Union-Tribune Lays Off Three Who Spearheaded Electronic News, Radio Efforts

The Union-Tribune today axed three executives who played key roles in the Copley Press online news efforts. Suddenly gone as of today, according to very good sources, are Chris Jennewein, who was head of the company's non-newspaper efforts; Ron James, who ran SignOnSanDiego day-to-day, and Jim Drummond, another SignOn executive. Jennewein, who was a hot property from a big media company when he was brought in several years ago, never got along with Karin Winner, editor of the U-T. "A year and a half ago, Karin held meetings with editorial employees. She painted it as newsroom vs. internet people. We looked at each other and wondered, 'Are we working for the same company,?'" says Michael Kinsman, a former U-T reporter, praising Jennewein's vision. "Gene Bell [U-T president] allowed it to fester." A recent study by Scarborough Research indicates that the combined U-T ink-and-paper and online products lost market share between 2007 and 2008, although the online operation gained some penetration. Jennewein and James, according to reports, were heavily involved in SignOn Radio, the disastrous online radio experiment that is now winding down. People with "no advertising and programming experience" were in charge, says Ron Bain, local radio pro. The on-air people "were has-beens; it was the graveyard." As of this writing, the cuts have not been announced internally. Copley Press has not responded to my questions.


Well, now that they have been given pink slips;

Someone find out who banned my Johnny Vegas account!

Response to post #1: I've heard of other accounts being banned by the U-T. I don't know what's up. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #2: When are they going to lay off the U-T Editorial Board, they have most certainly proven to be the root cause of U-T failures and San Diego political corruption today.

Response to post #4: The only circumstance in which the editorial board would go to the guillotine is if the paper is purchased. The editorial board's bumptious promoting of the downtown business cabal, and corrupt mayoral administrations, is one of the reasons for the ongoing circulation decline, although demographic and technological factors are far more important. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #4: The only circumstance in which the editorial board would go to the guillotine is if the paper is purchased

Or if the paper goes BK.

Response to post #5: I doubt that BK is in the cards for the U-T any time soon. That company made enormous profits for decades -- returns rivaling Dow Jones in its halcyon days. Some of that money has been dissipated, but there is still a solid backup, in my opinion. However, on May 7, U-T president Gene Bell, in announcing the personnel changes, said, "This past year we implemented a number of cost controls to address our revenue decline. Unfortunately, as we entered the second quarter of 2008, revenue continued to drop even faster than we had anticipated...We have decided to freeze wages of our senior management team for a one-year period." The company has been making cuts in non-management, but generally leaving management in place, despite the egregious misjudgments of that management. This has contributed to dismal morale, understandably. Now, at least, the management salaries will be frozen for a year -- a positive first step but not the kind of management housecleaning that is necessary. Best, Don Bauder

When SignOn started n the late '90s, they had new and luxurious offices near the stadium. Eventually there came a concern that Jennewein had too much of this own feifdom over there and they moved SignOn into the first-floor offices that had been recently vacated by the laid-off circulation employees. (Jennewein's wife, by the way, put out a Christmas letter during the first year of his tenure. Some UT execs were on her mailing list and were disconcerted by her bragging about how much newsier the site had become under his leadership.) Then came huge arguments about why his breaking news "content producers" were not paid the same as their newsroom counterparts. The same applied to the SignOn sales depatrment ... they were FAR under the print folk. To be fair, no one at the UT knew then, or really could have known, the impact of the internet.

By the way, as far back as 2005, most of the senior level management (I Dream of Genie Bellboy, Newsdoll Karin Winner, HR Queen Bobbie Espinosa, AdModel Scott Whitley, HR Lady Ann Radosevich, etc.) were employees of, and got paychecks from, the Copley organization, not the UT.

Response to post #4:

Along those lines, Aguirre's letter to the editor this morning exposes Superior Court Judge Michael Wellington for overthrowing the Rule of Law covering-up city hall corruption, again.

