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The Union-Tribune today (Feb. 11) named Jeff Light as editor, replacing Karin Winner, who retired at the end of last year. Light has been with Freedom Communications, publisher of the Orange County Register, since 1993. He was most recently vice president of interactive. Earlier, he was in charge of the newspaper's website. Light, who has an MBA from the University of California at Irvine, said, "My goal is to focus on quality journalism inside the evolving multi-media environment." Freedom Communications filed for bankruptcy in September. Because of a recent agreement among the company, unsecured creditors and lenders, it may be able to emerge in March.

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David Dodd Feb. 12, 2010 @ 12:09 a.m.

The article in the U-T gave him credit for a substantial increase in distribution when he was there. This must have been what lead to their bankrupcy.

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Don Bauder Feb. 12, 2010 @ 7:43 a.m.

Response to post #1: There were a plethora of factors in the BK, but I agree that after the statement about increased distribution was put forward, the U-T should have introduced the subject of the BK. But would you have wanted to be the reporter who posed the question to your new editor? It's also possible that the reporter didn't know about the BK. Best, Don Bauder

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ExDiegan Feb. 14, 2010 @ 7:16 a.m.

Could the lack of comments about this posting indicate, at long last, a lack of interest in the fate of the U-T?

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David Dodd Feb. 14, 2010 @ 7:44 a.m.

"Could the lack of comments about this posting indicate, at long last, a lack of interest in the fate of the U-T?"

It turned into a horrible paper long before Copley sold it to Platinum. Now it's more of a joke than anything else. Over the last decade or so, it seems that every time I caught myself thinking that the paper couldn't get any worse, it did.

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2010 @ 8:44 a.m.

Response to post #3: There are many other ways to get a measure of reader interest in a topic than the number of postings on this blog. The U-T captured readers' interest long before the collapse and sale of the paper. We have not seen evidence that interest is waning, but if we do, we will certainly cover it less. The whole story of the Copley family is about as bizarre as tales can get. The rapid fall of the U-T, and other metro dailies, is a fascinating business story, even to those who are not in the industry. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2010 @ 8:55 a.m.

Response to post #4: Some see improvement in the paper and its website. Others don't. I must confess to a change of opinion, and perhaps hypocrisy. Back when I was on Business Week (1964-1973) and the U-T (1973-2003), I used to argue that readers didn't care about the media business (particularly magazines and newspapers) anywhere near as much as the editors did. It was given entirely too much space, I thought. But when it appeared that the U-T was in trouble (2005 and 2006), I began covering it heavily for the Reader, and found that readers were quite interested. Maybe that interest is waning. At this point, I can't tell. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 14, 2010 @ 9:37 a.m.

It turned into a horrible paper long before Copley sold it to Platinum

Some see improvement in the paper and its website

I myself enjoy the new UT website design. I do not think it is bad, or bottom of the barrel.

The fact is the Internet has changed the world, and newspapers in particular, because you can get news in real time-and for free.

I think you can certainly compare what has happened to the decline in newspaper readership the same way you can compare the big three networks decline in viewership after cable came online with 200 chanels. Or the way CNN reduced network news viewership when it came online.

The new technologies have opened up numerous choices for the consumer.

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WhatGoesAround Feb. 14, 2010 @ 9:46 a.m.

My guess is that there's still a lot of interest in the fate of the Union-Tribune.

However, my reaction to the selection of Jeff Light as Karin Winner's replacement? Ho-hum.

If I can use a historical analogy, it would be like the King of France appointing his plumber -- instead of Samuel Champlain -- to lead the exploration and settlement of the new world.

Platinum Equity principal Louis Samson might understand why I say this.

Don, please keep posting these blog entries. Although I don't always feel moved to comment, I continue to follow this story with keen interest.

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David Dodd Feb. 14, 2010 @ 10:36 a.m.

It's possible I'm spoiled. I grew up reading the L.A. Times back when it was good, and the daily that had the best sports page ever, the L.A. Herald-Examiner.

