Did New Times editor get shredded?

September 7, 2010

New Times is well known for shredding people left and right, but once again, most of the action seems to be taking place inside the Marsh Street news bunker.

The San Luis Obispo alternative weekly newspaper has a new managing editor in Ashley Schwellenbach, though curious minds are trying to figure out what happened to Ed Connolly, who has served in the managing editor position for the last few years.

The managing editor, the second most important position in the newsroom, is responsible for the day to day running of the weekly, reporting to the executive editor.

The receptionist at New Times responded to numerous phone calls by saying that Connolly was on vacation and that he was still managing editor. However, when callers asked for Connolly’s voice mail, they were instead transferred to executive editor Ryan Miller’s phone line.

Two weeks ago, Connolly was listed in the masthead as opinion editor, the first time anyone has held that position at New Times in the paper’s history.

This week, however, both Connolly and the newly-created position are gone from the masthead.

Publisher Bob Rucker said Tuesday morning that Connolly is still the opinion editor for the Santa Maria Sun and the San Luis Obispo New Times. Rucker refused to comment on the reasons for the change in editorial leadership.

Inside sources at New Times told CalCoastNews that Connolly was ousted and that arts editor  Schwellenbach is the new managing editor. However, while Schwellenbach appears as the managing editor in the masthead, she is also listed as the arts editor under the arts and entertainment stories she continues to write.

Schwellenbach becomes the fourth New Times managing editor, and the first woman, since the April 2005 death of founder and editor Steve Moss.

First, King Harris, who had worked with Moss, left the paper after a change in ownership. Jim Mullin resigned after publishing a controversial article on the meth problem in San Luis Obispo County.

Ryan Miller returned to his old post at New Times’ sister publication, the Santa Maria Sun, which he edited prior to his stint at the San Luis Obispo weekly. Miller will remain executive editor of both newspapers.



  1. slorealitycheck says:

    Has anyone answered the question as to what story of Karen’s was replaced? I would be curious to know.

    (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
    • avidgonadnote says:

      I think it was about the homeless being denied service at French or Sierra Vista Hospital. Her source was a drunk person who’s memory was a bit dodgy. Since my memory is a bit dodgy (even while sober) I could be way off. Doesn’t really matter because the NT lost a good muckraker.

      (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  2. nrpowell says:

    So there’s a big debate below about whether the piece is opinion or fact. How about this opening quote that sets the tone for the whole article:

    “New Times is well known for shredding people left and right, but once again, most of the action seems to be taking place inside the Marsh Street news bunker.”

    I also wonder who your inside source at New Times is, since all you got from them was the same thing that you got from the change in the mast head. I’m an intern over there. I barely know anything about what happened and I could have told you more than that. Maybe Liberandos has a bit of a point after all.

    (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
  3. PaulJones says:

    Cindy, do you remember what the article was that the New Times was afraid to print? If Karen quit over it then it must have been important to her. I would think that she published it when she started her paper with Dan Blackburn? Which article is it? What week was it that Ryan’s religious story replaced the banned article?

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
    • Cindy says:

      Paul, It’s been so long and she has dropped so many bomb shells that I don’t recall which story it was anymore. It’s been four years but I think it all transpired around the end of summer or early fall.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
      • MarkJames says:

        I bet the story had something to do with Tom O’Malley or one of his friends. They all go to the same church.

        (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  4. Liberandos says:

    I don’t know, but it’s probably more interesting to ask why Karen Velie was let go from the New Times staff a few years ago…

    What color is that elephant in the room?

    (-5) 21 Total Votes - 8 up - 13 down
    • TacomaRose says:

      Liberandos must have aa axe to grind …..

      Whatever the reason that Karen left the SnoozeTimes ….. thank heavens she did, because at least there is someone who still has the fortitude to raise the red flags in our communities. We can only take so much of the “flowerly” and ” trust me, everything is fine” news that is particularly peddled by the TRIB or is it the FIB.

      (1) 11 Total Votes - 6 up - 5 down
      • Cindy says:

        Karen was fired after she quit!
        That’s the TRUTH!

        (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
      • Liberandos says:

        No axe to grind, I like this website and hope it does well.

        But please, there should be some sort of disclosure when you are digging up dirt or making insinuations about your previous place of employment. Particularly if your leaving that employer was not on the best of terms.

        It reduces Karen’s cred not to mention her previous employment with New Times.

        (1) 9 Total Votes - 5 up - 4 down
        • Dave says:

          Liberandos: What does Karen’s link to New Times have anything to do with this story? The story is a series of facts: (1) Ashley was promoted (2) Ed has disappeared (3) When you call NT and ask for Ed, you get Ryan Miller instead (4) Ashley is the 4th ME since 2005 (5) Bob Rucker declined to comment..

          So how is Karen’s prior history relevant? By the way, Cindy is correct. Karen quit New Times. Rucker talked her into staying and then he fired her a week later. Not that it matters.

          (-2) 10 Total Votes - 4 up - 6 down
          • Liberandos says:

            Gee Dave, I guess your right, nothing to see here, no conflicts of interest, no axes to grind, the facts are the facts…

            Why would a person do something as mean and awful at asking an employee to stay on board, just to have the satisfaction of firing them a week later. Is the Bob Rucker related to Dick Cheney? I have never heard of anything so unfair.

