Nonprofit news outlet Voice of San Diego said Dec. 9 it laid off reporters Emily Alpert and Adrian Florido as well as photographer Sam Hodgson in the wake of dwindling donations this past year. Scott Lewis and Andrew Donohue, who serve as the top editors for the website, said donations came in less than projected for the year, which was $1.2 million. The website is influential in local circles, especially among readers deeply interested in the comings and goings at City Hall. In 2008, a New York Times story hailed the Voice’s nonprofit model as a clear alternative to profit-making daily newspaper publishers that have been trashed by the turbulent economy. But now it’s been caught up in the turbulence, too, as donations slow for everyone in the nonprofit sector … And while we’re on the subject of donations. The San Diego branch of Feeding America and the San Diego Food Bank are competing for a potential $100,000 cash prize, the winner declared if enough supporters purchase and spend $1 million in retail cash cards from Community Connection via the Facebook pages of the two agencies. The deadline is Dec. 31. More information about participating in the anti-hunger campaign can be found at communityconnectionlink.com … The cash mob struck again the evening of Dec. 14, with the Santa Flash Mob showing up at Bird Huffman’s Surf Shed on Morena Boulevard to spend cash to support a local small business. The group held its first event in South Park on Dec. 7, when ad hoc participants “mobbed” an independent gift store at 30th and Juniper streets. The effort is the brainchild of Scott Bass of marketing and social media agency SWB Inc. ... Czech Republic-based Neox Clinical Research is opening an office in San Diego, its first in North America. The business conducts clinical trials for life science firms, as well as medical device makers in Europe, and apparently is seeking to expand that business in the U.S. … Oceanside’s Tri-City Medical Center said the North County’s first cardiac surgery using the less-invasive robotic da Vinci Surgical System was performed there Nov. 28. The hospital said the patient, Patricio Maynigo of San Marcos, was sitting up and “admiring the small incision left by the bypass surgery” shortly after the procedure. Carlsbad’s Dr. Paul Mazur, the surgeon who performed the operation, said he was able to make a smaller incision with the robotic system, causing less damage to musculature and less exposure to other internal organs ... Finally. Need something to do post-holiday? Well, here’s a thought. Balboa Park’s Reuben H. Fleet Science Center Imax Theater has scheduled advance test showings of “Rocky Mountain Express” on Dec. 26 and 27. On Fridays, the domed theater shows classic Imax films at a substantial discount. Check out the schedule and upcoming events at rhfleet.org … The Insider will see you back here in the Jan. 2 issue. Have a happy holiday, and here is to a prosperous 2012!
Contributing Editor Tom York pens the SDBJ Insider, and you can reach him with column tips and tidbits at firstname.lastname@example.org.