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It’s Official: U-T San Diego Is Buying North County Times

Evening Edition

Above: Dean Nelson, the director of Point Loma Nazarene University's journalism program, talks to KPBS about the U-T San Diego owner's purchase of The North County Times.

Aired 9/11/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS:

Doug Manchester, Owner, U-T San Diego

Kent Davy, Editor, North County Times

Dean Nelson, Director, Point Loma Nazarene University's journalism program

Transcript

Aired 9/12/12 on KPBS News.

The Owner of the U-T San Diego buys the North County Times.

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Lee Enterprises' Announcement

Lee Enterprises' Announcement

Lee Enterprises' announcement that it well sell The ...

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John Lynch's Letter

John Lynch's Letter

U-T San Diego CEO John Lynch's letter announcing ...

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Aired 9/11/12 on KPBS News.

The owners of U-T San Diego announced today that they are purchasing the North County Times.

The ownership of U-T San Diego announced today the purchase of the North County Times, paving the way for San Diego County's only two major daily newspapers to be owned by the same company.

U-T San Diego CEO John Lynch said the company that owns the 144-year-old U-T has reached an agreement to buy the North County Times and its sister publication in southwest Riverside County, The Californian.

Hotelier and real estate developer Doug "Papa Doug" Manchester teamed up with Lynch to buy U-T San Diego from Beverly Hills-based private equity firm Platinum Equity late last year. The publication's name has been changed -- it was previously The San Diego Union-Tribune -- and a webcast television component has been added.

"We intend to super serve each and every market in which we enter," Manchester said in a statement. "Since San Diego is our home, this is a logical acquisition."

Manchester, speaking on "KPBS Midday Edition," said no final decisions have been made about the eventual form of the North County Times or the future of its employees.

"This has just been announced and we'll not even take over the paper until October," Manchester said. "We're in the process of analyzing all of that and, obviously, we want to in fact have the very best reporting for the North County area, so therefore, we will have the opportunity to retain the very best."

The North County Times' editor, Kent Davy, told KPBS that no one there knows what will happen, so employees are concerned.

"Uncertainty always breeds fear," Davy said, adding that "this is not the worst day in my life."

Dean Nelson, a journalism professor at Point Loma Nazarene University called the purchase a smart business decision and signals a commitment to local journalism. The question is how well that commitment is carried out, given a lack of competition, he said.

"When you have one owner of a very, very dominant voice, you do lose a little accountability for the kind of journalism that could be happening in a community," Nelson said. "I hope that is not what happens, but it is conceivable."

U-T San Diego under the reign of Manchester and Lynch has been criticized for a sharp tilt to the right side of the political spectrum on its editorial pages.

North County Times reporter Brandon Lowrey posted updates to Twitter during a staff meeting with Manchester and Lynch Tuesday afternoon.

Lowrey tweeted Lynch said "he wants all NCT staffers to interview to keep their positions."

"He said he wants to keep all of the 'winners,'" Lowrey wrote. "Interviews will start Monday with UT HR, Lynch says."

Lowrey also said Manchester told staff he would "control editorials in his own way."

"Except he wants us to be 'positive' in writing news, and to write nice stories about business owners, Manchester said," Lowrey wrote.

The North County Times and The Californian have been owned by publicly traded Davenport, Iowa-based Lee Enterprises since 2002. The editions have an average daily circulation rate of 75,606 and 80,789 on Sunday for the six months ending March 31, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Claire Trageser contributed to this report.

Comments

Avatar for user 'DanW'

DanW | September 11, 2012 at 12:32 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

How depressing this is. I've been a UT subscriber since the 70s. I've noticed how the editorials have become much more right-leaning since Manchester took over, but not until the over-the-top editorializing following the Democratic convention did I realize how totally owned the paper is. I started exploring other options, and was seriously considering dropping the UT. I have been getting the Sunday edition of the NC Times for a couple of months through a great Groupon deal and thought it fairly balanced. Then yesterday, Monday, there was a copy of the NC Times on my driveway and I thought "It's a sign!". I had made up my mind to make the change, and then yesterday evening on the news I hear about the UT takeover. How depressing!

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Avatar for user 'Oceanside'

Oceanside | September 11, 2012 at 9:51 p.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

Just like DanW, we've been long time UT subscribers, and were wary when DM bought the paper. Also noticed the editorial following the Dem's convention portending a doomsday scenario would play out for the US if Obama is re-elected. Decided to switch to the NC Times, but will rethink. Starbucks carries some good out of town papers. KPBS online and on the radio has local news. Hmm.

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Avatar for user 'oerdin'

oerdin | September 12, 2012 at 12:12 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

What terrible news for San Diego. Ever since Doug Manchester bought the UT it has become nothing more than a partisan rag which doesn't even bother to follow even basic journalism standards of truth and accuracy. Until now we could at least get decent local news coverage from the North County Times but now even that is gone. The only fair and honest local news services we have left in our region are KPBS and the Voice of San Diego and we really should have more than that.

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Avatar for user 'oerdin'

oerdin | September 12, 2012 at 12:15 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

KPBS really does need to pick up this story from San Diego Free Press about how partisan and unbalanced the Manchester UT has become. Check out this article from the San Diego Free Press's website: http://sandiegofreepress.org/2012/09/the-starting-line-desperate-days-at-the-ut-san-diego-will-the-tag-mayberry-by-the-sea-stick/#.UFAzRFHPX0c

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Avatar for user 'dmevis'

dmevis | September 12, 2012 at 10:25 a.m. ― 2 years, 3 months ago

After 30 years, I unsubscribed from the UT after Manchester took over, and as soon as I am done with this "comment" I will be unsubscribing from the NC Times.

I am disappointed that during KPBS Radio interview with Manchester, they let him get away with saying that after spending $12M on the NC Times, he really did not know what changes would be made. I call "Bull Shit".

I am wondering if Manchester actually "writes off" the expenses of newspaper ownership as a "business expense" for his Development business.

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