Karin Winner, editor of The San Diego Union-Tribune, is retiring at the end of the year.

Her departure continues the break in the newspaper’s tradition since former owner David Copley sold the paper to Beverly Hills-based Platinum Equity earlier this year.

Winner presided over the newspaper during a time in which it won two Pulitzer Prizes, but also in which its staff shrunk dramatically, contracting as advertising revenue plummeted.

As editor, Winner oversaw the newsroom and sat on the paper’s editorial board. But she was never the public figure that many metropolitan newspaper editors are. That role was left to Bob Kittle, the former editorial page editor who was fired in August.

Tony Perry, the long-time Los Angeles Times bureau chief in San Diego, described the dynamic this way in August:

People thought of the Union-Tribune, they thought of Bob. It’s the underpinnings of the canard that Copley just existed to put out a conservative editorial page with a newspaper attached. That’s not true. But one reason it persists is because they had no publisher or editor in public view. They had Bob. It was all Bob.

In three years of writing about the newspaper, I spoke to Winner exactly once. (She typically did not return calls.) That was when I was writing a story about the well-known rift between her and Chris Jennewein, the former leader of the newspaper’s website, SignOnSanDiego. At the time, newsroom employees were frustrated that Winner hadn’t articulated a clear direction for the newspaper after repeatedly cutting staff levels.

From that story:

[I]nterviews paint a picture of a media company that has struggled with divisions among its senior leadership and that doesn’t communicate well internally. The paper’s editor and website leader don’t get along, staff says. Employees have watched some of the news pages’ most prominent names pack up and leave, without being briefed about what comes next.

Winner has spent 15 years as the newspaper’s editor; she started there in 1976 as a reporter for The San Diego Union, which later merged with the Evening Tribune.

From the Union-Tribune’s press release:

“Karin is highly respected, not only in our newsroom but also in the journalism industry,” said Ed Moss, president and publisher of The San Diego Union-Tribune. “I’m particularly grateful for having worked so closely with her the past six months, and I know the newsroom, and the entire company, will miss her insight, expertise and experience. We all wish her the very best as she enters a new and exciting stage of her life.”

Moss said that a search for Winner’s replacement would begin immediately.

Update: Media blogger Romenesko has Winner’s memo to staff announcing her departure. “It is time for our new ownership to have their own editor,” she wrote.


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