Santa Barbara News-Press Files for Bankruptcy, Staff Fired

By the edhat staff

Santa Barbara’s longest running newspaper, the controversial Santa Barbara News-Press, has laid off its staff and filed to liquidate.

On Friday the paper’s parent company, Ampersand Publishing LLC, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy that governs the process of liquidation under U.S. law.

The court filing lists the companies assets of less than $50,000, liabilities between $1-10 million, and owes 200-999 creditors. The filing document also states the company decided to file for bankruptcy during a May 1, 2023 meeting.

In an email to Santa Barbara News-Press staff, Managing Editor Dave Mason wrote: “I have some bad news. Wendy [McCaw] filed for bankruptcy on Friday. All of our jobs are eliminated, and the News-Press has stopped publishing. They ran out of money to pay us. They will issue final paychecks when the bankruptcy is approved in court.”

A creditors’ meeting is scheduled for September 7, 2023. The bankruptcy filing also states, “No property appears to be available to pay creditors.”

Last October, we reported the News-Press would stop delivering papers to its subscriber’s homes and instead would issue vouchers to redeem at select locations. Then in April we reported the dwindling staff of the Santa Barbara News-Press had vacated the historic downtown building at 715 Anacapa Street and announced moving all of its administrative operations, including its newsroom and advertising and circulation services, to the Goleta printing plant.

Just last month the paper announced a pause on all printing and a focus on digital news. A note was issued on the paper’s front page stating the printing editions will be temporarily unavailalbe due to “power issues” with their printing plant at 725 S. Kellogg Ave. in Goleta. Weeks later it was stated the online-only format would be permanent. 

The Santa Barbara News-Press began printing as a weekly paper, The Santa Barbara Post in 1868, and after an acquisition in 1932 and a merger was renamed the News-Press. The respected paper won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing in 1962 under the tutelage of T.M. Storke. The paper was sold in 1964 before being sold again to The New York Times in 1984.

The paper’s current owner and alleged billionaire living in Hope Ranch, Wendy P. McCaw, purchased the paper in 2000 for a reported $110 million. In 2006, controversy swirled the once notable publication as editors and writers resigned with claims of McCaw interferring in the newsroom.

More reporters and staffers were fired, or resigned, leading to numerous lawsuits and an all-out boycott of the paper by the majority of Santa Barbara residents. In 2008 a feature-length documentary titled “Citizen McCaw” played before a sold-out crowd at the Arlington Theatre.

Former News-Press journalists, Melinda Burns and Dawn Hobbs, penned an opinion piece in 2020 on McCaw’s “abuse of power.” They reported an administrative law judge of the National Labor Relations Board ordered McCaw to pay $2 million to the employee union and nearly 50 newsroom employees, in restitution for labor law violations going back a dozen years.

It’s unclear what will happen to the flagship building and parking lot at 715 Anacapa Street that’s believed to still be owned by McCaw, although an edhat reader informed us the parking lot has recently begun renting out parking spots. 

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

What do you think?


1 Comments deleted by Administrator

Leave a Review or Comment


  1. The News-Press has been a zombie for years, shrinking to a ‘pamphlet’ relying on wire services, providing little significant reporting. Wendy and her pal Von-whats-his-name drove it into the ground. I might hope that a responsible party might acquire it out of bankruptcy, but am not holding my breath.
    An interesting thought; what happens to the subscription costs paid by subscribers after they made the decision MAY FIRST to go out of business. I knew the ‘power problem’ was a lie, but did they also actively deceive subscribers?

  2. At some point, every business goes out of… The SBNP has had quite a good run, and is simply following the path of so many newspapers around the globe. Bottom line is that Wendy’s bottom line isn’t going to suffer at all. Even the Washington Post, owned by his highness Jeff Bezos, is going to lose $100 million or more this year. Many people feel it’s the fault of Jeff Bezos that the WaPo is headed for the same demise as the SBNP, but it’s not his fault…..nor Wendy’s.

