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Developer Doug Manchester Buys Union-Tribune

Papa Doug’s‘ Got A Brand New Rag

Aired 11/18/11 on KPBS News.

The owner of The San Diego Union-Tribune announced Thursday it has sold the 143-year-old newspaper to MLIM, LLC, owned by real-estate magnate Doug Manchester.

The owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune announced Thursday it has sold the 143-year-old newspaper to MLIM, LLC, owned by conservative real-estate developer Doug Manchester.

The announcement ends weeks of speculation about Manchester's interest.

John Lynch is president of Manchester's MLIM company. He said said he and Manchester -- who prefers the moniker "Papa Doug" and refers to himself that way on his Web site -- would not comment extensively on the sale. Discussion of how the newspaper will be operated going forward will wait until the sale is finalized sometime next month.

Lynch has an extensive broadcasting background, including the operation and sale of a chain of radio stations based in San Diego and elsewhere.

In a brief interview, Lynch told KPBS: "We want to be cheerleaders for all that is good in San Diego."

U-T reporters and editors were told in a meeting this morning that Publisher Ed Moss and Editor Jeff Light will remain on the job for the foreseeable future. They were also told the newspaper is profitable and that more rounds of layoffs -- which have been frequent in recent years -- are not expected.

Beverly Hills-based Platinum Equity announced its sale of the 143-year-old newspaper this morning. Platinum, which bought The U-T in May 2009 from the Copley family, did not disclose how much Manchester will pay for the paper.

But estimates of the sale price today ran as high as $110 million dollars. The U-T has always been in private hands so details of its finances have always been left to speculation. U-T reporters interviewed said it's believed that Platinum Equity bought the newspaper for between $35 million and $50 million. If so, that's an impressive profit in a down economy ... one that came in part through extensive downsizing of staff.

One U-T reporter said after the paper's staff was told of the sale that his colleagues are happy that the paper has returned to local ownership. But they are nervous about the newspaper's editorial direction.

Don Bauder is a former U-T business columnist and was a longtime member of the Copley board of directors. He believes the printed newspaper will soon give way entirely to a Web-based version.

"I would not be surprised if The Union-Tribune is the first metro daily to go strictly online," said Bauder, who lives now in Colorado. "That would free up that building in Mission Valley."

The five-story Union-Tribune building, which has been the newspaper's home since its move from downtown in the 1970s, is half empty now. Attached to it is a large guilding that houses a printing plant which the newspaper bought for $42 million in cash more than a decade ago.

Bauder believes Manchester would develop the property if the editorial staff were moved elsewhere.

Manchester is a leading contributor to Republican causes.

"Did Manchester buy the paper so he can propagandize?" Bauder said. "I doubt that. I think his interest is in real estate."

Manchester has contributed to several Republican candidates over the years. He also gave $125,000 to the effort to ban gay marriage in California in 2008.

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Avatar for user 'steveb'

steveb | November 17, 2011 at 9:40 a.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

I'll bet there aren't going to be any more negative story's about Manchester developments in the UT.

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Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | November 17, 2011 at 6:44 p.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

Don't be surprised if the initial edition of the "New" UT features a full front page photo of Papa Doc Manchester. I suspect that Doug's real estate projects haven't been doing all that well lately, so he's buying a new mouthpiece to promote them.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 17, 2011 at 6:59 p.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

LOL, Ms. Sharma your headline is wonderful and put a smile on my face despite this very disturbing story.

*‘Papa Doug’s‘ Got A Brand New Rag*

That is brilliant.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 17, 2011 at 7:07 p.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

San Diego now has our very own Rupert Murdoch.

I guess I would be more upset if the UT were actually a good newspaper.

I must be psychic, because about 3 months ago I made a decision to boycott the UT.

I have never subscribed to the paper version of what amounts to an inept, biased joke, resembling a Fox "news" agenda.

However, I did used to read the online version every day and was active in the comments there.

The journalism is not only biased, but it was riddled with embarrassing spelling and grammatical errors the likes I have never seen before in a major newspaper.

Since the UT is our "newspaper of record" so to speak, it was hard to avoid it at first, but there are other sources for local news here (including KPBS) which do a much more professional, well-rounded job at delivering local news.

So for me personal, my action will be simply to remain boycotting this pathetic rag until it goes under.

I actually hope Mr. Manchester *is* only purchasing the UT so he can gut it and develop the land it's on.

If he is planning on using this as his personal agenda-driven mouthpiece, then all citizens should be disgusted and boycott not only the newspaper (the print AND online versions), but also boycott any business that advertises in the UT.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 17, 2011 at 7:12 p.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

*In a brief interview, Lynch told KPBS: "We want to be cheerleaders for all that is good in San Diego."*

No, Mr. Lynch, a media outlets job is to report the news capturing all sides of an issue in an objective manner.

