Thursday, December 4, 2008

does the exception prove the rule?

Or does it refute it?

The conventional wisdom when it comes to journalism is that corporate-owned media is the great Satan. Certainly, you can find some truth there.

But the dirty little secret is that independent, or family-owned, media is not always the antidote.

One case in point: Wendy McCaw, uber-rich owner and publisher of the Santa Barbara News Press, who has proven yet again that a news organization that is owned by someone who answers to no one can be its own version of journalism hell.

Back in 2006, McCaw drew the wrath of journalists all over the world when she breached the church-state wall by, among other things, interfering in editorial decisions and showing the door to folks who disagreed with her. Many others simply walked.

Read all about in American Journalism Review.

And now, three weeks before Christmas, she has summarily shut down the Goleta Valley Voice, a sattelite paper that covered the nearby town of Goleta, as well as Valley Living, which covered the Santa Ynez Valley, another nearby community. It was a cost-cutting move. In a piece for the Santa Barbara Independent, Matt Kettman writes: "By closing the two papers, the News-Press was able to lay off 17 employees. The two papers will be 'incorporated and expanded' into the daily newspaper under this 'new operational structure.'”

Those 17 employees, however, will not be part of it. bk

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