            Oh, maybe there is another side to the story…

            (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
            • Dave says:

              Nice avoidance of my challenge, Lib. Let’s try it again. I’ve listed 5 facts from the story. Which ones are incorrect and which ones show the hidden agenda against New Times? The story is correct, is it not?

              (-1) 11 Total Votes - 5 up - 6 down
              • Liberandos says:

                Yes Dave, you are correct. One of us is missing the point…

                (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
                • Dave says:

                  I rest my case Anonymouse. I putout a simple challenge to you, laying out the five facts from the article. They’re all true. I’ve given you two chances to deny or refute them. You won’t because you can’t.

                  Come back when you learn how to argue and when you’re man enough to put your name to your Opinion.

                  Dave Congalton

                  (-2) 10 Total Votes - 4 up - 6 down
                • Liberandos says:

                  No no no, I rest my case..

                  Dave, you have such a good show and do such a good job that its painful to see these silly comments. They are beneath you my friend.

                  Shouldn’t your role in having Karen fired from New Times be made public? She is on your show all the time… It taints both of you to keep this so hush hush…

                  (7) 17 Total Votes - 12 up - 5 down
                • Cindy says:

                  Liberandos writes (to Dave) “Shouldn’t your role in having Karen fired from New Times be made public.”

                  Not so fast Lib, Karen knew exactly what she was doing when she outed the NT to Dave. The fact that Karen didn’t walk out of the NT the day that she quit doesn’t mean that Rucker ever actually talker her into staying. Nice try…….

                  (-7) 7 Total Votes - 0 up - 7 down
                • MarkJames says:

                  I’ve got to agree that Karen Velie didn’t tell Dave Congalton anything that she didn’t want him to blog about. You have to watch out for her because she is a lot smarter than the average bear. She definitely knew what she was doing when she told Congalton about the problems with the New Times. After reading all of this there is no doubt that she QUIT and they tried to placate her but it didn’t work so they agreed that she had “fired herself”, therefore she was “fired”. Too much.

                  (-4) 6 Total Votes - 1 up - 5 down
            • Cindy says:

              I will tell you why someone would do something that awful, it’s because they can’t manage the slightest degree of public scrutiny. I remember the entire incident rather well.
              1) After Karen completed an investigation (over many months) and wrote an excellent “bomb shell” of an article, Ryan Miller refused to let the piece go to print. Apparently it wasn’t “pablum” enough for him because it sure was well investigated.
              2) Karen quit,
              3) Rucker talked her into staying.
              4) Congalton had a blog and he wrote that an excellent story had been replaced in the NT by a religious article that week.
              5) Rucker got defensive and fired Karen for telling Congalton about her story that had been cut.

              Go back and take a look at Congalton’s 2006 blog. It was hysterical. It was a known fact that Ryan Miller consistently made many decisions where journalism came second to religion. To replace Karen’s article with a religious article just about took the cake that week.

              (1) 9 Total Votes - 5 up - 4 down
              • Liberandos says:

                Well well well I certainly feel better now that this is out in the open.

                Many thanks!

                (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
  5. R.Hodin says:

    Schwellenbach is NEW TIMES’ second managing editor of the fairer gender. NT has always had a managing editor position. It’s a fairly volatile position.

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  6. danika says:

    I quit reading the New Times with the meth issue. That was the straw-vs.-the-camel’s-back moment for me. I do not miss it.

    (-2) 16 Total Votes - 7 up - 9 down
    • R.Hodin says:

      That managing editor lasted about 3 months and worked from Florida. Which local papers do you find palatable?

      (4) 10 Total Votes - 7 up - 3 down
    • Cindy says:

      I was amused by the meth article and didn’t take offense to it like so many did. I felt that the article exposed all the poisonous substances that are in meth. The substances were items that people can relate to, things that we use in our own homes and would never dream of ingesting, in fact we would call poison control if we ever accidentally did ingest some of those items. As for kids manufacturing the stuff between the time they get home from school and the time their parents get home from work, what?
      I think the (previous) managing editor over estimated the local readership and their abilities to rationalize the shock value. I think he was banking on our intellect and while It’s true that SLO does have a highly educated populous as compared to other CA counties, he forgot about the emotional aspects. High intellect doesn’t always trump hysteria.
      By the way, he also failed to disclose one major step in the process just in case some sad freak tried to cook the recipe. That didn’t matter in the end, hysteria trumped all sense of reason, iMO.

      (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  7. Pizmo says:

    Not a Snarky fan. Although he’s great at promoting local live music, he has a tendency to be kind of arrogant and uniformed in some articles.

    I really miss the Steve Moss era. By the way, has anyone noticed that there is noticeably less places to find New Times? Some Thursdays, I have to really hunt for it.

    (12) 14 Total Votes - 13 up - 1 down
  8. Paperboys says:

    Ashley? Why not Glen Starkey? He’s been around the longest and is the most prolific of their writers. Plus I think the paper would take a decidedly harder edge if he were the editor.
    We’ll see how long she lasts.

    (-9) 21 Total Votes - 6 up - 15 down

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