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Tronc to Union-Tribune: attrit now!

L.A. Times shoulders editorial burden for little San Diego sister

Wall Street analysts at NobleCon13, an investor conference run by Noble Capital Markets, were recently presented with a fundamental truth about the newspaper business, but it wasn’t good news for readers of the San Diego Union-Tribune and the string of other papers owned by Chicago-based tronc, Inc.

Justin Dearborn

"Over all, print is attriting," tronc chief executive Justin C. Dearborn told the January 30 gathering.

"We are going to attrit with the industry."

Those using Merriam-Webster to decipher Dearborn's corporate-speak discovered the meaning of that transitive verb to be, "a reduction in numbers usually as a result of resignation, retirement, or death."

Adds Investopedia, "This type of reduction in staff is one way a company can decrease labor costs: the company simply waits for its employees to leave and freezes hiring. Such a method contrasts with more severe labor-reduction techniques, such as mass layoffs. Waiting for attrition naturally is usually better for company morale; however, it can also have a negative impact on the employees that remain if the duties from the eliminated positions are transferred to them with no pay increase. It can also limit promotions within the company if these jobs are eliminated, which can result in further attrition and turnover.”

Though attriting may not be the best prescription for the future of the newspaper business, Dearborn turned upbeat as he unveiled tronc's new mission statement: "Creating a billion dollar online media network."

Patrick Soon-Shiong

Though Dearborn didn't elaborate, making that happen is said to be in the hands of L.A. biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong — vice chairman of the company with 16 percent of its stock — who is said to be developing an automated way to replace attriting reporters and editors.

Meanwhile, more and more of the Union-Tribune’s reportage is being handed off to scribes at the paper's big sister, the Los Angeles Times, which also prints the San Diego daily at a giant plant in downtown L.A.

"As a young man and a lover of literature, Kevin Faulconer channeled his inner Hemingway..."

"Republicans think they've found the ideal candidate for governor. So why isn't Kevin Faulconer interested?" asks the headline of a story about the future of San Diego's mayor posted by the U-T February 10.

The byline belongs to reporter Mark Z. Barabak, a longtime veteran of the L.A. Times.

"As a young man and a lover of literature, Kevin Faulconer channeled his inner Hemingway and ran with the bulls in Pamplona," says the story.

The Faulconer profile is notable for omitting such high-profile mayoral controversies as this year's Chargers exodus to L.A., while reporting that Faulconer "carried a substantial chunk of the Latino vote running against a Latina opponent," without mentioning the mayor's fat campaign funding advantage.

Many of the L.A.-written stories are among the most popular run by the U-T: a February 8 account by Times metro reporter Hailey Branson-Potts about a foster father in Azusa who adopts terminally ill children was an especially big draw.

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Wall Street analysts at NobleCon13, an investor conference run by Noble Capital Markets, were recently presented with a fundamental truth about the newspaper business, but it wasn’t good news for readers of the San Diego Union-Tribune and the string of other papers owned by Chicago-based tronc, Inc.

Justin Dearborn

"Over all, print is attriting," tronc chief executive Justin C. Dearborn told the January 30 gathering.

"We are going to attrit with the industry."

Those using Merriam-Webster to decipher Dearborn's corporate-speak discovered the meaning of that transitive verb to be, "a reduction in numbers usually as a result of resignation, retirement, or death."

Adds Investopedia, "This type of reduction in staff is one way a company can decrease labor costs: the company simply waits for its employees to leave and freezes hiring. Such a method contrasts with more severe labor-reduction techniques, such as mass layoffs. Waiting for attrition naturally is usually better for company morale; however, it can also have a negative impact on the employees that remain if the duties from the eliminated positions are transferred to them with no pay increase. It can also limit promotions within the company if these jobs are eliminated, which can result in further attrition and turnover.”

Though attriting may not be the best prescription for the future of the newspaper business, Dearborn turned upbeat as he unveiled tronc's new mission statement: "Creating a billion dollar online media network."

Patrick Soon-Shiong

Though Dearborn didn't elaborate, making that happen is said to be in the hands of L.A. biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong — vice chairman of the company with 16 percent of its stock — who is said to be developing an automated way to replace attriting reporters and editors.

Meanwhile, more and more of the Union-Tribune’s reportage is being handed off to scribes at the paper's big sister, the Los Angeles Times, which also prints the San Diego daily at a giant plant in downtown L.A.

"As a young man and a lover of literature, Kevin Faulconer channeled his inner Hemingway..."

