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The Union-Tribune laid off 4 or 5 news people in a restructuring in North County today (May 28), according to good sources. I don't have more details at this time but will add them as I get more. As previously reported, the U-T's circulation numbers were not good in the most recent reporting period. Despite having purchased the North County Times, the paper reported small gains in some categories and actual declines in others. The most recent period was being compared with the period without the addition of the NC Times. Given the weak performance, layoffs did not come as a surprise, and there is unrest about the possibility of more.

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Don Bauder May 28, 2013 @ 3:57 p.m.

CALIFORNIAN APPARENTLY DEAD, NORTH COUNTY ZONING EDITION QUESTIONABLE. I have heard more. Source says, "At least three people in sports let go, all with more than 20 years experience. Most of Californian staff in Temecula let go. Californian is no more." There are also rumors that the North County zone edition is on the brink or gone. Others on the Reader are getting reports. We will continue to update. Best, Don Bauder

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ExDiegan May 28, 2013 @ 4:43 p.m.

A familiar circuit: Dump the most experienced (expensive) journalists, publisher announces unconvincing rationale, readers abandon ship in droves, cash flow suffers, lay off the most experienced (expensive) journalists...

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Don Bauder May 28, 2013 @ 6:27 p.m.

ExDiegan: See post that I will be posting below shortly. UT admits NC Times and Californian doing poorly. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder May 28, 2013 @ 6:39 p.m.

LYNCH ADMITS NORTH COUNTY TIMES AND CALIFORNIAN BRANDS DOING POORLY. ALSO, SOME LAYOFF NAMES. In his memo to the staff today (May 28) Union-Tribune chief executive John Lynch admitted what observers long suspected: there have been "significant declines" in the North County Times and Californian brand, both of which came with the $12 million purchase of the North County Times. Lynch claimed there has been "a corresponding positive reception of the new U-T." So, he said, the company is refocusing on the U-T brand, and jobs at the NC Times and Californian have been eliminated. However, there have been layoffs above and beyond those North County and East County editions. Bobby Ignelzi, a writer who has covered many beats for decades, got laid off, along with Nathan Mix, a military writer. I don't have a number of layoffs yet and will report that if I get it. Staff members as recently as three weeks ago were hopeful that layoffs had ended. The company had claimed that it is profitable -- adding to the confidence of staffers, who are now badly shaken. The latest circulation numbers, however, suggested that the U-T is not doing well. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder May 28, 2013 @ 6:58 p.m.

U-T SAYS IT IS ON ACQUISITION TRAIL. At the end of the memo to the staff, Lynch said that the U-T will continue expanding its business model by buying major metro newspapers in the U.S. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder May 28, 2013 @ 7:05 p.m.

LAYOFF NUMBER PROBABLY 19 OR MORE. According to an excellent source, there were at least a dozen layoffs of U-T staffers at the Californian, plus 6 or 7, perhaps more, at the U-T. Those were mostly former North County Times staffers, but not all (such as Ignelzi.) Apparently, the U-T tried to sell the Californian unsuccessfully. However, the Riverside Press-Enterprise, the logical buyer, is in bad financial shape. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder May 28, 2013 @ 7:10 p.m.

HUARD AMONG THOSE LAID OFF: REPORT. Ray Huard, a long time Union-Tribune reporter who once covered City Hall in San Diego, was among those laid off, according to an excellent source. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh May 28, 2013 @ 8:14 p.m.

The news coverage in the No County version of the UT is very weak now. This won't help that in the slightest, and a steadily shrinking news hole in the Mill will just lose more subscribers. (I never cared for the NC times, but many in this area took it for the local coverage, reports on club activities, pictures of community activities, and that sort of old fashioned stuff. Now that it is gone, the Mill has made an attempt, sort of, to incorporate some of that into the No County edition. Will that continue? I wonder.)

The residents of Temecula and surrounding cities and areas are really getting cut off. The Californian was produced for them and just for them. The Riverside paper may pick up some of the subscribers, but I'd guess most will just do without a newspaper. I really, really don't expect them to want the Mill.

The beat goes on, and the industry circles the drain.

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Don Bauder May 28, 2013 @ 8:36 p.m.

