• Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

Jeff Light, vice president and editor of the Union-Tribune, today (February 14) revealed that there will be seven layoffs on the editorial staff of the newspaper.

Jeff Light

Jeff Light

His message reads, "All--Today, we're reducing our newsroom by seven positions. I feel badly [sic] about these difficult decisions. Everyone we are saying goodbye to is a dedicated journalist and valued colleague. Some have spent decades at the U-T. In an organization of our size, it is a small number, but that does not lessen the sense of loss everyone in our newsroom will feel today. Each person who is directly affected already has been notified this morning. I'd like to thank each of them for their commitment to our mission as journalists, for the sacrifices they have made for their careers and for their significant contribution to this company."

The memo does not name the people who lost their jobs. According to staff members, who are relying on the rumor mill, those laid off may include Christine Huard, who covered schools in South County, and Michael Gehlken, a sportswriter who penned a number of stories about the Chargers’ departure.

One staff member said there will probably be more layoffs related to the Chargers' planned bolt to Los Angeles. The sports section is large and vulnerable. Another staff member explains the rationale for the layoffs as follows: "It's a bad newspaper. There is no edge to it at all."

UPDATE 2/14, 2 p.m.

From a certain source: Photojournalist Peggy Peattie and news photo editor David Poller have also been laid off. Peattie was there for 20 or 30 years; Poller began as U-T metro photo editor in 1999.

UPDATE 2/14, 2:35 p.m.

Also dismissed: Maureen Magee, education writer; Aaron Atencio, information graphics reporter; Kassi Lugo, designer.

  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 8:17 a.m.

Ponzi: Yes, the timing was not very good. There are a lot of unhappy people at the U-T -- and a lot of unhappy people outside the U-T. There is a black cloud hanging over the newspaper, because people I talked with expect more layoffs. Circulation is down, down, down, reflecting the poor product. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh Feb. 14, 2017 @ 4:39 p.m.

So Jeff is "lightening" the staff at the Light News again. With all the positions that have been lost there, it amazes me that they can turn out the miserable, shrunken thing at all. I'd guess that the preprint advertisers, especially the Sunday users, are having more to do with keeping it afloat than anything else. But all the legions of former readers who now don't see any kind of ad, either in the paper or delivered along with it, how much longer will those advertisers use it as a delivery medium?

Rather than ask who has been laid off, ask who still works there. (It can't be all that many people; soon it will be fewer still.)

It is so amusing to see the Readers Rep, one Adrian Vore, explain the controversy "raging" at the paper and in the subscriber base. Some want to continue to cover the Chargers just as always--which was 'way too heavily, and fawned constantly. Others, he says, want to just treat them like any other NFL team as far as coverage. They figure that since the team left town, it isn't "theirs" any more, and they want to move on. (But what will they move on to? More Padres? Likely, but how much more can they do? Other pro teams? Uh, what other pro teams? And so it goes.)


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 8:23 a.m.

Visduh: Wise statements, as always. We must keep this in context: almost the entire newspaper industry -- particularly metro dailies -- is in the dumpster. Newspaper readers get the news too late, as compared with cable/satellite TV and the internet. Advertisers are deserting, understandably. Worse, the newspapers have not been able to make sufficient money off their own internet coverage. Best, Don Bauder


monaghan Feb. 14, 2017 @ 6:04 p.m.

Maureen Magee? An excellent reporter who has covered public education in this town for 20 years? This is a loss to the community. I hope this was not some sexist expression, letting go the female half of a highly qualified married pair who both work in the U-T newsroom. Depressing news.


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 8:26 a.m.

monaghan: I hope it is not sexist. She is married to Jeff McDonald, an excellent reporter -- perhaps the best on the staff -- who was not laid off. I understand they have two daughters. Maureen will be missed.

The U-T laid off two people who cover education. Is it slashing that beat? Voice of San Diego covers education thoroughly. Perhaps the U-T is surrendering the turf. Best, Don Bauder


Ponzi Feb. 14, 2017 @ 8:41 p.m.

If Christine Huard gets let go, it will be the second time from the Copley collapse. She's a hard worker and it's a shame.


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 8:28 a.m.

Ponzi: Yes, I understand she is good -- again, an education reporter. Best, Don Bauder


swell Feb. 14, 2017 @ 9:29 p.m.

Less scrutiny for the movers & shakers- they should be happy. But Don's still watching them!


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 8:29 a.m.

swell: Yeah, but Don will be 81years of age in May. Best, Don Bauder


martygraham619 Feb. 14, 2017 @ 9:57 p.m.

Peggy Peattie is a world-class photo journalist with an amazing ability to really see the people she photographs. Losing her is a tragedy for San Diego. Why cut the talent?


