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Our Opinion: Travis Armstrong: A note to our readers

July 7, 2006 12:15 PM

Dear News-Press readers:

We want to let you know that five of our editors and a longtime columnist of this paper decided to part ways with our publication. Jerry Roberts has resigned from his position as the newsroom editor, as has Managing Editor George Foulsham, Deputy Managing Editor Donald Murphy, Metro Editor Jane Hulse, Business Editor Michael Todd and columnist Barney Brantingham.

It is important to note that newspapers, like all companies and families, have differences of opinion as to direction, goals and vision. Such was the case with our departing colleagues.

We are fortunate in Santa Barbara to have local ownership and management under Wendy McCaw and Arthur von Wiesenberger. In far too many cities across the United States, a few newspaper chains dominate the marketplace. We are pleased to be an independent voice in Santa Barbara that provides varying and different viewpoints that is not called in to us from Back East, Down South or even another country.

Our strength is our independence, and that independence doesn't always sit well with everyone.

Newspapers must be relevant, fascinating and provocative. One of the founders of modern journalistic profession, Civil War editor William Story, coined the slogan "A newspaper's duty is to print the news and raise hell." We feel that we have achieved this in some measure and will continue to do so in the future.

Not everyone -- journalists themselves, readers, elected officials and the public -- is going to see eye-to-eye with the manner in which news is reported by any news organization. We believe that the criticism that this paper has received, from all sides, is part of a healthy debate that is essential to providing the many different viewpoints of each and every story.

When I give visitors tours of the historic News-Press building on De la Guerra Plaza, my favorite stop is a little-seen room high up in the bell tower. Here much of Santa Barbara's history over the last 150 years is stored, in the form of bound volumes of newspapers such as the Morning News, the Daily Press and, of course, the News-Press.

The yellowed pages tell of disasters that have shaped this coastal stretch of a California paradise, from the big quake in the '20s to the big oil spill in the '60s.

They also tell of happier moments. Our editorial page on Tuesday reprinted a Daily Press editorial from July 4, 1876, on the nation's centennial celebration. In part the editorial read, "The morning of the grand and glorious Centennial Fourth -- 'the day we celebrate,' which all the patriotic people of the country have long been looking forward to with exulting hearts and pleasant anticipations -- was ushered in, here in Santa Barbara, by the ringing of bells, the explosion of powder, the waving of banners, and the shouts of Young America."

But Santa Barbara also ushered that Fourth of July with newspapers that ultimately merged and transformed into the paper you're holding in your hands or reading on the Web. Standing in the bell tower gives me a sense that the News-Press will continue to long be a part of our community. And amidst 15 decades of Santa Barbara journalism, it's a reminder of our responsibility to be good stewards of one of Santa Barbara's oldest and most vital institutions. Those of us on De la Guerra Plaza and in the Goleta printing plant take that job seriously.

The News-Press has thrived as a prominent institution serving this community for more than 15 decades. We intend to continue doing so.

I would like to assure you that we are dedicated to our continued efforts to enhance our news coverage while maintaining both the standards of journalism as well as the standards of this community with respect to personal privacy, fairness and good sense.

Travis Armstrong is acting publisher of the News-Press.

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