"Republicans think they've found the ideal candidate for governor. So why isn't Kevin Faulconer interested?" asks the headline of a story about the future of San Diego's mayor posted by the U-T February 10.

The byline belongs to reporter Mark Z. Barabak, a longtime veteran of the L.A. Times.

"As a young man and a lover of literature, Kevin Faulconer channeled his inner Hemingway and ran with the bulls in Pamplona," says the story.

The Faulconer profile is notable for omitting such high-profile mayoral controversies as this year's Chargers exodus to L.A., while reporting that Faulconer "carried a substantial chunk of the Latino vote running against a Latina opponent," without mentioning the mayor's fat campaign funding advantage.

Many of the L.A.-written stories are among the most popular run by the U-T: a February 8 account by Times metro reporter Hailey Branson-Potts about a foster father in Azusa who adopts terminally ill children was an especially big draw.

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10

In the not to distant Back to the Future, the L.A. Times - San Diego County Edition will be resurrected. The consolidation will complete the collapse of the once proud Copley Newspaper Syndicate. The Reader and Voice of SD will be the only local news gathering entities. Then who will watch the crooks at City Hall?

Feb. 10, 2017

With all due respect, the Reader is our slim but reliable alternative news source to the attriting San Diego Union-Tribune, but the alleged VoiceofSanDiego has been attriting almost since its inception -- a weak sister which has never been a watchdog about anything, except maybe fallen Mayor Bob Filner. Reading that Los Angeles Times puff-piece on Mayor Sunny today -- written by a guy who for months had covered Hillary in warm prose -- was definitely a piece of tronc.

Feb. 10, 2017

And we now have a President tronc!

Feb. 10, 2017

Does anyone remember Larry Remer's Newsline newspaper? Mustabeen mid 70s he had a small office around 4th & Laurel. I was always amazed at all his inside information about who was doing who in City Hall. He took numbers and named names and dared to tell the stories that the U-T wouldn't and couldn't. He was my hero.

But something terrible happened since then and he's nobody's hero now.

Roger Hedgecock was another disappointment who had a promising start but then sold out. Dave, were you there in the days that he would attend the North Park Planning Committee as a prospective council candidate? He would listen carefully and offer sympathetic suggestions on occasion. He was a man of the people until something turned him around.

With the ease of publishing on the internet, we should have a dozen eager young Larry Remers keeping our politicians and lobbyists honest. Where are they?

Feb. 10, 2017

I didn't live in SD back then; I was in Hollywood.

Feb. 10, 2017

"...we should have a dozen eager young Larry Remers keeping our politicians and lobbyists honest."

Uh, his primary job in life has been to get shady politicians elected. - and NEWSLINE had its on shady beginnings: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Feb. 11, 2017

I stand by my comments: Remer seemed an honorable man while publishing Newsline. He may be today, but I have questions.

Feb. 11, 2017

Just like some pseudo-newspaperman to use a fancy and obscure term like "attrit" when he could have said "shrink." We first began to hear of attrition being used widely when, in the late 70's, some major employers began to make big staffing cutbacks. One that I recall was United Airlines when it announced that is was cutting 10,000 (!) workers from its staff, and stating that much would come from attrition. (How, I asked, could an airline have ten thousand excess employees and stay in business; how would it keep its planes flying after cutting that many workers? Well, if you've dealt with those airlines in recent years, you know that they are chronically short-staffed when it comes to check-in personnel, agents reachable by telephone, and keeping the planes clean. Something had to give.)

Roger Hedgecock was an interesting study. He actually started out as a sort of liberal young politician, although his party was the GOP. That was possible back when non-partisan local offices actually were, sort of, not driven by state or national party affiliations. Roger, when he was elected a county supervisor, actually was the "bete noir" of the county bureaucracy, in that he actually asked the CAO and department heads hard questions, and had the temerity to criticize them publicly. Oh, the entrenched types in county employ hated him! But later on the lure of a more visible office, that of mayor, beckoned and his ambition had no bounds. He could have used that as a stepping stone to the governorship or US Senate, had his venality not tripped him up.

Feb. 11, 2017

I wonder how much Justin C. Dearborn will attrit his salary.

Feb. 11, 2017

Using the UT to push FakeNews (especially Political FakeNews) in SD will more than make up for any costs incurred by those that will profit from it! I wouldn't be surprised to learn that was the new Owners plan all along!

The value of the SD Reader has doubled again and will continue to do so as it is now the only outlet that encourages balanced public debate; unlike the VOSD and the other "owned" local rags!

Feb. 11, 2017

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