Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Santa Barbara paper loses co-publisher

As splits go in the newspaper business, this one was amicable. Charles Swegles has stepped down as co-publisher of the 8,500-circulation Santa Barbara (California) Daily Sound, according to the Santa Barbara weekly Independent. Swegles was the paper's first salesman and says he leaves to start other businesses, but still has an affinity for the Daily Sound.

The Sound started in March 1996 by Jeramy Gordon, an alumni of the Palo Alto (California) Daily News, a pioneer free daily.

The Independent article points out that Gordon's paper, which he started from scratch, is growing: It employs eight full time and three part-time employees as well as several columnists, freelancers and other associates. Gordon plans to hire a full-time administrative assistant as well as a full-time copy editor in the coming weeks. The paper is at the break even point, according to Gordon, “not at the profit we’re looking for, but we’re not losing money."

The Sound has been helped along by the self-destruction of Santa Barbara's long-time paid paper, the News-Press. Publisher Wendy McCaw has been at war with her former newsroom staffers. She lost a significant legal battle when a court ordered her to rehire eight former employees who were fired for engaging in union activities and give them back pay.

A refugee from the News-Press debacle, John Leonard, has joined Gordon as the Daily Sound's general manager, handling the business aspects of the growing free daily.