The San Diego Sun has lowered its flag to half mast in honor of the journalists both leaving and staying on at The San Diego Union Tribune.
In this premiere installment of “92101 News & Notes,” we’ll quantify why the recent buyout by an axe-wielding mega corporation of the U-T is not a healthy thing; ponder what’s to become of the off-the-radar Wonderfront Music Festival; and step up to the plate with a reality television show that swung for the fences–and whiffed–at Petco Park.
First, the dreary fate of our city’s newspaper of record…
Deep Cuts at The U-T
The cold reality of a newspaper being purchased by a hedge fund set in last week. It was announced that dozens of highly experienced reporters were taking buyouts in advance of layoffs at The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Editor/publisher Jeff Light has departed. The opinion/editorial pages will lose Steve Breen. Director of photography and video San Hodgson took the buyout. So did veteran arts and entertainment editor Michael Rocha.
The list goes on and on.
Veteran reporter Gary Warth is just one example of institutional knowledge that’ll no longer report to work at the Union-Tribune’s downtown offices on B Street.
Warth had 33 years of service with the company. For the past three years, his primary beat was homelessness. That meant about three stories per week aimed at a vital issue.
His history of covering our unsheltered population for the U-T goes back 11 years. Before that, he was covering homelessness for the North County Times.
“Over the years, the issue became more and more of a concern in the community, and more people started paying attention to it and covering it,” Warth says via email.
Warth knows all the players and has a deep insight into the nuances of the issue. That takes years of digging.
He’s interested to see what the new owners do with the beat.
“They may have kept me on covering it, but I’d probably have had to take on additional beats to make up for the loss of other reporters,” Warth says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t have it as a single beat, but spread it out among city reporters.”
Bottom line: Expect fewer stories from less-experienced reporters from the city’s paper of record about the region’s biggest unmet challenge.
Whither the Wonderfront Festival?
There were big hopes for the Wonderfront Music Festival. In a wildest-dream scenario, Wonderfront would grow up to be the successor to downtown’s magnificent Street Scene (circa 1984-2009).
At the moment, the future of Wonderfront is cloudy.
Cofounder Ernie Hahn announced he’s no longer part of the management team. Recall that Hahn, who now runs Hahn Entertainment, helped birth Wonderfront in 2019, only to see COVID put it on the skids for two years.
It made a valiant return in 2022, in a waterfront-based setting along Embarcadero Marina Park South. The musical weekend included 100 bands on five stages featuring headliners Gwen Stefani, Zac Brown Band and Kings of Leon.
Last year’s concert was held November 18-20 (the weekend before Thanksgiving). As of late July, there’s no sign of a new lineup or ticket sales on wonderfrontfestival.com.
Co-founder Paul Thornton says he hasn’t thrown in the towel, yet.
“We are still working on finalizing a new weekend date,” says Thornton, who’s also president of TAG Presents. “All our surveys from folks came back with a large number of people asking us to consider moving the date…that weekend before Thanksgiving travel is tougher on folks than we had thought it would be.”
Thornton says he’s still working with the Port of San Diego and the city to find the right time for the festival.
“We’re getting pretty close to locking in something and I’ll reach out at that time,” he says.
Going for the Rose at Petco Park
Petco Park played a prominent role in a recent episode of the The Bachelorette.
If you watch the show, this isn’t news. If you’re not a reality-TV fan, indulge the concept of using a professional baseball park to woo a potential life partner away from a pack of competitors.
Bachelorette Charity Lawson was flown by helicopter to East Village with one of her suitors, a moody dude named Brayden Bowers.
Charity and Brayden were given Padres jerseys by the Swinging Friar mascot. They played catch, drank champagne and made out in the outfield. At night, they had dinner on a two-top table set up on the outfield warning track.
Spoiler: Brayden got a rose that night, meaning he survived to be on the next episode of the ABC cult-fave show. He definitely made a few errors during the Petco date. His ability to score seemed as iffy as the early-season Padres. SDSun
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