CalCoastNews on the distribution ‘no fly list’

May 14, 2009

County officials did not provide CalCoastNews the press release regarding the possible termination of David Edge and the appointment of Jeff Hamm. This is not uncommon.

Because of this the following e-mail was sent to County Counsel Warren Jensen:

Mr. Jensen,

Thank you for your quick response regarding my questions.

In addition, I am requesting CalCoastNews be put on the press release list for all county offices and departments and also that CalCoastNews is provided invitations to all county press conferences. I have requested press releases in writing and verbally from a number of departments including the DA’s office and the sheriff’s office. I have received one press release this year sent by an employee who asked that I not divulge her name.

I asked a deputy DA why I wasn’t getting releases. He first said they were trying to adapt to sending press releases via e-mail. I worked at New Times a few years ago and received press releases usually every week from the DA’s office and the sheriff’s office via e-mail.

I asked again about three months ago, and was told the DA’s office had not released any press releases in some time. It has been over a year since I first put in my request. I know of other media agencies that have received press releases during this time from these departments.

‘Unconstitutional discriminatory treatment of the media can arise in many situations. For example, courts have found violations of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection clause where a mayor excluded a particular reporter from press conferences to which the public generally was invited, where a sheriff prevented department officials from releasing any information to reporters for a particular newspaper except in response to a written request, and where city officials denied reporters for a particular newspaper access to police files generally available to other reporters. In California, a court held that the City of Los Angeles could not constitutionally give one television station the exclusive right to film an official ceremony and celebration commemorating the Mexican War from the stage at City Hall Plaza.

’574 Anderson v. Cryovac, Inc., 805 F.3d 1, 9 (1st Cir. 1986). 575 Borreca v. Fasi, 369 F. Supp. 906, 910-11 (D. Haw. 1974). 576 Times Picayune Publishing Corp. v. Lee, 15 Med. L. Rep. 1713, 1716-19 (E.D. La. 1988). 577 Quad-City Community News Service, Inc. v. Hebens, 334 F. Supp, 8, 15 (S.D. Iowa 1971),’ according to an e-mail from First Amendment Coalition attorney Peter Scheer.

Under the principals of these cases, county officials and employees may not exclude CalCoastNews from information provided to other members of the media, or send press releases to CalCoastNews at a different time than other media, or deny CalCoastNews access to information provided to other media via press releases, or deny CalCoastNews access to press conferences by a failure notify.

I look forward to this situation being resolved.

Thank you,

Karen Velie

Jensen responded with an e-mail saying he would look into the matter.

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Member Opinions:

By: knowsAPstyle on 7/19/09 [Delete]

Truthbeknown, George Ramos utterly ruined the Cal Poly journalism department. Cal Coast News is the only local news organization that garners respect within the department. This was illustrated in the fact that Karen was invited to the department banquet as the keynote speaker along with Sandra Duerr of the Tribune. Also Karen while in full disclosure is a graduate of the program is referred to as a “Hero” by more than one professor.

While Cal Coast News uses a different standard of news gathering than other organizations, the proof is that you will read a story on this site with an unnamed source and two months later the Tribune or New Times will run the same story. Sites like this will be the future of journalism and if local government agencies fail to adapt to this they will be in just as much trouble as the traditional media is.

By: mancha on 5/22/09 [Delete]

Inquiry: CCN stands for..CAl Coast News, NOT CNN-genius

By: sharibaby on 5/16/09 [Delete]


This can never be more than a blog. It can never be more than a great muckraker. Perhaps that is all they want it to be. It just doesn’t make enough money to pay for editing, proofreading, fact checking or anything that REAL news organizations have to pay for. They are the gorilla hit force of gossip.

Good for them. It is a need being filled. To expect them to spell names correctly, check facts, use multiple sources or any of that other constraining/bothersome restraints that bricks and mortar places use is crazy. It might have taken two more days for me to find out a county administrator was trying to dip his wick in the office ink. I feel so much more informed and complete now that I can be informed somewhat accurately or almost accurately that hanky panky is going on.

God bless the internet and god Bless gossip

By: mccdave on 5/16/09 [Delete]

CalCoastNews is a muckraker, and a pretty good one. I often criticize them for sloppiness and they seem blind to their own errors, but overall on the substance they’ve done pretty well and done plenty of real investigative work. To dismiss them as tabloid is a little unfair, and to compare them to Limbaugh is ridiculous.

I agree that the lack of an editor’s eye is obvious and that a higher degree of professionalism on many fronts would help them in the credibility department. At some point they’ll have to decide whether to make this a more serious news site or keep it a two-person public access cable show.

By: Inquiry on 5/16/09 [Delete]

Skyler “compares” CalCoast to CNN? I would rather compare it to Rush Limbaugh. Both purport to be balanced and honest but both are entertainment venues whose content is apparently driven by what current events best titilate their established clientelle from their biased perspective.

It obviously has some degree of success in the entertainment field. Witness the interchanges.

If it was truly a “news” organization it could at least investigate the challenges to “fact” and allegations it receives and report back in an unbiased follow-up.

By: soca on 5/16/09 [Delete]

Karen you have no editor and no publiher. No one can fire you for ethical or journalistc slips. And BTW, you do not maintain high journalistic standards as your site claims. You move to print often with one side of the story and with unconfirmed sources. That makes you a blogger, not a journalist. Fun to read though!

By: skyler on 5/15/09 [Delete]

To Inquiry:

CCN reports watch-dog information that is often covered up or glossed over by mainstream media. They must report sources to earn credibility but Everyone knows that main stream media is highly censored and reports info from a perspective controlled by government…politics, business and money. If mainstream authority is never questioned what do you call that? I think it’s a dictatorship? They are not claiming to report the nice, positive, sweet human interest feel good pieces that you describe. There is a need for an alternative perspective! Thankyou CCN!