Visduh: Agreed. Coverage was weak and got weaker after the U-T purchased NY Times. Residents of Temecula and environs hurt by death of Californian. My guess is that North Countians will read U-T even less now. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder May 28, 2013 @ 8:43 p.m.

LYNCH WON'T GIVE PROFIT NUMBER BUT CLAIMS "THE U-T IS DOING WELL." In an email, I asked John Lynch, U-T chief executive, several questions. Just how profitable is the U-T by sales, assets, or investment? Will there be employee resentment of big layoffs at the same time company stresses desire to make acquisitions of major dailies? Weren't employees told the company was profitable, thus the layoffs came as a surprise?

Lynch replied that "The Californian was let deteriorate and was minuscule in terms of UT operations. All of our efforts will be focused on the UT as a brand and the North County Times and Californian will cease to exist...The U-T is doing well and intends to expand its holdings by acquiring major metros across the country."

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aardvark May 28, 2013 @ 9:06 p.m.

They want to buy other major metropolitan newspapers? God help them--and us.

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Don Bauder May 28, 2013 @ 10:20 p.m.

Aardvark. Warren buffet has picked some papers, but selectively. It appeared to me that the prices were so low that he could not resist. Koch brothers hunting papers, perhaps LA times and others that are part of Tribune Co. Kochs buying for propaganda purposes. Ditto Manchester. Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark May 28, 2013 @ 11:44 p.m.

The last line reads in part; "...The U-T is doing well..." blah, blah, blah. The line spoken by Lynch reminds of Kevin Bacon's character in the movie, "Animal House", when he utters his quote, "Remain calm, all is well." Right before he is trampled by a mob. The mob in this case is the dwindling number of readers of the Manchester U-T. Does the U-T still claim they are read by over 1 million a day, or a week, or whatever ridiculous claim they were making before?

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Don Bauder May 29, 2013 @ 12:18 a.m.

aardvark: Yes, U-T is still claiming it is read by 1 million a week. I heard that song today upon making a call to the main number. Best, Don Bauder

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Burwell May 28, 2013 @ 10:18 p.m.

Papa Doug bought the NCT in September 2012 from Lee Enterprises for $12 million. He sold the NCT office building for $7 million to a charter school. The NCT probably posted at least $1 million in operating losses under Papa's ownership. All told, it appears that Papa Doug lost $6 million on the NCT in less than 8 months. A $6 million loss is certainly not a personal best for Papa Doug, but it is an impressive number nevertheless. Godspeed to these two sons of Ireland as they go forth and build their media empire.

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Don Bauder May 28, 2013 @ 10:23 p.m.

Burwell. Your numbers are probably correct. I assume, then, that the charter school deal is a fait accompli.

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Burwell May 28, 2013 @ 10:28 p.m.

The article in the U-T announcing the closure states the building was sold to the charter school for $7 million, so I assume the deal closed. I assume that the portion of the $12 million purchase price allocable to the newspaper operation is a total loss, at least it appears that way to me. The fact is, Papa's purchase of the NCT turned out to be a financial fiasco no matter how he tries to spin it.

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/may/28/union-tribune-publishing-californian-newspapers/

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Don Bauder May 28, 2013 @ 10:38 p.m.

It would appear that Papa Doug blew it this time. If he paid $110 million for the UT he got taken, too. Best., Don Bauder

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Visduh May 29, 2013 @ 3:07 p.m.

In some ways I wonder if this acquisition of newspapers represents Dougie's dotage. He can't personally benefit from having those papers as propaganda mills when they cost millions and continue to bleed. In fact, a couple more overpriced papers and he'll be out of money. He didn't get where he is by purchasing assets that were in decline. He got there by leveraging good ideas and building his personal net worth. Pursuing this plan would require borrowing, and nobody in his right mind would lend him money to buy newspapers. This all looks like a foolish wasting of assets by an egotistical man who is losing his touch while he indulges some fantasy of being a new W R Hearst for the 21st century.

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Don Bauder May 29, 2013 @ 5:54 p.m.

Visduh. There is no doubt that Manchester bought the UT as a propaganda vehicle. He wanted to push his own candidates and right wing agenda, as well as proselytize for downtown projects that would line his pockets with taxpayer money. I doubt that it ever occurred t o him that his actions might destroy that vehicle. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder May 29, 2013 @ 9:31 a.m.

