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Fireworks over move to skip Union-Tribune on the Fourth

No Independence Day for San Diego daily

U-T enterprise editor Mark Platte interviewing editor Jeff Light
U-T enterprise editor Mark Platte interviewing editor Jeff Light

After months of gossip predicting an impending shutdown, the Union-Tribune ran a house advertisement on Sunday, January 19 with a bombshell: on July 4, the U-T will skip the first print edition of its 153 years.

"It’s important to note that this 'print holiday' doesn’t mean the paper version of the U-T is going away anytime soon," an open letter from editor and publisher Jeff Light informed readers.

"Unlike some other publishers, who have eliminated days from their print schedules, we plan to continue seven-day delivery for years. When that changes, we want our customers and our company to be well prepared."

But Light's full-page sugarcoating seems unlikely to stem the tide of unsettling news for the once-powerful, now quickly fading symbol of the city's independence from the ever-encroaching L.A. Metroplex of the North.

Faith in U-T owner Patrick Soon-Shiong's promise to keep the newspaper independent from his Los Angeles Times has been sorely tested by a drip-drip-drip of somber news from the billionaire Angeleno's command headquarters in El Segundo, just south of LAX.

In March of last year, Chris Argentieri, president and chief operating officer of the Times, told staffers that the Times and U-T had been hit with a revenue loss of more than $50 million in 2020.

"What we saw in 2020, was [an] acceleration of trends that we were well aware of and have been aware of, really, for far more than a decade," said Argentieri.

"We won't go back, particularly in print advertising, to where we were," he proclaimed.

About the same time, Soon-Shiong denied that he was planning to change the way he ran the U-T, particularly a Wall Street Journal report that he had "considered selling or transferring management of the San Diego publication to another company, possibly Alden Global Capital Inc.'s MediaNews Group, which owns several papers in the areas between the two cities."

Alden's takeover of a raft of big newspapers across the country have made the vulture capital investment outfit a target for those who fear an ultimate demise of the nation's entire newspaper print business.

Earlier this year, a go-ahead for plans to build a movie studio on the Olympic Boulevard site of the Los Angeles plant where the U-T and Times are printed raised questions regarding the U-T's uncertain future.

The speculation was compounded by the addition of the Times Calendar section to the U-T's virtual version and a June 3 front-page scoop by the Times of an alleged rape scandal involving members of San Diego State University's football team.

Light’s latest missive offered readers an out from the Independence Day online downer:

“You have the ability to cancel your subscription by clicking the cancel option on your account online at sandiegouniontribune. com/cancel, emailing [email protected] sduniontribune.com, or calling 1 (619) 299-4141.

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U-T enterprise editor Mark Platte interviewing editor Jeff Light
U-T enterprise editor Mark Platte interviewing editor Jeff Light

After months of gossip predicting an impending shutdown, the Union-Tribune ran a house advertisement on Sunday, January 19 with a bombshell: on July 4, the U-T will skip the first print edition of its 153 years.

"It’s important to note that this 'print holiday' doesn’t mean the paper version of the U-T is going away anytime soon," an open letter from editor and publisher Jeff Light informed readers.

"Unlike some other publishers, who have eliminated days from their print schedules, we plan to continue seven-day delivery for years. When that changes, we want our customers and our company to be well prepared."

But Light's full-page sugarcoating seems unlikely to stem the tide of unsettling news for the once-powerful, now quickly fading symbol of the city's independence from the ever-encroaching L.A. Metroplex of the North.

Faith in U-T owner Patrick Soon-Shiong's promise to keep the newspaper independent from his Los Angeles Times has been sorely tested by a drip-drip-drip of somber news from the billionaire Angeleno's command headquarters in El Segundo, just south of LAX.

In March of last year, Chris Argentieri, president and chief operating officer of the Times, told staffers that the Times and U-T had been hit with a revenue loss of more than $50 million in 2020.

"What we saw in 2020, was [an] acceleration of trends that we were well aware of and have been aware of, really, for far more than a decade," said Argentieri.

"We won't go back, particularly in print advertising, to where we were," he proclaimed.

About the same time, Soon-Shiong denied that he was planning to change the way he ran the U-T, particularly a Wall Street Journal report that he had "considered selling or transferring management of the San Diego publication to another company, possibly Alden Global Capital Inc.'s MediaNews Group, which owns several papers in the areas between the two cities."

Alden's takeover of a raft of big newspapers across the country have made the vulture capital investment outfit a target for those who fear an ultimate demise of the nation's entire newspaper print business.

Earlier this year, a go-ahead for plans to build a movie studio on the Olympic Boulevard site of the Los Angeles plant where the U-T and Times are printed raised questions regarding the U-T's uncertain future.

The speculation was compounded by the addition of the Times Calendar section to the U-T's virtual version and a June 3 front-page scoop by the Times of an alleged rape scandal involving members of San Diego State University's football team.

Light’s latest missive offered readers an out from the Independence Day online downer:

“You have the ability to cancel your subscription by clicking the cancel option on your account online at sandiegouniontribune. com/cancel, emailing [email protected] sduniontribune.com, or calling 1 (619) 299-4141.

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