With a current circulation of 60,000 between its three coastal newspapers — The Peninsula Beacon, Beach & Bay Press and La Jolla Today — SDCNG has represented beach-community residents since 1989. It has been independently owned by the same local family, and has operated out of offices in Pacific Beach, since its inception.
Publisher Julie Hoisington, who started the company with former husband David Mannis, said SDCNG strives to provide communities with news taking place in residents’ figurative (and sometimes literal) backyards that would otherwise go unreported. The publications, she said, try to be a true reflection of the neighborhoods they serve and be the independent voice for these communities.
“The acquisition of the La Jolla Light and sister publications in San Diego County by the U-T would be an effort to reach more households,” Hoisington said. “With the devastating decline in subscriptions, dailies are scrambling to gain back revenue share lost to direct mail competition, alternative classified advertising sources like Craigslist and other niche publications.”
Other independent community news outlets remain, including the Coast News Group, whose share of the news market in North County San Diego has increased since the U-T bought the North County Times last year. Since the sale of North County’s only daily paper, North County Times’ offices were closed and its operations folded into the U-T. Some North County readers have complained that the local news they had become accustomed to reading was greatly diminished after the takeover.
“The U-T seems to be neglecting coverage previously provided by the recently purchased North County Times,” said Coast News Group publisher Jim Kydd. “This has helped us and we are moving to provide more coverage and circulation in these areas.
“I have even been approached to start a new daily to fill the void, which I have no plans to do,” Kydd continued. “If [the U-T does] the same with Main Street’s papers, we will prosper in the areas where we compete. If the U-T decides to invest in Main Street’s papers, it could be a different story. Only time will tell.”
Hoisington emphasized the need for community papers that operate on a sustainable model.
“At the end of the day,” Hoisington said, “it (the acquisition) has to make business sense. [The U-T] will have to make changes in order to cut costs. Will they raise rates? Will they close a few titles that are not producing enough, or are not part of the mass market plan? We can’t be sure. The beauty of an independently run newspaper is we have always had the same business model — produce a true community news source, deliver the papers to everyone we can (at our expense) and provide a damn good advertising partnership with local businesses, realtors and organizations."