Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Santa Barbara Publisher Fires Back at Lou Cannon in Op-Ed

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Santa Barbara Publisher Fires Back at Lou Cannon in Op-Ed

Article excerpt

Two weeks after author Lou Cannon criticized the Santa Barbara News-Press and owner Wendy McCaw in a Los Angeles Times column for her nearly year-long battle with newsroom staffers, McCaw fired back in a Sunday column that contends Cannon "exemplifies how so-called 'journalists' have tumbled into incredulity, self-destroying the image they so carefully created."

McCaw also claims that she asked the Times to run the piece, but the paper refused. Times officials could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday

"On May 13, 2007, the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed piece by Lou Cannon that was highly critical of me and the Santa Barbara News-Press," McCaw wrote atop her column. "The Los Angeles Times has refused to publish the following response when we asked."

Cannon, a famed Reagan biographer and Santa Barbara resident, has been among the most outspoken critics of McCaw and her paper since the ongoing dispute between management and newsroom staffers began last summer. The battles started when five former editors, including top editor Jerry Roberts, resigned in July 2006, claiming McCaw had meddled in newsroom decisions. Since then, at least 39 staffers have either quit or been fired from the paper; newsroom employees voted to be represented by a division of the Teamsters; and various National Labor Relations Board complains have been filed.

In his column, Cannon recounted the past 11 months of turmoil, which included the firings and resignations, lawsuits between Roberts and the paper, a story suggesting Roberts had ties to a News-Press computer found to contain child pornography, and NLRB findings that the paper improperly fired eight reporters for involvement in union activities.

He also noted the paper's legendary past as a publication that stood up to groups such as the John Birch Society. "That trust is now gone," he claimed. "And with it one of the most vital aspects of life in Santa Barbara. It's a sad story."

McCaw's column, available only to online subscribers and in print but obtained by E&P, opened by declaring, "Since last summer, Lou Cannon has attacked the Santa Barbara News-Press, and personally attacked this writer, its owner and publisher. "

McCaw went on to explain her side of the recent upheavals, declaring "At the Santa Barbara News-Press, I, as owner, decided we no longer could tolerate journalists and editors that wrote what they wanted, when they wanted, with only passing care to the truth and with even fewer attempts at neutrality. …

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