Kevin Leap
Kevin Leap

Barb Chodos, former publisher for the San Diego Business Journal, a weekly business newspaper, and Kevin Leap “had been talking for a while,” according to Leap.

“Barb and I had been talking for a while. She wanted to hire me in a capacity different than publisher,” Leap told Times of San Diego. “Then, Barb decided to leave and move back to the Palm Springs area. That’s when I got a phone call from Armon Mills (SDBJ publisher emeritus), who said, `Okay, Kevin, it’s time.’”

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Today, Leap is serving as SDBJ’s interim publisher. “I’m hoping to stick-around for a long time,” Leap said. His first day on the job was Oct. 30.

In early October, Chodos left SDBJ to take a job as director of operations at the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce. She had served as SDBJ publisher for five-a-half years.

Mills, who served as SDBJ publisher from 2004 to 2010 and a second time from 2012 to 2016, has now been involved in recruiting three SDBJ publishers, including Huntley Paton, who served from 2016 to 2018, Chodos and Leap.

The 62-year-old Leap has more than 30 years of publishing and event management experience.

His previous titles have included West Coast president at Modern Luxury (2006-2007), publisher at San Diego Magazine (2002-2006) and associate publisher at North County Times newspaper (1985-1996).

Also, for 14 years (2006-2019), he was the executive director of the San Diego International Auto Show.

His community service experience includes: North County Economic Development Council, founder and chairman; San Diego Film Festival Foundation, president; San Diego Workforce Partnership, board member; San Diego Economic Development Council, board member; Vista Chamber of Commerce and Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, board member.

“I have ink in my blood and it feels good to be at the Business Journal,” said Leap. “There are lots of opportunity and unlimited potential here. Not many publications in this market are as healthy as the Business Journal.”

Leap’s short-term goals include growing circulation and adding staff. “We had about 30 employees before the pandemic, we’re now down to 16,” Leap said. “We want to staff-up, especially in editorial.”

In addition to the publisher’s role, the SDBJ recently announced the appointment of Jeff Clemetson as editor-in-chief. He is SDBJ’s fifth editor-in-chief in five years.

Clemetson succeeds George Lurie who left in July of this year. Lurie joined the SDBJ in August 2021 and was promoted from special sections editor to editor-in-chief in January 2022.

Prior to Lurie, others serving as SDBJ editor-in-chief have included Jay Harn, a former owner and publisher of community newspapers, who served as SDBJ editor from February 2020 to October 2021. Harn succeeded Stephen Adamek, who served as interim editor in chief following the departure of Vic Jolly, who left SDBJ in June 2019 after only six months on the job.

Clemetson, an editor of several San Diego community newspapers beginning in 2015, joined the SDBJ in December 2021 as a staff reporter. He had previously served as editor of the Mission Times Courier, La Mesa Courier, College Times Courier and Mission Valley News, which are community monthlies published by the San Diego Community Newspaper Group. In July 2022, he was promoted to SDBJ managing editor.

“I am excited and thankful for this opportunity to challenge myself professionally in a new role, with the responsibility of managing a newsroom that serves a wide-ranging and important audience,” Clemetson said. “Our plans include expanding our news coverage to include more business sectors, as well as deeper coverage in special reports and more photography and a better graphics look.

“Because of fewer staff, we’re seeing less business coverage in the San Diego Union-Tribune and more wire-service stories. It’s sad. But, my community newspaper background has taught me the importance of staying local. We have a real opportunity to do some great reporting.”

Founded in 1980, the San Diego Business Journal is owned by CBJ LP, which also operates the Los Angeles Business Journal, Orange County Business Journal and San Fernando Valley Business Journal.

Taxpayers Group Honors La Presna as Media Watchdog Winner  

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association has announced that La Prensa San Diego newspaper, including Arturo Castañares, publisher and editor-at-large, and freelance reporter Alberto Garcia, is the recipient of its 2023 Media Watchdog Award.

