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Newspaper Deathwatch

U-T San Diego Shutters Temecula Newspaper

Peter Surowski, who writes the “Menefee City Beat” column for the Press-Enterprise, was one of the first to some sad news today. U-T San Diego has closed The Californian, a paper it gained last year as part of its acquisition of the North County Times. A total of 12 employees are reportedly affected.

Late this afternoon, Surowski’s colleagues at Southwest Riverside News Network (SRNN) received confirmation:

An official statement provided by U-T San Diego marketing director George Bonaros today confirmed reports of the closing of the Temecula office of The Californian.

“The U-T is finalizing its transition following the North County Times acquisition. The U-T has replaced the U-T Californian section of the newspaper in Southwest Riverside with the North County section of U-T San Diego. The U-T intends to continue serving its Southwest Riverside subscribers with the high-quality, award-winning journalism associated with the U-T San Diego brand,” Bonaros said.

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OC Register Going Behind a Paywall in April

Following the LA Times‘ lead, the Orange County Register will put its online content behind a paywall starting next month, according to a letter to the paper’s subscribers obtained by OC Weekly. Unlike the Times, however, which allows full online access to Sunday paper subscribers, the Register paywall will be more restrictive.

From the letter:

In April, we will take another promising step to reinforce the value of your subscription by introducing Digital Access. The local content that you access digitally through OCRegister.com is moving to a digital subscription model. Current print subscribers will have free digital access on the days you are subscribed to the print-edition. You simply need to link your account to activate your free Digital Access. In the coming week, we will send a follow-up email with instructions on how to link your account.

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L.A. Youth Closing After 25 Years

For 25 years, L.A. Youth was a platform for local aspiring high school journalists (including myself in 2000-01) to get their feet wet in the newspaper industry.

Unfortunately, that opportunity is coming to an end as publisher Donna Myrow announced in the February issue that L.A. Youth is closing for good at the end of February:

Tough economic times, foundation cuts and moving our office by March 1, 2013, have overburdened our budget and placed an undue amount of financial strain on the L.A. Youth family. While we celebrate our 25th anniversary this month we are regrettably closing the doors on this extraordinary organization at the end of February. This is our last edition of L.A. Youth.
A 25-year history produces an extensive body of relationships, memories and feelings. From the first group of teens writing stories on an old typewriter around my kitchen table we moved to Saturday editorial meetings at the senior citizen center in West L.A. and finally our own space in the mid-Wilshire neighborhood. While I have the honor to write this letter, credit for L.A. Youth’s success is widely shared. Most important to me, I must recognize the colleagues with whom I have worked at L.A. Youth. Together, we trained thousands of teens in writing, editing and critical thinking about issues relevant to their lives.

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In San Diego, Tis’ the Season for Daily Newspaper Melancholy

Media Matters for America blogger Joe Strupp offers a thorough, depressing review of the first year of Doug Manchester’s tempestuous tenure as a San Diego newspaper baron. Among those chiming in are New York Times media columnist David Carr, KPBS director of news and editorial strategy Suzanne Marmion, fired U-T sports reporter Tim Sullivan and an anonymous current employee:

“Saying you are going to be a cheerleader for business… goes against everything we have been taught and trained as journalists,” said one current U-T San Diego staffer who requested anonymity. “A lot of people have rolled their eyes at the front page editorials that have run… The quality of the paper is less because there’s more fluff in the paper, an emphasis on running more society photos and celebrity photos. That space could be better used on actual news and information.”

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Laid Off (Again), SoCal Daily Newspaper Vet Has Had Enough

David Ogul (pictured) is not entirely quitting the newspaper business. But as he explains in his inaugural monthly column for San Diego’s Mission Times Courier, he’s no longer going to try and make a go of it in a newsroom full-time.