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 8:36 a.m.

marrygraham619: Yes, Peggy is highly regarded. Perhaps, because of her consummate skill, she was being paid more money than her peers.

That was one of the factors in the stupid layoff of sports columnist Tim Sullivan. He was very well paid. However, in Tim's case, the main reason is that he took an intelligent stance on the Chargers stadium -- eyeing a possible subsidy skeptically. That rankled Lynch and Manchester, who had announced that sportswriters had to favor a fat subsidy for the Chargers. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark Feb. 14, 2017 @ 10:10 p.m.

The sports section is "large and vulnerable"? That's hilarious, as it is nowhere near as good as it once was. They should just get rid of Canepa, as that fossil is just plain useless.


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 8:41 a.m.

aardvark: Yes, given that San Diego has only one major pro team, the Padres, the sports section is still too large, and there have to be more layoffs.

I disagree on Canepa, even though we have always been on opposite sides of issues. He enthusiastically favors subsidies for pro sports teams, I vigorously oppose them. But he is a very gifted writer, and a legend in San Diego, and the paper should not get rid of him. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark Feb. 15, 2017 @ 1:29 p.m.

Don: True--we do not always agree. But always enjoy the debate.


Visduh Feb. 15, 2017 @ 4:08 p.m.

Whaddaya mean, fossil? He's younger than I am.


aardvark Feb. 15, 2017 @ 5:06 p.m.

I don't have any issues with you. I do have issues with Canepa. Besides--some people just age better than others.


Matt101 Feb. 14, 2017 @ 10:36 p.m.

I feel badly for Gehlken, who is a good writer. But that sports staff is destined to shrink further; it's just too large for a dwindling newspaper in a city with only one major pro sports franchise.


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 8:45 a.m.

Matt101:You do not feel BADLY for Gehlken. You feel BAD for him.

You feel badly when you pick up a football and think it is a basketball. You feel bad when you miss the basket.

Notice that I put a [sic] after Jeff Light's incorrect use of BADLY. Best, Don Bauder


Matt101 Feb. 15, 2017 @ 11:21 p.m.

Don, I thought you put the (sic) there because you questioned whether Light genuinely felt bad (or badly) for those who were laid off. Ha.


AlexClarke Feb. 15, 2017 @ 6:12 a.m.

So did the always employee friendly UT provide any severance packages for the laid off staff?


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 8:48 a.m.

AlexClarke: I do not know if severance packages were provided. I didn't get to talk to any of those laid off, and of course I didn't speak with management. That is a very good question that I hope to answer. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 8:54 a.m.

Janet Lavelle: Yes, much talent is leaving. For the U-T's sake, I hope it is not making the mistake of a large electronics retailer (forgotten its name). It laid off its senior salespeople, and kept its rookies, who were not good salespeople, but had low salaries. The company went bankrupt. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 8:58 a.m.

Doug Curlee: I can't disagree.The paper is a shadow of its former self, and its former self wasn't so hot (I was on it for 30 years so this is self-condemnation.) Best, Don Bauder

P.S.: Doug, weren't we on KUSI-TV at the same time for several years in the early 1990s? Or am I mistaken?


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 8:59 a.m.

Charlie Neuman: Agreed: sad. And it's going to get sadder. So will the paper. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 9:02 a.m.

Paul Regis: You could have gotten the straight scoop from the Reader, but as I recall, you complained about me, too. I valued those complaints. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 9:03 a.m.

James Duren: If Gehlken is that good, he should land another job, even in the downtrodden newspaper industry. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 9:04 a.m.

Rick Griffin: Yes, bad news all around. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 9:08 a.m.

Pat Seaborg: Again, I think Canepa is very good. OK, he shilled for the owners when the Padres and Chargers stadium subsidy issues were front and center. But he is a very clever writer and a legend in town. Management wouldn't dare lay him off. Best, Don Bauder


Flapper Feb. 15, 2017 @ 10:34 a.m.

"It's a bad newspaper. There is no edge to it at all."

Nuff said.

All the traditional media are stuck in the 20th century; worse, they are all downgrading the quality and failing to recognize that they are in a service business, not an ad-hawking one. Even when they do websites, they continue to control the eyeballs they do get, and that control loses them eyeballs. They are not smart enough to know how to make money by having sites and other products that are user-controlled. In trying to hold onto intellectual property in the old petty ways, they fail to recognize that most of the stuff they are protecting should be considered chum to catch bigger fish. Eyeballs is where it's at. The Reader has known that for a long time.


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 11:49 a.m.

