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Union-Tribune loses digital chief to L.A. Times

Meanwhile, U-T owner Soon-Shiong under gun for shuttered L.A. medical center

Beto Alvarez: "It was an amazing ride."
Beto Alvarez: "It was an amazing ride."

Another somber bit of news for locals hoping to see the San Diego Union-Tribune remain independent of its northern big sister, the Los Angeles Times, has come via the departure of U-T digital creative director Beto Alvarez. "I am very happy to announce that I have accepted a deputy editor position at the Los Angeles Times!" says a post on Alvarez's LinkedIn profile page.

"I am sincerely grateful for all the terrific people I have worked with at the San Diego Union-Tribune over the last 12 years. It was an amazing ride. I’m really excited for this new opportunity and look forward to working with the talented News Desk team in LA."

Alvarez's departure drops the count of news-related staffers listed on the U-T website to 98.

The move coincides with this week's announcement by editor and publisher Jeff Light that the U-T would dump two print editions this year, on July Fourth and Labor Day, as a prelude to ultimate elimination of most or all the paper's press runs sometime in the ostensibly distant future.

On those two days, delivered print versions of the paper will be eliminated in favor of so-called digital replica versions in the form of online PDF files.

Loss of Alvarez may portend that much of the work and many decisions regarding both replica and print will shift to L.A. But in announcing the U-T's move away from print on the Fourth, editor Light, who didn't mention Alvarez's move to the Times, urged calm.

"Well, I don’t think anybody should freak out at the idea that there’s a significant digital transformation happening in the newspaper industry and in many industries. So will the U-T someday stop printing?" Light told a company blog. "Inevitably. Absolutely."

"My goal, and my responsibility, is to build the digital business for the U-T so that it is sustainable, forevermore."

'We’re very fortunate to have a strong staff and really enlightened ownership."

Meanwhile, U-T and LA Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong is being pummeled by Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who last week rolled out a petition drive to convince the Big Pharma billionaire to reopen his shuttered St. Vincent Medical Center to provide services for the city's growing legions of homeless.

"He has owned this hospital and campus for over two years. Except for a very brief time in 2020, when the state paid Dr. Soon-Shiong $27 million to use the facility as a temporary Covid hospital, the property has sat vacant,” O’Farrell said.

“Rather than trying to sell it for redevelopment, and refusing to even consider working with us on adaptive reuse or repurposing, I urge Dr. Soon-Shiong to work with our broad coalition of local, county and state leaders to make something happen here to the benefit of all, and especially the most vulnerable in our region.”

An email statement from Soon-Shiong quoted by a June 14 Times account said, “unfortunately, I was not informed of today’s press conference," and added "I agree that medical care and mental health services are important issues in confronting the homelessness crisis. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss this in-depth with members of the City Council.”

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Beto Alvarez: "It was an amazing ride."
Beto Alvarez: "It was an amazing ride."

Another somber bit of news for locals hoping to see the San Diego Union-Tribune remain independent of its northern big sister, the Los Angeles Times, has come via the departure of U-T digital creative director Beto Alvarez. "I am very happy to announce that I have accepted a deputy editor position at the Los Angeles Times!" says a post on Alvarez's LinkedIn profile page.

"I am sincerely grateful for all the terrific people I have worked with at the San Diego Union-Tribune over the last 12 years. It was an amazing ride. I’m really excited for this new opportunity and look forward to working with the talented News Desk team in LA."

Alvarez's departure drops the count of news-related staffers listed on the U-T website to 98.

The move coincides with this week's announcement by editor and publisher Jeff Light that the U-T would dump two print editions this year, on July Fourth and Labor Day, as a prelude to ultimate elimination of most or all the paper's press runs sometime in the ostensibly distant future.

On those two days, delivered print versions of the paper will be eliminated in favor of so-called digital replica versions in the form of online PDF files.

Loss of Alvarez may portend that much of the work and many decisions regarding both replica and print will shift to L.A. But in announcing the U-T's move away from print on the Fourth, editor Light, who didn't mention Alvarez's move to the Times, urged calm.

"Well, I don’t think anybody should freak out at the idea that there’s a significant digital transformation happening in the newspaper industry and in many industries. So will the U-T someday stop printing?" Light told a company blog. "Inevitably. Absolutely."

"My goal, and my responsibility, is to build the digital business for the U-T so that it is sustainable, forevermore."

'We’re very fortunate to have a strong staff and really enlightened ownership."

Meanwhile, U-T and LA Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong is being pummeled by Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who last week rolled out a petition drive to convince the Big Pharma billionaire to reopen his shuttered St. Vincent Medical Center to provide services for the city's growing legions of homeless.

"He has owned this hospital and campus for over two years. Except for a very brief time in 2020, when the state paid Dr. Soon-Shiong $27 million to use the facility as a temporary Covid hospital, the property has sat vacant,” O’Farrell said.

“Rather than trying to sell it for redevelopment, and refusing to even consider working with us on adaptive reuse or repurposing, I urge Dr. Soon-Shiong to work with our broad coalition of local, county and state leaders to make something happen here to the benefit of all, and especially the most vulnerable in our region.”

An email statement from Soon-Shiong quoted by a June 14 Times account said, “unfortunately, I was not informed of today’s press conference," and added "I agree that medical care and mental health services are important issues in confronting the homelessness crisis. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss this in-depth with members of the City Council.”

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