TVSB and Newsmakers Present "The Future of Local News" - Plus "End of an Era Tour" Media Special
On September 27, more than 600 people concerned about the state of local news packed into the Marjorie Luke Theatre for a two-track presentation: a look back at how Santa Barbara became a semi-news desert – and a thoughtful conversation about pathways to the future.
Now, TVSB is rolling out two new productions that document Newsmakers' special local news event last month, which not only limned the past -- with a big-screen showing of the remarkably prescient documentary "Citizen McCaw" -- but also explored what lies ahead, amid the transformation of the local media landscape and the collapse and bankruptcy of the Santa Barbara News-Press, the community's 155-year old daily newspaper.
Many thanks to TVSB Executive Director Erik Davis for the station's partnership and sustained support of Newsmakers' efforts to spotlight top local journalists and their stories, to provide our viewers and readers analysis and commentary about their work, and to stimulate a community conversation about the over-arching importance of comprehensive and credible local coverage of public affairs.
Mega-kudos to TVSB Producer Ellie Stayner, for a terrific job of capturing and packaging the content, energy and sp[irit of last month's event, marking the 15th anniversary of the sold-out premiere at the Arlington Theatre of "Citizen McCaw," the best narrative account of the extraordinary events of 2006-07.
On November 5 and 12, at 6:30 p.m., TVSB (Channel 17) will present a three-hour special, a video record of the Sept. 27 event which features the documentary, book-ended by contemporary commentary and the introduction and recognition of key players in Santa Barbara's long-running journalism saga.
On Nov. 1 and Nov. 9 at 9 p.m. the station premieres its one-hour production of our post-movie panel presentation on "The Future of Local New," which brought together experts on theory, practice, media business strategies, and on-the-ground digital era journalism to explain the revolutionary changes in the news industry over the last decade-and-a-half, and discuss how they will shape the ways citizens are informed about community affairs going forward.
The futures panel included UCSB media studies professor Jennifer Holt; Sarah Sinclair, advertising director of the Independent; Gwyn Lurie, CEO of the Montectio Journal Media Group; Lily Dallow, Digital Content Director of KEYT; and Ryan P. Cruz, staff reporter for the Indy. The show will repeat on Nov. 9 at 9 p.m.
In addition to TVSB's presentations, you can find it on our YouTube channel, or by clicking through this link.
TVSB’s three-hour special, which we’ve dubbed “SB Media: The End of an Era Tour” (Shout-out Swifties) is also available in our singular archive of Santa Barbarbara current events. If you missed the event, you can check out the evening on YouTube below,or by clicking through this link.
And if you prefer simply to watch the documentary, it's here, or click through this link.
Why it matters: At a time when local newspapers are disappearing across the country, Santa Barbara is at once a case study of what happens when a community loses its daily paper, as well as a kind of civic petri dish for cultivating alternative forms of local news.
At the time of the 2006 meltdown, there were about 60 full-time reporters assigned to cover the basic way stations of public affairs in Santa Barbara - the Board of Supervisors, local city councils and school boards, the police and sheriff, the courts, local business, as well as sports, arts and entertainment.
Today there are perhaps a dozen in total.
At the film screening, we gave shout-outs to staff members and leaders of the enterprising local news operations – the Independent, Noozhawk, the Montecito Journal, KEYT and Edhat -- who labor every day to keep our community informed.
The steep decline in the sheer amount of local news coverage, however, has brought a shroud of opacity to many local government operations, which in past times were closely scrutinized daily by beat reporters assigned to serve as watchdogs on behalf of taxpayers, voters, consumers and residents, whose lives are directly affected by official debates and decisions.
The list of urgent and important local issues which call out for more investigative reporting and analysis -- the failure of local officials to deal satisfactorily with the most basic functions of municipal governance; the waning of competitive elections amid the takeover of elected offices by one political party that enforces ideological groupthink; the scandal of the county's cannabis ordinance; the lack of transparency over fiscal matters; the connections between campaign contributions and public policies, for starters -- is long and growing.
Our Future of Local News panel was a first step in trying to define the dimensions of the problem. We invite your thoughts, insights and feedback about ways and means of moving forward to expand and improve the quantity and quality of local news in Santa Barbara. Write us at email@example.com.
P.S. Many thanks to the hundreds of folks who attended the "Citizen McCaw" event, turning out on a Wednesday night when they could have stayed home to watch, for example, a debate among all the Republican presidential candidates not named Trump (each of them magically thinking and secretly praying for an exogenous event -- one too many Big Macs? federal prison? - to make them the GOP standard bearer. But we digress).
We also are deeply grateful to Monie de Wit, a talented photographer and indefatigable advocate for public education, who provided a visual record of the Sept, 27 event. Check out some of her images in the photo gallery below.