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gekko Feb. 14, 2010 @ 4:07 p.m.

Response to post #9.

I agree. The Herald Examiner had a great sports section. Durslag and Krikorian were great writers.

gekko

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gekko Feb. 14, 2010 @ 4:17 p.m.

Don:

Are you aware that the U-T did not send a sports columnist to cover the Super Bowl? The only stories were by beat writer Kevin Acee. I heard columnist Nick Canepa on one of the sports talk shows and he said he had been to 26 previous Super Bowls. You could hear the disapointment in his voice. How tight are the purse strings? They are now selling ads on the front page of the paper. What's next?

gekko

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2010 @ 5:54 p.m.

Response to post #7: Absolutely. The future of newspapers is online. The papers have the staffs and news-gathering capability. They have to figure out how to transfer this to Internet at a profit. I think the U-T's choice of someone specializing in online was a good choice. The problem I had with the new editor was that, according to one account of a speech he made, he claimed that the print side of newspapers was, collectively, losing money. Profits have gone way down, and many papers are losing money, but I don't believe you can say that print as a whole is yet in the red. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2010 @ 5:58 p.m.

Response to post #8: At this point I don't have enough evidence to conclude readers are losing interest in the fate of the U-T. I think the Reader covered the decline and ultimate sale of the U-T far, far better than anybody else. Indeed, there was no comparison. We have also covered the new owners better than anybody else, in my judgment. I see no reason to stop or even slow down. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2010 @ 6:01 p.m.

Response to post #9: I only read the Herald-Examiner sports section for a year or two. Wasn't Jim Murray with the Herald-Ex? He was wonderful. I read his syndicated column. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2010 @ 6:03 p.m.

Response to post #10: The names Durslag and Krikorian are only faintly familiar to me. I'll take your word that they were good. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2010 @ 6:05 p.m.

Response to post #11: I was not aware that a U-T columnist missed the Super Bowl. Budgets are tight. Best, Don Bauder

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gekko Feb. 14, 2010 @ 6:20 p.m.

Response to post #14

Don:

Jim Murray was with the L.A. Times.

gekko

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pedrochavez1114 Feb. 14, 2010 @ 8:44 p.m.

Don,

From a bottom line perspective, I believe that the U-T is being saved -- as a business entity. As a newspaper? The U-T is dying a slow death and rapidly becoming a shopper -- not that there is anything wrong with that; I love to look at pages filled with ads and with little information about what matters to me and the local community. Okay, I'm joking.

I miss real newspapers -- in touch with their readers and serving their news needs. I also miss the newspaper columnists that felt the pulse of the readers and the town and wrote about the stuff that mattered to them -- in a creative and brilliant way. I miss the Jim Murrays and the Mike Roykos and all the other guys who kept the pressure on city hall and the folks that run sport franchises.

I also miss the original newspaper publishers and editors who launched their publications to hold others accountable for their actions and who sold advertising to pay for the costs required to keeping us informed.

Unfortunately, the information part of today's business model is not to publish a newspaper, but to sell advertising first and then plug the holes with fillers.

It is sad commentary. I still subscribe to the U-T because I am still hoping that one morning I will get up and unfold a paper that is worth reading. The one I get, by the way, has a long way to go before filling that need. It takes me less time to go through it than what it takes me to do my morning business in the toilet.

Not much stuff to read there. Saludos.

Pedro

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2010 @ 10:22 p.m.

Response to post #17: The Times, then, had a great one in Murray. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 14, 2010 @ 10:30 p.m.

Response to post #18: The Union-Tribune remains a tool of the establishment and therefore an enemy of most of the people. It won't -- no doubt can't -- confront the basic truth of San Diego: that most politicians, including the last three mayors, are led around by the nose by the real estate developers, that the county keeps expanding residential housing and subsidized commercial development when it should be upgrading its rotting infrastructure and its collapsing government services. As long as this is true, and I can't see it changing, the U-T will continue to decline, even if it brings its online presence into the black. Best, Don Bauder

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David Dodd Feb. 15, 2010 @ 2:53 a.m.

