Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009 | Love him or hate him, to know Robert A. Kittle, The San Diego Union-Tribune’s now former editorial page editor, is to have an opinion about him.
As the principal architect of the newspaper’s conservative editorial page, the source of its institutional voice, Kittle was the primary force behind the anonymously written editorials and endorsements on the influential page.
To many, Bob Kittle was the Union-Tribune — its debate moderator, KPBS radio guest and community forum pundit. He likes bowties and big words. And he was laid off Wednesday along with at least 13 other news staffers.
His dismissal marks a sharp break in the newspaper’s tradition by its new owner, Beverly Hills-based Platinum Equity. Kittle had been an institution there, long supported by David Copley, the newspaper’s former owner, who sold the business earlier this year.
By late afternoon Wednesday, his name had been stripped from the newspaper’s editorial board listing on the Union-Tribune’s website. Same with Bernie Jones, the paper’s opinion page editor, who was also laid off. More than half of the newspaper’s editorial staff has departed in the last two years through layoffs and retirement. The newspaper now has less than 850 employees, down 40 percent from the 1,422 it employed in 2006.
Kittle and his conservative editorials championed development, the business community and Republican candidates. He was an important ally of Mayor Jerry Sanders, a key detractor of organized labor. He’s been described as intellectual. But also condescending.