Three top managers at SignOnSanDiego.com, the website for The San Diego Union-Tribune, were laid off yesterday: Chris Jennewein, vice president of internet operations; Ron James, content manager; and Jim Drummond, director of business development.

Jennewein was the executive in charge of SignOnSanDiego.com, where he had worked since 2001, coming from the San Jose Mercury News. He said his departure from the Union-Tribune was amicable.

“The Copley Press is a great company,” Jennewein said, “and I appreciate the opportunities they gave me.”

Since SignOnSanDiego.com began, it has operated separately from the newspaper. The Copley Press, the parent company essentially has two separate enterprises: The Union-Tribune and SignOnSanDiego.com. Jennewein and the newspaper’s editor, Karin Winner, had a sour relationship that was well-known within the company. We wrote about it in January:

Winner and Jennewein “don’t like each other, they undermine each other — and it’s one company for God’s sakes,” said a former employee. “I don’t understand the philosophy of allowing them to do this.”

Said another current staffer: “If you can’t solve that most basic problem, how are you going to solve the Herculean problems that are facing this industry?”

A reporter who attended a 2007 newsroom strategy meeting in which Winner laid out ideas for the company’s future said the editor closed the session with this request: Don’t tell the workers at SignOnSanDiego.com about what was discussed. …

“Little by little, we have come much closer,” Winner said. “The relationship’s never been better. … There’s no secret that I’d like us to have a closer relationship.”

Jennewein, who has directed Internet operations since 2001, denied any rift. “All I can say is that from my perspective, we are all on the same team,” he said. “We’ve all been on the same team.”

ROB DAVIS

    This article relates to: News

    Written by Voice of San Diego