Paul Oberjuerge header image 2

‘We’re Eliminating the Position of Sports Columnist’

March 10th, 2008 · 74 Comments · LANG, The Sun

It took me, oh, about three seconds to process the meaning of the call from the newsroom secretary.

“Steve wants to see you in Louise’s office.”

Steve would be Steve Lambert, editor of The Sun/Bulletin/Titanic. And Louise is Louise Kopitch, head of personnel for the same foundering entities.

These days, your editor wants to see you (in tandem with the HR boss) for one reason only. And it’s not to congratulate you on being named Employee of the Year.

It was about noon, and I was in the new, north San Bernardino offices of The Sun to do my weekly IE-oriented notes column. I was going to lead with several paragraphs on Don Markham, the mad genius of Inland Empire prep football who, at age 68, is attempting to put a maraschino cherry atop his “mad genius” credentials by starting up an intercollegiate sports program (and, more importantly, to him, a football team) at something called American Sports University (current enrollment, about 30). A school planned and created by a Korean mad-genius businessman who either is about to fill a niche in academe or lose a boatload of money.

As it turns out, American Sports University is located in downtown San Bernardino in the very same collection of buildings occupied until October of 2006 by The Sun. The same buildings I reported to for my first day of work, Aug. 16, 1976, and then spent the next three decades of my working life. Later, I found that meaningful.

When the phone rang, my colleague, Michelle Gardner, had been talking to me about Cal State San Bernardino basketball, the aspect of her beat that most interests her. As usual, she was highly animated and barely paused for breath as I took the call, said, “OK,” and hung up. Michelle resumed describing the permutations of the CCAA basketball tournament and what it meant for the Division II NCAA playoffs. She was just getting warmed up. I basically had to walk away from her to answer the summons. Michelle does love her beats, and I admire her for that.

I may have laughed aloud as I went down the stairs. Certainly, I smiled. It seemed so silly. “They come for me at a random time and a random day. A Thursday. At lunch. Huh.”

I walked down the hall, looking for the personnel department offices. All the doors were closed, so I had to glance through the glass to find one occupied. I noticed a guy sitting across the walkway, a guy whom I once had worked with on a daily basis, when he was in the plate room and I would run downstairs to build the agate page. Mark Quarles. I remember wondering if he knew what I was doing down there, Thursday afternoon, and whether he might actually call out to me. Or whether it’s politically dangerous to acknowledge a Dead Man Walking.

I pushed open the door to Kopitch’s office, was invited in, and there was Lambert, looking smaller and thinner than I recalled him. Not that I had seen him often the past year, between my doing so many L.A.-oriented columns and him doing whatever it was he does. Corporate stuff, meetings off site, whatever.

I said, brightly, “I’ve been trying to think of a scenario in which this meeting is a good thing.”

Lambert said something like, “It’s not a good thing.”

I sat on the other side of Kopitch’s desk. As did Lambert, but he was turned slightly toward me and was about six feet away. Maybe that’s the way you do these things? On the same side of the desk but a bit removed? I remember a managing editor, name of Mike Whitehead, telling me, 20-odd years ago, that you never fire someone in your own office because if they insist on talking/complaining you can’t get up and leave. It’s your own office, see? So you fire people somewhere else.

Anyway, Lambert had a bit of a preamble. Something we hate to do, forced on us by economic realities, sorry … “but we’re eliminating the position of sports columnist for the Inland group.” I remember that fairly clearly, and I recall thinking “hmm, they leave it to me to grasp that I am not just a columnist but “sports columnist for the Inland group,” a title I’d never heard, let alone used. There was a flicker of “what if I were really dim, or contentious, and made him say it more directly? Like, “you’re fired.”

Lambert may have said he was sorry another time or two. How often he said it doesn’t matter because I don’t believe he meant it in the least. He could have said it 20 times or not at all and it wouldn’t have mattered. The guy hasn’t liked me since, oh, 2004, and I bet whacking me was the easiest call for him, of the 11 Sun newsroom people he fired that day. Dump a big salary (by Singleton standards) and a guy you don’t like at the same time? Easy. Fun, actually.

I believe it is telling I was not offered an opportunity to remain at a lower rate of pay, nor offered a transfer to any other job in the paper (or any other in LANG), not even the ones usually associated with entry-level talent. Steve Lambert wanted me gone. What I did the previous 32 years? Didn’t matter to him.

I digress.

Louise then went through what, by now, ought to be a well-rehearsed series of remarks pertaining to putting people on the street. Here is a check for unused vacation (I was near the max, as I had been for years, and not by accident), you will receive six weeks of severance pay, you’re covered by insurance for three months, you’re entitled to file for unemployment, here is a packet of stuff and, yes, there are some openings in Palm Springs. For half what you’re making now, and 70 miles further into the desert, and I remember thinking, “this is farcical.”

She said something like, “You probably won’t remember much of this,” but I told them, no, I will, because the event was no surprise to me. Only the particular timing of it was.

I’ve been telling people since my first serious dust-up with Lambert that I would be fired if he stayed long enough. Most people I told that to would scoff. Some would argue. “They aren’t going to fire you. You’ve been here too long. You’re too well-known in the community.” Etc.

I disagreed. I knew how much money I was making. Not Los Angeles Times money, but serious money in MediaNews, and becoming more so by the minute. I knew they could hire two entry-level reporters for what I was being paid, and I knew that it was more than possible that would occur to someone – oh, say, Lambert – when some financial crisis hit.

And MediaNews is in severe crisis. The corporate credit rating of Singleton’s company, which brings new meaning to the words “highly leveraged,” has been reduced three times in a matter of weeks, and there were stories out about how he couldn’t meet his obligations to the bankers. And only the previous week I’d been told The Sun lost money in January. LOST money. Didn’t just “not make plan,” which is why Gannett dumped San Bernardino eight years ago, after a year in which The Sun turned a profit of “only” 8 percent. No, The Sun lost money. That never happens in newspapers. Well, it never used to.

I will concede the specific timing of the firing surprised me. There wasn’t a breath of talk about the Inland grouping getting hammered. Since none of the Singleton papers east of the 710 freeway has a union, no formal notice had to be given … and I also believe Singleton’s latest setbacks made for a very quick decision to slash costs. People, that is. Me.

I walked back upstairs. Before the day was over, a very good (and very senior) assistant city editor named Wes Hughes was fired (I think he was fired; I wouldn’t put it past Wes to have voluntarily quit, to save some kid’s job), a quite competent reporter, Gina Tenorio was fired. Also fired at The Sun: A sports desk guy, a sports part-timer and two photographers, including Brett Snow, whose wife had given birth to their first child the day before. (Nice timing, Steve.)

I didn’t talk to anyone about it right off. I just didn’t feel like going through the whole process. But as the day went on, the fact that Kopitch had given me three cardboard boxes should have been a tipoff. That, and the fact that I was saving some files out of the computer and packing up stuff …

This is a bit telling, too. About 4 p.m., after a staff meeting of the surviving members of the sports department (I think it’s 10 of them now, counting the last part-timer) … most of my fin de siecle colleagues came over to shake my hand … but none seemed surprised. Firings and layoffs are too much a part of the landscape now. And, too, some of them are so young that all they know me for is being the old guy who wrote columns.

I didn’t feel like acting out. I didn’t go home and get drunk. Actually, I watched “Survivor” (hmm, symbolism there) and “Lost” (getting thick in here, now).

I’ve gotten several very nice calls from people in the business, mostly those with whom I have worked, who have suggested The Sun erred by firing “the face of the newspaper.”