Flapper: I agree that the Reader is ahead of other media in appealing to its audience. Some newspapers do a very good job with their websites -- the NY Times is an example -- but still can't make decent money on the internet.Best, Don Bauder


Flapper Feb. 15, 2017 @ 5:24 p.m.

One of the people who understands this very well is Jacob Nielsen https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ They would do well to invest in his services.

But I will tell them for free--put the user in control and stop trying to control the user.

Oh, what's the use . . .


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 1:49 p.m.

Clark Brooks: Yes, Magee and Peattie are very good, as are others laid off. It appears that the U-T is dropping some of its high-priced talent. That is dangerous. Best, Don Bauder


SportsFan0000 Feb. 15, 2017 @ 1:50 p.m.

SD Newspaper is being reduced to a "shopper"... Cutting the meat and the bone just will kill the patient faster.

My take is that TRUNC is a SKUNK that runs the place like a DRUNK..Has been printing BUNK...The UT is in a severe FUNK...Potential readers do not want to read JUNK that is why UT and other newspapers are SUNK


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 3:43 p.m.

SportsFan0000: That poetry is wonderful. You deserve to be named Poet Laureate of San Diego. However, you made one mistake that will force you to rewrite the whole poem.

The company is named tronc, not trunc. Therefore,you have to replace skunk, bunk, funk, junk, drunk, and sunk with a word that rhymes with tronc. Here's a start: honk, conk -- but not monk, because it rhymes with trunc. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 17, 2017 @ 11:51 a.m.

Flapper: Sounds like you watched Trump's press conference last night. It's being discussed (in disgust) all over the world. Best, Don Bauder


Flapper Feb. 19, 2017 @ 4:49 a.m.

Last night I thought I was having a nightmare--about 14 tiny hands high at the withers. You mean that was REAL?


Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2017 @ 2 p.m.

Paul Regis: Of course i don't have the scoop and the juice of the LA Times staff. What I was trying to convey is that the Reader, going back to 1995 (long before I got there), had the right skepticism about both the Padres and Chargers scams. Other San Diego media, with the exception of some small papers, did NOT have the economic sense to see these deals as scams. Public money should not support professional sports teams owned by mega-millionaires and billionaires (in the NFL, most are the latter).

I preached that at the U-T from the beginning, and continued when I joined the Reader in 2003. Matt Potter at the Reader had it pegged from 1995 to today. Best, Don Bauder


Flapper Feb. 16, 2017 @ 3:09 p.m.

Not all Reader "reporters" are Bauders or Potters.


SportsFan0000 Feb. 15, 2017 @ 10:51 p.m.

As I posted on my Social Media accounts last week, one recently departed billionaire sports owner (Red Wings NHL, Tigers MLB) spread his largess in some very interesting and noble ways incuding: He paid Rosa Parks rent for over 10 years when she fell on hard times..


Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2017 @ 9:41 a.m.

SportsFan0000: You are talking about Detroit's founder of a pizza chain, recently deceased. He may have done something for Rosa Parks, and that is honorable, but how about the casino he owned while being an owner of a hockey and baseball team? As I recall, he had the casino in his wife's name. I hope that didn't fool anybody. Best, Don Bauder


SportsFan0000 Feb. 16, 2017 @ 2:49 p.m.

Don...Similar to the charade by the 49ers ownership by the De Bartolo family for decades...Eddie Sr. Owned many casinos and was the Matriarch and family money man. Eddie Jr. was listed as the owner of record even though the money used to buy the 49ers was pappa Eddie Sr's. Then, like father, like son, Eddie Jr. was allegedly caught giving cash in a brown paper bag to the Governor of Louisiana to influence his getting riverboat gambling casino licenses?! Did the NFL make the De Bartolo family divest and sell the 49ers?! Of course not. Eddie Jr. then transferred the team to his sister, Denise Bartolo York...also wealthy from Daddy Eddie Sr's gambling and casino monies...Denise York then put her frat boy son into a "management training program" as CEO of the 49ers..(kind of like that old comedy movie "Tommy Boy".and the 49ers promptly went into the toilet as a competitive football team.. NFL is very hypocritical since a gambling and casino family has owned the 49ers for decades..


Don Bauder Feb. 17, 2017 @ 12:21 p.m.

SportsFan0000: The late Eddie Sr. was turned down by one sport; I think it was baseball. To get the 49ers franchise, the DeBartolo family had to say that Eddie Jr. was the owner, not Eddie Sr. I hope few believed that.

Yes, Eddie Jr. bribed an ex-governor with a bunch of cash -- I think half a million bucks. (You can look it up online.) Eddie Jr. wanted a casino license. So the NFL,touting its purity, made Eddie turn the team over to his sister. Eddie was not charged criminally, as one passing a bribe should be.

