Go Chargers! San Diego U-T CEO wants sports section to ‘support’ local teams

I would be fairly nervous if I worked at the San Diego Union-Tribune these days. What if I write something that runs counter to the sentiments of CEO John Lynch?

Will I find myself out on the street like Tim Sullivan?

It certainly appears as if Sullivan’s distinguished 10-year run as a columnist ended because he had serious questions about building a new stadium in San Diego. Lynch, the father of former Tampa Bay and Denver star safety John Lynch, wants that stadium to keep the Chargers in town.

In a telling interview with the Voice of San Diego shortly after taking over as CEO, there’s this passage:

He wants that sports page to be an advocate for a new football stadium “and call out those who don’t as obstructionists.”

“To my way of thinking,” Lynch said, “that’s a shovel-ready job for thousands.”


And the former sports radio executive said the paper should have “an incredibly strong sports page that supports the Chargers, the Padres, USD, SDSU.”

Wow, support a new stadium and go Bolts! Is that the U-T’s new mantra?

Sullivan certainly wasn’t up for playing that game. In yesterday’s post about his dismissal, he said:

Mr. Lynch appears to be of a mind to make the stadium happen and bulldoze the opposition or even those who raise questions.

Later, Sullivan said:

I told (editor Jeff Light) then that I was not in a position to quit on principle but that I was worried that Lynch’s interview had inflicted serious damage to the paper’s credibility and that his leadership would result in compromised standards. (It has, and on several fronts.)

Interestingly, Light didn’t dispute Sullivan’s account of the story. In an email to JimRomenensko.com, he said:

Tim has a fine record as journalist, and I think his account is pretty accurate as far as it goes. Without getting into the details, I would say that if he can find the right fit, I think he would make a good columnist for someone.

There are people in San Diego questioning why Light didn’t do more to protect Sullivan’s job. Perhaps he did, but in the end, Lynch ordered him gone.

From what I hear, the U-T staffers are very nervous in the wake of what happened to Sullivan. Who’s next?

And for those who stay, do you risk being branded as a cheerleader? After all, the CEO said he wants “an incredibly strong sports page that supports the Chargers, the Padres, USD, SDSU.”

Possible lede next season:

The Chargers are off to another 1-4 start, but we know good ol’ Norv Turner can turn it around.

Now Lynch ran a sports talk radio station, and I suspect the hosts weren’t genteel in their approach to Turner. Homers don’t make for good sports talk radio.

The same holds true for newspapers. Regarding the U-T, Lynch should have said he wants a section that “aggressively covers” the local teams.

Lynch, though, said what he said. Sullivan is right. Lynch’s comments have compromised the paper’s standards. And his decision to ax Sullivan lowered them even more.









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