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— If nothing else, those cryptic TV ads and billboards for the Union-Tribune are sparking interest in the 140-year-old newspaper. Reader Jim Johnston paid heed and reached out to the paper's editor. "'How will you be changed?' asks the Union-Tribune in its long-running tease campaign. I give up. I'm already a Republican. So I sent Karin Winner an e-mail asking: 'How will I be changed, already?'" A response came from special-events coordinator Christina Carreño: "In the campaign you'll see depictions of joy, anger, sadness, questioning, and more, because that's what our product can evoke every day." Brandweek magazine delivered its own scorching critique of the paper's TV spots: "There's the pregnant tattooed mom, the girl sobbing in a rest room, the woman waiting by the phone. Each ad is pegged to a theme, such as, 'Nothing changes a heart like a change of mind,' but none make the connection to how, why, or even if the unshown paper does that." Michael Mark of matthews/mark, the San Diego ad agency handling the reportedly $3 million ad buy, told Editor and Publisher that focus groups considered the U-T to be "a stodgy, conservative vehicle for news" and that the paper was ripe for an image makeover. "Consumers told us they have a much more intimate relationship with the newspaper. They drill down deep and are changed by discovery." In a phone interview this week, the agency's Jim Matthews said all the fuss over the spots is far from troubling; it actually shows that the campaign, which will continue to run at least through the end of the year, is doing its job by piquing local and national curiosity.

Monsignor trumps mob lawyer That war between San Diego monsignor "Father Joe" Carroll and Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman is getting to sound more and more like an old Spencer Tracy movie. Homeless champion Carroll and Goodman -- famous as a top lawyer to the mob before taking the reins at city hall -- are now wrestling over the city's historic downtown post office, which Carroll is trying to acquire from the federal government as surplus property. "We'd like to see how this property can be used for the homeless," the monsignor told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week. "Whether it's the property itself, whether it's some kind of tradeoff, or whether we can't use it at all." Goodman opposes the move and wants to dispatch Carroll and the homeless to an abandoned state prison in Jean, Nevada, well away from Glitter Gulch. "They could have all the social-welfare facilities they have now," he told the paper. "It's ideal. It's not being used right now. It would take care of a lot of issues." But Carroll appears to have outflanked the mayor. Under federal law, nonprofit groups benefiting the homeless get preferences in acquiring surplus federal property. "It just opens up all kinds of doors to say what's best for the homeless in Las Vegas and Clark County," noted Carroll. Complained Goodman, "It was virtually in our hands, and then there was an application that got in our way. I can't speculate as to [Carroll's] motive, but I will make you a promise: The city will have that land. There will not be a homeless shelter there." Carroll's application ties up the building until at least October ... Watchers of San Diego's city council note that appointments to Mayor Dick Murphy's ballyhooed ethics commission have been slow in coming.

Fairs of the non-Ivy League Del Mar Fair general manager Tim Fennell is unhappy with the shabby way fair managers are treated. "The biggest problem I see in this industry is a lack of leadership. How many fair managers have MBAs? How many graduates of Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton say, 'Let's get into the fair industry'? Next to none. The compensation level is ridiculous," he told Amusement Business. Attendance at this year's fair was off about 4 percent from a year earlier ... Rosei Stephens, who fled San Diego for the greener pastures of Oregon, is out with a blunt critique of her former hometown. "It's difficult to get people to come out and participate in good faith because they are all exhausted from their commute along I-5 or I-15 at the end of a day. There isn't any civility or energy left to hold dialogue on important issues," notes Stephens, writing in the Portland Oregonian.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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