17 & #19:

Murray did write for the L.A. Examiner in the late '40's.

The driving force for the L.A. Herald-Examiner's Sport's section was Bud Furillo. I have a fantastic story about the late and great Furillo that relates to San Diego (and Tijuana), but I'll relate it in a future weblog entry. It would take too long here.

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2010 @ 7 a.m.

Response to post #21: Our readers would enjoy hearing that story. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 15, 2010 @ 1:55 p.m.

Newspapers, as media, don't understand their own value and their limitations, which largely are derived from a misreading (npi) of where they fit in the social spectrum. Further, they don't understand the value of marginal functions, like the increasingly marginal and marginalized role of print. Sure, the percentages and absolute numbers of readers, subscribers, advertisers, and profitability of the print portion of their organizations are down, but they fail to weigh its value in terms of the bottom line. Print may be a loss-leader, but it may be a crucial one.

They do not actually STUDY the details, dynamics, and context, or the factors that actually influence change in those areas. The surveys miss the point, and the assumptions are shots from the hip based on outdated assumptions. And some "new-dated" assumptions. They do not get the message that the New Age is USER-driven, not even content-driven, and certainly not as much sensation-driven as it used to be. They do not understand the Internet Revolution (but, of course, the Internet-drivers do not understand the nature and potential of the Internet either). Epistemology itself needs to be studied, especially in the realm of the central irony that this process lags behind itself.

In a pure business sense, an old-fashioned manager wouldn't give a damn whether or not a cornerstone element of an organization itself made money. "You don't take percentages to the bank, you take MONEY to the bank." By being obsessed with fear of failure, organizations tend to lose nerve and curl up in a defensive position, in denial, especially of "outside influence." Fresh looks at the nature of the business and it's role beyond the expediency of cya profit margins, no matter how thin and temporary, need not apply.

Let it be, let it be. Que sera, sera.

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2010 @ 4:39 p.m.

Response to post #23: Any CEO will give a damn if a cornerstone of the business is considered insecure. The CEO will hear from the shareholders in a hurry. Here's an example. Over the last year, the low on the stock of McClatchy Newspapers has been 35 cents. The high as been $6.28. Big spread. It closed after hours Friday at $4.53. That's up handsomely from 35 cents. But if you had put $10,000 in McClatchy five years ago, you would have less than $1,000 -- in fact, $955. Are the shareholders happy? Those that bought in recently are. But the ones that have held the stock for quite awhile are quite unhappy. You have to watch that cornerstone. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 15, 2010 @ 8:11 p.m.

"Considered" is the key term. It is the failure of CEO's to adapt to change, as much as the change itself, that is sinking newspapers. Publishers, even editors, are far too tradition-bound to wake up before they sink the entire ship by hanging onto an outdated model of the NATURE of communication and the businesses that the CEO's don't get. They haven't changed their newspapers and their websites still follow the ad-revenue model. They misread the hunger for investigative reporting. Thank gawd the Reader gets that enough to stick the good stuff on page six, and practical enough to follow the current of self-absorption for ad revenue. Without t & a puffery, however, even it might suffer. But at least they "get it" in terms of where the money isn't.

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2010 @ 9:29 p.m.

Response to post #25: Hopefully, there is a hunger out there for investigative reporting, but as a story in the NY Times points out today (Feb. 15), some publications feel they don't have the money to FOIA public documents as often as they once did. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Feb. 16, 2010 @ 12:14 p.m.

Response to post #20: “The Union-Tribune remains a tool of the establishment and therefore an enemy of most of the people” which is why San Diegans so desperately need the Reader and Don Bauder.

We were lucky to have great men in the 20th century like Churchill, Eisenhower and Roosevelt, but our luck crashed and burned in the 21st with the republican freak show that has produced the likes of “W”, “Terminator” and “Il Duce” Sanders.

