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Monday, Feb 6, 2023
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Are Daily Newspapers, the U-T Included, Going Way of the Muscle Car?

It seems unfair that a major daily with the guts to take down a congressman has downsized, downsized and downsized again in little more than a year.

The San Diego Union-Tribune’s most recent round of cuts made early last week, although expected, were rather unceremonious and even though the publication insists that quality will not suffer, one wonders.

I don’t know David Copley, but before he rose to the U-T’s helm following his mother’s death, it was everybody’s favorite paper to hate.

Then things changed and it did what big dailies are supposed to do , rake muck, which is not in short supply, even in sunny, paradisiacal San Diego.

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The reaction I witnessed from those pouring over the U-T’s front pages at my local Starbucks was positive. Readers were concerned about political corruption, but apparently not enough of them translated their concerns into subscriptions , daily circulation dropped 8.5 percent between the fall of 2006 and 2007 , and since Pulitzer Prizes don’t pay the bills, downsizing came into play.

Sadly, I fear, the American newspaper is going the way of the American muscle car.

Those little hybrid jobbers are great for the environment, but they don’t have enough horsepower to run over crooked pols.

To be fair, the paper’s buyouts, one about a year ago and another earlier this month before the layoffs, were generous offers.

Some who took the money and ran probably saw it as a windfall , an opportunity to invest in an entrepreneurial venture, stocks, continued education, or reinvent themselves by undergoing therapy to kick a newspapering addiction since journalismjobs.com isn’t loaded with attractive offers in exceptionally desirable locales.

Others must have read the proverbial writing on the wall and decided to control their own destiny.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one veteran staffer spared the ax said his fellow journalists fear another round of layoffs could come before year-end, and that some people in the ad department expect to be shown the door soon.

Recently, local PR firm Nuffer, Smith, Tucker Inc. announced that the paper was changing coverage by “adding zoned editions to provide unique news and advertising content targeted at the county’s four distinct geographic audiences.”

“Readers today demand hyper-local news coverage,” U-T spokesman Drew Schlosberg said in the announcement. “They want to know what is going on in their back yard ”

Maybe there’s some muck around there, too.

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Winds Of Change:

The new name given the renovated main dining room at Loew’s Coronado Bay Resort & Spa, Mistral, took on a certain irony when I dined there shortly after the firestorms in October.

Mistral refers to a cold, strong wind pattern in the winter and spring in southern France.

Here, devastation had spread vast and wide with the aid of the fierce, hot Santa Anas.

But the dinner invitation provided a welcome chance to put it out of my mind and live vicariously in the pages of “A Year in Provence,” by Peter Mayle.

I had a little trouble reading the small print on the menu made of recycled, handmade paper , Mistral has gone green and organic , and just then two couples sitting nearby asked if they could borrow the magnifying glass that the waiter had kindly provided me.

“Is that yours? Do you mind if we borrow it,” said one, an Orange County industrialist, who’d come to Coronado with his pals to escape the week’s events that stretched from Santa Barbara south but bypassed the island.

Pretty soon they pushed their table next to ours and we ate and drank and laughed and swapped stories about our children.

It was as if we’d known each other for years, which is how Mayle described people carrying on in the south of France where it’s all about food and friendship, and Mistral’s food, with French and Italian influences, was excellent.

I had, among other delights, an artichoke appetizer followed by a steak, bloody rare, the way I like it.

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More Hotel Rooms To Fill, More Filled:

In the foot race to fill hotel rooms, San Diego had about as good a run last year as the year before, but with more hotels to fill.

The numbers aren’t final, but there’s enough data to conclude that local hotels ended 2007 with an occupancy rate of 74 percent, which according to Smith Travel Research is on par with an adjusted rate of 73.5 percent the year before.

Last year, the researcher surveyed 454 hotels, for a total of 55,000 rooms. Only those with 20 or more rooms were counted. In 2006 there were 446 with 53,432 in the tally.

So what does it mean? If you’re the owner of a downtown hotel, it means you’re a little twitchy, since the 1,190-room Hilton San Diego Convention Center Hotel is set to open at the end of this year, and rumor has it that it’s ahead of schedule.

It could also mean that you might have to apply the brakes to room-rate hikes that you’ve enjoyed for the past few years.


Got items for Trade Winds? Send them to Connie Lewis at

clewis@sdbj.com

, or give her a call at (858)277-6359.

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