    • Bcakes what you’re saying about the Washington Post is simply extremely laughably absurd.
      I know it’s hard to grasp how rich Bezos is, but paying for and supporting the paper is not much to him.
      You seem to be alluding to the NY Times article with your dollar figure. The article also says:
      “Mr. Bezos has said he wants The Post to be profitable, but it is unlikely to reach that target this year.
      Patty Stonesifer, The Post’s interim chief executive, said Mr. Bezos was happy with “every dollar invested” in the company. One person familiar with Mr. Bezos’ plans said The Post had planned for 2023 to be a “year for investment.”
      “I’m very enthusiastic about what we can do here at The Washington Post in the decade ahead,” Ms. Stonesifer said in a statement. “Jeff’s second decade of ownership of The Post should be even more exciting.”
      Ms. Stonesifer has also repeatedly told staff members that Mr. Bezos is fully committed to the business and sees the newspaper as a legacy for his family.”

    • Some perspective: the estimated cost of Bezos’ new yacht, not including the boat’s support boat, is $500 million.
      Support boat:
      7/20: Amazon’s founder and billionaire, Jeff Bezos, has witnessed a significant increase in his wealth, amassing an additional $7.4 billion in just 3 weeks. This brings his total valuation to a staggering $158 billion, according to data tracked by Nairametrics from the Forbes billionaire index.

    • It does not make sense to me why so many folks are happy to see the perceived “downfall” of Ms. McCaw, but so/so sad about the newspaper’s demise. Maybe Jeff Bezos can buy the SBNP to make a few folks happy around here. The last thing that most people who have a lot of money want to do is to lose it. Owning a newspaper these days is a losing proposition whether it be Bezos or McCaw. Now that the end of McCaw is in sight, her detractors will have to find someone else to dislike and talk about negatively all the time. Maybe have some empathy for those who were let go (not Fired as the headline states). Let’s give it a rest people…at least try to give it a rest (if you know what I’m talking about and everything).

    • I would agree that it isn’t JUST about the money, but wherever business (or any other economic activity) is taking place it will always be in large part about the money. And these days it is very hard indeed to remain profitable selling paper and ink publications. Especially news publications.

  3. We all lost a lot as McCaw took over. Journalism is part of the inherent checks and balance to our system and our city. How else do we get investigative reporting and in depth local news. It’s sad what she did to so many fine reporters, many of whom landed on their feet no thanks to her. It’s a cautionary tale of the damage that can be done by one wealthy individual and her legal team. An administrative law judge of the National Labor Relations Board ordered McCaw to pay $2 million to the Teamsters and nearly 50 newsroom employees, in restitution for labor law violations going back a dozen years so far she has not paid a dime. And now our community lost a paper that back when Storke ran it took on the Birch Society. Formerly owned by the New York Times. Sad for all of those that were fired and all of us and even our democracy. Journalism informs, entertains and educates but it also finds and exposes corruptions and social concerns.

  4. Whatever negativity Wendy McCaw put out in the universe has come back to haunt her. With her half of Craig McCaw’s fortune (once the richest man in America), Wendy might have done great things. However, she made a series of missteps over 23 years that terminated our community’s legacy newspaper. The law of cause and effect, or karma, is operative here. “As you sow, so shall you reap…..”

  5. I arrived in Santa Barbara 20 years ago, and picked up the News-Press with an open mind, but quickly realized that opinion pages were dominated with anti-union screeds and written by right-wing hacks like Dr. Laura Schlesinger. I thought: This newspaper is not for me. It was pretty bad, as I recall, even before McCaw bought it. This is a liberal town. Publish a newspaper with hateful ring-wing opinion…well, no wonder few people subscribed to it.

    • LOOSECANNON – I actually enjoyed reading the right wing columns from the likes of Michelle Malkin, . They would fire me up as a 20 something year old grad student and inspire me to write Op-Eds myself. While I’m a liberal, I think it’s healthy for the mind to be presented with opinions of those opposite you, to a degree. The mindless rants of today’s far righties are for the most part laughable (as are many from the far left), but back in the print days, you’d get some well reasoned, albeit opposite to my way of thinking, editorials. Dr. S? Nope, she was junk, but there were others I enjoyed getting angry (and thoughtful) with.