Simply being a fluff piece for positive-slant only military stories and a the local GOP political bullies does NOT a good newspaper make.

Of course this is how the UT has operated for decades, so I guess your embarrassingly inappropriate view of what makes a good news outlet will fit right in with the long-held UT agenda.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 17, 2011 at 7:18 p.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

I bet Bill Horn, Darrell Issa, and Duncan Hunter Jr. have already had their 3 martini lunches with Manchester and Lynch to discuss the political direction of their biased rag.

A sexually inappropriate comment to a young waitress, maybe even a butt grab, a wink, and a handshake most likely concluded this lunch meeting of Yetis that ended in a good 'ol boy promise to only report positive military propaganda articles and give free passes to the endless money grabs and dirty corruption that oozes from the pores of Neanderthals like Horn, Issa, and Hunter.

Way to go San Diego, another step backwards in our city!

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Avatar for user 'TheKindGardenersCollective'

TheKindGardenersCollective | November 18, 2011 at 8:40 a.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

If y'all are not already reading San Diego's two weekly papers, you should:
(available free, at newstands)

San Diego READER


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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | November 18, 2011 at 9:10 a.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

DUCK, hate to break it to ya, but KPBS isn't much more "objective."

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 18, 2011 at 9:27 a.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

Mission, how so?

When I listen to KPBS radio it's people rationally discussing both sides (versus a bunch of yelling like right wing news radio).

The reporting is far more solid at KPBS than it is at the UT, no question.

What politician(s) does KPBS seem to be favoring?

Contrast this with scandals local GOP bullies have been involved in and how the UT gives them a free pass. The most recent one I can think of right before I began boycotting it was the UT's coverage of Darrell Issa's little controversy with his corruption being called out by the NYT. The UT refused to print the NYT's article, and basically gave a softball interview to Issa where he was able to cherry pick the points from the NYT article he wanted to talk about and ignore the rest. It was as if the UT had basically let Issa write his own reply without any hard-hitting questions.

And what about when Horn was in such hot water right around the time he was being elected? His overt corruption was exposed in the UT, the UT still refused to endorse his opponent because they are that opposed to endorsing anyone who is not part of the GOP.

And the UT's military coverage is pure fluff and no substance - just a never-ending string of military-glorifying propaganda with hardly any criticism that I suppose the military readership wants to keep that way. When a plane from Miramar crashed into a house killing a family and then further insulted the community by refusing to answer questions, the UT refused to pressure the military for answers in their cold silence and simply published articles that we verbatim from Miramar official's pie holes.

Need I go on? If you are saying KPBS is this skewed and this in bed with local political figures I would have to disagree with you.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 18, 2011 at 9:29 a.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

correction above on my comment about Horn, it's when he was being *re-elected*

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | November 18, 2011 at 9:46 a.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

Word choices, conclusions, even choice of subjects. Maybe not as much as the UT, but certainly a "liberal" slant although in the last year or so, more "consertive" in nature on certain subjects. Certainly much depends on donations of certain organizations and groups. I would say VOICE OF SD is the least biased of the three media outlets.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | November 18, 2011 at 10:55 a.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

These comments are awesome, and not just because I agree with them. Things won't be all bad, though. I was beginning to miss the stories about "oppressed Republicans" and "alarming Hispanic birth rates." I'm sure we'll have an entire section devoted to those topics. Somewhere out there, Bob Kittle is a very happy man.

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Avatar for user 'Suzanne Marmion'

Suzanne Marmion, KPBS Staff | November 18, 2011 at 12:49 p.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

Thank you for the lively debate about journalism in our region. At KPBS, we aim for the highest standards of fairness and transparency in our newsroom. We always appreciate your comments and those of the community's in holding US as accountable as we seek to hold accountable those in power.

Regarding the question of whether money biases our coverage--we have strict firewalls between funding and the newsroom. It is also worth noting that the majority of our budget comes from membership donations from individuals in our community.

It is always humbling to me as a journalist that listeners, viewers and readers are willing to dig into their pockets to support what we do. This support allows us to be an independent and robust news outlet serving the community.
Suzanne Marmion
KPBS Director of News & Editorial Strategy

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 18, 2011 at 5:33 p.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

@ DeLaRick - Oppressed Republicans and alarming Hispanic birth rates? Oh how I wish they had "like" buttons so I could give you one :)

@ Suzanne Marmion - Thank you for all that you and your organization does. You aren't perfect as no organization is, but overall KPBS does a great job. I try to catch your evening edition as much as I can. I have not watched the "local news" in San Diego for over a decade and recently discovered you have the evening edition - very refreshing and NEEDED addition to SD's local news rooms!

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Avatar for user 'Satariel'

Satariel | November 22, 2011 at 1:34 p.m. ― 5 years, 4 months ago

That is like buying the Titanic after it struck the iceberg.

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