Maybe. That’s nice of them to say. But things are so weird out there, maybe columnists are luxuries, especially columnists who have been writing a lot of L.A.-oriented pieces. Sure, my columns were getting used throughout the LANG group, but how was that helping San Bernardino/Ontario with its local-local mission?

The roster of gone-and-not-replaced LANG daily sports columnists is getting quite impressive. It includes, in chronological order, Jim Gazzolo (Ontario), Keven Chavez (San Gabriel), Kevin Modesti (promoted by LADN, not replaced), Mike Waldner (Torrance) and, now, me. (The last three all disappeared from regular column writing in the last eight months, after a collective century or so of hacking.) Leaving Steve Dilbeck (LADN), Doug Krikorian (Long Beach) and Bob Keisser (Long Beach), who does more than a little beat reporting, as the only general sports columnists in all of LANG.

Am I bitter? Not really. I could see this coming. I had thought about it many, many times. I didn’t have a serious backup plan in place, but that’s my own fault.

I had been hoping to survive another couple of years, till my youngest child got through four years of college, but it didn’t happen.

I must concede, too, I had reached a point where I routinely was embarrassed by the product I worked for, and if you find yourself feeling that way, maybe it’s time to go. I had been there when The Sun was a good little paper, and it was hard for me to watch it slide into nothingness.

Suburban newspapers across the country have been ravaged in recent years, and San Bernardino certainly is one of them. We had a quality, complete section from about the mid-70s until 2004, or so, when the shotgun marriage with the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario) took place and standards began tumbling.

In the 1980s and 1990s we traveled with the Dodgers and Angels, Rams and Raiders, USC and UCLA. We had a staffer at Wimbledon for 11 consecutive years. I did the Olympics and four World Cups. Gregg Patton did several Olympics and Steve Dilbeck was an NBA Finals regular. Mike Davis did Final Fours. There was a day in 1988, I believe it was, when we had four staff-generated datelines from outside the U.S. – two of them Seoul, one of them Toronto, and I believe the fourth might have been Dilbeck in Europe for a Rams exhibition game. We were a serious player in the APSE awards/judging during that period. A concept that, now, seems impossible to imagine.

As sports editor, from 1980 till 2003, I got to work with a great group of people, energetic and ambitious, and the section got better and better until at least the middle 1990s, and even then a new set of talented, rising people came in and we had another spurt of quality. We weren’t the big city, but we covered things as if we were, and we were a great place to start or to take that next step forward.

Some of the people I had the pleasure to manage include (alphabetically), Suzie Ahn, Louis Amestoy, Claude Anderson, Andy Baggarly, Chris Bayee, Joel Boyd, Albert Bui, Ian Cahir, Katie Castator, Mike Davis, Steve Dilbeck, Dan Evans, Bob Flynn, Michelle Gardner, Brian Goff, Dan Hawkins, Chuck Hickey, Gil Hulse, Nick Leyva, John Murphy, David Leon Moore, Brian Neale, Larry Nista, Doug Padilla, Gregg Patton, Mark Reinhiller, Leah Reiter, Cindy Robinson, Nate Ryan, Jim Schulte, Mirjam Swanson, Mike Terry, Pam Tso, Vic West, Chris Wiley. I’m probably missing someone obvious. (Forgive me up front.) Most of those people remain in journalism. (At last check.) A few have died.

And then there were several part-timers who made lasting impressions and did a lot of heavy lifting. They include Luis Bueno, David Bristow, James Curran, Matt Drouillard, Adam Harper, Jim Inghram, Nick Johnson, Jim Long, Dennis Pope, Lisa Renfro, Damian Secore, Danny Summers, Graham Watson, Lisa Wrobel. Several of them still are in the business, too.

We worked hard and long, and we had pride in our product and standards we attempted to meet or exceed. And, oh, yes, we had fun. The kind of fun peculiar to newspaper sports departments, where people labor long into the night, make a frantic rush to deadline about 11 p.m. … then reassemble at a tavern or someone’s house and recap what we just did and complain about this, that or the other and try to wind down from the adrenaline rush we all just experienced.

I enjoyed what I did about 95 percent of the time. It was my own choice to work crazy hours and channel almost all my energy into my work. Yes, it damaged my family life, and I regret that … but newspapers do that to people. You HAVE to make a big effort in the next eight hours to get this section out … and then it happens again the next day, and the next … and then you look up one day and you’re eligible for AARP membership and wondering where all the time went.

In subsequent posts I may look at my failed relationship with Steve Lambert, and the culpability of Sun/LANG management in the collapse of the newspaper … and I definitely will get back to sports topics. Such as the Lakers screwing around vs. Sacramento (again) and this time losing.

I also will look at the place of the Inland Empire in the sports world. One of the nation’s top-20 markets (by population), and the only one lacking a major-league sports franchise.

But now I will be looking at it as an outsider. It’s going to seem odd for a time. Maybe a long time.

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74 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bill N. // Mar 11, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Think of it this way Paul … you don’t have to be there while Rome burns (any more).

    You have plenty to proud of, and don’t worry about those fools. There’s plenty of ways for you to stay relevant in this region … and a lot of people will always look to you as a source of relevance in local sports.

  • 2 Danny (Jack) Summers // Mar 11, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Paul, I would like to hear from you. I think of you often. I hope you have gotten my Christmas cards and phone messages. You have meant a lot to my life. Thanks, Jack at tellsummers@aol.com.

  • 3 David Guerreva // Mar 11, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Thank you for sharing. Good luck to you, you will be missed.

  • 4 Ex // Mar 11, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Sorry they got ya, but I do have to say I respect the integrity of your statement, about maybe it is time to go if you feel embarrassed by the product.

    None of the LANG product stands out, the Pasadena paper is just a bureau of West Covina with maybe two to three local stories a day, and that’s on a good day. It has become so thin, that now I rarely bother picking it up.

    I was there when all of this started and the trib purchased Pasadena and immediately got rid of the pagination system and the press and started using horrible block fonts that made it look like a bad high school paper.

    Still it is sad to see all of it end this way, this is the middle of the end for a lot of good paper and sadly, things are going to get worse.

  • 5 Chris Long // Mar 11, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Paul — Some of the layoffs we have heard about were not surprising … yours was. I have always believed that while the beat writers are the foot soldiers of the paper, the columnists are the face and voice of the paper. Without them, the paper has no face or voice. Your paper has made a huge mistake.
    I appreciate the eloquence and calmness of your blog describing the situation. Some people are able to rise above the ashes, which you have done, and leave with class, again, which you have done.
    Best of luck in whatever your future holds.
    — Chris Long (ex-Santa Monica, ex-Breeze, current OCR desk alongside Nick Leyva)

  • 6 John Murphy // Mar 11, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Paul,
    Thanks for the great example you set for all of us and all the tremendous writing and editing. Thanks also for the sound advice you would give me when I’d contact you about the latest, bizarre San Bernardino County prep sports crisis and you’d tell me how to handle it or get it into print.
    Thanks also for some of the things people never saw, like giving me your new Sun coffee mug after mine got swiped off my desk and for the nice note you wrote me after my dad died. I’m sure all of us Sun and former Sun sports types also appreciate the way you always had our back in dust-ups … I only wish we could have done the same for you.

  • 7 Luis Bueno // Mar 11, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    I was upset to hear that you had been laid off. You were The Sun, plain and simple. I was there only a relative brief time (1997-1999) but I really did feel that we were a strong unit and was proud of the work we put out. And all of that began with the example you gave us. You led with hard work and we followed and the section was good.

