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U-T execs show for O.B. council meeting

Invitation accepted to address residents' gripes with coupon distribution

The Union-Tribune's Robert York faces the crowd
The Union-Tribune's Robert York faces the crowd

In a gesture meant to grab the attention of the audience and the attending officials from the San Diego Union-Tribune, O.B. resident Mary Tolena wheeled in hundreds of advertising circulars and threw them on the floor in front of the O.B. Town Council at their monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 27.

Mary Tolena during the less dramatic portion of her presentation

She intended to make a point that the circulars were an environmental nuisance in this beach community and in other places around San Diego.

The Reader reported on this issue several days ago when several O.B.-centric Facebook groups raised a ruckus over the circulars that litter their neighborhood. Tolena then put together an online survey to take the temperature of the residents and what they would like to do about it. She found that 58 percent of the almost 300 respondents were downright angry about the delivery of this paper put out by the U-T.

Town-council president Gretchen Newsom then introduced Robert York, the “senior director of strategic initiatives” for the U-T, and Mark Ficarra, a senior VP for the paper.

"We need to look at this and we are all neighbors and want to make this right,” said York. His suggestion of opting out of receiving the paper was met with fairly good support from locals. "Not everyone defines this as ‘litter,’" said York. "Several nonprofits utilize the circular because it's inexpensive to advertise in it."

York said he will address the fact that, "The circulars should be landing in driveways and not in bushes. Tell us to opt out and we will do away with your address." He further claimed, "I'm the guy who can remedy this. You email me if you still get it after opting out."

There was a collective gasp from the crowd when they were told that 10,000 circulars are distributed in O.B. alone, according to York.

Some wanted to do away with the plastic bag that the paper is packaged in, as they can end up in the ocean and in storm drains, clogging the system. A representative from the Surfrider Foundation claimed that, "There isn't a recycling bin in the whole city of San Diego that would accept the plastic bags that hold the circulars."

"We will look into this,” York replied. "We thought they were recyclable."

Another resident asked, "Why can't we have an opt-in instead of an opt-out?"

York was not receptive to an opt-in proposal and also claimed that delivery through bulk mail was too expensive.

"Why can't we have it like the Reader does it?” asked O.B. Woman's Club president Melyssa Roark. “You go and pick it up.”

“The Reader has a great distribution model, but we can't do that,” said York.

Local Jim Musgrove was against stopping the circular from being delivered. He said, "Lots of families depend on the coupons that come in that paper."

The U-T’s Mark Ficarra said, "We are on the executive management team and we want to be a positive neighbor."

Ficarra and York stayed after the meeting was over and continued to respond to questions from residents.

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The Union-Tribune's Robert York faces the crowd
The Union-Tribune's Robert York faces the crowd

In a gesture meant to grab the attention of the audience and the attending officials from the San Diego Union-Tribune, O.B. resident Mary Tolena wheeled in hundreds of advertising circulars and threw them on the floor in front of the O.B. Town Council at their monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 27.

Mary Tolena during the less dramatic portion of her presentation

She intended to make a point that the circulars were an environmental nuisance in this beach community and in other places around San Diego.

The Reader reported on this issue several days ago when several O.B.-centric Facebook groups raised a ruckus over the circulars that litter their neighborhood. Tolena then put together an online survey to take the temperature of the residents and what they would like to do about it. She found that 58 percent of the almost 300 respondents were downright angry about the delivery of this paper put out by the U-T.

Town-council president Gretchen Newsom then introduced Robert York, the “senior director of strategic initiatives” for the U-T, and Mark Ficarra, a senior VP for the paper.

"We need to look at this and we are all neighbors and want to make this right,” said York. His suggestion of opting out of receiving the paper was met with fairly good support from locals. "Not everyone defines this as ‘litter,’" said York. "Several nonprofits utilize the circular because it's inexpensive to advertise in it."

York said he will address the fact that, "The circulars should be landing in driveways and not in bushes. Tell us to opt out and we will do away with your address." He further claimed, "I'm the guy who can remedy this. You email me if you still get it after opting out."

There was a collective gasp from the crowd when they were told that 10,000 circulars are distributed in O.B. alone, according to York.

Some wanted to do away with the plastic bag that the paper is packaged in, as they can end up in the ocean and in storm drains, clogging the system. A representative from the Surfrider Foundation claimed that, "There isn't a recycling bin in the whole city of San Diego that would accept the plastic bags that hold the circulars."

"We will look into this,” York replied. "We thought they were recyclable."

Another resident asked, "Why can't we have an opt-in instead of an opt-out?"

York was not receptive to an opt-in proposal and also claimed that delivery through bulk mail was too expensive.

"Why can't we have it like the Reader does it?” asked O.B. Woman's Club president Melyssa Roark. “You go and pick it up.”

“The Reader has a great distribution model, but we can't do that,” said York.

Local Jim Musgrove was against stopping the circular from being delivered. He said, "Lots of families depend on the coupons that come in that paper."

The U-T’s Mark Ficarra said, "We are on the executive management team and we want to be a positive neighbor."

Ficarra and York stayed after the meeting was over and continued to respond to questions from residents.

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Comments
6

I think York needs to recycle that ill-fitting, unattractive sports jacket he's wearing! But there isn't a recycling bin in the whole City of San Diego that would accept it! ;-)

May 28, 2015

Maybe it's just an old Armani and he's lost a lot of weight.

May 28, 2015

I've seen better men's clothes at Goodwill!

May 28, 2015

I own better men's clothing from Goodwill!

May 29, 2015

Print media makes money from advertising not from circulation. Circulation figures are a phony as a wooden watch. It counts all papers printed and distributed to wherever without counting papers actually sold. Circulation determines price of advertising. Most news can be gained by watching TV or the internet. The UT should concentrate on community news that is not on the national news circuit.

May 29, 2015

After I read this article the morning, I emailed Robert York and explained that despite requesting to not receive circulars about a month ago, they were still coming. I had a very pleasant reply from him within a few hours promising to take care of things.

Late this afternoon when I was standing in my front yard, the driver came by with the circulars, stopped, and asked if I was the person who requested the circulars be stopped. When I told him that was me, he apologized and said that I would not receive them again. He was so nice I almost felt bad about making the request.

Anyway, I'm extremely impressed by the quick action by Mr. York. I hope this signals a new, more positive Union-Tribune.

May 29, 2015

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