  6. And there it goes… very sad, but a fitting end to McCaw’s reign. No one is really surprised, I figure.
    Some other typical details — When they had “power issues” with the printing press, starting June 21, three other papers were affected:
    “Among them is the Ojai Valley News. On June 29, that newspaper said that it and three other publications had to find a new place to print. “The OVN and three other local papers that were printed on the press in Goleta — Montecito Journal, The Daily Nexus, and Vida of Oxnard — were given three days to find another printer as the presses belonging to the Santa Barbara News-Press had stopped running,” the article states.
    The article states that the Ojai Valley News moved its printing to a plant in the city of Ontario. The city of Santa Barbara said it was unaffected by the printing stoppage because it circulates all of its legals in the Voice Magazine.”
    Note that the City wouldn’t even use McCaw’s paper!
    And this, also from Noozhawk:
    “It also began to rent out its main parking lot at 715 Anacapa St. a few months ago.
    It is unclear what this means for the future of its main building.
    As of several weeks ago, the door handle to the main public entrance had been removed.”

  7. Wow! Bankrupt, after 155 years! The News-Press was the “Paper of record” in these parts, long before I got here in 1957. De La Guerra Plaza, anchored by the News-Press building, with City Hall along one side and the once-magnificent El Paseo across the top, was truly the city center. Bert Willard, a staff writer from those days, talked me into writing columns on folk music, my first foray into print journalism. I’d often see Tom Storke stroll up to the El Paseo for lunch with Pearl Chase and other city notables, wearing his 1917 campaign hat.. Gil Johnston, from Mountain Drive had a job selling advertising. The NP radio station had a huge studio on the second floor, and added KRCW when it was sold to provide an FM outlet. I worked there for a few months before switching to KGUD Country (which became KTYD). Memories, memories, memories . . .
    Just wow!

  8. It sure would be nice to have a local daily….no disrespect to Edhat or noozhawk, but a paper with photos and funnies and weather maps and interviews to read, deep dives into local politics, movie reviews, etc. The Indy is good , but a daily, that would be sweet. I guess I’m showing my age. We knew Wendy would destroy the N-P. If only she had been willing to let go of it when there was still some life in it.

  9. The News Press under Wendy was an embarrassment to this whole community. Ol’ Andy Caldwell will have to crawl back under his favorite oil jack pump up in the North County. Won’t miss his arch conservative rants. And what was with “Center Square’, the source of most of their ‘news’ articles. Googled it and read that it is a conservative news source. Talk about lazy journalism. They were paying for that (or were they!). Now would some responsible group please buy the paper and return it to its former respected self.

  10. Very difficult for a narrow-minded and superficial daily paper to survive in any small city today, or in the future. Great reporting and journalism content will prevail and continue to grow, of course, but not on paper. The very few former readers of this failed venture are now challenged to become enlightened by different sources, and there are many, including this one as we all know. I believe the former employees will each and all adapt, adjust and thrive ‘unchained’ in the days ahead. The building on the Plaza going forward will certainly be put to much better use. Overall, this is very good news for Santa Barbara. Ironically, our sources inform us, Wendy owns the Bankruptcy Courthouse on State St. ! Go figure…

  11. now many of you see the light? a lot of you were defending her just two/three weeks ago. Now shes bad? She’s been bad since she came and bought the paper in 2000. She put families on the street. Now she’s destroyed our local paper 100% driven into the ground, and so many people lost jobs, insurance, retirement, etc. This is VERY bad for us as santa barbarans. Very bad. Wendy, you suck. 100% you’re awful. I hope Snoop Dog buys a home in Hope Ranch again, right next door, just to piss you off.

  12. Weird how crack journalists just learned that Ampersand Properties Inc and Ampersand Holdings Inc. control former NewsPress properties sharing the name Ampersand at the same address at 1301 Santa Barbara Street. I wonder if 1301 Santa Barbara Street is owned/controlled by an entity with Ampersand in its name? Pulitzer prize awaits. To characterize something done 8 years ago in broad daylight as underhanded is ignorant. When the properties changed hands in 2014, the tax valuations went up and more taxes were paid than before.
    Montecito is full of homes, properties owned by LLC’s. Why? Because liability on the property in question is limited to that property exclusively as defined legally. In short, if someone gets hurt out at the old printing facility, they have no claims on the NewPress building or any other McCaw controlled properties. Hence the name LLC or “limited liability company”. Be a consistent person. If it is bad for McCaw, it is bad for Gavin Newsom. Gavin Newsom has at least 5 LLC’s that we know of (because they got Paycheck Protection Program money)
    PlumpJack Businesses That Received PPP Loans
    Business NameAddressCityJobs ReportedLoan Amount
    PLUMPJACK.COM LLC3201 Filmore StSAN FRANCISCO17$138,787
    SOMA LOUNGE LLC1525 Mission St.SAN FRANCISCO37$87,400
    SUNSET BAR LLC3201 Fillmore StSAN FRANCISCO15$82,391
    PLUMPJACK SPORT LLC1995 Squaw Valley Rd.OLYMPIC VALLEY8$41,537
    The last one appears to be a ski area condo, and if so, I’m at a loss to see how it qualified for $41,537 in paycheck protection.