As I have written in many columns, the NFL was founded by gamblers, many tied to organized crime. Big-time gamblers and mob-connected billionaires continue to own teams, although some owners these days are clean. Obviously, the fact that the NFL is OKing a team going into Las Vegas suggests the hypocrisy is evanescing. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2017 @ 9:43 a.m.

Ed Zieralski: It appears that Acee is already working for Manchester. As a former U-Ter, and a good one, you know how things work around there. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2017 @ 9:45 a.m.

Doug Rogers: There have been many changes of ownership since Copley bowed out: Platinum Equity, Papa Doug Manchester, tronc. Alumni and alumnae never thought they would think of Copley as the "good old days." Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2017 @ 9:47 a.m.

Jay Berman: Yes, bastardized version of LA Times. Don't be surprised if it becomes the San Diego edition of the LA Times. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2017 @ 9:48 a.m.

Rich Gibson: Yours is a complete blasting of the San Diego media scene. At least, you say that an "occasional Reader piece" is good journalism. Best, Don Bauder


Flapper Feb. 16, 2017 @ 3:07 p.m.

Not all of the Reader columnists are Bauders.


Don Bauder Feb. 17, 2017 @ 12:12 p.m.

Flapper: Matt Potter of the Reader is an excellent reporter and writer. I rank behind Matt. Dorian Hargrove is very good, too. There are others who are very good. Best, Don Bauder


Flapper Feb. 20, 2017 @ 9:39 p.m.

Potter was a planner. Too good for the City of San Diego. No wonder he quit.


Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2017 @ 9:50 a.m.

Mike Murphy: Is the U-T cutting expenses now to spend bucks hyping the next stadium scam later? Perhaps. But that strategy would require thinking ahead -- something rare around there. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2017 @ 9:51 a.m.

Surfer Baby: The only way management will get the message on the inferiority of its product is if people cancel their subscriptions and advertisers drop out. Best, Don Bauder


SportsFan0000 Feb. 16, 2017 @ 2:54 p.m.

That has been happening for a long time


Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2017 @ 2:33 p.m.

Paul Regis: I will check out the Acee column. It must have been pretty bad. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2017 @ 2:34 p.m.

Robert Sehlhorst: The U-T slashed the proofreading function long ago. Best, Don Bauder


Flapper Feb. 16, 2017 @ 3:10 p.m.

I hate it when my predictions come true . . . (Ref. my post of Feb. 15, 2017 @ 5:24 p.m.)


Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2017 @ 9:23 p.m.

Flapper: Come now. You don't hate it when your predictions come true. Best, Don Bauder


Flapper Feb. 16, 2017 @ 11:06 p.m.

I did this time. (Mostly the dire or negative ones.)

Let's call it absence of social intercourse.


Don Bauder Feb. 17, 2017 @ 12:25 p.m.

Flapper: Those as articulate as you should have lots of social intercourse. Best, Don Bauder


Flapper Feb. 18, 2017 @ 7:47 p.m.

I take no bs. Or shuld I say ess chew?


Don Bauder Feb. 20, 2017 @ 4:18 p.m.

Flapper: You eschew polysyllabics. Best, Don Bauder


Flapper Feb. 20, 2017 @ 9:42 p.m.

What would happen if adverbs and adjectives were banned?


monaghan Feb. 16, 2017 @ 10:48 p.m.

Retiring a sportswriter is no way as serious a blow as retiring the one person who knows her way around the fortress "pink palace" San Diego Unified Education Center. U-T education writer Maureen Magee knows the layers of well-paid administrators, the designers of the opaque annual budget, the powerful players at SDEA and CTA teachers' unions which have bought and paid for the five-person elected school board and figurehead superintendent. There are only 104,000 students in our public schools -- 40,000 fewer kids from 20 years ago -- and more tax money became available thanks to Jerry Brown. Teachers got raises last year. But now a deficit has been declared and there will be cuts and hard times ahead. The community isn't going to figure out how this happened without Maureen Magee.


Don Bauder Feb. 17, 2017 @ 12:30 p.m.

monaghan: Maureen Magee is married to Jeff McDonald, the ace investigative reporter. They have two daughters, and need two incomes. Maureen is very good, too, as you point out. I think that the U-T was giving the word to Jeff by laying off his wife. It's an old trick. Investigative reporting may be dropping precipitously at the U-T. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 17, 2017 @ 12:09 p.m.

Stuart Hurlbert: I am delighted to receive a comment from a distinguished scientist/professor such as yourself. The trouble with expanding the editorial page to 2 or 3 pages daily, and printing submissions by locals, is that there is little to no advertising on the editorial page. Therefore, there would be an increase in costs without an increase in income.

