AJR  Letters
From AJR,   February/March 2007

Santa Barbara Saga   

By Unknown

Your article in AJR was the BEST I have seen on the Santa Barbara News-Press mess ("Santa Barbara Smackdown," December/January). You tell what it was like to be in the newsroom as these events unfolded, giving your story a human dimension (and a sad one). I hope someday you'll be able to write a happy ending to it, but for now your piece stands as the definitive one.

Lou Cannon
Retired Washington Post correspondent
Summerland, California

Susan Paterno's piece on the train wreck at the Santa Barbara News-Press was the most masterful account yet written about that sad, incredible mess. She vividly demonstrated how local ownership of a newspaper, although appealing in the abstract, is no guarantee of enlightened management and good journalism. When Wendy McCaw bought the News-Press, I was a panelist at a town meeting where people cheered the departure of the big, bad out-of-town owners (the New York Times Co.). Nobody was much impressed with my remarks, in which I cautioned that they should hold their applause until they found out whether Ms. McCaw was most interested in putting out a good newspaper or using it to promote her own agenda(s).

Noel Greenwood
Retired senior editor
Los Angeles Times
Santa Barbara, California

I just read your piece about the Santa Barbara News-Press in AJR and felt compelled to write you. I'm among the many who quit in the wake of Hurricane McCaw. I landed on my feet, fortunately, but still think back in sadness over what happened--and continues to happen--because for a while, as former Editor Jerry Roberts said, there was something very special going on in that newsroom. Your story reflected that. It was dead-on, beautifully written and for myself as well as, I'd guess, for everyone who's been touched by this mess, it was an emotionally-charged read that was much needed.

Thank you, truly.

Shelly Leachman
Education reporter
Daily Breeze
Torrance, California

I just finished your article on the News-Press mess, and found it the best single piece on this heart-breaking abdication of our daily newspaper (and I have read them all, believe me). I've been reading the News-Press since 1964, and it was never better than the last few years.

Randy Campbell
Santa Barbara Independent
Santa Barbara, California

Just a quick note to say "thanks!" for your fine story reviewing the disaster at our local paper.

As a Santa Barbara area resident since '57, I remember its former owner-publisher Thomas Storke and his early afternoon strolls through De la Guerra Plaza on his way to martinis at the El Paseo Bar & Restaurant across the street. I used to do concert and record reviews (back when they were flat, black, round things with holes in the center) for the paper. When the New York Times Co. took it over, I enjoyed the new slant on articles but was disappointed at the lack of more local reporting.

The Jerry Roberts era was great. After 40 years, I am no longer a subscriber. What does one do without a local newspaper? Man, it's tough!

Anyway, thanks for the good writing and your interest in this issue.

Peter Feldmann
Los Olivos, California

Just a note of thanks for the great article on the situation in Santa Barbara. While I don't know any of those folks personally, I feel awful for them.

This business has long had to deal with attacks from those we cover, and now newspaper journalists have to deal with the incredible economic forces that are battering our profession.

But the insane thing about Santa Barbara is that the damage is entirely self-inflicted.

Michael Griffin
Deputy Editorial Page Editor
Orlando Sentinel
Orlando, Florida

What a terrific and terrifically disheartening article!

Regardless, you have my admiring thanks.

Morton Mintz
Retired Washington Post reporter
Washington, D.C.