a lawyer for the paper warning her to discontinue her efforts.

Filing such a lawsuit against a writer is an effort to intimidate those interested in reporting what has happened at that troubled newspaper. That such a suit would be filed by a newspaper owner is particularly disturbing.