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Santa Cruz Sentinel Reporter Leaves Questionable Voicemail
by Tannery Concerned
Friday Jul 29th, 2016 4:09 PM
A phone call from a Santa Cruz Sentinel staff reporter left a sting and insulted a friend of the mother of Maddy Middleton this week.
He left his name and intention and the phone message is included with more.
This was the year anniversary of the tragedy that happened last year at Tannery.
"Hi Toni this is Stephen Baxter. Just between you and me, and having nothing to do with the story, I just wanted to let you know that you're a terrible person. You're an awful person, and I have heard so much between last year and this year about the things that you've done. To enable Laura with, ya know, her drinking problem. About punching Mike Middleton's brother outside of the funeral by a guy who said he was your husband. And the money that was raised afterwards, if you partook in that, shame on you. Just everything you've done and how you've handled this, you've been a friend to Laura for all the wrong reasons. I wish I could do a story about all that. But I just wanted to let you know that I am aware of all that. And I don't know how you sleep at night so shame on you"
by via Facebook Friday Jul 29th, 2016 4:26 PM
Copy the code below to embed this movie into a web page:

Stephen Baxter of the #scsentinel is harassing friends and family members of Madyson Middleton and Laura Jordan, all because they refuse to give him a story or an interview. The following is a recording of a voicemail left by Stephen Baxter on Toni Riley phone one year to the day of Maddy's murder.

Know where your news comes from!!!

Know that members of the Santa Cruz media endlessly harass and shame the family members of local murder victims, when all the families want is to be able to grieve and heal in their own way, unpublicized and privately without having the greatest tragedies of their lives turned into sound bites for consumption on the evening news. They've behavior in this deplorable manner for years and hurt many peoples lives, I am posting this as a small piece of evidence of their "tactics"

All of this venom toward a selfless hero of a woman who was a rock for all of Maddy's extended family and friends, but mostly her mother Laura, in the days and weeks after we lost Maddy. Toni has never been anything but a godsend and in this message you'll hear how she's verbally abused as a horrible person who aides in "Laura's drinking problem" as if it's up to some random reporter to pass judgement on how often the mother of a dead child, drinks. This is disgusting. Stop media abuse of families. Please share and comment and spread the word that the #sentinel and #stephenbaxter are the sort of trash we refuse in Santa Cruz especially in the wake of a tragedy that's been so heartbreaking for all. Baxter also called Laura on this one year anniversary to once again beg for an interview. Laura then begged me to do something to stop this abuse, so here it is.


I've included a transcript of every word this man hurled against my friend. PLEASE SHARE! Let Maddy rest in peace!

"Hi Toni this is Stephen Baxter. Just between you and me, and having nothing to do with the story, I just wanted to let you know that you're a terrible person. You're an awful person, and I have heard so much between last year and this year about the things that you've done. To enable Laura with, ya know, her drinking problem. About punching Mike Middleton's brother outside of the funeral by a guy who said he was your husband. And the money that was raised afterwards, if you partook in that, shame on you. Just everything you've done and how you've handled this, you've been a friend to Laura for all the wrong reasons. I wish I could do a story about all that. But I just wanted to let you know that I am aware of all that. And I don't know how you sleep at night so shame on you"
§Stephen Baxter
by Staff Friday Jul 29th, 2016 4:28 PM
Stephen Baxter, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by sludge
Friday Jul 29th, 2016 4:59 PM
I am really good at double bulls. Now if only you had a full size pic I could use on the target range!
by Vanity Parade
Friday Jul 29th, 2016 5:54 PM

