Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008 | The San Diego Union-Tribune’s 64-year-old Washington D.C. bureau will close later this year as all of its four remaining reporters leave the newspaper.
“There’s no getting around the fact that it’s sad, not a good development,” said George E. Condon Jr., who’s been the bureau chief for 24 years. “It’s not good for our democracy or our readers to not have that kind of coverage. You’d get no dissent on this from the editors. There are just some economic realities.”
The Union-Tribune is for sale and last month announced that it hoped to eliminate 78 positions through buyouts, including 31 in the newsroom. The paper has already gone through rounds of job-cutting in recent years as it suffers from declines in advertising and circulation.
The elimination of the D.C. bureau comes just two years after the Union-Tribune won its only Pulitzer Prize — in conjunction with the Copley News Service — for its coverage of the Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham bribery scandal. The story was uncovered by Copley News Service, which then served as the capital bureau to the Union-Tribune and the rest of the Copley newspaper chain, reporters at the D.C. bureau; the two reporters singled out for their work have since left.
Of the current reporters in the bureau, Dana Wilkie, who covers the San Diego congressional delegation, and Paul Krawzak, who covers military and business, will take buyouts and leave at the end of the month, Condon said.
Condon, who covers national politics, is also taking a buyout. “I’ll stay through the campaign and then shut down the office and turn out the lights on Nov. 30,” he said. Another bureau reporter, Finley Lewis, said he has agreed to leave the paper at the end of the year. He covers economics, politics and the White House.