Ogul was laid off from the San Diego Union-Tribune in June 2011, and then again from the North County Times just a few weeks ago after the acquisition of that regional paper by U-T San Diego. In other words, he’s essentially been sent packing twice in two years by the same company. A far cry from the center where his beloved industry once resided:

I’ve seen a lot in my 32 years as a writer and editor working for numerous daily newspapers in Southern California, including an 11-year stint as an editor for The San Diego Union-Tribune. But it’s time to call it quits. Time to move on. Time to come to grips with the fact I don’t like what is happening to journalism today.

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One-Third of Staff at North County Times To Lose Jobs

Just weeks after the sale of the North County Times to the owners of U-T San Diego, a third of the newspaper’s staff was told they would be laid off. That includes 24 newsroom jobs, according to Elizabeth Aguilera of the North County Times. Workers were given notice of the upcoming layoffs on Monday, in keeping with California law, which requires 60 day advance warning for mass layoffs.

So they’ll be losing their jobs on December 1st. Just in time for the holidays!

Aguilera writes:

The merger will push the combined U-T San Diego and North County Times circulation within the top 10 local daily newspapers in the nation based on ABC circulation averages for the six-month period ended March 31, according to the U-T. (USA Today and The Wall Street Journal are not included because they are not seven-day-a-week local newspapers.)

Since conservative developer Doug Manchester acquired the U-T San Diego last December, he’s used the newspaper as a mouthpiece to promote his political and business agendas. With that kind of editorial direction, we strongly suspect circulation numbers for both newspapers will take a hit.

Los Angeles Daily Journal Lays Off Photographers

First, it was copy editors.

Now, the Los Angeles Daily Journal is getting rid of staff photographers. The publication terminated their two staff photographers (one in San Francisco, one in Los Angeles) in favor of reporters snapping their own pictures and freelancers.

LA Observed got their hands on the memo from editor David Houston:

All,

I have terminated our staff photographers in Los Angeles and San Francisco… Starting next week, we will use freelancers and photos taken by reporters.

We will use outside photographers for some potential display stories and for profiles, especially of small law firms and of GCs. Take your own judge profile photos. All freelance photography requests go through me.

I have ordered new cameras for all of the offices. They should arrive next week.

Today, please send Caitlin Johnson any outstanding photo requests you have. She will do an audit of which photos have been taken. I will assign a freelancer for the rest. Please bear with us during this transition.

Finally, thanks to Todd Rogers and Robert Levins for their service to the company. They have been great colleagues and they will be missed.

David Houston

Los Angeles Downtown News Needs Your Money

With newspaper advertising revenues continuing to slide in the wrong direction, the Los Angeles Downtown News is asking readers to become paid supporters of the free 40-year weekly newspaper.

Founder Sue Laris wants readers to donate $5 a month or a lump sum donation to help keep the newspaper afloat.

And if readers become a paid supporter, they will receive a photograph and the name of their favorite charity in the newspaper and on the website.

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LA Times Developing Quarterly Fashion Pub

Just got a hold of the internal LA Times memo from COO Kathy Thomson announcing the end of the Los Angeles Times Magazine. As we already reported, the mag’s June issue will be its last. There are no plans to tinker and relaunch. However, it looks as if the Times does have something new in the works.

Thomson writes that the paper is developing “a new special quarterly product focused on luxury, design, fashion and style. The publication will highlight seasonal trends and occasions with print, digital and mobile iterations intended to further enhance our feature coverage and deepen our connection with our members and advertising partners.”

Sounds similar to the LA Times Mag‘s previous incarnation as an advertorial product product of the business end of the paper. Bummer. Yet another blow for substance in our brave, new-media world.

Full memo after the jump:

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L.A. Youth to Remain Open Through the Summer

What a birthday for L.A. Youth executive director Donna Myrow.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the teen newspaper has raised more than $180,000, which is enough money to publish their next issue and remain open through the summer.

We told you last month the non-profit needed to raise $500,000 by May 14 or it would be forced to close their doors after 24 years on June 30. Thanks to an anonymous donation of $150,000 Friday, it gives Myrow more time to fundraise.

For more information about donating, check out LAYouth.com/Donate.

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