Nice touch Indymedia Staff.
by Sentinel Harassment
Saturday Jul 30th, 2016 8:23 AM
When my boss' wife was murdered the #sentinel straight camped out on her husbands lawn DEMANDING an interview on what he thought of homelessness, which had absolutely nothing to do with his wife being gone. They came into my place of work, Camouflage, constantly disrupting not only our business but our right to grieve the loss of Shannon. I called the cops on them 4 times in the spring of 2012 to get them to leave. That's how unrelenting and vicious they are to get their precious story. Fast forward 3 years and I watched sentinel reporters shove a camera in the face of Madysons best friend while she was attempting to visit the flower memorial of her tiny best friend. After camping out and making the tannery residents feel like they were in a war zone. These people are dispicable fucking vultures and I'm so happy to be one of the reasons Stephen Baxter gets fired. DEMAND MORE of your news sources and how THEY get their news OTHERWISE YOU ARE COMPLICIT in the pain and agony they inflict upon those in the most pain already!!!! Honestly my favorite part is when he says "Toni, just between me and you" OH YEAH MOTHERFUCKER? Hi, I'm Andey and I'm loud 😊🖕🏻
by go back to fresno!
Saturday Jul 30th, 2016 8:32 AM
If you look at the news as a business (it is), and you look at news worthy crimes as commodities...we are holding back gold. This isn't LA or NY, this is one of the biggest tragedies we have experienced here and they are SO MAD they can't capitalize off of it. #StephenBaxter, ya mad? Being a sub par, mediocre crime reporter like yourself I'm not surprised. You're a hungry puppy and we are dangling this big juicy savory wiener right in your face and you can't have it. You can smell it and almost taste it.. But it ain't enough. You wanna gobble that wiener don't you? Well dude, the shame that your childish hunger tried to impose on my friend and my community is commin back around to ya! Literally as I type! It's like magic. Have fun looking for a new job, probably in another city where everyone doesn't know how big of a scumbag you are. HEY. U can go back to fresno! Anywho..see ya later!
by Anika
Saturday Jul 30th, 2016 8:51 AM
I will not support a news source which employs journalists who use bullying and harassment to get their stories. Stephen Baxter of the SCS was recorded leaving a voicemail harassing an individual who refused to take part in an interview. I will in encourage everyone I know not to support this paper until he suffers consequences for his unprofessional actions.
by Stephen Hobbs
Saturday Jul 30th, 2016 9:03 AM

My name is Stephen Hobbs, I am a chemical engineer who now lives in Sacramento. I recently was informed of a voicemail left on a dear friend of mines phone. Her name is Toni Riley.

After hearing the complete utterly disgusting comments from one of your employees, I would advise you to ask for this mans resignation. I have already seen the beginnings of the response from those who are affected by the message. It would suffice to say that these people, mostly women, are extremely emotional due to the sensitivity of the subject matter he has pointed his judgement towards. They are going public with the comments. With the advent of social media and the Information Age we live in today, it will not be long until his actions take its toll on your news source.

Personally, I myself am shocked to hear the words that were spoken, the succession of angry hate filled judgement. I would even go as far to say they may base themselves in racism. The job of a news reporter is to remain unbiased and report the news as unbiased as possible. Unless politics are involved. You and I both, regardless, could agree on that.

If this was one of my employees I would fire them immediately. Regardless of seniority, skill, or stress, there is a point beyond stress that a person lets lose this type of unadulterated harassment and there isn't a level of judgement I could cast on a person with this lack of respect for a human or situation.

Please fire him for the sake of your own company.

In such case, no press is better than the negative press this reporter brings to your business.

Thank you for reading,
Stephen Hobbs
by Sentinel Likes to Bully
Saturday Jul 30th, 2016 9:08 AM
Something to point out: "I wish I could do a story about all that. But I just wanted to let you know that I am aware of all that." That is a specific THREAT to use his position as a reporter to expose and discredit you. It shows that his judgement as a reporter is not based on whether something is newsworthy, but rather an exercise of his own personal power over you. That's not a mere momentary transgression. That shows that he is not trustworthy as a journalist. That is not just fatal to his job. That's fatal to his career.
by Kevin D
Saturday Jul 30th, 2016 9:13 AM
‪#‎stephenbaxter‬ from the Santa Cruz Sentinel is so far out of line with this crap. I can't believe any respectable newspaper would tolerate this kind of harassment of a community member from an employee. Last year in the process of grieving, members of our community had to chase off this kind of parasitic gadfly on the regular, so that people like Toni (who everyone who actually knows will tell you is a saint) could actually help Laura as well as all community members in some very REAL healing. To bring this kind of voicemail to someone who has been a source of support is some next level of disrespect. ‪#‎thisisharassment‬ ‪#‎firehim‬

the following was sent to Sbaxter [at]
Subject: Harassment of Toni Riley
"You need to stop.
I live and work at the Tannery Arts Center and what you're doing is wrong.
Toni provided and continues to provide so much support to so many residents who are there out of the kindness of her heart and I have experienced it first hand.
I am shocked that you feel ok about yourself. Please, please stop.
-Kevin Devaney"
by Stand Up Fight Back!
Saturday Jul 30th, 2016 9:17 AM
Stephen Baxter returned my email, here's what he said: "I left a message and apologized to Toni. I was out of line."

Here's the email response Don Miller just sent me:

Thanks for letting me know, Mr. Holman.

We have discussed this with Mr. Baxter and I understand he has apologized. We're also reviewing the entire episode.

Don Miller

Editor, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Monterey County Herald
by for his disgusting behavior
Saturday Jul 30th, 2016 9:22 AM
* Well he can fuck himself. Santa Cruz wants him jobless.

* I agree, a lukewarm apology doesn't cancel out his disgusting behavior.