As you say, it doesn’t help that San Diego republican voters have been committing San Diego suicide by electing Golding, Murphy and Sanders.

The fact is that the San Diego Establishment is dedicated to producing and perpetuating the most hideous aspects of Herbert Spencer’s Social Darwinism including unregulated capitalism, a corrupt justice system, a class system with out of control poverty and racism where republicans are rapidly increasing the numbers of poor that must find new ways to survive on their own without jobs that have been shipped by the GOP to their allies in Communist China, and the hatreds produced by good old evangelist religion doesn’t help either.

FYI - In 2007 “Il Duce” Sanders earned his nickname during all the performances his PR people produced for him with every TV opportunity in town where Sanders goose stepped to every mike and camera they could find during his pyric Sanders Firestorms where he would announce his latest death and property destruction tolls as if they were some personal Olympic medal count. Sanders literally looks like and copied everything we have seen in WWII Movietone newsreels, except he hasn’t been caught wearing Mussolini’s uniform or giving fascist salutes.

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Anon92107 Feb. 16, 2010 @ 12:32 p.m.

P.S. to Response to post #20:

We must END the era of "Strong Mayor" immediately.

Sanders has proven beyond all doubt that the "Strong Mayor" concept is a San Diego Establishment tool to disenfranchise the voters of San Diego, and is a direct attack against Democracy.

Protection of Democracy must be a paramount priority for the Reader.

You must help us end the era where “The Union-Tribune remains a tool of the establishment and therefore an enemy of most of the people” is allowed to continue to destroy our Democracy.

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2010 @ 12:53 p.m.

Response to post #27: Those who preached Social Darwinism and rugged individualism around the 1900s were complete hypocrites. Like today's so-called capitalists who talk freedom from government interference then live off of government largesse, the pseudo-capitalists of a century ago preached individualism and practiced corporate socialism. Look what the railroads sucked out of the government. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2010 @ 12:55 p.m.

Response to post #28: Agreed. "Strong mayor" must go. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 16, 2010 @ 3:45 p.m.

Response to #26

There's always a hunger for truth, but don't expect it to be PROPORTIONAL to some gawdamn mediocre middle of "significance." Newspaper have long been a niche market, but the bean-counter mentality always panics when they see fractions drop. You can't keep a bunch of illiterate spoiled brats anyway, and why would you want to--being a big frog in a small pond can work if you don't piss away all your energy worrying about polls and numbers. JUST ADAPT! JEEESH!

". . . some publications feel they don't have the money to FOIA public documents as often as they once did." This validates my point! It's largely the fear of fear itself that is sinking newspapers.

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Twister Feb. 16, 2010 @ 3:52 p.m.

Social Darwinism is BUNK! It always has been. It persists because of intellectual dishonesty and laziness. It's a complete misreading of Darwin and is a case of extra-faulty "reasoning by analogy," which any intellectually honest mind that takes the time to examine it will conclude.

Unfortunately, some evolutionary biologists have stumbled on this stone multiple times, fueling the fable. It's time to drive a stake through the heart of this asinine case of pseudo-intellectual, quasi-academic clap trap.

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Twister Feb. 16, 2010 @ 4:04 p.m.

"Rugged individualism" has roots in the distortion of courage and strength into bravado and brutality that all too many of our young men (and not a few women) fall for. For example, some fairly convincing rumor leads one to the conclusion that John Wayne dodged the draft, while "timid" souls like Jimmy Stewart and others threw themselves into the breach of WW2. But then, celluloid-hero-worship and obeisance to image rather than substance, has long been the refuge of the weak. But bluff and other bs has high survival value--IN the context of a culture so warped out of form from its true beginnings. We've gone from George the 3rd to George the Weasel (no insult to that scrappy animal intended by this rhetoric).

The question is, "Where are we going form here?"

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2010 @ 4:25 p.m.

Response to post #31: I don't believe you can say newspapers have always been a niche market. It used to be that more than half the adult population read a newspaper just about every day. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2010 @ 4:30 p.m.

