Today was a difficult day of change for voiceofsandiego.org.

Last year, we raised more than $1.1 million and drew up a budget for 2011 at $1.2 million. We’re projecting lower revenue for the coming year and set the budget at $1 million.

There’s no one cause for the change. No major donor has dropped out. Our sponsorships are consistent and our membership is growing rapidly. But in the past, we’ve relied on grants from national foundations to make up a large part of our funding and we can’t be sure they’ll be there for us again. We’re in the process of building a thriving membership program to reduce our reliance on foundations, but we need time to fully establish a diverse donor base. Quite simply, like many of the agencies we cover and many families across San Diego, we have to be realistic about our prospects for the New Year.

In reducing our expenses, we prioritized what we feel we can do best as well as what our readers have told us is important to them. As a result, we will focus our resources on having a greater impact through a full investigative reporting team and a daily engagement and analysis team focusing on politics, public affairs, education and the arts.

We will continue to add value to the daily civic discussion and uncover the things people don’t want to discuss. Unfortunately, these changes mean we have had to lay off four of our friends and co-workers. Three are familiar faces to you:

• Emily Alpert, education reporter.

• Sam Hodgson, photo editor.

• Adrian Florido, neighborhood reporter.

They all have contributed greatly to our success. We’ll miss them deeply as people and professionals. They’re all very talented and we know they’ll continue to have success.

There’s little doubt many of you will be sad to see them go and you may disagree with our decisions. We recognize and understand that.

Further budget reductions will not be considered for 2012.

It may seem awkward to be running our year-end fundraising campaign — an ambitious one at that — in the midst of these changes. But actually, it’s quite appropriate. As a nonprofit, this is our challenge: Our service depends on your support. If you value our investigative reporting, analysis, our daily Morning Report, partnerships with local media and events, please support this effort.

Over the next few months, we’re going to be quite open and frank with you about what this service will require and how you can help. At the same time, we’ll continue putting on events, working on media platforms of all kinds and using whatever tools necessary to help people understand their region and its problems clearly.

We’ll also be forthcoming on any changes of coverage or journalistic projects we’re working on. We’re currently working with staff to finalize exactly what our new structure looks like. We’ll share it with you when it’s ready.

Right now, we’re focused on building the sort of local membership base that allows us to grow more organically. As we grow, we’ll do it strategically, based on data and a conversation with you.

If any current members, sponsors or supporters would like to contact us to discuss this decision further, please do. As you can imagine, this was a very difficult decision and we appreciate your understanding.

We’re not going to give you the hackneyed journalism line that we’ll “do more with less.” We are, however, taking this as an opportunity to go back to our roots and focus on impact. We’ll use all we’ve learned over the past seven years of VOSD to build a thriving and sustainable organization.

We remain surrounded by immensely talented and passionate individuals. As a group, we’re as committed as ever to uncovering San Diego’s secrets and telling the stories no one else is telling.

Sincerely,

Scott Lewis and Andrew Donohue

    Written by K Hernandez

    61 comments
    Matt Watkins
    Matt Watkins subscribermember

    Just saw this announcement. Alpert, Florido, and Hodgson were the three primary reasons why I donated to VoSD in the past. They were the best things about this independent paper. What a gigantic loss.

    Matt W
    Matt W

    Just saw this announcement. Alpert, Florido, and Hodgson were the three primary reasons why I donated to VoSD in the past. They were the best things about this independent paper. What a gigantic loss.

    Teri Trickey
    Teri Trickey subscriber

    I found out about Voice of San Diego through word of mouth about Emily's great writing. I have followed her during the past 2 -3 years (losing track of time). She has been, as others have said, the "go to" writer for education. None of the other newspapers or news stations have enlightened us as well as Emily. I'm sorry, but I don't read anything else in your newspaper. If you give up "Schooled", which I guess you have, you are giving up the readership of many of us. I will not read you because without Emily your paper is just political and frankly a bit boring.

    Works2
    Works2

    I found out about Voice of San Diego through word of mouth about Emily's great writing. I have followed her during the past 2 -3 years (losing track of time). She has been, as others have said, the "go to" writer for education. None of the other newspapers or news stations have enlightened us as well as Emily. I'm sorry, but I don't read anything else in your newspaper. If you give up "Schooled", which I guess you have, you are giving up the readership of many of us. I will not read you because without Emily your paper is just political and frankly a bit boring.

    bigdprender
    bigdprender subscriber

    Very sorry to hear about Emily though...

    bigdprender
    bigdprender

    Very sorry to hear about Emily though...

    bigdprender
    bigdprender subscriber

    VOSD can have all of my savings if and only if I could be assured that 100% went to efficient reporting and zero went to wasteful purposes (list of all verifiably good vs bad can be provided for a fee.)

    bigdprender
    bigdprender

    VOSD can have all of my savings if and only if I could be assured that 100% went to efficient reporting and zero went to wasteful purposes (list of all verifiably good vs bad can be provided for a fee.)