It is possible, I suppose, that the U-T could begin putting advertising on the editorial pages. If the unpaid locals had lots to say, perhaps advertisers would be attracted to these pages.

For the U-T, the slant would be the problem. For decades, under Copley and other owners, the U-T wanted commentary mainly from those who agreed with its rightwing views. Or agreed with its pro-development views, such as pushing a subsidized pro sports stadium. Disagreement was largely unwanted. That doesn't seem like such a problem today. However, I do know that some very good stories that would rub the establishment the wrong way are not getting into the paper these days.

Another problem is writing. Academics, for instance, write in a style that is almost unreadable to much of the population. Politicians work self-massaging information into their essays. People who can't write intelligibly, no matter how sound their thinking, would require lots of editing. So that would add to expenses.

Actually, papers that have an online presence welcome comments from readers. That is certainly true of the Reader. You have some good ideas in your essay. Best, Don Bauder


StuartHurlbert Feb. 17, 2017 @ 2:39 p.m.

Don, a few rejoinders: Wouldn't have to restrict pages to locals, tho they could be given preference.

Certainly don't want to encourage academics who don't know how to write for a general audience -- or to accept pieces that require heavy editing.

That said, even locally there are probably two orders of magnitude more academics who are good general writers than there are good professional journalists. But as an academic, I'd strongly argue against letting academics dominate.

Maybe it's a bit precieux to continue pretending opinion is restricted to the Opinion pages.

For most papers there is so much de facto editorializing and bias throughout the paper, accomplished by selection of topic/stories to cover and the non-subtle spinning of those they do cover, that the way to go is just to have a tiny symbol at the end of each title that identifies it as primarilly opinion or primarily news. A little "O" or little "N".


Flapper Feb. 20, 2017 @ 9:59 p.m.

That is taking antihotairism a bit too far. Cereusly, at least a capital piece of writing could be capped with a capital.


Don Bauder Feb. 17, 2017 @ 4:32 p.m.

StuartHurlbert: Metro daily newspapers are dying. Maybe they have two generations left, but they will be losing weight as rapidly as they have since 2005, when the collapse became noticeable to Wall Street and the general public. (Actually, a coming collapse was suspected by some in the late 1980s.)

Look how the U-T has become thin and realize that it will probably continue to get thinner, unless the internet crumbles from wretched excess, mega-hacking, or some other fatal disease. Your idea for 2-3 pages of opinion may be a good one, but it will push out other sections. Keep in mind that sections such as real estate and food are there because there are advertisers -- not that there are a lot of readers.

Opinion is not restricted to the opinion sections these days. In today's chaos, a reporter has to editorialize to get the truth through to readers. However, magazines, which have always been slanted, are dying as fast as newspapers (except for gossip mags). So we don't really need an "O" or an "N." I just say I am a columnist, not a reporter, and that's true, except in many blog items.

I do think papers should stay as local as possible. People can get international and national news electronically. Those 2-3 opinion pages you suggest should deal almost entirely with local issues, hopefully very controversial ones.

Those of us in this business appreciate a scholar from another discipline criticizing our approach. What the hell: we're dying. We need all the help we can get. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Feb. 18, 2017 @ 12:55 p.m.

Byron Kelly: When talent leaves or is booted out the door, the quality of the product suffers. The community is deprived of its right to well-interpreted information. Best, Don Bauder


Flapper Feb. 20, 2017 @ 11:30 p.m.

The challenge of writing a really good 750-word piece is a great way to sharpen writing discipline. There is a mid-way kind of piece that has been little tried but sorely needed--a fact-based, well-sourced, well-referenced piece that is perhaps not quite news (it may not bleed, but it's more like picking at a scab), and not quite opinion, but makes a responsible case for the best alternative.

Back in the 1980's one could get a couple hundred bucks for such a piece, but now with email submissions, no editor can possibly read them all. Interns may lack the seasoning to recognize quality writing and thinking, and will forward pure crap to the editor, to whom that confirms a suspicion that unsolicited pieces are not worth her time, and go back to "name" writers who can recycle their ideas interminably. The last piece I got published did not net me even a tear sheet, much less any pay.

How many good no-name writers are going to sweat the amount of blood it takes to produce such a piece, knowing that if they aren't ignored, they will be dissed?


Flapper Feb. 21, 2017 @ 12:29 a.m.

"Oh, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!— The courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword, Th' expectancy and rose of the fair state, The glass of fashion and the mould of form, Th' observed of all observers, quite, quite down!" --Ophelia, Hamlet


Sign in to comment

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader