York at Ocean Beach meeting
  • York at Ocean Beach meeting
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It's been a busy few months for veterans of the tumultuous San Diego Union-Tribune newsroom, which has now seen two former managing editors move into influential positions at two of America's most famous, if deeply troubled, newspapers.

From brochure on U-T downtown office.

From brochure on U-T downtown office.

Ex-U-T managing editor Robert York has been named editor-in-chief of the New York Daily News, according to a July 23 the New York Times dispatch. The struggling Manhattan daily was purchased last year for $1 by the much-maligned tronc, which until last month also owned the U-T and Los Angeles Times before selling them both to L.A. billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong for $500 million.

Jim Rich of the Daily News: "If you hate democracy, then today is a good day for you.”

Jim Rich of the Daily News: "If you hate democracy, then today is a good day for you.”

Prior to getting the Daily News gig, York had departed the U-T to become editor and publisher of the tronc-owned Morning Call in Allentown, Pa.

One of York's most prominent appearances during his San Diego career was a May 2015 appearance before a packed meeting of irate Ocean Beach residents, who asserted that free plastic bag-wrapped U-T circulars being dropped throughout the neighborhood were ruinous to the environment.

Kris Viesselman was here during Doug Manchester's U-T ownership.

Kris Viesselman was here during Doug Manchester's U-T ownership.

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

York, then–vice president of the U-T's strategy and operations, had a hand in 2017's celebrated move of the paper to four floors of downtown digs on a 15-year lease. One of the floors was never occupied and has since been sublet. "The $6.8 million build-out of the space exudes a bit of the 'cool' open ceiling and flexible floor plan desired by millennials," York was paraphrased as telling the paper.

Per an online profile that remains posted on the U-T website, "York has a unique professional background having worked extensively on both the editorial and advertising sides of the news business."

"Early in his career York was a newspaper photographer in markets including South Florida and Washington D.C. He came to the U-T in 1996 as one of the Directors of Photography from the Copley papers in Los Angeles. His most recent role in the newsroom was Managing Editor alongside Lora Cicalo." York moved over to the paper's advertising department in 2012, the profile adds.

York's New York ascension has not been without friction.

"If you hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you,” tweeted York's fired predecessor Jim Rich. He changed his Twitter bio to say, "Just a guy sitting at home watching journalism being choked into extinction." In addition to Rich, tronc chopped half of the Daily News staff, currently reported to total fewer than 100.

Meanwhile, another former U-T managing editor is settling into new Los Angeles Times offices in El Segundo, where owner Soon-Shiong has moved the operation into a remodeled office building he owns. Kris Viesselman, who was on the scene here during the contentious era of Doug Manchester's U-T ownership, departed the paper in February 2014, according to her LinkedIn profile. She is now Chief Transformation Editor and Creative Director at the L.A. Times.

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Comments

larryruth0001 July 24, 2018 @ 1:28 a.m.

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AlexClarke July 24, 2018 @ 7:26 a.m.

Unless the local paper is locally owned and operated it isn't a local paper. We are nothing more than a news suburb of the L A Times. The (non)Union Tribune provides yesterday's news today.

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Visduh July 24, 2018 @ 8:15 a.m.

If you peruse the websites for the Times and for the U-T they are remarkably similar in content. (One small piece of fallout from the joint ownership and management is that SD news now shows up frequently in the Times. I find that amusing.) The editorials in the two papers are often the same, and the flavor of them is always that of the Times, never the "old" U-T. That is not surprising in that the old U-T is gone with the wind, whether you like it or not. Some, not including myself, may prefer it this way.

So, why doesn't the Times just shut down the U-T and try to convert the subscribers to a local version of the Times? It probably has to do with keeping advertisers and their cash stream coming in rather than any other factor.

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monaghan July 25, 2018 @ 7:12 p.m.

No question there's a place in San Diego for the San Diego Union-Tribune and in La Jolla for the La Jolla Light, both now owned by the corporation that includes the Los Angeles Times. The old U-T editorial page and its editorial policy for the news pages were never my cup of tea, so I am glad the historic name has been preserved, there's continuity of publication and good editors and reporters are still in place to carry on. At this late hour, we're actually getting an owner with keen appreciation for strong journalism and its crucial link to civic well-being.

Owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is a fascinating figure, with roots in China, formative years in apartheid South Africa, residence in Canada and home in Los Angeles. I think Soon-Shiong stands head and shoulders above all the limited and venal publisher predecessors -- including the Chandlers who sold out, rapacious Sam Zell, Platinum Equity traders, Trump-like Papa Doug, the playboys of tronc. Soon-Shiong was a paper-boy as a kid. As an adult he has moxie, wealth, intellect and a vision for our region's future to be shaped by excellent newspapers. I think we have lucked out.

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