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SB News-Press in Unattributed Story Accuses Former Editor of Having Kiddie Porn In His Work Computer

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Someone needs to tell Wendy McCaw that they canceled the soap opera Santa Barbara years ago.

In what could only make sense in a network soap, the embattled Santa Barbara News-Press publisher has allowed a story without a byline to appear on the front page of her paper, accusing her former Executive Editor, Jerry Roberts, of having thousands of images of pornography on his company computer while he worked there.

McCaw reportedly delivered Roberts' hard drive to a company called DriveSavers, who were instructed to retrieve everything they could. DriveSavers discovered a quarter million images, 15,000 of them being porn. Some of it child porn.

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From the New York Times:

In the article on Sunday, which carried no byline, the newspaper wrote that Ampersand Publishing, the parent company of The News-Press, was seeking to retrieve from police the hard drive of the computer used by Mr. Roberts, "which contains according to the police more than 15,000 images of child and adult pornography." The article noted that the city opposed the newspaper's attempts to obtain the hard drive, and that the district attorney had declined to file charges after a police investigation. It added that Ampersand "is conducting its own internal investigation to determine the source of the material." - New York Times

Roberts claims that not only had two other News-Press employees also used the computer, but the News-Press bought the computer used. He held a press conference in Santa Barbara yesterday and said, "today's front-page story smear is, as regards to me, utterly false, defamatory and malicious -- and published with knowledge that, as to me, it is completely untrue. My family and I are outraged beyond measure at this desperate attempt to ruin my reputation." The former Managing Editor of the San Francisco Examiner and current UCSB Daily Nexus publications director, Roberts added, "as a journalist, it is notable that this cowardly story was published without a byline, and without any attempt to contact me for comment in advance of its publication." Roberts is asking for a retraction by the News-Press in exactly the same spot on the front page that the story about his alleged kiddie porn was printed.

Since last year, when News-Press Publisher McCaw began dating the paper's restaurant critic Arthur von Wiesenberger (the two are now engaged), and fighting with the editorial staff about what should be printed in the paper, roughly 60 members of the News-Press staff have been fired or resigned. When Roberts announced his resignation, von Wiesenberger had him escorted out of the building before he could finish saying goodbye to his staff -- some of whom had been working at the paper for more than 40 years.

For a nice, long, detailed view of much of this story, check out the article at the American Journalism Review.

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You might also check out the Wikipedia page about the McCaw Controversy. which is far larger than the page about the paper.

Photo by Sonny I. LaVista for LAist