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Here’s to Twenty Ten Like Obama’s Nobel prize, we’re not betting on the outcome

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in Columns

Regardless, let’s cast a positive note for our new year. With the exception of a rallying stock market and a spike here and there in the housing market, most would say good riddance to 2009.
While the news business nearly fell apart in 2009, it seems to be flourishing  in San Diego.
With this issue, San Diego Metropolitan celebrates the beginning of its 25th year and here’s a special acknowledgement to its founder, Sean Rielly, and his successor, Gary Shaw, who managed the helm before we stepped in last June.
Publishing is quite obviously a private business but it also requires an understanding  that its role is much more than balance sheets and income statements. To be an effecting asset for the community, a publishing enterprise must seek to earn the public’s trust. You have our pledge that we’ll try not to ever forget that.
The Union-Tribune is under aggressive new ownership and the city is blessed with three hard-charging Internet news operations:, San Diego News Network and San Diego Newsroom.
Add the San Diego Business Journal and the Daily Transcript and you’ve a nice recipe for a smorgasbord of news options.
Scott Lewis and Andy Donohue, operating under Voice’s nonprofit, (501) (c)(3) status, generate superb local news and investigative coverage. Neil Senteria and Barbara Bry have put together a unique formula to put San Diego News Network in play both here and in Riverside County and David King, apparently deciding there was more to life than practicing law, added San Diego Newsroom to our journalistic mix two years ago.
I like the U-T’s smart marketing campaign: More than 1 million readers every week. When you can’t sell circulation numbers, what with subscribers fast falling off the precipice, you move your sales pitch to readership. It is called the pass along factor which simply says each individual copy of the paper has more than one reader. We all do it. The Copley ownership never figured it out.
Elsewhere, the dear old newspaper business has been taking it on the chin and while it may be in vogue to say c’est la vie to print, let’s hold that thought. I have  great respect and admiration for the work of our  Internet colleagues, but you might want to think about what San Diego or any American city would be like without a daily newspaper.
At last count, 150 newspapers had folded in 2009, including Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Christian Science Monitor, although the latter two have retained solid Websites. Over 120 TV shows were cancelled, 110 news bureaus closed, including all foreign bureaus of the Washington Post, 56 magazines called it quit and over 12,000 journalists lost their jobs.
Reporting requires money and with fewer reporters on the streets, journalism across a wide swath of our country cannot possibly be the same, even with bloggers, Facebook, Twitter and anyone else who has a computer microphone.
As two reporters for Mother Jones opined: “If there is 50 or 30 or 20 percent as much money being spent paying people to do consistent, reliable reporting, we’ll have a corresponding reduction in consistent, reliable reporting.”
Politics in our grand old town might be another matter and just when you thought your appetite had run its course, another season is right back in our face. Chalk it up to a small price we pay for living in a free and open society.  It may not be perfect, as Winston Churchill said, but it beats any alternative.
In San Diego, there are City Council races in Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8 but the most intriguing contest will be Ron Roberts’ effort to keep his seat on the county Board of Supervisors. His campaign aides are nervous because his 4th District continues to lean less and less Republican. He’s already got Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, a Democrat, to fend off and if Donna Frye, who is being termed out of the City Council, gets into the race, Roberts’ re-election would seem to be in for a tough ride.
A good friend, Adrian Kwiatkowski, and Tom Shepard are leading the campaign for a “strong mayor” form of government. If it passes, the City Council will add a ninth district. If it fails, Mayor Jerry Sanders will fall back to being just another member of the City Council.
We also get to pick Arnold’s successor and if the pundits in Sacramento and at The Los Angeles Times are right, don’t bet that nirvana or peace in our time at the state Capitol is just around the corner.
We’ve two zillionaire Republicans running, Meg Whitman, who made a fortune running eBay, and Steve Poizner, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who is the state’s insurance commissiner.
Tom Campbell, an academic and former congressman, is also in the Republican primary and while most say he is the one among them who best understands the challenges and issues facing the next governor, he has very little money or, so the story goes, so he can’t possibly win. They said the same thing about Gray Davis in 1998 before he upstaged two rich opponents and went on to become governor.
The GOP winner gets Jerry Brown, who has done a remarkable job of remaking his image from his “Governor Moonbeam” days. It matters not, according to one Sacramento insider, who wins because he insists that they are all clueless when it comes to figuring out how to fix California’s myriad problems.
Welcome to Twenty Ten!

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