MORE LAYOFF NAMES: Here are some more names of those laid off in U-T's bloodletting, according to sources believed reliable: sportswriters Jay Paris, Terry Monahan, and Jeff Nahill, all formerly of the North County Times, and Phil Diehl, also formerly of the North County Times. Also, the Health Section, once headed by Bobbi Ignelzi, who was laid off, has apparently been axed. I also misspelled the name of Nathan Max. It is Max, not Mix. This one can be blamed on the iPad, which I had to use in reporting this story at some points yesterday (May 28).

A former U-T all-star put it this way: "They are going beyond eating their young; they are working on the fetuses." Well said. This is not just a killing of two outlying brands. This is a wholesale staff reduction that clearly indicates the paper is in trouble, as observers have suspected for some time. CEO Lynch, who once bragged of good profits, is moderating his position. Best, Don Bauder

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HellcatCopley May 29, 2013 @ 9:54 a.m.

Don, No one talks very much about the UT losing market penetration as well as circulation. According to census records, San Diego County’s population grew 10 percent from 2000 to 2010 (from 2,813,833 to 3,095,313). Even if circulation had remained constant instead of declining, more people entered the county and ignored the local paper – that’s horrible news for advertisers.

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Don Bauder May 29, 2013 @ 11:32 a.m.

HellcatCopley: Right you are. Even if circulation had stayed constant, the share of the metro market would have declined. And circulation did NOT stay even. It declined significantly in the years you mentioned. So market share plummeted, when measured accurately. (There are ways that the company is fudging on market share now. I have outlined those in previous posts.) Best, Don Bauder

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David Dodd May 29, 2013 @ 1:08 p.m.

I can confirm that Jay Paris was axed. Hopefully he shows up in the press box at Petco this afternoon (Tim Sullivan did after he was let go) so I can say goodbye. Paris will find work somewhere else if he wants it, he's an excellent sports writer with an impressive resume. Sullivan is now writing for the Courier-Journal in Louisville, by the way, covering so many more sports there than San Diego ever had to offer.

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Don Bauder May 29, 2013 @ 2:55 p.m.

David Dodd. It is my understanding that he is a very good sportswriter. Best, Don Bauder

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David Dodd May 29, 2013 @ 3:51 p.m.

Jay Paris is going on 1090 AM (in San Diego, but you can listen on the web by streaming TheMighty1090) at 4PM PDST. He'll explain the lay-off from his side.

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Don Bauder May 29, 2013 @ 6:03 p.m.

David Dodd. Sports fans, listen in. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 May 29, 2013 @ 1:14 p.m.

Manchester (locally) and the GOP House (nationally) are proving that the GOP strategy really is:

Destroy American Democracy

Destroy newspapers

Destroy TV news

Destroy public health

Destroy public safety

Destroy public education

Destroy American industry

Destroy American jobs

Destroy the American middle class

Destroy honor, integrity and morality

Destroy quality of life for all future generations

Did I leave anything out?

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Don Bauder May 29, 2013 @ 2:59 p.m.

Anon92107. You left out Destroy Obama and Destroy all political opposition, including Democrats. This does not mean that I agree with your list. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder May 29, 2013 @ 3:05 p.m.

TWO UNCONFIRMED LAYOFFS. I understand that photographers Don Boomer and Bill Wechter, formerly of the North. County Times, have been laid off. Sorry I cannot confirm these at this time. Best, Don Bauder

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petezanko May 29, 2013 @ 3:16 p.m.

Several page designer/copy editors, I'm hearing from a couple fellow former employees. It's more like counting who's left than who was let go.

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Don Bauder May 29, 2013 @ 5:57 p.m.

Petezanko. Th at sounds logical. If you have names, please give them to us. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 May 29, 2013 @ 3:34 p.m.

OK then Don, I yield to and respect your greater wisdom and rhetoric, and ask you:

How would you restate the GOP strategy that Manchester and Congressional republicans are carrying out?

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Don Bauder May 29, 2013 @ 6 p.m.

Anon92107. Manchester locally and Congressional Republicans nationally want to thwart the will of the majority by any means, fair or foul. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 May 30, 2013 @ 11:08 a.m.

Hmm, sounds a lot like a much simpler way of saying what I said without going into a lot of details. But I will try to stay away from investigative reporting and leave that to your expertise.