    And I’ll be forever grateful to you for letting me cover the Galaxy in 1998 and giving me my first taste of professional sports and, more importantly, soccer.

    I know you’ll land on your feet again. Perhaps you can write a book on a certain local soccer product… I’d read it.

  • 8 Dan Minkoff // Mar 11, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Paul,

    Sorry to hear the story. You are an IE institution, but unfortunately history and continuity get trumped by profits and balance sheets. Anyway, you gave me a great opportunity when you recruited me to the Sun in 1996 and I’ll always be grateful for that. I’m sorry I didn’t stay with the paper longer than I did (about 10 months), but the path I took led me to my wife and family, so I can’t say I regret it.

    By the way, I just ran into your sister-in-law at the LBUSD Fourth Grade Spelling Bee (she was a proctor and my daughter was a participant). I told her to say hi to you and Leah. I wish you guys the best.

    Dan Minkoff

  • 9 nickj // Mar 11, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Classic PaulO: fin de siecle.

    PaulO rocks. We had great times. I got canned at the old Sun building, remember? I deserved it tho (actually I really deserved it), and of course, you didn’t. But you really made an impact on the area.

    Remember when I told you how I ran into Ricardo Pimentel two years after he had fired me from the Sun? He was pumping gas next to me at Chevron, and we exchanged pleasantries. Turned out he had, that very day, been fired from the Sun HIMSELF.

    I remember I was all fired up that night I saw him–going to a party or something–and I was working at the PE. I told him ‘everything would be okay.’ Anyways, he saw me smiling when I got back into the car and it was sweet redemption.

    I think we all know good ol’ Steve-o is gonna get his. He’s an ass. And you’ll probably see him on his way down.

    Jack Summers commenting here? That’s funny. You lead stealer. DO NOT sit next to Danny in the press box with your laptop open!!! J/K Danny. We miss you too.

    We should all have a reunion. I know where Ian lives. Wonder if he’s still dating Jill.

  • 10 Steve Kelly // Mar 11, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Paul I read you when I was in the Inland Empire when I could. I also worked with Bud Furillo for a few years. I can only imagine what he would say. This is a touching, yet beautiful piece. If you’re ever in the desert look me up.

    Steve Kelly
    KPSI

  • 11 Jacob Pomrenke // Mar 11, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Paul,

    I think I’m still stunned at what’s transpired. As Murph said, you set a great example for all of us in the newsroom and we — let alone the readers — will be sorely missing that from now on. (Although for me, not much longer.) I only wish we could have done more for someone who dedicated his life to this paper, but some people are hell-bent on change for the sake of change. …

    Even after all these years, you were still the hardest worker we had. And the best journalist.

    I’d like to think I would have fit in well during The Sun’s best days with you in charge, and I’m glad I got to work with you for the last three years, despite these trying times. We’re going to miss your wisdom and class, both in the newsroom and on our pages. I hope you continue to write, here or otherwise, and rise above these senseless and heartless circumstances.

    All the best,
    Jacob Pomrenke

  • 12 W. H. Crain // Mar 11, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    This is a big loss for those of us who read and appreciate reason and sense in what we read, whether philosophy or economics or “merely” sports.

    It’s especially galling that this is happening given the state of things at the LA Times. What is it about the newspaper business that leaves the loudest and most inept so often the last guys standing?

    It’s telling that, as a guy who has always loved newspapers, I almost never read one anymore unless I am pointed there by something I read in a blog. Without your column, I doubt I’ll notice the Sun exists.

    Good luck. I hope you keep writing.

  • 13 Ian Cahir // Mar 11, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    PaulO,

    I think your first post about the state of the Sun should be written as an EDIT message.

    I grew up reading PaulO. (Go Aquinas!) Since I got out of journalism a year-plus ago, I hadn’t thought much about the days at The Sun. But as much as I was stupid and young and brash and lost, it was the place I learned how to be a pro (a trait I didn’t really know I had until after I left), and that came from PaulO, Patton, Evans, Dilbeck and Mikey. Three highlights will always stand out:

    1. The 1996 Atlanta Games. We rocked, and Paul turned from sports to news in an instant for the Centennial Park bombing.

    2. Covering my first pro game. Lakers vs. Nuggets. Vlade played center. PaulO’s words: “If the Lakers win, it’s a Lakers story. If the Lakers lose, it’s a Lakers story. And missing deadline is not an option.” I don’t miss deadline.

    3. The (mostly) failed PaulO excursion from prep game to Denver into a blizzard and back. Classic. And he filed a good column.

    If you want to know about this dept. in the 80s and 90s, look up all of the alumni who went on to thrive at bigger papers (it’s a LOT of people). I’m just lucky I got to be a part of it.

    Good luck, Paul. My e-mail’s attached. Keep in touch.

    Ian

    PS – Nick… Jill says you still have to stay away from her side of the newsroom. 🙂 FYI, work at the University of Kansas as a graphic/Web designer, live in Lawrence, KS. Married 10 years this summer to Jill with a 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.

  • 14 John Trent // Mar 11, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Paul,
    Just wanted to tell you that you have always been a first-rate journalist, columnist and sports editor. I had read your stuff on the GNS wire for several years, and marveled at its completeness, its passion and its insight. It was a rare treat to work with you when Reno was part of GNS’ team at the Lillehammer Olympics in ’94. I can still remember, fondly, one of those late nights when you were writing, editing and instructing — pretty much all at the same time — then took time to join a couple of us as we watched the BBC feed of France’s Philippe Candeloro (“The Godfather”) winning a bronze medal in men’s ice skating. I’ll always remember the contented smile you had on your face that night. You were certainly in your element that night, filing stories, editing stories, bringing the rare, calm assurance of a master craftsman to the proceedings.
    I know we’ll be hearing from you again in the very near future.
    All the best,
    John Trent

  • 15 Gigi Hanna // Mar 11, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Paul:

    As always, a classy read. Your column was about the only quality left in the paper after the evisceration of the past several years. Never had the pleasure of working for you, but was proud to have worked near you and on a product that made you want to rush to work each morning to start it all again. You’ll be missed. And one day, hopefully, the MediaNews scourge will fall under its own arrogance and short-sightedness. Keep on writing.

  • 16 Emily S. // Mar 11, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Paul,
    You probably don’t remember that after Steve fired me in July 2006, I called you at work. It was a strange call for me to make, given that you and I only ever spoke when I managed to make my way over to Sports (which was rare) or you were walking through Metro (even more rare).
    I have repeated many times what you told me: “The best reporters have all been fired at least once.”
    My response: “But you haven’t.”
    How very sorry I am that now you can say you have. And yet I’m honored to have you join the ranks. The club is hardly as exclusive as it was when I inducted, but I hardly mind!
    Thanks for your advice then and your guts to write this column now. I testify to its accuracy … except for the part about the location for firings. Mine took place in Steve’s office, with Frank and Nicole for an audience.
    (And, yes, I know all about being embarrassed by the product one’s work appears in daily. How I struggled with that. I’ve become a great believer in karma, though. And the beating The Sun will take from its last handful of readers and advertisers could very well complete its death spiral.)
    Your extraordinary skill as a writer and your ability to make it look effortless will no doubt take you far beyond the confines of LANG and The Sun. I say it’s time for a book … or six.
    All the best to you.

