The Santa Barbara News-Press, formerly a prestigious newspaper that served Southern Californians for decades, has declared bankruptcy and fired off its remaining employees. More than 150 years after its first issue, the newspaper filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last week due to years of internal strife, falling readership, and rapid changes in the industry.
The historic publication has likely come to an end as the bankruptcy case is a liquidation rather than a restructuring. Southern Californians, especially those living in the seaside enclave that bears its name, once relied heavily on the News-Press to keep them abreast of municipal news, politics, and international events.
The paper’s 1962 Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the local chapter of the far-right political action group the John Birch Society.
The tweet below verifies the news:
The Santa Barbara News-Press, once an illustrious and revered publication that was essential to Southern California readers for decades, has filed for bankruptcy and laid off what remains of its current staff. https://t.co/qg4JaaaFvK
— KTLA (@KTLA) July 24, 2023
The publication’s ownership changed hands from the New York Times to Wendy McCaw, a businesswoman and ex-wife of Craig McCaw, a billionaire pioneer in the telecommunications industry, in the 2000s, and the paper has been in a steady decline ever since.
During her tenure as owner, McCaw made waves by frequently straddling the professional and editorial spheres. Longtime editors, writers, and other staff members left after she was often accused of interfering with their daily work.
Members of the staff that quit in protest went on to win media ethics prizes. Many of the News-Press’s former employees now cover local news in Santa Barbara for rival publications. Discontent among readers, demonstrations, and legal action against McCaw and the paper all stemmed from the constant turbulence in the newsroom.
McCaw, a conservative, is widely thought to have been instrumental in the newspaper’s choice to back Donald Trump for president in 2016. The News-Press was one of only six newspapers in the country to endorse Trump, and it was the first large media to do so. The paper has backed Trump for another term in office.
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De La Guera Plaza, a historic and popular community meeting place, was located right adjacent to the paper’s longtime headquarters in the center of downtown Santa Barbara. The News-Press moved its journalistic activities to its printing factory in nearby Goleta earlier this year.
The paper’s print edition was discontinued in June, and it is now published exclusively online. The News-Press has submitted a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California.
The bankruptcy petition, as reported by the Santa Barbara Independent, reveals that McCaw’s retail location has fewer than $50,000 in assets and between $1,000,000 and $10,000,000. Multiple ex-News-Press journalists now work for Noozhawk, a Santa Barbara online daily, and they got an email from the paper’s managing editor in which he says, “Wendy filed for bankruptcy on Friday.
All of our jobs are eliminated, and the News-Press has stopped publishing. “They ran out of money to pay us.” Once the bankruptcy is approved by the court, the email continues, final wages will be provided.
Keep up with the news and get some food for thought by visiting the website CaliforniaExaminer.net.