The bottom line is that the republican politicians and their oligarch owners are responsible for all the problems in America, while the democrats watch and do nothing to prevent it, so it is hard to tell who is worse.

Except to note that American Democracy is being destroyed in the meantime and We The People aren't getting pissed off fast enough to Fight Back and protect future generations from the consequences of criminal acts by current generations.

So we still need someone with your experience, intellect and morality to expose the truth loud and clear enough to motivate We The People to protect our Democracy from the new breed of "Tories" that are trying to burn down (figuratively) Washington again.

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Don Bauder May 30, 2013 @ 6:04 p.m.

Anon92107. ALL the problems? Not so. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 May 31, 2013 @ 2:58 a.m.

OK then Don, let's focus on achieving solutions, at least for the sake of producing an acceptable quality of life legacy for our grandchildren and future generations.

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monaghan May 29, 2013 @ 8:08 p.m.

I like that the Manchester Grand U-T advertises on KPBS as a winner of the Pulitzer Prize from a long time ago. That was a fluke in its own right, IMHO -- the hoary bribes n' jail story about GOP Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham -- undertaken just as the D.C. Bureau of the then-Copley Press was about to be shuttered. The U-T has a terrible history and a worse present. May Doug Manchester lose a fortune on it.

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Visduh May 29, 2013 @ 8:59 p.m.

Yeah, that prize was strange. More than a few claimed that the DNC actually unearthed the story and then handed it over to the rag, which ran with it, and never revealed the source. For a papers if their size and longevity, the local Copley products went year after year without any real scoops, especially when there were a host of local gangsters and rip-off artists whose misdeeds were not well concealed. Add to that, the local political scene had its strange players, but it they supported a few local sacred cows, the papers never dug very deep at all.

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Don Bauder May 29, 2013 @ 11:42 p.m.

Visduh: I specialized in chasing financial fraudsters when I was with the U-T. I guess I was not doing my job. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh May 30, 2013 @ 6:57 a.m.

As I remember, you ran many exposes of fraudsters in the financial area, notably those in the "investments" arena. I was referring to the political arena and judges and governmental agencies that went for years with no scrutiny from the papers. So, you were doing your job, and so well that you were ostracized there at times.

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Don Bauder May 30, 2013 @ 7:48 a.m.

Visduh: I didn't do much on local politicians until the 60,000 seat guarantee and Petco Park scams came along. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder May 29, 2013 @ 11:40 p.m.

monaghan: The Tribune won a couple of Pulitzers and the Union-Tribune won one. I was unpopular over many years for stating internally and loudly that the pursuit of journalism prizes was an enemy of doing one's job. In the 30 years I was at the U-T, staffers obsessed over Press Club, Copley Ring of Truth, Pulitzer and other prizes. They should have been obsessed over figuring ways to gain market share for the newspaper. Winning prizes is just a distraction from doing one's job as a journalist. Best, Don Bauder

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petezanko May 29, 2013 @ 11:52 p.m.

I couldn't agree more, particularly because the Pulitzers are really just a competition between among five big papers, with a couple token prizes thrown to the littler guys. In general, the only prize worth working toward is a phone call from a nice reader telling you that they appreciated and enjoyed your story. Everything else is ego.

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Don Bauder May 30, 2013 @ 7:51 a.m.

petezanko: Winning Pulitzers, like winning Nobel Prizes, requires lots of politicking. It also takes a lot of money, because precious resources are put behind the coverage of one story to the detriment of balanced coverage. Best, Don Bauder

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petezanko May 30, 2013 @ 8:45 a.m.

Yes sir. Also, writers of those little projects turn into total babies who fight every edit and lose perspective about the rest of the world. Actually, they tend to come out of J-school that way, but awards season makes it worse.

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Don Bauder May 30, 2013 @ 9 a.m.

petezanko: Generally, but not always, pursuit of awards is distraction from the main mission. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder May 30, 2013 @ 9:03 a.m.

MORE NAMES: Here are some other people laid off in the UT bloodletting: Laura Groch, Edwin Feliu, Barbara Cousins Trageser, Lauri Lockwood, Aaron Claverie, and Landon Negri. Best, Don Bauder

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spudboy June 20, 2013 @ 12:29 p.m.

Any still read news print that isn't in their late 50's and up (no offense just asking)?

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