Response to post #32: You are absolutely right. Social Darwinism has always been bunk. In the Gilded Age, when the term came into usage, the distribution of wealth and income was even more out of kilter than it is now. (We have almost returned to those days.) So back then, to justify this highly inequitable wealth distribution, some so-called thinkers -- actually, whores for the establishment -- came up with the concept of Social Darwinism to argue that survival of the fittest pertained to society. This was during the period of the robber barons, who were getting their sustenance from government almost as much as today's elite. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2010 @ 4:34 p.m.

Response to post #33: Those who trumpeted rugged individualism were the same aristocrats in the Gilded Age who talked about Social Darwinism. It was nonsense. Most "rugged individualists" were robber barons who thrived on land given them by the government. They were corporate socialists. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Feb. 17, 2010 @ 5:45 a.m.

Response to post #30 & 35:

Yes Don, we know that "Social Darwinism has always been bunk" but the republican establishment is still getting away with using this "bunk" to successfully fool enough people to implement their laws of destruction, because We The People keep electing their puppets to carry out the will of the newest generation of Robber Barons.

The fact that we keep electing destructive Mayors is enough to characterize our San Diego subculture as Insane Diego.

But this is not out of context with the dominant American culture that continues to elect destructive puppeticians to Sacramento and Washington.

As events keep proving, We The People have allowed our elected representatives to lead us through the new Anthropocene epoch, that dates back to the invention of the steam engine in 1784, toward the sixth mass extinction.

This is because our failed education, economic and religious institutions keep proving that our prefrontal cortex will not be allowed to evolve enough to save us from that extinction.

That is unless there is still time for publications like the Reader to use Freedom of the Press to save us from ourselves and prevent “The Union-Tribune remains a tool of the establishment and therefore an enemy of most of the people” from leading us to our extinction.

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Don Bauder Feb. 17, 2010 @ 6:50 a.m.

Response to post #37: Examples of the genre today: financial institutions get bailed out by Washington, then dispatch their army of lobbyists to thwart any financial reform. Or those in Congress scream that federal anti-recession spending is socialistic, then brag to their constituents that they got $X millions of dollars of such funds for their districts. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Feb. 17, 2010 @ 12:11 p.m.

Response to post #38:

That gives me an idea Don, We The People need lobbyists.

Now how do we go about doing that successfully?

The only way I know right now is to support investigative reporters with integrity like yourself and get you to educate the rest of the voters for us, because all our other political, social, education and moral institutions have failed to educate us to think seriously about the hideously bad consequences that our current politicians have on the long term future for our children.

You really are the only option we have left.

Recently I used to think democratic politicians were the stupidest humans for allowing their republican counterparts to sell out America, but now I know beyond all doubt that it is republican voters who are brain-dead stupid and need the most help from great investigative reporters like yourself.

We need to get you Blog much more widely read and discussed.

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Don Bauder Feb. 17, 2010 @ 12:24 p.m.

Response to post #39: The Reader does its best to get staff columns, stories and blogs more widely read. You can always email them out. Best, Don Bauder

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Sportsbook Feb. 22, 2010 @ 8:30 p.m.

"Because of a recent agreement among the company, unsecured creditors and lenders, it may be able to emerge in March."

And the Owners get ZERO! Nothing! Wiped out! All so the attorney who won a class action suit against them prior to the BK, would go away and not sue every single one of them. Curroption!!!! Freedom was being robbed by its MGMT as the ship was sinking. The family was so concerned about the associates they gave up their 2% claim with the option to buy 10%, and all got a big fat ZERO. Sad. RC Hoiles is rolling in his grave.

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Don Bauder Feb. 22, 2010 @ 10:27 p.m.

Response to post #41: You may be right -- the owners may have been wiped out. I just haven't followed that BK. Sorry. The owners were family members, for the most part, as I understand it. Did they get the shaft? Did their feud exacerbate the hostilities and lead to their own woes? Best, Don Bauder

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