Some advice for Wendy McCaw

Wendy McCaw, owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press, has reportedly hired a crisis PR expert.

I’m not sure McCaw is ready to taste the bitter medicine necessary to cure this mess.

I’m guessing this new expert will merely try to help white wash the situation, not try to fix it.

That said, the crisis can be fixed. I’m just not sure McCaw is ready to do what is necessary to repair her damaged reputation, the reputation of the News-Press and set the company back on proper footing.

She should:

  • Admit she’s in over her head. She knows nothing about journalism or running a newspaper. She should admit it.
  • Admit mistakes where made. Admit those mistakes in exact detail.
  • Announce that she is stepping away from daily operations of the newspaper, that she is forming a board of directors, composed of four or five local business leaders, to help her guide the paper, but that she is going to hire a professional, experienced publisher. She will provide the general strategic oversight, enjoy the perks of local media ownership, but daily operations will be handled by a trained and professional staff.
  • Announce that the new publisher will make all future personnel decisions, including whether to rehire any staff who resigned during the crisis.
  • Publish all of this in her newspaper, apologize to the readers for how she handled the situation (including, what appears to be lying to the community), and promise that from now how, under her stewardship, the News-Press will aim only at the highest journalistic standards with a goal toward serving both readers and advertisers better.

Ten bucks she won’t do it.

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