RIP Newspapers: Berkeley Daily Planet

Thursday, February 11, 2010 , , 2 Comments



First of all, with impressive investigative journalism like this, it's absolutely shocking to hear Berkeley's Daily Planet is DOA. Yet one more print publication sacrificed to the recession or would it have eventually sputtered out anyway?

See, kids, there's an upside to this economy crap: it weeds out the shit. Well, except in the case of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup, et al.

I digress. Before the Daily Planet announced it would be ceasing print editions, it had a "payroll fraud" problem to address. It was a "Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme" level fraud, if you listen to DP's own co-owner/"reporter" *cough*:

The Berkeley Daily Planet has discovered that the company that has prepared its payroll for eight years vanished from its Oakland office shortly after the first of this year, leaving behind a trail of unpaid taxes and embezzlement charges. The Planet is not the only victim of what looks like a major fraud and a possible Ponzi scheme worthy of Bernie Madoff—the company claimed that it had more than 100 clients. Most of them are small businesses or nonprofits, and it seems likely that most of them have been stung. The total take could be in the millions of dollars.

No one—except perhaps the perpetrator—yet knows where the money might have gone, but the company founder has been reported to be in the Philippines, where he set up the company’s offshore data processing and call center operation. At least one customer has already filed a criminal fraud complaint, and on Tuesday the Planet filed a civil suit against the company alleging theft, fraud and more.

Clickbooks.com Inc. maintained a small dingy office in a warehouse on 98th Avenue. Clients who went there to pick up paychecks for their employees occasionally encountered founder Bill Norgren in the back room. His mother, Ellen Norgren, was a constant presence in the front—the Planet’s publisher saw her there not long ago reading right-wing political tracts and denouncing Obama’s health care plan.


"Reading right-wing political tracts," says DP's Becky O’Malley (again, co-owner/um journalist?) as if people just stand around doing that for absolutely no reason. WTF are "right-wing political tracts" anyway? I'm marginally right-wing (erm mostly right-leaning hawk) and I have no fucking clue what those are. Am I supposed to have those and be reading out of them? Someone let a girl know.

Let's continue:

But online, Clickbooks.com posted a glamorous professional profile to attract potential clients. A website revealed that the company was founded in 2000 by Bill Norgren and co-founders Darryn Begun and Greg Tucker as a privately held California corporation. Clickbooks.com was identified as “the parent company” of GLOBALeSTAFF, a 65-agent call center with two technology-heavy offices in the Philippines in addition to the one in Oakland.

A number of impressive-sounding individuals were listed as providing investment and “board participation,” including Danville CPA Jay Begun (father of Darryn); Hong Lu, identified as CEO of UTStarcom (an Alameda company); Conrad Hewitt, identified as a Federal Reserve Board Member (though a Google search revealed no trace of any such affiliation); and Rick Hoag of B2B Technologies.


Hahahaha LOL "Federal Reserve Board Member" - what's that? Did Daily Planet at least do a little due diligence? You idiots, Conrad Hewitt used to be Chief Accountant for the SEC. How exactly did you use Google?

You should have asked the chick spewing right-wing epithets. I'm channeling Rush Limbaugh's stoned ass as we speak and he's telling me Hewitt is a CPA and had Daily Planet just Googled these "credentials" before handing over their payroll to Clickbooks.com, they wouldn't be in this situation. Stupidity doesn't get any points with me, it's your fucking responsibility to read the terms and conditions.

Anyway, I'm not sure who to blame for the "failure" of Daily Planet (let's face it, "we're ceasing print and going strictly Online" is an admission of failure): the global evaporation of Alan Greenspan's easy money or really shitty journalism. Who can call it?

SJ Mercury News:

The Berkeley Daily Planet, founded in 1999 and plagued by financial problems over the past few years, will end its print publication at the end of the month.

The Daily Planet will keep one reporter on staff and publish to the Web "when we can get the news," co-owner Becky O'Malley said.

She and husband Mike O'Malley took over the paper in April 2003 after a group of young investors folded the paper in late 2002. The pair of Berkeley computer software multimillionaires published twice a week until May 2008, when they scaled back print publication to Thursdays only.

In an editorial today, the O'Malleys said they no longer can subsidize the newspaper.

"The only way to cut expenses further is to give up print publication for the moment," according to the O'Malleys" editorial. "We know that many if not most of our 40,000-plus faithful readers prefer paper, and frankly, we do too. But our central mission continues to be reporting the news, and new technology has made online news delivery very attractive."


Hahahaha please keep up the same level of fair and balanced awesomeness we've come to expect from... WTF is this paper called again?

DP:

Many of our readers are well aware that local news reporting is a major casualty of the current economic collapse. Even before the economy got really bad, many papers were experiencing catastrophic drops in revenue which prompted drastic cuts to the news-gathering effort. But we still believe that the success of the democratic process requires citizens to be well informed. The challenge is figuring out how to pay for it.

Advertising sales in particular continue to be problematic. The increasing number of empty storefronts on our main streets is visible evidence of how business in Berkeley is lagging. We’ve seen all too often the same sad cycle: advertisers cancel because they think that they just can’t afford advertising any longer, and six months later they’re out of business.


Don't blame Ben Bernanke. Seriously.

FAIL. JDA gives Becky O'Malley 1 star for failing to do her homework. RIP Daily Planet. Next!

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.