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The Union-Tribune meets its match

Gloria responds to Bill Walton with consultants

On August 8, Cox Enterprises announced it had purchased Axios Media, Inc. in what Axios said was a deal valuing Axios at $525 million.
On August 8, Cox Enterprises announced it had purchased Axios Media, Inc. in what Axios said was a deal valuing Axios at $525 million.

Will Cox’s Axios clobber the Union-Tribune?

San Diego’s news and politics landscape may get a lot more interesting with the imminent arrival of an online outfit owned and bankrolled by Atlanta, Georgia-based Cox Enterprises, owner of Cox Communications, the giant cable TV and Internet provider with a big local footprint. On August 8, Cox Enterprises announced it had purchased Axios Media, Inc. in what Axios said was a deal valuing Axios at $525 million.

Begun in 2017 by ex-Politico honchos Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz, Axios bought the online Charlotte Agenda of North Carolina’s largest city in 2020, for close to $5 million, per a December 17, 2020, New York Times account. “There is an audience — and real revenue — in cities,” VandeHei told the Times in an email. “It’s a tough nut to crack, but creating a daily habit for local readers who care deeply about local issues stirs the possibility of starting to solve the local news crisis.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

Since then, Axios Local has been growing fast, with operations in 24 cities and six more to come, including San Diego, according to the company’s website. “A big part of this investment is to expand the number of local markets we serve. Local watchdog journalism is so important to the health of any community, and no one is more focused on building that out nationally than Axios,” Cox chairman and CEO Alex Taylor said in a statement regarding the takeover.

Alberto Velasquez knows that money is a form of communication.

“We are hiring a Reporter to cover the San Diego area as part of our growing local news initiative, which is extending our mission to America’s hometowns,” says a current job posting by Axios. “This reporter will create a meaningful local presence in their market, getting readers smarter, faster on the news that matters to them. This reporter will connect the dots between local, national, and global developments to make readers aware of the narratives shaping their lives.”

But just how well some dots get connected could depend on the influence of Axios’s new owner Cox Enterprises and subsidiary Cox Communications, which was until January registered as a lobbyist with the city of San Diego. According to Cox’s January 27 disclosure filing, last November Government Affairs Director Cassandra Weinlein gave $100 to Vivian Moreno for City Council 2002, and Cox’s Alberto Velasquez gave the Moreno committee $650 the same day. Weinlein was listed as lobbying Simon Tse of the city’s Development Services department to “expedite permitting for telecom equipment.”

In the quarter before that, Cox was lobbying for “permitting, including permitting level for cabinets and pedestals.” The big future money to be made by Cox, though, appears likely to come from providing connections to local municipalities in so-called Smart City deals, raising controversial questions of privacy. Cox “could add technology that would give the city information on vehicle recognition and vehicle traffic counting, as well as pedestrian traffic in the area,” the company’s Michael Socha told the El Cajon city council, according to an October 5, 2020, Union-Tribune account of the meeting.

The San Diego Axios initiative comes after word that the U-T, the city’s sole daily newspaper, owned by Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, may soon drop some print publication days in favor of posting a replica of the paper, obtainable online only. Says Cox’s news release regarding Axios: “Cox Enterprises’ current media companies — The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dayton Daily News and other Ohio newspapers — are not impacted by the deal and each will continue to operate independently.”

Todd Gloria’s political study

While turmoil continues to beset San Diego mayor Todd Gloria’s homeless housing policy, most lately in the form of a harsh critique of the Democrat by basketball icon Bill Walton, the city’s Housing Commission continues to delay taking action in favor of outsourcing potentially costly research that Gloria’s staff hasn’t produced in house. An October 4 Request for Proposals by consultants to conduct an Eviction Study, at a price yet to be determined, declares, “The city is experiencing a housing affordability crisis in which many San Diegans are unable to find market-rate rental housing or homeownership opportunities they can afford.”

Bill Walton: not so happy looking back on the Gloria days.

An “experienced consultant” is sought to “analyze local eviction and foreclosure data, research best practices at preventing this form of housing displacement and evaluate current local prevention and rent/mortgage delinquency programs.” Adds the request, “This long-awaited review will provide a better understanding of the current landscape of local housing loss, as well as provide information on other model jurisdictions and steps moving forward to enable [the Housing Commission] to consider new programming to prevent housing displacement and offer more opportunities for housing.”

Like virtually all municipal undertakings, the future study has already acquired a political flavor, with prospective consultants asked to “aggregate evictions and foreclosures at the smallest geographic unit possible and produce ‘heat’ maps that visualize housing loss across the city of San Diego, including by City Council district.” The document also calls for the consultants to “review existing outreach, education, and direct legal services provided under the City’s Eviction Prevention Program and, using a diversity & equity lens, identify activities to meaningfully increase the number of unduplicated clients impacted by the program.”

— Matt Potter

(@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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On August 8, Cox Enterprises announced it had purchased Axios Media, Inc. in what Axios said was a deal valuing Axios at $525 million.
On August 8, Cox Enterprises announced it had purchased Axios Media, Inc. in what Axios said was a deal valuing Axios at $525 million.