One would think the city would produce their version of Grand Theft Auto, at least as a metaphor of the U-T/Davies Bloodsucker political mob, considering the wild success of GTA they can produce revenue to fund the pension plan.

Can you produce some investigative reports on the continuous cover-ups of Bloodsucker corruption enabled by San Diego judges?

Response to post #7: Excellent points. SignOn started out remote from the newspaper -- deliberately. Economics forced it closer, but it should have been close from the beginning, in my judgment. In the early 2000s, the two operations should have been integrated. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #8: Now the Copley organization IS the U-T. That's it, with the exception of the wee Borrego Sun and a sharply pared-down Copley News Service. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #9: What I would like to know is whether there was a meeting before Wellington's perverse decision, and it was decided that no law enforcement would pursue Story once the judge took Aguirre off the case. This smacks of a rigged deal, but I can't prove it yet. The joke is that the state bar is investigating Aguirre, when it should be investigating the circumstances of the Wellington decision, and the fact that law enforcement dropped the matter. Best, Don Bauder

What I would like to know is whether there was a meeting before Wellington's perverse decision

It is highly unlikely that Wellington met with anyone without Mike present (ex parte).

That would be grounds to remove Wellington from the bench and would be a very serious violation of rules and ethics. (BTW- when judges are removed from the bench they also get their law licenses yanked-no more attorney duties).

Response to post #24:

Don the fact of life in the world’s newest third world city of San Diego is that instead of having drug cartels that corrupt politicians and judges while murdering honest police officials with bullets, San Diego has a Bloodsucker cartel that also corrupts politicians and judges while using U-T/VOSD rantitorials instead of bullets to attack honorable San Diegans like Aguirre, Francis and Frye.

Response to post #13: I am well aware of ethics laws banning such meetings. However, there are meetings and there are "meetings" or "communications." Best, Don Bauder

Well if Wellington did engage in ex parte commmunications he should be removed from the bench. That is as low as it gets.

G Dennis Adams, Mike Greer and James Malkus found that lesson out the hard way.

Was a time when bits like this didn't get bruited about. Now it's rare to see them not get exposed. The next step is to start informing people just how much such shenanigans are costing them. Last Oct. we nearly lost all electrical power from outside the county, and surface travel was almost cut off. Think of what could've happened if we'd had real firestorms, instead of what we actually did get.

We can make people aware of how much corruption is costing them, you'll see a lot more demand for justice. Also reform in infrastructure construction and maintenance, fewer 'special projects', and crap like that there. There's potential in this new form of pamphleteering, but we need to work on it.

Response to post #16:

Very good point talking about consequences of political corruption such as enabling the 2003 and 2007 wildfires to get out of control at the cost of 22 lives, burning about 25% of the county including about 7000 structures.

And the results of the firestorms alone were the greatest cover-ups, CYA, refusals to accept responsibility and accountability in San Diego history. It is especially interesting when you compare the enormous firefighting resources we have available today to those we had for 2003 firestorms after which the CYA Club claimed that more resources wouldn't have prevented those firestorms from getting out of control.

Then the forces of corruption marginalized Chief Bowman’s recommendations after the 2003 firestorms and forced him to “retire” for making non-PC recommendations that could have saved lives and property in 2007, but they did learn how to perfect highly visible press conferences of politicians lining up for photo ops and rushing to microphones during the 2007 firestorms.

And the latest court cases continue to prove that ruling class corruption still rules San Diego threatening never-ending losses of lives and property due to that corruption.

