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Readers want San Diego Union-Tribune to reinstate art critic Robert Pincus

July 7, 2010 | 11:23 am

Pincus In June, the San Diego Union-Tribune issued a pink slip to Robert L. Pincus, its art critic and book editor who has covered the city's art scene for close to 25 years. It was part of company-wide layoffs that eliminated 35 newsroom jobs. 

Since then, the newspaper has seen a public backlash over Pincus' termination, with online campaigns and  other forums demanding that it reinstate the art critic.

As reported by Modern Art Notes, there is a Facebook campaign and a blog devoted to bringing back Pincus. In addition, media outlets such as radio station KPBS and the San Diego Reader have devoted time and space in support of the critic.

On his own Facebook page, Pincus has commented that "the layoff was a shock, after 25 years of writing at the U-T. But the new publisher and editor apparently care little about the quality of the art writing. So they eliminated my position in their reorganization."

He also wrote that the newspaper's arts reporting and criticism "can't be done with smoke and mirrors, no matter what the editor says about maintaining art coverage."

Before joining the Union-Tribune, Pincus contributed arts stories to the Los Angeles Times during the early 1980s.

The creator of the Facebook campaign and the blog, Roxana Popescu, was quoted by Modern Art Notes as saying that the aims of the sites are to "allow people to voice their support and concerns, and to alert the decision makers at the newspaper that San Diegans care deeply about the arts — and want Bob back.”

KPBS' Angela Carone wrote that the "great irony is that Pincus' departure comes at a time when San Diego's visual arts scene seems to be heading into some kind of renaissance. Galleries and art collectives are popping up everywhere. The city's contemporary art museum is currently host to an exhibit of 45-plus San Diego artists."

Jeff Light, the editor at the Union-Tribune, has been quoted in the San Diego Reader as saying that the newspaper is currently profitable. In the same interview, he said the newspaper will not have entry-level reporters covering the visual arts and that he intends to use freelancers more often.

Light joined the Union-Tribune in early 2010 after having worked at the Orange County Register and its parent company for more than 15 years. Light did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, Pincus has been busy on Twitter, and you can follow him @rlpincus.

-- David Ng

Photo: Robert Pincus. Credit: Robert Pincus via Modern Art Notes

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