Will Cox’s Axios clobber the Union-Tribune?

San Diego’s news and politics landscape may get a lot more interesting with the imminent arrival of an online outfit owned and bankrolled by Atlanta, Georgia-based Cox Enterprises, owner of Cox Communications, the giant cable TV and Internet provider with a big local footprint. On August 8, Cox Enterprises announced it had purchased Axios Media, Inc. in what Axios said was a deal valuing Axios at $525 million.

Begun in 2017 by ex-Politico honchos Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz, Axios bought the online Charlotte Agenda of North Carolina’s largest city in 2020, for close to $5 million, per a December 17, 2020, New York Times account. “There is an audience — and real revenue — in cities,” VandeHei told the Times in an email. “It’s a tough nut to crack, but creating a daily habit for local readers who care deeply about local issues stirs the possibility of starting to solve the local news crisis.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

Since then, Axios Local has been growing fast, with operations in 24 cities and six more to come, including San Diego, according to the company’s website. “A big part of this investment is to expand the number of local markets we serve. Local watchdog journalism is so important to the health of any community, and no one is more focused on building that out nationally than Axios,” Cox chairman and CEO Alex Taylor said in a statement regarding the takeover.

Alberto Velasquez knows that money is a form of communication.

“We are hiring a Reporter to cover the San Diego area as part of our growing local news initiative, which is extending our mission to America’s hometowns,” says a current job posting by Axios. “This reporter will create a meaningful local presence in their market, getting readers smarter, faster on the news that matters to them. This reporter will connect the dots between local, national, and global developments to make readers aware of the narratives shaping their lives.”

But just how well some dots get connected could depend on the influence of Axios’s new owner Cox Enterprises and subsidiary Cox Communications, which was until January registered as a lobbyist with the city of San Diego. According to Cox’s January 27 disclosure filing, last November Government Affairs Director Cassandra Weinlein gave $100 to Vivian Moreno for City Council 2002, and Cox’s Alberto Velasquez gave the Moreno committee $650 the same day. Weinlein was listed as lobbying Simon Tse of the city’s Development Services department to “expedite permitting for telecom equipment.”

In the quarter before that, Cox was lobbying for “permitting, including permitting level for cabinets and pedestals.” The big future money to be made by Cox, though, appears likely to come from providing connections to local municipalities in so-called Smart City deals, raising controversial questions of privacy. Cox “could add technology that would give the city information on vehicle recognition and vehicle traffic counting, as well as pedestrian traffic in the area,” the company’s Michael Socha told the El Cajon city council, according to an October 5, 2020, Union-Tribune account of the meeting.

The San Diego Axios initiative comes after word that the U-T, the city’s sole daily newspaper, owned by Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, may soon drop some print publication days in favor of posting a replica of the paper, obtainable online only. Says Cox’s news release regarding Axios: “Cox Enterprises’ current media companies — The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dayton Daily News and other Ohio newspapers — are not impacted by the deal and each will continue to operate independently.”

Todd Gloria’s political study

While turmoil continues to beset San Diego mayor Todd Gloria’s homeless housing policy, most lately in the form of a harsh critique of the Democrat by basketball icon Bill Walton, the city’s Housing Commission continues to delay taking action in favor of outsourcing potentially costly research that Gloria’s staff hasn’t produced in house. An October 4 Request for Proposals by consultants to conduct an Eviction Study, at a price yet to be determined, declares, “The city is experiencing a housing affordability crisis in which many San Diegans are unable to find market-rate rental housing or homeownership opportunities they can afford.”

Bill Walton: not so happy looking back on the Gloria days.

An “experienced consultant” is sought to “analyze local eviction and foreclosure data, research best practices at preventing this form of housing displacement and evaluate current local prevention and rent/mortgage delinquency programs.” Adds the request, “This long-awaited review will provide a better understanding of the current landscape of local housing loss, as well as provide information on other model jurisdictions and steps moving forward to enable [the Housing Commission] to consider new programming to prevent housing displacement and offer more opportunities for housing.”

Like virtually all municipal undertakings, the future study has already acquired a political flavor, with prospective consultants asked to “aggregate evictions and foreclosures at the smallest geographic unit possible and produce ‘heat’ maps that visualize housing loss across the city of San Diego, including by City Council district.” The document also calls for the consultants to “review existing outreach, education, and direct legal services provided under the City’s Eviction Prevention Program and, using a diversity & equity lens, identify activities to meaningfully increase the number of unduplicated clients impacted by the program.”

— Matt Potter

(@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

Sponsored
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Comments
1

I think it might be wishful thinking by Matt Potter, no matter how much he would love to see the Union-Tribune go under., to believe that the hiring of one reporter to cover San Diego will do the trick. Heck,, the homegrown Voice of San Diego can’t even cover the region with a staff of four or five. Critics are right in saying the U-T doesn’t even do a decent job anymore with its shrunken staff of 25 or so.

Oct. 13, 2022

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