Fired Reporters Start Their Own News Website

from the one-way-to-do-things dept

A group of eight former employees of the Santa Barbara News-Press who claim they were illegally fired for supporting efforts to unionize the newsroom have decided to keep on reporting via a website they set up for themselves. They're covering all sorts of local news, including school relocation plans and property taxes. They claim that this is only until they get their jobs back -- but if the conditions at their old newspaper job were so bad, it makes you wonder why they don't just go ahead and make this new project a full-time effort and do things right. If the Santa Barbara News-Press really is treating its employees as badly as is being made out in reports about the labor dispute, why not create some competition and bring on the best employees from the newspaper to show the management of that paper what happens when you treat employees poorly?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Michael Long, Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 7:06pm

    Why not?

    "... why not create some competition and bring on the best employees from the newspaper to show the management of that paper what happens when you treat employees poorly."

    Oh, I don't know. Enough income to keep eight people and their families paid, fed, insured, and housed?

     

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  2.  
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    nonuser, Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 7:31pm

    Re: Why not?

    Yeah, good luck to these people, it's a nice David vs. Goliath story but seems management holds most if not all the cards. In a power struggle the platform talks, individual content providers walk.

    Maybe this group to take over editorial of a free community newspaper that sells ads to neighboorhood businesses. Those jobs can't pay very much though.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 7:53pm

    Re: Why not?

    Exactly, sometimes I really wonder what world the bloggers on this site live in.

    Creating competition is all well and good, but you have to have enough money to feed yourself whilst you build said competition.

    Maybe they will succeed in it, but from what they're saying it doesn't seem they're really making a living off it.

     

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  4.  
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    Mike (profile), Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Why not?

    Oh, I don't know. Enough income to keep eight people and their families paid, fed, insured, and housed?

    You hire away some of the ad sales people, or bring in a new one, promote the hell out of your new site, and see how well it works...

    If their newspaper jobs suck so much, why would they want to stay?

     

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  5.  
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    Mike (profile), Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 7:57pm

    Re: Re: Why not?

    Creating competition is all well and good, but you have to have enough money to feed yourself whilst you build said competition.

    Maybe they will succeed in it, but from what they're saying it doesn't seem they're really making a living off it.


    So... they're not making *any* money now. My suggestion is they try to make some money... and you're saying that I'm out of touch with the world because what if they can't make enough money?

    Let's compare the two situations:

    (A) Making no money. Publishing a local news site.

    (B) Making some money. Publishing a local news site.

    Why wouldn't they choose option (B)? And, they can use the situation to drum up press and local attention, and then sign plenty of local advertisers. It seems like a no-brainer.

     

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  6.  
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    dorpus, Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 8:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Why not?

    Sure, if they can get local advertisers to look at the new site. How do we know the old newspaper will not threaten to drop the advertisers?

     

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  7.  
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    dorpus, Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 8:47pm

    Re: Re: Why not?

    Exactly, sometimes I really wonder what world the bloggers on this site live in.

    For someone who claims he has an MBA, he has zero common sense.

     

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  8.  
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    Michael Long, Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 8:51pm

    Making some money...

    It's all well and good to suggest that they should try "making some money", but, in case you haven't noticed, that's just a little bit harder to do than it seems.

    One of the top blogs on the web is ProBLogger, and it makes just over $100,000 a year. Now, not only is that pretty thin spread out over eight families, but I don't know how to go from zip to $100,000 in zero seconds flat. Do you? (if so, how about letting us in on the secret?)

    What you're suggesting is that they start a business, and most businesses fail unless they have a good business plan and suffiicient capital to survive while the business ramps up. And I doubt that a few Google ads are going to do the trick.

    Druming up press could be possible... except that the local press also happens to be their competition, and I doubt that the situation is going to warrent extended television coverage. They're also reporters, not sales staff.

    Further, in order to sell ads they're going to need traffic. As such, they're going to have to convince a significant portion of Santa Barbara that they should get their local news off the web, and Santa Barbara News-Press also has a web site, so there's inertia and competition to deal with too.

    All-in-all, it seems, to me anyway, that it's far from being a "no-brainer".

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 9:02pm

    It's a startup...

    Gee whiz... Treat the situation like a startup and you start to come up with another picture. Not David vs. Goliath, but rather some guys wanting to do the better job.

    I just wish them luck. If their prior employer was really that bad (and this is not for certain in any case) then they *should* put their money where their mouths are and start the better paper.

    Let the best man win. :D

     

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    Mike (profile), Apr 3rd, 2007 @ 9:04pm

    Re: Making some money...

    What you're suggesting is that they start a business, and most businesses fail unless they have a good business plan and suffiicient capital to survive while the business ramps up.

    All businesses are not created equally. In this case, they have a ready audience, they have press attention, and they have a professional staff. That gives them a leg up on "most businesses." They're focused on local news which is a huge advertising opportunity -- with clearly known advertisers, who are probably already familiar with at least some of the folks behind this venture.

    And their alternative is to sit around while not making any money hoping the NLRB gives them back jobs they apparently don't like.

     

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  11.  
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    haywood, Apr 4th, 2007 @ 5:17am

    A clever irony would be;

    That they do start a competitive business and their employees want to unionize, making them less competitive.
    : )

     

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  12.  
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    kris, Apr 4th, 2007 @ 8:17am

    Long-running mess

    There's a lot more to this story if you dig into the history a bit. A lot to do with local politics and it's pretty ugly:

    http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=4226
    (Amer. Journalism Review)

     

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  13.  
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    Nick Dynice (profile), Apr 4th, 2007 @ 10:43am

    Doc Searls's take

    When I saw Santa Barbara and newspapers not getting it, I instantly through of Doc Searls, a Santa Barbara resident and a citizen journalist. Here is his take.
    http://doc.weblogs.com/2007/04/04#newspressonward

     

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  14.  
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    Chris Maresca, Apr 4th, 2007 @ 10:32pm

    Re: Why not?

    I know at least 3 people who make > $50,000k/year running content sites. One of them does it on the side, very, very part time.

    Sure, it can be a lot of work to start like this, but it's not impossible, particularly with all the advertising services out there. Plus, they are actually in a great position since they are addressing a relatively small local market. Online advertising, classifieds + some savvy guerrilla marketing and they could really give the local paper a run for it's cash (ala Craigslist). Even the cost of producing printed material has dropped dramatically over the last 20 years, so that's not out of the question.

    If they are as good as they claim, finding 1 or 2 local backers shouldn't be too much of a stretch as there are tons of wealthy people in the area.

    Chris.

     

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