Response to post #15: I am not stating that Wellington engaged in ex parte communications on this case. I am asking if the major participants knew that law enforcement would drop the case before his decision came down. Was there a meeting among prosecutors, formal or informal? Was the judge aware of such meetings? What we know is that in his push for the illegal Sunroad project, Story very clearly contacted former underlings during the year in which he was not supposed to do so. The emails show it. His lawyer's claim that he had not been involved with the project while at the City is pathetically bogus. Was this whole thing prearranged? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #16: Yes, the establishment-controlled San Diego underground is beginning to be exposed. People should know how much shenanigans are costing. The rotting infrastructure tells a story. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #17: The refusal to listen to former fire chief Bowman's suggestions cost San Diego dearly, and the consequences have been buried in local media. Best, Don Bauder

Voice of San Diego's most prolific anti Aguirre crusader, KATHI WARD, wrote in a letter to the UT today with her normal baloney hit pieces on Mike-this time on the Tom Story case.

It is amazing how the same small anti Aguirre minority crowd get so much ink. In a poll the VoSD cited it showed Mike (29 points) had a 2 to 1 margin over Peters (17), Goldsmith (15) and Manch????(15). Amy Lepine did not even make the radar.

I cannot wait until Mike blows Peters out in the primary.

I will be even more happy when Kathi and her cronies get their pensions cut in half.

Response to post #21: What's amazing is that the U-T keeps up the onslaught even though its circulation continues to plummet. (Again, I have to repeat that economic, demographic and technological factors are the main things walloping the U-T, but biased, sloppy, juvenile journalism is also hurting in a city that is now mainly Democratic, and a county that is almost Democratic.) The U-T has done something like 333 hit pieces on Mike Aguirre (I don't know the exact numbers) and most have been amateurish. At the same time, it refuses to cover Mayor Jerry Sanders's very obvious flaws and lies. That's because Sanders's flack, the egregious Fred Sainz, feeds the U-T its editorials and its purported news materials. San Diegans are not getting the truth. Many realize that the newspaper is in bed with an establishment that is deleterious to citizens' interests. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #22:

I'm surprised you are surprised Don, as long as the Bloodsuckers and Brash Cash Rule politicians and judges so they can commit larceny with impunity against the people of San Diego, why should they quit?

Response to post #23: I guess when I used the word "amazed" you figured that I was saying I was surprised by the slanted journalism. What surprises me is that somebody there hasn't figured out how the paper is inflicting financial wounds on itself. Best, Don Bauder

Anon, I don't disagree with your comments about politicians not funding Bowman's recommendations. However, your bit about "enabling the 2003 and 2007 wildfires to get out of control" for political is absolute bull. There simply was no way to safely engage the Cedar Fire at it's start and no way to catch the other fires. I know... I was there.

Response to post #25: Those fires will continue to be controversial for years. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #27: Yes, we have missed JF. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #25:

Welcome back JF, I see you are still in denial. You refuse to recognize the fact that we have a great many more wildfire control resources today than Bowman could have dreamed of in 2003, and 2007, that could have prevented many of the 22 out of control firestorm deaths, burning 25% of the county and 7000 structures.

And if we are lucky, we might have finally developed a coordinated regional system to join with the rest of Southern California after “local fire officials have been shut out of the mutual-aid meetings mostly because the region doesn't have a central fire department.” http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20080312/news_1n12meeting.html

The fact remains, political corruption rules in San Diego that refused to fund public safety resources, enabling 2003 and 2007 wildfires to get out of control.

Response to post #29: Yes, the press coverage -- particularly the U-T's absurdly biased coverage -- of upcoming elections, Francis, Frye, Aguirre, Prop C are a disgrace. Media, if they want to survive economically, should appeal to a broad audience. In San Diego, that fundamental economic truism has not yet sunk in -- incredibly, given the dismal circulation. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #30: San Diego must learn to coordinate with other state agencies and with the federal government, incuding the military. But the Sanders administration's response was typical: it was more interested in garnering favorable national publicity than helping distressed San Diegans. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #31: For the current destruction of San Diego, creating a new third world city, we can thank Brash Cash Davies, Bloodsucker McMillan, Judge Wellington, Robber Baron Moores, Rantitorial Editor Kittle, Mayor Sanders, DA Dumanis, fired UC President Dynes, Bishop Brom and many other institutional “leaders” from Hell who are creating Hell On Earth in San Diego.