    • Edney at 8:37, you wrote
      “To characterize something done 8 years ago in broad daylight as underhanded is ignorant.”
      But all noozhawk wrote was “Ampersand Publishing LLC bankruptcy filings claim assets of less than $50,000, which left most of Santa Barbara wondering: What about the building?”
      How did they characterize McCaw’s real estate dealings as “underhanded”?

    • Edney, forming or owning an LLC is not in and of itself an unethical or immoral thing to do.
      You are comparing apples and oranges here–McCaw has a pattern of abusing employees which has been documented and adjudicated by the courts.
      Gavin is also a POS, but the thing that you are calling out here isn’t actually a thing.

  13. Wages will be paid immediately: “They will issue final paychecks when the bankruptcy is approved in court.” Judge will expedite approval and people will be paid
    This is a legal mechanism to place settlement of debts, disputed wages, any pensions, taxes, SS payments and any disputes therein etc due into the court system for a fair decision by a judge. Judges prioritize things like wages for employees immediately after allowing bankruptcy to proceed (usually a formality). Items like claimed severance, SS payments etc can all be figured out later.
    I doubt she had 50 employees at the N/P at the end and they are owed one payroll cycle that I bet they get within a month.
    If the Independent went bankrupt, it would proceed same as this one

  14. Local hero Gavin Newsom decided the State of CA will no longer do business with Walgreens because they are pulling out of some areas of San Francisco, LA. Do you think that Walgreens can lose 10% of its revenue in CA and no one at the bottom end of the wage scale loses their job? Do you think all of the jobs lost at Walgreens will be replaced with new jobs at other pharmacies? That would not be likely. Since the work needed would be spread over many outlets or many pharmacies, most would first see if they can handle the slight increase in business without adding additional staff.
    Be consistent. LLC’s are used by Democrats and Republicans
    Changes in business made by Democrats and Republicans have consequences regardless to party.
    When Governor Newsom makes a pronouncement as Governor or as a private business owner, the consequences of those decisions don’t care what his political affiliation is.
    Anyone want to bet me that President Biden does not hold any properties in a LLC?
    that PlumpJack entities have never laid off employees?
    I’m not defending McCaw, I am saying that there are more rich Democrats with LLC’s in California than there are Republicans, and additionally more Democrats go bankrupt, don’t pay in CA than Republicans. Why? Because CA is 70% Democrat. Numbers win

    • Regarding Wendy McCaw’s historic building and large parking lots in downtown Santa Barbara, Bcakes, I think you are missing a point. The City of Santa Barbara and taxpayers don’t have to get involved to use “her properties for the greater good of the community like create low income housing for local workers and those who do not have a home to live in.” Billionaire McCaw could do these actions herself….now…if she had the inclination. Santa Barbara has a long history of powerful women taking actions that benefited our general citizenry. Recall Pearl Chase, Alice Keck Park, Ganna Walska, Mrs. John Child, Andree Clark, and Huguette Clark. Add the name Wendy McCaw to that list?

    • Bicyclist: I’m not sure if it’s legal to create an LLC to keep property separate from a business. Possibly it is legal to do this and nothing that anyone can do about it from a legal standpoint. Maybe the city will do something about it so they can get their hands on her properties and use them for the greater good of the community (like create low-income housing for local workers and those who do not have a home to live in).

  15. It’s sad when someone with millions from her ex husband Craig McCaw’s fortune comes into our community and effectively destroys an important community asset, our newspaper. Ms. McCaw spent $110 Million on a well read and respected local newspaper (serving the cities of Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpenteria). She proceeded to spend years firing staff, diminish content in all parts of the paper, and put out conservative opinion trash. Let them eat cake, Wendy, but we won’t ever forget what you did.

