Originally published May 29, 2013 at 3:59 p.m., updated May 30, 2013 at 9:57 a.m.
U-T San Diego is reducing its coverage of local city government. The recent cuts in staffing also affects the North County Edition of the paper.
Not only is U-T San Diego closing The Californian, which covered Riverside and Temecula, it is also reducing coverage of local city government in the local North County section of the paper.
A U-T San Diego statement about the restructuring of the paper said the U-T has replaced the U-T Californian section of the newspaper in Southwest Riverside with the North County section.
U-T San Diego's Marketing Director, George Bonaros writes that "The U-T continues to publish zoned (North Inland and North Coastal) Local, Business, and Offers sections."
But the paper’s subscription service tells North County subscribers everyone in the whole region now gets the same paper.
Bonaros said everyone does not get the same paper, but he declined to specify what the differences are. A comparison of the "Local" sections of UT San Diego and the North County Local section showed no noticeable differences. As of today, the words "North County" were removed or reduced in size on the masthead.
Rick Moore with the group “Escondido’s Future” said the changes affect the community significantly.
“They keep turning the screw,” he said. “What’s happening is that the resources the papers can allocate to covering local city government, it keeps getting reduced and reduced to the point where I wonder whether even the people who take the papers will be able to know what’s happening in their city government.“
Moore questioned how well city government can work if citizens are not aware of their activities.
There are nine cities in North County, each with their own government, and 18 cities in San Diego County.
Nadine Scott, an involved citizen of Oceanside, said coverage of the third largest city in the county has been shrinking for some time.
“It’s devastating,” she said. “We find things out after they’ve happened.”
Ray Huard, the U-T San Diego reporter who covered Oceanside, is among more than two dozen U-T employees laid off in recent days. Oceanside and Vista will now share one reporter. David Garrick, who formerly covered Escondido, is now responsible for also covering the cities of San Marcos and Carlsbad.
Moore said coverage of Escondido city council meetings, which used to be published the following day, is now broken into short stories spread out over the week, with less coverage overall. Scott said readers used to daily coverage of their city are now seeing just two or three stories a week.
U-T San Diego CEO, John Lynch, wrote in a memo to staff that the restructuring is a result of a "significant decline" in subscriptions to the North County Times and The Californian.
"While these decisions are difficult,” he wrote, “they are necessary to ensure we operate our business with an optimum allocation of resources and maintain the long-term health of our company."
Note correction: The story originally stated David Garrick will cover the cities of Escondido, San Marcos and Vista