Jilted Reporters Take Expertise Online

    April 5, 2007

Lose your job?  Well, you didn’t lose your knowledge base – why not give your old employer a run for its money?  That’s what eight former reporters at the Santa Barbara News-Press did when they were fired, and they named the result the Santa Barbara Newsroom.

The site looks very professional (if a bit colorless), and, as opposed to whining about the reasons for its existence, offers all sorts of local and national news.  But thanks to an editorial, those reasons (or one side’s account of those reasons, at least) become very clear.

“[W]e were illegally fired for trying to obtain a union contract,” the staff reports.  And it seems that union protection was very necessary: “The newsroom exodus has now swelled to 40 people, including us . . . .”

It’s possible that the owner and co-publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press, Wendy McCaw, had her reasons for making these drastic cuts.  But other reporters, including the Santa Barbara Independent’s Drew Mackie, have rallied around the fired employees (who, as Mackie notes, are their new competitors).

In an opinion piece titled “Thumbs Up for Santa Barbara News Room,” Mackie writes that he and his coworkers are “completely thumbs-up stoked” over the Newsroom’s existence.  He also implies that the News-Press has – shame on it – ignored the whole flap (and yes, this story would be easier to follow if the two papers didn’t have such similar names).

As for the Newsroom, if all goes well, it will, ironically, cease to exist.  The staff writes, “We hope to keep the site going until we are reinstated at the News-Press . . . .”