  16. Noozhawk:
    “Ampersand Publishing LLC sold the Santa Barbara News-Press building, the parking lot across the street and its Goleta printing plant in 2014 to newly created limited liability companies formed by News-Press owner Wendy McCaw, according to public records.
    The building and parking lots were sold to 715 Anacapa LLC, and the Goleta property was sold to 725 Kellogg LLC.
    Ampersand Publishing LLC bankruptcy filings claim assets of less than $50,000, which left most of Santa Barbara wondering: What about the building?
    McCaw purchased the 715 Anacapa St. property, next to Santa Barbara City Hall, the parking lot across the street at 718 Anacapa St. and the 725 S. Kellogg Ave. Goleta properties on Oct. 19, 2000, from The New York Times Co., the previous owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press.
    Santa Barbara County Assessor’s Office records show that the Anacapa Street building has a 2023 assessed value of $15.2 million. Treasurer-Tax Collector records show the owner paid property taxes of $158,645.19 for the most recent tax year, with payments in December and April.
    The parking lot property has a 2023 assessed net value of $3.17 million. The Goleta property at 725 S. Kellogg Ave. is assessed at $11.59 million.
    According to public records, Ampersand Publishing LLC sold all three properties in 2014 to the newly created LLCs formed by McCaw.
    California Secretary of State records show that the two LLCs created in 2014 have a principal address of 1301 Santa Barbara St., and filing documents list McCaw as manager, president or CEO. They have the same principal address as McCaw’s Ampersand Publishing LLC, 1998 Ampersand Holdings LLC and the Wendy P. McCaw private foundation.
    Yolanda Apodaca, a longtime Santa Barbara News-Press employee and current director of operations, is listed as the agent on Ampersand Publishing LLC documents filed in 2022.
    With the bankruptcy filing and end of newspaper operations, it is unclear what happens to the properties now. There has been no indication that they are for sale.
    As of Tuesday, the parking lots at both Anacapa Street properties were being used as pay-to-park locations.
    Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse told Noozhawk on Tuesday that an empty building of that magnitude downtown is a “travesty.” “It is just a civic tragedy to have that 72,000-square-foot building going vacant,” Rowse said. He said he would love for the property to be integral in helping to bring more vibrancy downtown.”

  17. LA Times and Washington Post both operate at a loss and survive; not because they are great newspapers, but because their rich owners have the $$$ to subsidize the narrative. The family that used to own the LA Times got out just in time. Santa Barbara is perfect for niche online daily operations like noozhawk, edhat, and weeklies like the Independent and Montecito Journal. I am guessing towards the end, New Press made most of its money contract printing other peoples newspapers. At one point, I heard they were printing the LA Times WSJ, the NYT, MJ and the Independent plus every other news print style paper sold, distributed in the area. (yes, it was cheaper for the LA times to pay the SBNP to print their paper up here… not for the LA region, but specifically for the local market) all the papers used to go from SBNP printing plant in Goleta to Milpas street behind Chapala market where the papers were stuffed with ads, flyers and sorted organized for delivery. Bagged for home delivery, stacked for vending. Cheaper, faster than printing in LA and transporting up here. I wonder if any of that will continue. Its a dying art

    • Yes, this is a must-read!
      “The Santa Barbara News-Press‘ parent company owes millions to former employees, vendors, utility companies and subscribers, according to owner Wendy McCaw’s updated list of creditors filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court last week.
      With $5.13 million in total liabilities, Ampersand Publishing owes the largest amounts to McCaw herself, apparently for a 2014 loan to the company; to a media company headed by News-Press co-publisher Arthur Von Wiesenberger; and to about 25 former employees, including people owed court settlements for labor disputes.
      Ampersand Publishing, owned solely by McCaw, filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy on July 21, and the Santa Barbara News-Press eliminated all jobs and stopped publishing. In the 161-page document filed Aug. 3, McCaw claims Ampersand Publishing has $532.96 in the bank.”
      Lots more detail in the article:

Trader Joe’s Recalls Cookies That May Contain Rocks

Local Journalist Judges 2023 TasteTV Artisan Fragrance Awards