  • 17 Garcia // Mar 11, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    PaulO,
    I grew up reading your columns and as far as I could remember you were THE SUN NEWSPAPER. Not just the sports guy, but to me you were the face of The Sun! Even before I worked at the Sun, I would just read your columns and your columns only for it’s truthfullness and entertainment. Then in working with you, I knew you were still the best writer in any paper. You covered every level of sports well from the pros to preps and even some games I played in. I remember when I first got hired and going home and saying I met the famous Paul Oberjuerge as if you were a local celebrity and you still were. Thank you for your many years of writing, Sports knowledge, Entertainment and being the face and voice of the Inland Empire. Keep on writing and let me know so I could get my daily dose of PaulO.
    YOU are still THE SUN!
    Garcia.

  • 18 frank // Mar 11, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    I’m afraid that the advent of free web content and the resulting decline in newspaper advertising revenue as it shifts to online business models has meant the loss of many fine writers and papers-but only for the short-term.

    However-maybe the model for the journalism career of the future is making your rep at a big paper, then setting up your own blog that provides superior content and coverage and selling ads based on the traffic generated…

    I suspect that someone will figure how to tie blogs in related areas together and sell ads that will pay every one’s salaries-and as a result have much happier people who don’t have to put up with corporate BS…

    Content is king in media, and those who can create it and have followings will continue to make a living-as entrepreneurs or partners in web-based business, and not in corporate publishers being bled to death.

  • 19 frank // Mar 11, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    In other words Paul, you’ll be just fine…

  • 20 Chuck Hickey // Mar 11, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Paul: There aren’t many people who have the word skills you do. And five days after the fact, I’m still upset and shocked this has happened. Thanks for sharing what happened. It’s sad to see things come to this point and for someone as low as Steve Lambert to pull this kind of crap for everything you’ve given that paper.

    And NickJ, it’s great that you can still liven up a place with your uncanny wit. A reunion would be good. Perhaps we can get Padilla to block off some space at Friday’s and get Pocket to serve drinks.

  • 21 Nate Ryan // Mar 11, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    PaulO:

    I’ve told you (and many others, especially in the past four days) these things before, but I might as well say them here again before God and everybody, particularly so many who respect your work as much as I do.

    No one has had a bigger influence on my career — and in several ways, my life — than you. You’ve been a professional role model for almost 15 years, and I’m having a difficult time reconciling how something so stomach-turning can happen in a profession that I’ve loved so dearly for so long (and mostly because of all those nights at 399 North D Street).

    Every waking day I spend in this occupation, I am doing something that I learned from you.

    If you hadn’t taken a flyer — first as an intern, then for real — on a kid from the Chicago suburbs who didn’t know shit about newspapers in September 1993, I am reasonably confident I don’t get to do many of the things I’ve done or visit many of the places I’ve been since. For that, I’m eternally grateful; though there is a nagging feeling of survivor’s guilt, too, because there is no way in a truly merit-based society that you ever would be asked to leave your job ahead of any other sportswriter in America.

    I know you’re going to land fine and not just because you’re an outstanding writer. It’s because you’re a good person. I pray that whatever’s next, it still will involve a regular dose of feeding the masses with your wisdom — perhaps even at another newspaper of greater size, scope and, certainly, vision than The Sun (and oh, how it pains me to write that).

    The world as a whole will be better for having gained someone whose immense talent deserves such widespread appreciation.

    But all those in Berdoo — whose critic, champion and caretaker was ripped away so unceremoniously after 31 years — will be much the worse for it.

    Cheers,
    Nate

  • 22 nickj // Mar 11, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    BTW, check out the wikipedia page on San Bernardino, check under ‘sports.’ Very fitting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Bernardino%2C_California#Sports

    I want to hear from Neale, Padilla, Dilbeck, Mikey, Terry, Robinson, Patton, Boyd, Ryan, Secore, Renfro (Yelizaveta), Cho, Goff, Curran, ‘Hack’ Wilson, and of course, the screeching lady from the newsroom, circa 1994.

  • 23 David Lassen // Mar 11, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Paul … I just heard about this today while talking to another journalist (I’m in New York on a vacation, getting a break from the endless stream of bad media news) and I was poleaxed. I suppose nothing should surprise me in the business these days, but this is yet another huge loss for sports journalism in our region and the concept of providing something other than the bare minimum in the way of product. I wish you the best and look forward to seeing where you go from here … because, quite frankly, the way things are going, you might be establishing some guideposts we’re all going to have to follow.

  • 24 JP // Mar 11, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Dude, I don’t know what to be optimistic about after reading this, other than that I still enjoy what I do. I will be picking your brain again soon, always one of the highlights of my days in the office.

  • 25 JP // Mar 11, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    In other words, there is no need to wish you good luck. Knowing you, you won’t need it.

  • 26 Gina T // Mar 11, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Like your print work, this blog column is insightful and wonderfully written. But this one is sad to read. Paul, I had heard about you a long time ago when I was working for the Daily Bulletin. You were known as Coach O. And I’ve somehow never been able to break the habit of calling you that.

    Like so many people here, I just have to say Paul that I think it was a HUGE mistake to let you walk out of that newsroom. If the business relies on advertising read by readers wouldn’t it make sense to keep one of the few things that was bringing in readers? You did that.

    But beyond that, I knew you as a very kind-hearted person. That newsroom always was a bit squirrelly. The first year I was there, I remember trying to organize a Superbowl Potluck. A few people participated here and there. I thought, “No matter what, at least I tried!” Just when I thought we were going to have a teeny tiny affair, here comes Coach O. with a tray of food. I’ve never forgotten that Paul. And here you’ve done it again. I saw you made mention of me. Believe me, that means the world to me. I felt pretty invisible in that newsroom sometimes.

    But you Paul, you were far from invisible. You did so much for that paper. You gave them a voice and did some incredible work. We all know this should never have happened to you. Paul O. was and will always be the face of the Sun.

  • 27 James Lee // Mar 12, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Paul, we never worked together, but I was always on the periphery (P-E, the somewhat late and lamented Inland Valley Our Times), so I saw a lot of your material and was in the same pressbox occasionally. Regardless of the competition between papers, I always respected you for being consistent and always fighting to do the right thing when it came to sports coverage. I’m out of the industry now, but I still have a soft spot for journalism and it aggravates me to see what this business has become. We can always find another job that pays the bills (and I do love the job I have), but it won’t ever be the same.

  • 28 JG // Mar 12, 2008 at 10:31 am

    paul,

    sometimes it’s better to understand not as a journalist but as a boss. Cutting talent is easy, keeping up a good product in the face of cuts is hard. When you no longer control your own budget you are often less without a dime to stand on. Take it from another who tried and understands, and from some words close to Bill Parcells, sometimes they not only won’t let you buy some of the groceries, they won’t even give you the money to pay for them. And sometimes its just better to move on to something else.

  • 29 J. Beauchamp // Mar 12, 2008 at 10:52 am

    And so goes reasoned sports commentary in Southern California. I knew you were the best before I learned how to pronounce your name.

    Reading you as a kid sparked my interest in sports journalism. Thanks for the tutelage and the opportunity in 2002.

    Whatever you choose to do next, let it be something I can read out here in the South.

  • 30 Mike Murphy // Mar 12, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I guess if I was still at The (Setting) Sun, I would have been given the heave-ho for the same reason — old, veteran, highly-paid, keen knowledge of local scene, etc. None of this matters to the current bean counters and soul-less corporate suits. While I never worked for you, except on a couple of loaner occasions for a CIF track meet (pre-Amestoy), I always admired your writing gifts and your ability to entertain us whether the story was local or Olympic in nature. Good luck in your future endeavors. I am sure that James A. and James K. Guthrie are spinning in their graves over the way things are going at what was once a thriving, great newspaper that I was proud to work for most of my years there.