    Angie Vorhies
    Angie Vorhies subscriber

    I'm speaking up, too: hire Emily, Sam and Adrian back.

    sdroots
    sdroots

    I'm speaking up, too: hire Emily, Sam and Adrian back.

    Steve Howard
    Steve Howard subscriber

    I'm very sorry to hear that VOSD has had to lay off journalists, but I have confidence that you used the same good judgement in that decision as you have in building the organization and in hiring people in the first place. I wish you well in your efforts to draw more contributions from readers like me.

    steve4544
    steve4544

    I'm very sorry to hear that VOSD has had to lay off journalists, but I have confidence that you used the same good judgement in that decision as you have in building the organization and in hiring people in the first place. I wish you well in your efforts to draw more contributions from readers like me.

    Ricardo Gomez
    Ricardo Gomez subscriber

    Through Adrian Florido's sensitive reporting, communities south of Highway 8 finally got the coverage and respect they needed and deserved. I shudder to think that without this thoughtful voice, reporting of these communities in the mainstream media will revert to the old status quo: shootings and robberies and rapes, but no focus on how we can make these communities thrive. But then again, I guess it makes sense. Poor people can't afford to donate.

    rgomez
    rgomez

    Through Adrian Florido's sensitive reporting, communities south of Highway 8 finally got the coverage and respect they needed and deserved. I shudder to think that without this thoughtful voice, reporting of these communities in the mainstream media will revert to the old status quo: shootings and robberies and rapes, but no focus on how we can make these communities thrive. But then again, I guess it makes sense. Poor people can't afford to donate.

    Kathleen MacLeod
    Kathleen MacLeod subscribermember

    How sad. I'm disappointed you've retreated from your namesake of unheard VOICEs by eroding the gender and cultural mix of your staff. By eliminating minority voices, democracy suffers.

    kmacleod
    kmacleod

    How sad. I'm disappointed you've retreated from your namesake of unheard VOICEs by eroding the gender and cultural mix of your staff. By eliminating minority voices, democracy suffers.

    Katie Anderson
    Katie Anderson subscriber

    Emily - all my best wishes for your future. You're an amazing, smart, hard working young woman who is a valuable asset to any organization. I'm sorry this has happened.

    obmomm
    obmomm

    Emily - all my best wishes for your future. You're an amazing, smart, hard working young woman who is a valuable asset to any organization. I'm sorry this has happened.

    Janet Shelton
    Janet Shelton subscriber

    In my business, I took a cut to my income and asked all my staff to help, which they did. I have seen repeatedly how destructive layoffs are and thankfully we were able to make it without losing anyone.

    myearth
    myearth

    In my business, I took a cut to my income and asked all my staff to help, which they did. I have seen repeatedly how destructive layoffs are and thankfully we were able to make it without losing anyone.

    Jill Heller
    Jill Heller subscriber

    I wish all three well, and look forward to seeing someone/anyone snap up these fine journalists ....I second the opinion above, that I could do without Arts reporting, more than I can do without these three. I wish you'd inform us of the possible need for layoffs....I bet many would have been willing to donate to the cause of VOSD keeping these fine folks.....

    ClassroomVolunteer
    ClassroomVolunteer

    I wish all three well, and look forward to seeing someone/anyone snap up these fine journalists ....I second the opinion above, that I could do without Arts reporting, more than I can do without these three. I wish you'd inform us of the possible need for layoffs....I bet many would have been willing to donate to the cause of VOSD keeping these fine folks.....

    Frances O'Neill Zimmerman
    Frances O'Neill Zimmerman

    What an appalling announcement: you decide to sack your excellent education reporter and your only photographer? I can think of a lot of other ways to trim your budget, to focus your resources, to become a leaner, meaner, better, news organization. This decision weakens voiceofsandiego.org. I can only hope the personnel in question were fed up and decided to move on. Oh, and Merry Christmas.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    My wife and I have done a fair amount of "grunt work" like stuffing envelopes for The Voice's fund raisers, and we've seen amounts some of the contributors give. Some don't even represent the equivalent of a few month's subscription to a print newspaper. We've got to better than that. Priorities are important in life, and this one ought to be very high on our lists.

    toulon
    toulon

    My wife and I have done a fair amount of "grunt work" like stuffing envelopes for The Voice's fund raisers, and we've seen amounts some of the contributors give. Some don't even represent the equivalent of a few month's subscription to a print newspaper. We've got to better than that. Priorities are important in life, and this one ought to be very high on our lists.

