Will Soon-Shiong will transform his news holdings in L.A. and San Diego into test beds for automated journalism?
Soon-Shiong’s Chargers suite
Now that Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong has finally secured control of the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune from the Chicago newspaper chain tronc (which is said to be about to change its name back to Tribune Publishing), concerns are growing that a host of reporters may ultimately get the boot in favor of machines. Worrywarts point to a bevy of automation patents held by the wealthy physician’s Nant Holdings IP, LLC, including the most recent, published June 14, entitled, Fast Recognition Algorithm Processing, Systems and Methods. The invention would target unspecified objects and then automatically “query a content database for content information,” per a post by Justia.com. “Content information,” says the patent filing, “can comprise a wide variety of information,” including “news data or other data relating to known objects.” Fears that Soon-Shiong will transform his news holdings in L.A. and San Diego into test beds for automated journalism went unalleviated by his June 17 front-page letter to readers. “In an era of digitally enabled disruptions which pose an existential threat to the traditional newspaper industry, the California News Group must be run as a business in order to grow and thrive, never losing sight of the needs and interests of our readers.”
Meanwhile, Lakers Nation has assured L.A. fans that the pharmaceutical mogul didn’t have to sell his 4.5 percent stake in the basketball team to raise cash to do the newspaper deal. There is also enough of Soon-Shiong’s money left over to patronize the Chargers football team, formerly of San Diego, which is to share its new L.A. luxury venue with the Rams beginning in 2020. “He’s purchased a suite at the Inglewood Stadium next [to] the one Rams owner Stan Kroenke will use,” per a June 18 tweet by L.A. Times sportswriter Nathan Fenno... Amidst the hype of the Soon-Shiong takeover, yet another U-T staff departure has gone unheralded: former military writer and Princeton University graduate Jeanette Steele, who joined the paper in 2001. Whether the new Times owner forks over sufficient funds for new U-T hires is seen as a key indicator of his plans for the San Diego operation.
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has won the Republican primary for Nevada’s 36th District Assembly seat.
Santa Monica Shanghai
After costly jaunts to Shanghai’s posh Hyatt Andaz hotel, the Four Seasons at Boston Garden, the Andaz Hyatt in Amsterdam, and the Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach — all paid for by money management firms for the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System — senior investment officer Jamie Hamrick slowed her pace two years ago. “If the City agency accepts the travel payments and designates an individual to use them, the agency files a Form 801 with the City Clerk to disclose the payments, which are not considered gifts to the individual who ultimately uses them,” noted city ethics honcho Stacey Fulhorst in a comment for an August 2016 expose of Hamrick’s frenetic free travel. Retirement system spokesperson Jessica Packard said the trips were needed to “obtain updates and investment insights into each of these funds.”
Now Hamrick has taken to the road once again to obtain investment wisdom from Mesa West Capital, which operates Mesa West Real Estate Income Fund III and Mesa West Core Lending Fund, into which the retirement fund has sunk its money. This time though Hamrick was careful not to venture too far from home on Mesa West’s dime, spending March 5 and 7 at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, where lodging cost $350 and the meal tab ran $140, for a grand total of $490. “The acclaimed Santa Monica Beach hotel recalls the quintessential cottages of Cape Cod, with shuttered doors opening onto breezy balconies and a sun-drenched pool deck replete with chaise lounges,” says the hotel’s website. “Indulge in organic wellness rituals at ONE Spa, and breathtaking panoramas of the Pacific from every vantage.”...Former Gaslamp Quarter and Carlsbad Inn timeshare salesman and Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has won the Republican primary for Nevada’s 36th District Assembly seat. Some fellow Republicans, including U.S. Senator Dean Heller, widely said to be one of the most vulnerable GOPers up for reelection this fall, have vowed to shun the star of the HBO adult reality series “Cathouse.”…Still seeking funds to pay for enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, San Diego hotel room tax hike backers picked up $5000 on June 7 from Union Editorial of Los Angeles. Says the firm’s website, “Union is a collective of industry-leading companies who provide every aspect of creative film production: from editing to visual effects, from video game design to theatrical releases.”