By: R.Hodin on 5/15/09 [Delete]

Does Warren Jensen know how to use email?

By: sharibaby on 5/15/09 [Delete]

My inclination is to support the little guy. It would not hurt the county to include cal coast news on their distribution list. I do understand the reluctance. Is this a legitimate news organization? Do they have a business license, insurance, llc, DBA or any of that other stuff associated with operating a real news biz?

At least they aren’t stealing content from other sites and claiming it as their own.

By: drumsrlrl on 5/15/09 [Delete]

I have been following the stories of this web-site for some time. It seems this is the most attention it has received lately, so that must be good.

I do agree with basically what others are writing in this thread:

Is CCN a professional journalistic operation? At this time, it seems more of an “Enquire” rag – sort of a on-man-show.

I also listened to the 920 AM radio show -Karen sounded defensive and came off sounding minor league. Reminded me of listening to a corporations first financial guidance report – wants to make you cringe.

I don’t think this site will ever be taken seriously – but it is getting more fun to read other’s opinions, etc.

By: yelapop on 5/15/09 [Delete]

Inquiry: This is an INVESTIGATIVE news site; it does not exist to regurgitate press releases. What has been sadly lacking is an organization providing the watch dog function locally. No wonder so much public & private corruption has been left to fester.

By: Inquiry on 5/15/09 [Delete]

The question might be raised as to whether CalCoast is a “news” organization or a political activist group with an anti-government agenda. Why can’t I remember one positive story on government at the CalCoast site? Not ONE thing that any local government or agency has done that is worth mentioning?

Why are rumored motives by critics published but written explanations of government motives ignored?

When you only print one point of view, no matter what your name is, you’re NOT publishing “news”.

By: mccdave on 5/15/09 [Delete]

If CalCoastNews wants to receive press releases, they should print them verbatim, without additional context or reporting, like the other local news outlets. Learn to play ball for chrissake, or life’s gonna get very unpleasant for you here in Maycomb, Alabama. ;) Oh, and Mark Felt is full of it — President Nixon ran on a platform of law and order, and he will always uphold the law. Only gossip sheets use anonymous sources.

yelapop: “Name one retraction Karen’s made.”

I can’t think of one, but they probably should have made a couple of corrections that I’m aware of. I’m a CCN fan, but they’re far from perfect, and they seem as thin-skinned as the Trib.

By: skyler on 5/15/09 [Delete]

The trib prints softball- can’t disrupt advertising revenues by reporting the sordid truth about much big biz/local corruption. They might quote sources but they refuse to print the truth in many cases.

By: SLORider on 5/15/09 [Delete]

PERHAPS a real news agency would also have an active and legitimate incorporation in their home state? A ficticious business name?

By: SLORider on 5/15/09 [Delete]

Cal Coast Enquirer thinks they are real media, eh? I’ve got a web site. I’m media. Put ME on the press release list.

Anyone can charge brashly through a china shop while pointing fingers and yelling.

THE SHREDDER has better journalistic sense than does Karen:

By: TrueColors on 5/15/09 [Delete]

Maybe the blue fairy can provide you with some guidance: You can only become real media, if you prove yourself worthy.

In the real world, that wasn’t reporting; it was called gossip. And IF this is a real news outlet, then you’ll FIRE the reporter.

So, Pinocchio, prove yourself worthy. Are you really a news outlet? Or, simply a wooden puppet with an extended proboscis named Karen? I’m sure that’s what Warren Jensen is asking – as well as the rest of us.

By: Truthbeknown on 5/14/09 [Delete]

Thanks for the parole, George!

After listening to the Congledave show this evening, it appears that I was correct in my earlier assessment that Velie will need a good lawyer soon. Every one of her peers on the show (New Times, etc.), including Pulitzer winning Cal Poly Professor George Ramos disagreed with her method of using anonymous unsubstantiated sources. I gathered from Velie’s statements on the show that getting the scoop is more important than getting the facts.

By: yelapop on 5/14/09 [Delete]

Hilarious comment, Nosedatruth! You suggest we let each individual police department, government center, etc. decide whom THEY consider to be worthy of receiving information? Name one retraction Karen’s made. If she weren’t considered credible, New Times and the Trib wouldn’t be falling all over themselves trying to keep up with her – all while trying to discredit her.

By: nosedatruth on 5/14/09 [Delete]

Perhaps if you had a reputation as a fair and unbiased reporter, who investigated all sides fairly prior to blasting out “scoops”; perhaps if you printed all sides of a story; perhaps if you didn’t routinely mis-quote, mis-represent, or publish unattributed “sources.” Perhaps, if you did all of these things you would be considered a real journalist and be included. You reap what you sow, Karen.

By: 4Warn on 5/14/09 [Delete]

They havnt been providing you press releases because they don’t like the fact that you have spent alot of time looking into the government’s broom closet.

By: SLOnative on 5/14/09 [Delete]

Don’t feel slighted. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Most university information officers still don’t realize that email releases are the cheapest form of free publicity.

The most notorious of these are the Sports Information Directors who fail to use the many sports message boards in their own conference.

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 5/14/09 [Delete]

I think thy (Gov.)does protest to much.

A Goverment of the people, by the people, for the people etc. Yea right. Not in this county

By: Newsome on 5/14/09 [Delete]

I have been concerned on your behalf that the incendiary nature of some of your stories might make people reluctant to talk to you…