© 2018 Rod Lathim. 

CITIZEN McCAW

1/7

In scene after scene, a new documentary, "Citizen McCaw," captures the tranquil aura and stunning beauty of Santa Barbara. No screenwriter could conceive a more perfect setup for a horror story. 'Citizen McCaw' is the scariest film involving journalists since "Zodiac."  It's also a vital primer for these times, when economic stresses are leaving the press vulnerable to hostile takeovers of our values and standards. Unlike the Zodiac case, the pall and anxiety over this horror story has not lifted.

 

John Diaz, San Francisco Chronicle

 

Citizen McCaw was inspirational for our CSUN Journalism students; in fact they said it was one of the highlights of the semester. While we might teach our code of ethics and offer examples of compromising situations, it has incredible impact when students can get a close-up of these dilemmas as they did in this dynamic documentary. It is a must for all journalists.

 

California State University, Northridge Professor

 

I am proud to have joined Sam Tyler, Peter Seaman, Charles Minsky and Brent Sumner to produce the powerful feature length documentary CITIZEN McCAW. The film chronicles events beginning in July, 2006, when editor Jerry Roberts and five of his colleagues quit the Santa Barbara News-Press, citing owner and Co-publisher Wendy McCaw's abandonment of journalistic ethics, which McCaw denied. Since then, McCaw and dozens of her former staffers have been engaged in a fierce clash of wills that raises important national questions of journalistic ethics and media ownership.

 

McCaw’s attorneys assert that she alone can decide how news is covered. The other side, represented by journalists and community leaders, says that journalism is a public trust, asserting that the publisher must keep out of the news operation. The film chronicles the twists and turns of the resignations and firings, community protests, legal maneuverings on both sides, a precipitous drop in the paper’s circulation, a Teamsters' union vote, child pornography allegations, an NLRB trial, and numerous other events.

 

The film and a specially produced educational tutorial was distributed to every journalism school in The United States and is still used in classrooms.