  • 31 Steve Dilbeck // Mar 12, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Sent this to steve.lambert@sbsun.com today …

    Steve Lambert,
    I write this in protest over the dismissal of Paul Oberjuerge.
    Have tried to figure out what the rationale was for this shocking decision, but I’m left completely empty.
    In my view, Paul is the absolute last person who should have been dismissed. He is the greatest hire in the history of The Sun. He should have local parks and buildings named after him, not be shown the street. He could walk into editorial right now and do better than anyone there at any job in the news room.
    He dedicated himself to The Sun for over 30 years. He’s still as sharp and relevant as ever. And for the past several months was being used by newspapers throughout LANG.
    I’m more than confused. Tough times make for tough decisions doesn’t hold up with this decision. Paul deserves eternal gratitude, not a cardboard box.
    Sincerely,
    Steve Dilbeck

  • 32 Graham Watson // Mar 13, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Wow. I guess I’m a little late on this…

    I echo Nate’s comments, Paul.

    I often think of the chance you took on a 16-year-old to wield a knife on the Sun’s precious agate page. Well, the first year it as a lot of me watching Nick do it, the second was me doing it and watching Nick head up to the roof for a smoke with the security guard… I loved every minute of it.

    As I continue to grow in this business, I think back on the times that got me here and the many Twinkies I ate on Friday nights. No one gave me Twinkies in Dallas, and while in St. Louis, Missouri has brought out enough vices that Twinkies might send me over the edge.

    But I carry you, and the opportunity you gave me, everywhere I go. The fact that you mentioned my name above makes me want to fight for this business that I love even if it doesn’t fight for the people I love.

    Graham Watson

  • 33 Mark Reinhiller // Mar 13, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Paul:

    I really feel for you and wish better days in the not-too-distant future. The opportunity you afforded me allowed my family to remain in Southern California. That’s something I’ll never forget.

    You’ve had a tremendous amount of influence upon those who worked with you. And in that way, you’re a viable and visible presence.

    No wonder Lambert darted past me last Saturday at Redlands’ Ross.

    God speed,
    Reino

  • 34 Soccer Fan // Mar 13, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Just like Steve Lambert had some weird personal vendetta against you, you likewise had a way of venting your personal dislike of Team USA speed skater Chad Hedrick in your coverage of the 2006 Olympics.

  • 35 David Leon Moore // Mar 13, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Steve (Dilbeck),

    Your letter, that was a nice thing to do.
    And, given the direction of your bosses, a courageous thing.
    I’m not surprised, though, that you’d stand up and be counted.
    I’m sure PaulO would have done the same for you.
    There are some things they can’t take away from us.

    Good luck to us all.
    DLM

  • 36 Ivan Orozco // Mar 13, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    Hey Paul,

    I wasn’t surprised but disgruntled thay you and Billy Witz (LA Daily News) were let go. Billy and yourselfs were LANG’s best writers in my opinion. There’s really nothing left that can attrack readers to the group. I was however surprised to find out all part time newsroom positions at the DN were eliminated. That would have been me had I not taken a gig with the San Diego Union-Tribune a month before.

    It was fun reading your work and covering soccer matches with you. BEst wishes. Send me an email some day.

  • 37 Gregg Patton // Mar 13, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    I’m only going to echo what most of those above have already said — and you’ll notice that a large number of them have worked next to Paul and have nothing but respect for what he did at The Sun for 30-plus years. He created one of the best little sports sections in America, and even after it was gutted by sales and mergers and shrinkage and the rest of newspaper’s current ills, he continued to plug away with the same care, work ethic and unsinkable attitude he displayed when it was a beacon.
    In short, I was at a UCLA basketball game when I heard Paul had been jettisoned, and my first thought was, “Those knuckleheads just fired John Wooden.” OK, a little dramatic, but not too far off. The truth is, the last one standing at The Sun, the guy who should be there to turn out the lights when they finally lock the doors on the place, should be PaulO, not any one half as talented and one quarter as committed.

  • 38 Doug Padilla // Mar 14, 2008 at 9:02 am

    An institution has been shut down and we are all the worse for it. PaulO not in a newspaper is the end of an era, like the day the Dodgers switched to artificial turf and the day the Rose Bowl moved out of Pasadena. Wait. Those things didn’t happen? Nope. And PaulO’s wit and insight will live on here at this site. (Did I say PaulO’s wit?)

    There are some great comments made here but the whole thing reads like an obit. PaulO is not dead. Long live PaulO. I will log on here to be amused, enlightened and inspired. Rock on PaulO. Now I hope you can figure out how to bleed a paycheck from this thing.

    As Nate said, there is plenty of “survivor’s guilt” to process. PaulO got the ax, while some of us managed to make it through this round of cuts? Doesn’t seem right. We will stay on and try to fight the good fight to make you proud. If it wasn’t for PaulO, I for sure would not have had a chance at this entertaining career. I’ve seen the country, covered a World Series, survived two years of Ozzie Guillen and returned home to cover the Angels. Oberjuerge U. is what the sports department should have been called. So many of us learned so much from you. How good is PaulO as a journalist? Many of us learned how to paginate from him and he doesn’t know how to paginate. Genius.

    I take the positive route here. I still am employed by LANG. Chicken, I suppose. But the company did itself a disservice by letting PaulO go. So the Oberjuerge columns ruffled a few feathers. That’s PaulO. Whether you liked him or hated him in print, though, he always kept you reading. The Sun is a newspaper, after all, not a community newsletter. It’s not all sunny skies and well manicured lawns. A newspaper sometimes has dirt under its fingernails. Is PaulO the dirt or the fingernails? Not sure. It was supposed to be a compliment.

    In closing I say this. We need a proper party. Somebody find the 4th of July couch. Ride a freight train to get here if you have to. Take your dog into the casino before you come, you know, for good luck. If you know what any of that means, you’re invited. If not, maybe we can tell it again for old-time’s sake. Bring your best PaulO stories. It should be a blast.

  • 39 RichL // Mar 14, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Paul, remember the first time we met? We were in Florence, Italy, covering the World Cup when I knocked on your door thumbing for a ride to the U.S. team practice. One of the best days I had was when we did the Rome tour together. That’s was fun. Little did I know then that I would be meeting one of the classiest guys in the business. You were always a pro and a good guy. I’m sorry to hear the news, but I know you’ll bounce back strong. You hang in there.

  • 40 badgerme // Mar 14, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Nate, you beat me to the punch.

    It’s pretty obvious that Paulo is the reason the Sun pumped out so many quality people over the past three decades. He gave us chances that we wouldn’t have received anywhere else. We learned, we failed and we learned some more.

    My life changed the summer before my senior year of college, when I still had dreams of taking Harry Caray’s seat in the broadcast booth, wasn’t wild about newspapers and wasn’t industrious enough to line up an internship. Paulo called and asked whether I’d be interested in stringing Dodgers and Angels home games, since he and Dilbeck would be in Atlanta covering the Olympics. It took me a half-second to say yes and it led me on an incredibly fortunate and unforeseen career path over the past 12 years. I’ve covered three major league beats, chronicled Barry Bonds’ long, strange pursuit of the all-time home run record and earned a lifetime Hall of Fame vote. These are things I never could have imagined, and none of it would have happened without Paulo’s guidance and faith in me as a 20-year-old college junior who didn’t know nearly as much as he thought.

