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.
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.
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.
"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.