    Vicky Waters
    Vicky Waters subscriber

    Absolutely shocking and sad to hear about Emily Alpert. She has been a valuable asset to this publication for her coverage of education issues. To let her go at a time when the district is facing its worst financial crisis, quite frankly, doesn't make any sense. She is irreplaceable. I hope she finds a job that values her experience and insight, and wish her the best of luck in the future.

    vwat
    vwat

    Absolutely shocking and sad to hear about Emily Alpert. She has been a valuable asset to this publication for her coverage of education issues. To let her go at a time when the district is facing its worst financial crisis, quite frankly, doesn't make any sense. She is irreplaceable. I hope she finds a job that values her experience and insight, and wish her the best of luck in the future.

    Lisa Berlanga
    Lisa Berlanga subscriber

    Emily Alpert is our go to person in the educational community. We rely on her for accurate, balanced reports that keep us informed about what is going on. She will be sorely missed in the educational community.

    LisaB
    LisaB

    Emily Alpert is our go to person in the educational community. We rely on her for accurate, balanced reports that keep us informed about what is going on. She will be sorely missed in the educational community.

    JEROME TORRES
    JEROME TORRES subscriber

    You lost a invaluable asset: Emily Alpert. Hopefully, she finds another venue that allows her to use her incredible skill set. A major loss for VofSD.

    JOT
    JOT

    You lost a invaluable asset: Emily Alpert. Hopefully, she finds another venue that allows her to use her incredible skill set. A major loss for VofSD.

    Ray Adair
    Ray Adair subscriber

    I am shocked and sad to see you release Emily Alpert. She has covered difficult issues in education like no one else in San Diego. This is a serious loss to the education community and San Diego at large. I hope she finds another venue worthy of her skills.

    radair
    radair

    I am shocked and sad to see you release Emily Alpert. She has covered difficult issues in education like no one else in San Diego. This is a serious loss to the education community and San Diego at large. I hope she finds another venue worthy of her skills.

    susanf
    susanf subscribermember

    i hope VOSD can get more support from the community, given what is happening to the UT.

    susanf
    susanf

    i hope VOSD can get more support from the community, given what is happening to the UT.

    Becky Breedlove
    Becky Breedlove subscriber

    when recently I made a donation to VOSD I did so mostly out of gratitude for the amazing work that Emily Alpert does. I missed her insightful reprting on education when she was out of country recently but tonight feel great sense of loss at the news that she has been laid off.

    B2
    B2

    when recently I made a donation to VOSD I did so mostly out of gratitude for the amazing work that Emily Alpert does. I missed her insightful reprting on education when she was out of country recently but tonight feel great sense of loss at the news that she has been laid off.

    Nickolas Furr
    Nickolas Furr subscriber

    Mr. Lewis, I do consider this quite a blow to your organization. It's too bad you felt this was a good idea. I do not.

    Nickolas
    Nickolas

    Mr. Lewis, I do consider this quite a blow to your organization. It's too bad you felt this was a good idea. I do not.

    Scott Hasson
    Scott Hasson subscriber

    I am a big supporter of VOSD and know these employees well. I am so sorry this happened and wish you well. Thank you for your good work, we the citizens of San Diego appreciated your work.

    scotthasson
    scotthasson

    I am a big supporter of VOSD and know these employees well. I am so sorry this happened and wish you well. Thank you for your good work, we the citizens of San Diego appreciated your work.

    Rory Potter
    Rory Potter subscriber

    Sam's work was the lifeblood of VOSD.

    rpoSD
    rpoSD

    Sam's work was the lifeblood of VOSD.

    Barry Pollard
    Barry Pollard subscriber

    That is too bad, Emily and Adrian were good reporters especially in addressing issues that are "homegrown" to the communities of SD. They will be missed. I am hopeful their names will pop up in another news organization within the City......KPBS are you listening?

    barry pollard
    barry pollard

    That is too bad, Emily and Adrian were good reporters especially in addressing issues that are "homegrown" to the communities of SD. They will be missed. I am hopeful their names will pop up in another news organization within the City......KPBS are you listening?

    Erik Hanson
    Erik Hanson subscriber

    Sorry to hear this, especially about Sam, who will be impossible to replace. It's a shame Irwin Jacobs could not kick in a bit more from the money he would save from dropping the bypass bridge plan. I'd help out more if I wasn't in serious danger of losing my home. We need strong alternatives to the Manchester UT.

    hardcover
    hardcover

    Sorry to hear this, especially about Sam, who will be impossible to replace. It's a shame Irwin Jacobs could not kick in a bit more from the money he would save from dropping the bypass bridge plan. I'd help out more if I wasn't in serious danger of losing my home. We need strong alternatives to the Manchester UT.

    liz weems
    liz weems subscriber

    I will miss Adrian Florido's neighborhood reporting. Especially his reporting of the Plaza de Panama/City Council/Jacob's folly. I would rather have his reporting than an arts reporter. Lots of blogs about local art events are available. Inside reporting about San Diego neighborhoods and their concerns? Not so much.

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