    Paul, you have been a greater mentor to me than you know. Thank you for starting me at the bottom (SBVC football) and making me work my way up. Thanks for limiting me to three weeks in Metro on my TN assignment. Thanks for demonstrating how to have a unique voice in your copy. Thanks for insisting I go to lunch with the Barstow mayor after she didn’t like something I wrote. Thanks for helping me understand the power of punchy, economical language. (A lesson I am NOT putting into action here…) Thanks for making me a 22-year-old columnist to get around Singleton’s mandate that we no longer write gamers on downtown events. Thanks for credentialing me to do a Q&A with Harry Caray at Wrigley Field. Thanks for Twinkies and Ding-Dongs on Friday nights. Thank you for writing about Hoak, Bruich, Markham, Walker, etc., not as football coaches but as personalities that have made a lasting impact on the region. Thank you for keeping Mikee from killing me after I hed-busted one of his columns. Thank you for the SBL. Thank you for: “The internal combustion engine is the worst man-made ecological disaster in recorded human history. Until a general nuclear exchange, that is. Let’s celebrate it with a race!”

    The dim race fans who printed the anti-Paulo T-shirts might have finally gotten what they wanted, but this squish-squishy industry — and a community — is so much poorer today.

  • 41 Eugene Fields // Mar 14, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Paul –
    Thanks for making my cup of coffee at the Sun enjoyable. You helped me find stories, shared your contacts and treated me with the utmost in professionalism and respect.

    It’s disheartening when so many people I worked with in the trenches in the Battle of Making Deadline have fallen – not by the hand of the enemy, but by the hand that should be patting them on the back for a job well done.

    I will remember our talks about how useless hockey was in So Cal and all the other things we discussed in such a brief time.

    This isn’t farewell, but good luck.

  • 42 AJ // Mar 14, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    I walked away from my mid-level editing job after many years because I could smell the blood in the water. first I’d have to train a bunch of newbies how to do what I do. then I’d watch as the experienced folks fled and the deadwood cowered in fear. Then I’d have to cut people and eventually someone at corporate would look at my paycheck and say “Hey, that’s three times what we pay entry-level types in at the Buttfart Bugle,” and I’d get the call. In return I’d get to work my ass off for another year or so with a skeleton crew for a company that no longer cares and has dropped in value (stock and book) by some 75 percent in one year and wait for a puny severance check. So I fired them first and said “This is your mess. You clean it up.” In return I get to watch their absolutely crappy news product come out each day looking worse and worse by the minute while I gain experience in a new career. The web site and the paper have begun to convey all the community stature a Penny Saver and the buzz word is “we’ll do it with interns and outsourcing”. The sad part is not everyone could afford get out in time. Take a tip. Run while there are still a few lifeboats available.

  • 43 Mike Klocke // Mar 14, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Reading this was like a shot to the gut. I did four Olympics and probably eight Supers Bowls with Paul. I did California League games with him. I looked up to him as a valued colleague. I modeled a lot of the things I tried to do as a writer and an editor after you, Paul. I truly hope everything turns out well for you and your family. — Mike

  • 44 Bob Ritter // Mar 14, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Paul: We didn’t always see issues the same way, but I have never lost my respect for your work. You remain a fine journalist, one of intellect, commitment to community and dedication to those who worked for and with you. It’s hard to believe that your many years at The Sun ended this way. Newspapers are dying a self-inflicted death as companies such as Media News not-so-slowly drain the business of talent and character. My best to you. Let me know if I can ever be of assistance.

  • 45 Joel Boyd // Mar 14, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    I just heard this awful news today and don’t have much to add that hasn’t been said — particularly in Nate’s eloquent post — except to say that I learned more about producing quality journalism, and doing the most with minimal resources, in 13 months under PaulO than I have in 13 years since leaving. (And name me another sports editor in America who also can give an impromptu history lesson on the Siege of Alesia, complete with battle diagrams, while on deadline.)

    Paul, the sentiments on this page show what an impact you’ve made on both your fellow journalists and your community, and what an obvious and egregious error Sun management has made. I wouldn’t worry about Paul’s future — talent and hard work always will rise through — but I shudder to think the future of our business is in the hands of all these people who mismanaged it into the ground in the first place.

    (NickJ — how ’bout a poem to mark the occasion?)

  • 46 Randy Beard // Mar 14, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Paul:
    Considering the same thing happened to me in Tallahasseee, I can sympathize. And I now know that I’m much better off not working for an egotistical editor who is more concerned about protecting his bonus than producing a good newspaper. I was fortunate because it took me just a few weeks to nail down another job, albeit in another state. Other than still having a house to sell, I’ve had little trouble moving on. So hang in there.

  • 47 Joe // Mar 14, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Not that it is any comfort to you but I am a sportswriter for a very large metro paper in a top 5 market and it is the same here. Cut backs, downsizing, layoffs, misery.

    The good news is, of my friends and colleagues who had left the newspaper business voluntarily or otherwise, a year later no one has any regrets. Everyone has moved on; everyone has found something new and different and fulfilling.

  • 48 Rob // Mar 15, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    I’m an outsider to this but I almost wasn’t some 15 years ago. I had an offer to cover the Los Angeles Raiders for Ontario back in the early 90s that I turned down. I took another job where I still work today. I can only wonder where I’d be or what situation I would be in had I taken that position. I’ve been in newspaper 20 years, and it is clearly dying. And like you, Paul, I’m sometimes embarrassed by the product that is produced now. It’s almost as if no one cares and, or, no one is reading either.

    I’m sorry to read your story. I’m sorry to see our business die like this. Don’t be surprised if it turns out to be the best thing for you. Of the many colleagues I have watched leave newspaper, none of them have ever told me they regret it. Every one of them has gone on to find something more rewarding and less stressful. I’m sure you will too.

  • 49 Dave Edwards // Mar 15, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    PaulO, I am a former San Bernardino resident having resided there from 1969 to 1997. I read your column religiously from 76 till leaving in June 1997. If I still lived there, the first thing I would do is cancel my subscription. The have really shot themselves in the foot as some companies will do. Why don’t you move to Arizona and start over here in the Phoenix area. Good luck to you and your family, somehow you will be ok.

  • 50 Pamela Fitzsimmons // Mar 15, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Paul: I was never much of a sports fan but when I worked at The Sun I always read you because of your style and your ability to link sports to the larger world. And you did it all on deadline. Weren’t there days when you would produce a column plus two stories? Anyway, I found myself in your very situation a couple of months ago when I was laid off as night city editor at The Spokesman-Review. I wasn’t even sad, because newspapers have lost their nerve. They’re running scared, and the readers smell the fear. It will stay that way in the short term. In the long-term, real reporters (not cheap “citizen-generated content”) are going to be needed more than ever to convey information and to entertain with words. Meanwhile, isn’t it interesting how often the big dogs, i.e. the Steve Lamberts, decline to take one for the team.

