Ron Donoho
Journalist Ron Donoho

Journalist Ron Donoho has been covering San Diego since 1996, both as a staff employee and freelancer. He is a former editor of San Diego Magazine, San Diego Home & Garden Lifestyles and San Diego CityBeat. As a freelancer, his articles have appeared in more than three dozen national newspapers, consumer magazines and news websites.

Donoho also has taught magazine writing and production at Point Loma Nazarene University and served as chief content officer at Ballotpedia.org, a national website on politics. His career has included long-form writing, investigative reporting and news writing. He also operates a travel website called “Junkets & Jaunts.”

His latest venture, called San Diego Sun, is a news website financed through Meta, the new name for Facebook. It’s believed the Sun is San Diego’s newest local news media outlet.

In June 2021, Donoho applied for funding from Meta through the International Center for Journalists. He was selected as one of 50 local independent journalists around the country to receive multi-year agreements in exchange for creating content to appear on Facebook Bulletin, a new standalone newsletter subscription service offering free and paid articles and podcasts.

Donoho said many journalists selected by Facebook for funding are working in news deserts or covering under-represented communities of color or border immigrants. Others are covering sports, culture, caregiving, food, fashion, technology and climate change.

San Diego Sun covers Downtown businesses, hospitality and entertainment with a focus on Downtown homeless issues. Donoho describes San Diego Sun as “everything that matters to Downtown, including events, businesses, restaurants and homelessness. We cover the good and the bad,” Donoho told Times of San Diego.

“Along the way, my favorite interest in reporting has rarely strayed from what’s happening in Downtown San Diego,” he said. “I live and work in Downtown. I walk and bike through the streets of Downtown. It’s my hood.

“But, the topic that affects me the most has been the plight of the homeless. I have to push down my compassion level to not cry out-loud every time when I see another human being struggling with mental, emotional and physical issues and just trying to survive. It’s a very complicated and complex issue. There are solutions available but the long-term solutions would take longer than some politicians’ terms in office.”

Launched in August 2021, San Diego Sun is updated regularly with hyper-local content. Subscribers total about 2,000. A statement from Meta describes San Diego Sun as “an informative and entertaining source of news, events and insider stories that define downtown San Diego and the greater metropolitan area.”

“I pitched my idea to Facebook and they liked the idea because of the focus on homeless issues,” Donoho said. “I feel a responsibility to write about social issues like homelessness. The reality is that those kinds of stories take time, and that kind of time burns budgets.”

Donoho declined to reveal the amount of funding he’s receiving from Facebook.

Meta is supporting selected journalists like Donoho with free learning opportunities through the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York, which includes the CUNY Jumpstart Program for Local Writers, an intensive course designed to help local writers on the path to building a sustainable, independent business.

“The program allows us to meet with educators and experienced entrepreneurs who have figured out how to make a living by writing about niche coverage areas,” Donoho said. “We have been encouraged to experiment with engagement tools across Facebook and Instagram to build subscriber growth, provide subscriber benefits and deepen reader connections.

“The plan for the next six months is to figure out a way to monetize San Diego Sun to make it self-sustaining as a viable news outlet. I’m looking at several options, including firewalls and a paid-subscription service, but we’re far from a decision right now. In the foreseeable future, free content will still be available on the Internet, free from Facebook. But, I’m proud to say that hyper-local journalism is still alive and well.”

Meta’s Facebook Bulletin program is part of its February 2021 announcement to invest $1 billion in the news industry globally over the next three years.

Community News Editor Jeff Clemetson Joins Business Journal

Jeff Clemetson, an editor of several San Diego community newspapers since 2015, has joined the San Diego Business Journal, a local weekly business newspaper, as a staff reporter.

Jeff Clemetson

Most recently, Clemetson, 49, served as editor of the La Mesa Courier, Mission Times Courier and College Times Courier, three community monthlies published by the San Diego Community Newspaper Group. SDCGN also publishes the Beach & Bay Press, Peninsula Beach, La Jolla Village News, San Diego Downtown News and San Diego Uptown News.

“I think the Business Journal is a standout publication that fills a good niche for San Diego’s business community,” Clemetson told Times of San Diego. “I’m looking forward to trying something new and learning more about business writing.”

Clemetson graduated from California State University Chico in 2000. As a senior in college, he was appointed editor of a newly launched entertainment tabloid published by the Enterprise-Record newspaper in Chico, Calif. He also later worked for the Sierra Sun, based in Truckee, Calif.

He then spent seven years touring the country with a rock band called Ten Mile Tide, named after a marker used by the lead singer’s grandfather’s mining claim in Idaho. By night, he played bass. By day, he wrote stories and edited content for a fitness industry news website.

“You can save a lot of money living cheaply on a bus,” Clemetson said. “While we toured, several band members worked as freelance computer programmers during the day. We stopped touring because some members wanted to dedicate more time to family and their future careers. At about the same time, the fitness website business slowed down in the wake of the 2009 financial crisis. So, for me, it was back to journalism and freelancing.”

Clemetson added that two former band musicians now work at Netflix, while the drummer is a news and traffic radio broadcaster for Cumulus.

Ecommerce Firm Daasity Receives $15 Million in Funding

San Diego-based Daasity, provider of an ecommerce analytics and data analytics platform used by consumer product brands, has announced it has raised $15 million in Series A funding, led by existing lead investor VMG Catalyst of San Francisco.

A Daasity statement said the funding will be used to accelerate data accessibility and brands’ ability to enrich their marketing channels with more personalized customer data.

“We’re proud that leading investors in the consumer product brand space continue to partner and back us,” said Dan LeBlanc, CEO of Daasity. “Our 300 percent growth in under a year proves how scattered data is holding brands back from making urgent, critical business decisions. This capital will accelerate our vision of making actionable data accessible to all ecommerce brands.”

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Dan and the Daasity team as they enter their next phase of growth,” says Brooke Kiley, partner, VMG Catalyst. “We consistently see how difficult it is for brands to act on their data, yet there is a greater need than ever. It is vital to utilize data to succeed in today’s competitive ecommerce environment. Daasity makes data accessible to all brands, empowering them with actionable insights and the ability to enrich their marketing channels with essential customer data.”

Daasity provides information for more than 1,600 consumer product brands by centralizing actionable sales, marketing and inventory data. Client brands include Manscaped, Vuori, Tula Skincare, Kopari, American Giant and Caraway Home.

Meeting Planners Discuss Marketing Strategy with ClickUp Exec

Meeting Professionals International’s San Diego chapter will host an online fireside chat with Melissa Rosenthal, chief creative officer of San Diego-based ClickUp, from 4 to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 25 over Zoom. The public is invited to attend.

Rosenthal, who oversees brand strategy and creative content at ClickUp, will discuss marketing tips and strategies, how to articulate your “why” and marketing successes with a small budget. Cost to attend is $15 for members, $20 for nonmembers. For more information, send an email to administrator@sdmpi.org.

Rosenthal joined ClickUp in 2020 after serving in management positions at Cheddar, a video media company, and BuzzFeed, a news and entertainment company. Founded in 2017, ClickUp offers a customizable workplace productivity platform that services all departments across an organization and integrates workplace applications onto one seamless platform.

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.