The Taxpayers Association said the two journalists for the Spanish-language publication broke the news story about the questionable activities of brother and sister Jesus Cardenas and Andrea Cardenas. The news coverage has resulted in a criminal fraud complaint filed against the siblings. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Andrea currently serves on the Chula Vista City Council, although council members have called on her to resign. Jesus Cardenas is no longer serving as chief of staff for San Diego City Council member Stephen Whitburn.

According to the complaint, the pair fraudulently received $176,227 as a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal Covid-relief program, in early 2021. The loan was intended for their firm, Grassroots Resources LLC.

The complaint states that Jesus allegedly claimed the PPP funds would go towards employee retention and payroll, when the funds actually were used for personal expenses. Meanwhile, Andrea allegedly used the money for her city council campaign and another company, marijuana dispensary Harbor Collective, instead of Grassroots Resources.

In a statement, the Taxpayers Association said, “It’s just shocking to learn about two insiders deep in the political establishment, maybe why voters of all political persuasions are increasingly distrustful of government.”

Finalists for the Media Watchdog award included Jeff Light, former editor-in-chief, The San Diego Union-Tribune , and reporter Jeff McDonald, a member of the Union-Tribune investigative reporting team. Haney Hong, SDCTA president and CEO, told Times of San Diego that Light was nominated because of his leadership at the U-T and McDonald for his ongoing watchdog work.

KPBS-TV Produces Holiday Songs Special

KPBS-TV will premiere “KPBS Holiday Special,” a one-hour, locally-produced special showcasing seven San Diego-area choirs performing songs of the holiday season, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 25.

The choirs include San Diego Chorus, Jewish Men’s Choir, San Diego Children’s Choir, San Diego Master Chorale, Encore Vocal Ensemble, Sacra-Profana and Promotora de las Bella Artes. The TV show was taped by KPBS production staff at houses of worship in San Diego and Tijuana.

KPBS said the show was produced in partnership with the Choral Consortium of San Diego, a service organization composed of about 70 choirs.

A KPBS spokesperson told Times of San Diego the Choral Consortium invited all member choirs to apply. Then, the applicants were shortlisted to the seven choirs that represent “a diverse mix of abilities, repertoire, geographical location to create a program of music that gave the best possible representation of all the music and choirs San Diego and Tijuana has to offer,” the spokesperson said.

A schedule of repeat broadcasts include: 10 p.m., Monday, Dec. 18; 9 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 21; 6 and 11 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 24; 5 p.m., Monday, Dec. 25.

An audio version also will air on various dates in December on radio station KPBS 89.5-FM, according to KPBS. KPBS-TV and KPBS-FM are San Diego’s public broadcasting TV and radio stations.

More Americans Get Their News from Digital Platforms

An overwhelming 86% of Americans get their news from smartphones, tablets or computers at least part of the time, including 56% who say they do so often, according to new data from Pew Research. This is more than the 49% who said they often got their news from digital devices in 2022 and the 51% of those who said the same in 2021.

Additionally, when asked which platform they prefer to get news on, nearly six of 10 (58%) chose a digital device, including apps and websites, over any other options. Just 27% tap TV as their first pick. Even fewer Americans prefer radio (6%) or print (5%).

“Today, an overwhelming majority of Americans get news at least sometimes from digital devices,” Pew Research said in a statement. “The transition of the news industry away from print, television and radio into digital spaces has caused huge disruptions in the traditional news industry, especially the print news industry.”

News consumption across platforms varies by age, gender, race, ethnicity, educational attainment and political leaning, Pew said. Americans ages 50 and older are more likely than younger adults to turn to and prefer TV and print publications.

Pew also said that digital advertising continues to grow as a proportion of total advertising revenue, a trend driven, in large part, by growth in advertising on mobile devices.

In 2022, according to eMarketer estimates, digital advertising grew to $245 billion, an increase from $221 billion in 2021, and $161 billion in 2020. It was estimated to comprise nearly three-quarters of all advertising revenue (72%), compared with 70% in 2021 and 64% in 2020.

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