  • 51 lyle spencer // Mar 16, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Paul — I beat you to the punch by a few years, and I know what you’re going through. I appreciate how beautifully you articulated your feelings about this; I was a mess for a while, trying to make sense out of something that was completely senseless. That’s just the way it is in the newspaper game now. The world we grew up in is long gone, and it is being replaced by something difficult to understand. But I admire your efforts.
    I always held you in the highest esteem, and do so now more than ever. You enriched and honored your profession, and, frankly, it doesn’t deserve you.
    I hope to see you down the road,

    Lyle Spencer
    former sports columnist, Riverside Press-Enterprise

  • 52 PS // Mar 17, 2008 at 4:11 am

    Sorry to hear about your situation, Paul. I remember your name from when I was there as an intern in 1982 in Photo. Learned so much from Gail and Moose. I think I still have my “Free the San Bernardino 7” button from when USA TODAY snapped 7 people up and its inception, LOL!
    Now that lever is stuck in reverse.
    Your exact story is being played out dozens of times every day across what’s left of America’s newsrooms.
    It started before the internet.
    It started when newspapers (I mean their stockholders) decided bean counters knew how to run them better than journalists.
    I wonder if it will take some national crisis that happens (because all the former watchdogs are in the unemployment line or camped out in front of Britney Spears’ house) to snap us out of it.

    Meanwhile, here’s a thought:
    Flip your 401K company stock into something else, open a margin account with an online broker and short your former company’s stock.
    If it goes to $0, you’ll make 100% returns.
    And get the last laugh.

  • 53 steve cooper // Mar 17, 2008 at 6:42 am

    Paul: Voice from the distant past — those far off 1980s. The wheels are falling off the journalism handcart all over the place, and it’s a shame.

    I recall a former editor-in-chief at The Sun who left for a job at one of the Denver papers. This is in the early 1980s. Bob something. Can’t recall the guy’s last name (Gimme a break — I can hardly remember mine half the time). Anyway, he later came back through SB for some reason and we had a drink together. He made one prophetic statement that has been with me all these years: “The industry can’t survive if it’s in the hands of publically owned media corporations that are ruled by stock prices. They’ll never understand what we really do. They’ll never appreciate the intrinsic value of a well-told story.”

    It’s more than that, certainly. It’s the rise of the Internet, the dumbing down of our readership, the always-increasing complexity of things. But Bob was largely right. It’s also the whole corporate deal. That’s a huge piece.

    Wishing you success as you draw your sword — the one that looks suspiciously like a pen — and prove that there’s still a place in this world for a well-told story. sc

  • 54 Paul McLeod // Mar 17, 2008 at 8:52 am

    Dude – I went surfing for six months after “buying out” of the L.A. Times under similar conditions in 2004 – something about saltwater up your nose cleanses the soul following a long journalistic career that ends with HR on the other end of the line. One day you’re a byline – the next, as you painfully point out, you’re on the outside looking in. But, hey – we made it a long way from our days as bright-eyed, long-haired bell bottom wanna-bes at Long Beach State, didn’t we? Ya done good. Don’t lose sight of that.

  • 55 Richard Kimball // Mar 17, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Humm … it looks as if there may be more names listed among these comments than there are live bodies left in The Sun newsroom anymore.
    Times inexorably change. People get their information in different ways. (Here we are: Looking at a “blog.” A while back, that would have been something in your drain that would have required you to pay a large bill to a plumber.) And, of course, we seem to see increasing numbers of people in the population who dispay no visible capacity whatsoever to read. Still, I belived there is good reason to reminisce with regret the decay and fading of daily newspapers. When I firest came to The Sun (seven years before Paul), newspapers were still the foundation of mutual communication that cemented townships together into a sense of commonality and community. I see nothing on the horizon to substitute satisfactorily for that. It will be future generations’ loss.

  • 56 Cindy Yingst // Mar 17, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Oh my gosh! Unbelievable!
    Paul, you were the well respected knowledgeable sports editor when I started working at The Sun in 1982! I have always admired you.
    What has happened to that newspaper in the last 15 years is a crime. Being a reporter/writer is the best job in the world. But when ensuring the shareholders are happy becomes more important than producing a quality product, something is seriously wrong. Where is the duty of maintaining the checks and balances ensured by the U.S. Constitution? Journalists should be watching those elected to office. Uncovering scandals. Keeping the big guys honest. Fighting for the little guy.
    After nearly 25 years, I finally got out of newspapers — the career I loved — to own a UPS Store in Warrenton, Ore. I highly recommend it.
    I wish you all the best.

  • 57 Chris Bayee // Mar 17, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    PaulO:

    When I learned earlier today of this I thought the messenger was kidding with me. Obviously, he wasn’t.

    The Sun’s and IE’s loss will be someplace else’s gain, hopefully much sooner than later.

    I tap the hockey stick on the ice in your honor (Oh yeah, you hate hockey. Translated: show of much respect).

    ChrisB

  • 58 Landon Negri // Mar 19, 2008 at 5:30 am

    PaulO,

    I grew up reading you and stealing the Sun’s sports section from the neighbor’s house in the 80s because my parents insisted on getting the P-E, since we lived seven houses on the Calimesa side of the county line.

    My friends and I spent our high school years trying to beat you in Beat The Experts (and entering under our dads’ names), and when I finally got off my ass and got interested in the business, it was you, with Dan Evans’ help, who gave me my start.

    Nov. 17, 1995 —- Notre Vista at Yucaipa… Even sent me to my old high school for by-line No. 1. Nice … The following year, I remember joking with BGoff that we could tell if we were getting better by how far up I-15 you sent us for a football game. “I’m getting closer!!! Main Street In Hesperia!!! I’m big time now!!!,” I thought.

    I remember you calling me four times on a Friday to change my football game, and in one afternoon going from covering a game in Yucca Valley, to Riverside, to Aquinas, and finally, I think I landed in 19-degree weather at Sultana. And I loved every minute of it…

    Most importantly, I learned from your work ethic. You didn’t even have to work for The Sun to get that one. Datelines in one day from Redlands and Bandon, Ore …. or Los Angeles and Eugene … of wherever else … Only PaulO could wind up in three different places at one time

    I didn’t think I’d ever wow anyone with my writing, but I always figured I could make up for it by outworking most anyone, and I learned that from you. I carried that on to Temecula, and then to the ‘West End,” —- a crew from the Bully that I dearly miss, I might add —- and back to Temecula as an SE, where we tried to fighting the Empire from opposite ends.

    And I’m still learning …. spent an hour tonight posting content and pics on our web site, as I have taken that over from our web people. Next, I’ll get going on that ‘slimming the ass’ thing….

    I wish the best for you and The Sun won’t be the same, no matter how much water BGoff casts over the side. … But then it hasn’t been in a very, very long time … Take care….

  • 59 Stan Russell // Mar 19, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Paul — You left off one of the accomplishments of yours at The Sun: Shortest career as USA TODAY sports writer/editor! You are right to show off about the prime rib days at The Sun. Back in the 80s it was a truly fine newspaper with great people: editors and writers. The days of Wayne Sargeant and Marie Saulsbury are good memories of the glory days of what newspapers were. It’s sad that the newspaper had to fall so long and slow to where it is now.
    Best to you and all other news folks who face and have faced similar fates.
    Stan Russell
    former Sun editor/writer

  • 60 nickj // Mar 22, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    The Sun was once a cool paper
    It didn’t look this this
    And with the latest caper
    Now it smells like piss.

    With no offense to current staff
    The mighty blow was made
    The last man has the final laugh
    The Sun is now in shade

  • 61 Anonymous // Mar 28, 2008 at 3:01 am

    submit articles…

    Good post!…

  • 62 George Alfano // Mar 28, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Paul:

    It is good to see your blogs. What happened was not right.

    Keep faith in your talent and abilities. Nobody can take that away from you.

