One thing that I’ve always spent way too much time thinking about is the house editorial custom at major newspapers.

Virtually every paper does it. They’re the editorials without bylines in the opinion section. Because they have no bylines, they’re meant to communicate that they’re the view of the newspaper as a whole.

But they’re not. The most important part of any newspaper – the news team – actively and regularly distances itself from its opinion and editorial teams. Over the years, U-T San Diego has vacillated between referring to its opinions on these pages as something the editorial board believes, something the paper’s owners believe or even something the newspaper itself wants.

This week, U-T San Diego Editor Jeff Light agreed to come on the podcast, and I pressed him to help me understand this relationship.

No, he said, the editorials do not speak for the paper. Yes, he said, they should probably clarify better on the page who they do speak for.

I asked Light who his boss is. (Hint: You’ve probably never heard of him.) I asked how often he talks to Doug Manchester, the publisher. And I asked if he thought the paper was still covering North County as well as it once did. (Hint: No.)


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

Give it a listen. His take will help you understand the paper’s inner workings.

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Listen to the podcast hereon Stitcher or on iTunes.

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    This article relates to: News, Radio, TV and Video, Share, Voice of San Diego Podcast

    Written by Scott Lewis

    Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently breaks news and goes back and forth with local political figures. Contact Scott at scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0527, and follow him on Twitter at @vosdscott.

    8 comments
    jdv 333
    jdv 333 subscriber

    when Bob Kittle was editor of the UT editorial page he stated on KPBS FM on the late Gloria Penner's show that the UT editorial page "reflects a Republican point of view" ... i don't think it's been any secret ... and that all news items pass thru that prism for the entire newspaper...at least for politically-related content ... 

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    Uh, um, er Scott, I uh um, think it's uh just possible that you uh er um come across better in uh writing than in um er the uh podcast uh format.  Sorry, I really respect your work with VOSD, I've just gotta agree with some of the others and suggest you stick to the written word...you're really good at it. 


    The Jeff Light piece would, in my opinion, been much better if you had tried to pin him down on why the UT seems to gloss over all the controversies surrounding Carl DeMaio or at best rarely seem to do any investigative reporting on the myriad of charges that seem both credible and always following Carl wherever he goes. 

    David Cohen
    David Cohen subscriber

    I don't access VOSD on-line only to be directed to a podcast. You may be enamored of multi-media, but I am not. Is it too much to ask for a journalist-written article about this?

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @David Cohen David, we do a show with KOGO every week and have done it for several years now. We make it available here and have extended it for those who enjoy more of what we have to offer there. I don't currently have the resources to have it transcribed or written about more than this. Maybe someday soon.

    Fred Schnaubelt
    Fred Schnaubelt subscriber

    If you agree that the U-T Editorials do not speak for the paper, the editors or the owners you can agree that elected politicians do not speak for the people since no U.S. President in 100 years has receive more than 33% of the registered vote or (VEP) and San Diego council members only get elected by 8% to 30% of registered voters. Whoops! No one is supposed to know.  (Ayn Rand maintained that no organization has a right to speak in the name of all its members).