* The only thing we are satisfied with is a formal resignation.

* Review away fuckers. Maybe they will realize the massive amount of shit that has been smeared over the Santa Cruz Sentinel in his name and simply cut their losses. One could only hope.
by doesn't make sense
Saturday Jul 30th, 2016 9:58 PM
what was he talking about about $$. What money?
by Rylan
Saturday Jul 30th, 2016 11:06 PM
Digital First,

A friend of mine has been verbally abused by Baxter, a crime reporter for your newspaper in Santa Cruz, CA, multiple times, and she is not the only one. He has been far out of line with everyone he has come into contact with regarding the tragedy at the Tannery Arts Center, which was international news. I saw the story, and pictures of my community members, on an Australian news outlet's website, and I'm sure you are aware of it and its significance. He is a local crime reporter so bitter that he could not get an interview with those involved that he has left this vaguely threatening and very out of line message on the phone of one of the women that worked the hardest to heal the community after the tragedy. According to others that have come forward about his practices, this is not at all uncommon.

While I'm aware that crime reporters have to get stories somehow, this horrendous treatment of this person has crossed a line that no reporter should be at all close to. Below is a link to the phone call in question. We, I and my community, hope to see Mr. Baxter fired and blacklisted for his ridiculous behavior. His editor, Don Miller, seems to think that having him merely apologize will suffice, but leaving this man to treat others like this is not a risk we will take. We are committed to getting this result, and not merely accepted a weak apology. Journalists like this are trash and a blemish on the profession.

Thank you,

Rylan Partch

PS the link is below.
by Angry Santa Cruz
Saturday Jul 30th, 2016 11:10 PM
A woman who didn't say where she's from, hit me up saying she's a journalist and she's shocked and appalled. She thinks that he should be not only fired but blacklisted on a national scale. She was writing to inform me that the Sentinel is owned by a national media conglomerate and that we should bypass the editor and send our complaints directly to them if we want to actually see Stephen Baxter fired. Please email them as well as posting the link to this thread at

If anyone is interested in expressing anger about this, we are now bypassing the Sentinel's editors as they really seem like they could give less of an actual shit. Digital First Media is the conglomerate that owns the Sentinel, and an unnamed source emailed a community member saying that if we really want to have this man fired and potentially blacklisted, which is our goal, we should start emailing the conglomerate directly. Sharing helps, and thanks for everyone that has done that, and if you're down to take further action this is how to hit where it hurts.

Those wishing to contact Stephen Baxter directly can reach him at Phone: 831-429-2449, sbaxter [at] or on Twitter: @sbaxter_sc
by Fire Baxter Now
Sunday Jul 31st, 2016 9:30 AM
This is so unprofessional. The second he said, "just between you and me", that completely crossed the line. Along with:
- "Shame on you"
- "I don't know how you sleep at night"
- "You're a terrible person, you're an awful person"
He needs to be fired ASAP.
by Thought you should know
Sunday Jul 31st, 2016 9:42 AM
Just thought I'd bring to y'alls attention how much me and my community have been put through by Santa Cruz media, specifically the Sentinel since Maddy's death one year ago... Stephen Baxter has been nothing but relentlessly rude, hurtful, invasive, careless, and malicious... please share with friends, and if y'all have any connections with local news and media, please send the message along to STOP trying to capitalize and profit off of peoples pain. It is disgusting......
by SC Native
Sunday Jul 31st, 2016 1:25 PM
You guys are all just pissed that the truth came out. We all knew it, he just said it. He should be promoted for taking a stand.

And the chances of you leaving this comment up are slim, because this isn't a real news source, and if you don't like an opinion you just censor it. So stop complaining about journalistic integrity. (mic drop)
by Later Bro
Sunday Aug 14th, 2016 9:05 PM
Stephen Baxter was not fired by the Santa Cruz Sentinel; instead they "allowed him to resign." His final article for the Santa Cruz Sentinel was published on August 4, 2016.

Baxter's name and position are still listed on the Sentinel website's Contact page:
Stephen Baxter, 831-429-2449 sbaxter [at]

And at:
Phone: 831-429-2449
Stephen Baxter has won five awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. He covers police, fire and breaking news.

Stephen Baxter's Twitter bio states, "Crime reporter | Former @scsentinel"

The community of Santa Cruz, particularly at the Tannery, did a great job of calling out Stephen Baxter and applying pressure on Digital First and the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
by PRNewswire
Sunday Aug 14th, 2016 11:06 PM
Saw this randomly on the net, dated August 12, 2016, under Media Jobs, the Sentinel is hiring:

"Breaking News/Crime Reporter – Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)"

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