  • 63 Pete "Squishy" Marshall // Mar 29, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Paul:
    I’ve been meaning to post here for some time. So here it is.
    Like many other people who have posted here, my career wouldn’t have really gotten off the ground without you.
    When I called you in the spring of 1991 to ask if you needed someone to cover the High Desert Mavericks, you could’ve easily said no.
    But you said yes. You certainly gave people a chance to sink or swim. Although I swallowed water from time to time, you threw me a life preserver, and helped me along. I got to cover a lot of stuff downtown, and learned a lot along the way. Although I was never more than a stringer when you were in charge, I never would’ve had a career without you.
    Thanks for everything.

  • 64 Char Ham // Mar 30, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    It’s been several weeks since the “bad thing” happened, & I will tell you, I miss reading both your column and your blog. None of the other columnists I read with such intelligence, and several who have remained (esp. those not covering sports) lack that soooo much, I wonder if why the paper lives to thrive on those who “lack some gray cells”. I did not always agree with you, but I felt you have the ability to write about sports AND other topics. One example was columns you wrote about road trips on your way to the Super Bowl and other sporting events.

    Was filing some paperwork & found two of your columns that were excellent. Your interview w/Vin Scully and writing about Dodger Wes Parker.

    If anything “good” comes out of this, it would be maybe the door to open you to bigger opportunities. You deserve a bigger audience BEYOND the Inland Empire. Believe me, there are those if they read your work, they could see you are worth hiring.

    I wish you good luck! Please tell us when that opportunity happens.

  • 65 cindy robinson // Mar 31, 2008 at 8:10 am

    NickJ — what a great idea having a reunion. Let me know where and when and I’ll be there. As everyone before me wrote — this was a shock and a loss as well as very telling what is wrong with newspapers and why they are failing.

    To the guy who always believed in my investigations and gave me the encouragement to ask the hard questions no matter how many times the subject would then end the interview (remember Bobby Bonds interview?) thank you.

    Thanks to all those times you believed in me despite my horrid spelling skills. Despite our friendship hitting a rocky slope, true friends always do find a way back to each other.
    Love you
    Cindy

  • 66 Carolyn Schatz // Apr 1, 2008 at 9:25 am

    Paul, Though we all could see the writing on the wall, I was stunned to hear you were one of the ones to be let go. I still tell everyone you’re one of the best writers ever, with absolute wisdom and intelligence — and verve!
    I never was into reading the sports pages till I started reading your columns. And I learned so much more than sports from them!
    I remember walking by your desk the day I left — I didn’t want to be one of the last rats on a sinking ship — and you said newspapers were the only thing you knew. Well, I never thought it would come to this. But you will go on — the power of the pen!
    You are truly a remarkable, gifted writer whose passion and commitment will live on. I salute you!

  • 67 Terry Greenberg // Apr 3, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Paul:

    Sorry to hear how things went down … caught this off Romenesko. Hope things work out.

    Terry Greenberg
    Editor
    The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
    Former Sun staffer 1979-1981

  • 68 Don Watson // Apr 7, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Paul: I heard the bad news from John Whitehair, but knowing what a weird sense of humor he has I thought he was kidding. Obviously he wasn’t. I always felt you were the one constant in a newsroom that saw many talented people come and go over the years. When I read all the postings it was like going down memory lane. A parade of personalities from the glory days at The Sun. I never really appreciated Gannett until LANG took over the paper and turned it into a frail shadow of its former self. Gannett was not the perfect employer but the company did seem interested in producing a decent product. I enjoyed working there but it appears I may have retired in the neck of time. Anyway, count me among the many who always admired your talent and your dedication to The Sun. I hope only good things will happen to you from this point on.

    Don Watson
    Sun copy editor, 1972-1998

  • 69 Original Pechanga // Apr 9, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Paul,

    Having the suit run a paper like the Sun into the ground is a terrible thing to witness.

    But, to be around to see Bloomington’s 14-0 record scoring season, Fontana’s Nat. Championship, Ike’s Football Teams and 9,000 for a FOHI-IKE football game. Those are the memories..

    So, after reading you for oh…24 years, how DO you pronounce your last name?????

  • 70 Jim Logan // Apr 9, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Mike Whitehead offered me a job on the sports desk in ’89 after the Herald Examiner died. I didn’t take it and things have mostly worked out, but after reading this it makes me regret, just a little bit, not working with you. You’re a fine writer and a stand-up guy, Paul. Good luck to you.

  • 71 Brian Robin // Apr 15, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    It’s only appropriate that you were asked to bring your playbook while writing a column on Don Markham. Kind of like the old gunslinger-turned-sports editor, Bat Masterson, dying at his desk of the New York Sun.

    Like many Berdoo denizens on this board, I grew up reading you — when I wasn’t seeing your caricature on “Beat the Experts.” Even after our competitive paths ceased to cross, and like many Berdoo denizens on this board — both past and present — I still got my IE sports fix via your columns after moving away.

    Not anymore. The sun has set on one of the few reasons to read the Sun. Oh, perhaps I’ll sneak a peek to see how Cajon’s doing.

    I always thought you had the best job of any Inland Empire journalist and not just because you were able to write columns on the fertile sporting ground of my hometown. Of course, you had to be able to take those stories and make them readable and interesting — something you made look easier than it was.

    And something you’re making look real easy on your blogs, which have become must-reading — even if you didn’t appreciate your trip to Augusta National. Who knew Claude Anderson had some anti-Semitic tendencies? He looked like such a teddy bear in his column mugs.

    I’ll always be indebted to you for two things: the sage words you gave me in the media center at Empire Lakes about what to expect on my impending “Jeopardy!” appearance and the fact you were at Empire Lakes columnizing about my Nationwide Tour event in the first place.

    That I’m the 71st person to post on this entry reflecting on the Sun’s latest dabbling in journalistic hara-kiri tells you all you need to know about the job you did for more than generation.

  • 72 Harold Strauss // Apr 21, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Paul,
    I just found out about the walking papers. Unbelievable to say the least. I remember when Claude Anderson was “The Sun Hero”. I thought he would live forever. When he finally finished, I felt he would never be replaced…But then along came Paul Oberjuerge. You managed to fill the shoes that I thought could never be filled. Paul, the thing I loved most about you from an IE athlete and then 29 years as a Head Coach in the IE is how much you really cared for the athletes and sports industry of the Inland Empire. Retire, maybe…one of these days, but shown the door….no way. I would have never gussed it or believed it. At least you are probably lucky that you won’t have to be a part of the final blow when they shut the doors on the Sun completely. We have watched the paper, especially the sports sections demise evry time they sold it away to another company that had no ties to San Bernardino County, let alone the IE. The preps coverage for SB Co. athletes has dwindled to almost nothing since the last merger with the west end. I only cringe to what I will see now that they have removed the icon holding the section together for county athletes. I will miss working with you and reading your columns as I have down my whole career. When football comes this fall I can only laugh as I see their add again looking for reporters to cover games like last year.. Well I can only hope that the prep athlete will still get the continuing coverage they deserve in the Riverside Press Enterprise “San Bernardino County Edition.” Paul you will always be a great friend and peer both to all of your readers and especially to all of us prep coaches and athletes who will be eternally greatful for all you have done for San Bernardino Co. and IE Sports.
    Sincerely,
    Harold Strauss
    Head Football Coach
    Colton High School

  • 73 edmauel // Jun 21, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    Pablo:

    Heard the news weeks ago, just now found the blog and have taken entirely too long to figure out how to sum up my feelings and opinion in ways fit for family reading:
    Drat! Dumb!
    cheers, ed

  • 74 Dead Tree Media - The Royal Half // Aug 26, 2013 at 8:02 am

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