Keep up your excellent investigative reporting to expose corruption that is drowning San Diego in sewage.

Response to post #30:

Another hellacious tragedy is that as long as the San Diego Bloodsucker Cartel rules San Diego, destroying the political, social, economic and all other institutions and opportunities for quality of life, our heroic fire and policemen/women are at increasing risk as the Bloodsucker Cartel increases the level of chaos.

d. b. your obsession with the u.t. could be misconstrued as obsessive compulsive moronic disorder...give it a rest and print something interesting or usefull...go out on a limb for a change,do some actual reporting/investigating just one time..please?

By fumber

LOL.....someone did not get their daily dose of a wheat grass smoothie when they woke up........

Response to post #33: You seem to be saying that my criticism of the U-T's obsession with Aguirre suggests that I have the same affliction. Maybe. But after leaving the U-T in early 2003, I barely wrote a word about the publication for three years, and only took up the cudgels when it began its relentless attacks on Aguirre and its gross distortions on the activities of Donna Frye. At least, fumber, I am not obsessed with vomit, urine and wheat grass. But I appreciate your observation. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #34: Gee, if you look at post #33 just above yours, fumber says I don't do any investigative reporting at all. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #35: When the overlords suck out money for their projects, something will suffer, and in San Diego it has been services including firefighting and police. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #36: Yes, I couldn't resist pointing out fumber's obsessions, but maybe that was cruel. He has a point. On the other hand, as I pointed out, it takes obsessions to fight obsessions. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #41: I will let you and Anon92107 fight this one out. Best, Don Bauder

Anon, Either you mis-interpreted what I said, or vice versa. I've been telling folks for a long time that money that should be funding public safety is being mis-directed. I was referring to the common perception that CAL FIRE and the USFS let fires burn for political reasons. That simply isn't true. At least not at the level I see it.

Response to post #43: You may be right on that. It would certainly be logical. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #45: Good points. Best, Don Bauder

Because San Diego does not properly fund fire fighting efforts we're going to see insurance companies refusing to cover homes and businesses against fire loss in the near future. When that happens expect to hear people start to complain about city government.

And why would insurance companies refuse to provide fire coverage for San Diego property owners?

Because providing such coverage will become more expensive than it's worth.

Because San Diego does not properly fund fire fighting efforts we're going to see insurance companies refusing to cover homes and businesses against fire loss in the near future.

San Diego does properly fund fire fighting efforts, but the money is not properly allocated.

When you have two full time fire departments, one working, one sitting on the beach at age 50 in retirement, then the system does not work.

You need to properly manage the fire department so it is staffed with all FF's instead of paying full time wages and benefits to FF who have "retired at age 50", and actually have another City job doing something else, like sittign on the beach.


Here's an interesting quote from the article Johnny Vegas posted, "The filling of this position would certainly appear to bolster the stance of the police, fire, and employee unions that the city really isn't nearly as broke as it claims, in which case it certainly wouldn't have even considered the folly of such a move!"

Isn't nearly as broke as it claims.... now there's food for thought.

Response to post #47: When a strapped city or company is trying to get unions to agree to wage cuts, freezes, pension parings and the like, the union almost always claims that the entity's financial problems aren't as bad as advertised. Best, Don Bauder

Vice versa as well, Don. Whenever the CEO wants a new house, he claims the company is nearly bankrupt and the unions need to make concessions.

The music on the Sign on San Diego station was terrible, anyway. Unlistenable!

Response to post #49: I can't argue with that. Corporate CEO salaries are a disgrace, exceeded only by the egregiously obscene remuneration on Wall St. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #51: It's interesting that the music was (is?) awful. Was it technological -- something wrong with internet transmission? Or did U-T simply select music that was not to your taste, and presumably not to the taste of the broad audience? Best, Don Bauder

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