"Citizen McCaw" Comes to Chapman. Sue Paterno is Ready

Citizen McCaw, a documentary on the journalistic war (or war on journalism) in Santa Barbara, is heading down coast to Chapman University, which counts one of this war's correspondents among its faculty.

McCaw would be Santa Barbara News-Press owner Wendy McCaw, whose bizarre publishing reign came to light in July 2006, when editor Jerry Roberts and five of his colleagues quit the paper over co-publisher McCaw's "abandonment of journalistic ethics," something McCaw has steadfastly denied.

What has followed has been a battle royale marked by community protests, legal wrangling, pushes to unionize, child pornography charges, a drop in circulation, allegations that local news coverage has dropped and even the intervention of the federal courts. The "fierce clash of wills" raises "important national questions of journalistic ethics and media ownership," according to the press packet for the doc, which premiered at the 2008 Santa Barbara International Film Festival and now plays on the local PBS station up there in Oprah country.

Sam Tyler, the award-winning PBS producer who made Citizen McCaw, screens his film and leads a discussion that includes Susan Paterno (pictured), a former Register reporter and longtime Chapman English and Journalism professor. Paterno's reporting on the tragic events in Santa Barbara for a national journalism trade publication led to a libel lawsuit filed against her by McCaw and the News-Press. The case, which set legal precedents, was decided in Paterno's favor in December 2008.

The lecture and screening begin at 7 p.m. March 23 in Chapman's Argyros Forum 208 (a few doors down from where the student newspaper class meets, if memory serves. Go Panther!)

Incidentially, before becoming an illustrious producer of award-winning PBS documentaries, Tyler was vice-president for development at WGBH Boston, one of PBS' "flagship stations" where he supervised funding for NOVA, Frontline, This Old House and Julia Child's Kitchen. Tyler's entire career is also up for discussion, so ask him if he knew ol' Julia had been a spy.


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