ANALYSIS: News-Press ‘Editor’ Departs

Don Katich

Don appears to be done.

In mid-January, the Santa Barbara News-Press human resources director placed a Journalism ad seeking a new “editor” at the newspaper that has seen plummeting circulation, hard-to-come-by advertising sales and a purged news reporter staff for the past decade.

Although he couldn’t be reached for comment, nor could the human resources chief, the paper’s “director of news operations,” as Katich was called for the past eight years has quit and the city editor is now in charge. Katich’s nameĀ is no longer in the newsroom contacts list in the News-Press website.

Before coming to the city’s only daily newspaper founded in 1855, Katich worked most notably in TV news and headed the KEYT staff for 20 years until that station’s own purge came more than a decade ago. After that, Katich worked in real estate for a time, but he once said he didn’t really understand it much.

Katich did not show much newspaper savvy since news coverage, the paper’s static website and print edition showed very little expertise. He also had to take the brunt of National Labor Relations Board hearings that focused on the paper’s violation of its employees rights to organize a union.

As instructed to by News-Press owners, Katich consistently referred to the paper’s First Amendment rights during his tenure even though many community members railed against the paper’s stand on employees’ and immigrants’ rights.

Katich’s apparent replacement for now, Scott Steepleton, testified during those NLRB hearings and was once referred to by the administrative law judge as a shill for the company. Steepleton claims he has some four decades in journalism experience, but to read his screeds it’s easy to see he subscribed to the Fox News-style of coverage.

In fact, the News-Press sometimes ran Fox News wire copy and even endorsed Donald Trump for president.

Even though the News-Press was owned by the New York Times from the mid 1980s until the year 2000, it appears it’s coming to another fork in the road.

Stay tuned.

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