Editor: We are not content to only read what the San Diego U-T says about its pending sale to Doug Manchester, local conservative activist and developer (known affectionately as “Papa Doug”), so here we have three other takes on the sale, the first from the LA Times – always competitive towards San Diego’s daily, the second from Voice of San Diego – and the other is a summary of the San Diego Daily Transcript.
Los Angeles Times
By Walter Hamilton, Tiffany Hsu and Tony Perry / Los Angeles Times / November 18, 2011
Less than three years ago, the San Diego Union-Tribune was a struggling newspaper sold at a cut-rate price by its longtime owner.
The newspaper is changing hands again, but this time in a deal worth about $110 million to a high-profile real estate developer who pledged to inject new life and relevance into the 143-year-old institution.
Doug Manchester, a well-known but polarizing San Diego-based developer who refers to himself as “Papa Doug,” announced Thursday that he is buying the paper and its website from Platinum Equity, a Los Angeles private equity firm.
For the remainder of this article from the LA Times, please go here.
Voice of San Diego
by Rob Davis / Voice of San Diego / November 17, 2011
Hotelier Doug Manchester bought the San Diego Union-Tribune on Thursday, returning the paper to local ownership in a sale that would appear to turn a big profit for a private equity firm that bought it two years ago.
In a brief interview, Manchester said he paid “above” $110 million for the newspaper. “The asking price was a lot higher than that,” he said. The price is more than double what the Wall Street Journal said Platinum Equity bought the paper for in 2009.
Manchester, a prominent conservative downtown hotelier who insists on being called “Papa Doug,” takes the reins as owner; John Lynch, a former radio executive, will become the president and CEO of the newspaper company. Manchester declined other comment, saying the parties in the sale had agreed to stay silent until the deal was finalized between Nov. 30 and Dec. 15.
For the remainder of this VOSD article, please go here.
The Daily Transcript – Summary
The Daily Transcript article, by Elizabeth Malloy, ran on Nov. 17th, and as their online articles are only obtained via subscription, we wanted to publish their entire article. But instead, here’s a summary.
The DT reports that readers of the San Diego Union-Tribune “should expect no changes to the op-ed pages as a result of its sale to developer Doug Manchester, according to Manchester’s business partner”, and quotes John Lynch in a telephone interview. Lynch is president and chief executive of Manchester’s company MLIM LLC. Lynch:
“That’s certainly not the reason we bought the paper. We plan no changes immediately on any of that. They have a great system of an editorial board.
“We think that it’s a 143-year-old historic business and one of the jewels of business in San Diego. As lifelong San Diegans — Doug is a native and I’ve lived here almost 40 years — we love our city (and) we think that there’s a place for the local ownership of the newspaper.”
Lynch told the DT that he and Manchester plan to “further integrate integrate the print version of the newspaper with its online presence”, but that “there are no plans to go to an online-only model at this point.”
Manchester, who signed an agreement to buy the daily in a sale that is supposed to be finalized by mid-December, ” is known”, says DT, “for his hotel and commercial property development work in the county, especially the Manchester Grand Hyatt on San Diego’s downtown bay front.” DT reports: ” Lynch is a founder of the Broadcast Company of the Americas and has a long history of owning radio stations.”
Here’s how the DT describes Manchester:
“Manchester, known to many as “Papa Doug,” often has been the subject of the newspaper’s stories, including a front-page piece this month on the California Coastal Commission giving a cold shoulder to his plans for a $1.3-billion hotel and office complex on the city’s downtown waterfront. He has been a key player in the city’s downtown renaissance.
Politically conservative, he donated $125,000 to a successful 2008 campaign to ban gay marriage in California. His efforts to pass Proposition 8 sparked a boycott from some gay rights activists at his Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel, whose twin towers are among the downtown skyline’s most recognized buildings. He has since sold his interest in the hotel.”
The DT talked to some analysts about the what the sale of the paper would mean in terms of its editorial policy and “standing in the community”. There were mixed views:
Here’s Dr. Dean Nelson, director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University, quoted by the DT:
“My initial thought was that I was mystified. Journalism is not (Manchester’s) world. It’s not even John Lynch’s world. Lynch has a background in radio and television. But I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt. I like the fact that there’s local ownership as opposed to some absent landlord. (Manchester) knows San Diego.
“He’s obviously a big, prominent person in San Diego, so it could have some very significant downsides, but he could also be smart and build a significant wall between him and the good journalism that the Union-Tribune is capable of doing.”
Nelson added that he thought – as the DT puts it – “the paper will likely lose readers if it becomes a ‘mouthpiece’ for Manchester and, as businessmen, the new owners want to avoid that.”
And then, here’s Steven Erie, a UCSD political science professor, who told the DT, it was a “very sad day.”
“He has a lot of enemies in this town. He is controversial, he’s litigious … It’ll be all the news that he sees fit to print.”