U-T San Diego CEO John Lynch referred to mayor Bob Filner several times during his talk at the July 23 Allied Gardens Community Council town hall meeting at Ascension Lutheran Church.
Lynch also spoke about the San Diego Union-Tribune, the publication that he and Doug Manchester bought in 2011. Newspaper staff learned the first day of ownership was the "last day as a newspaper,” said Lynch. “It's now a media company.”
The media company is a finalist to purchase the Boston Globe and should know Friday, July 26, if their bid was successful, he said.
Lynch began his talk by acknowledging his surroundings and former neighborhood. He joked that he could hear confessions. Lynch said that he came to San Diego in 1972 and "lived up the road," a reference to Del Cerro. "I love the neighborhood," he said.
Turning to the present, Lynch said that people asked him why U-T San Diego didn't call for Filner's resignation.
"I've got to be a little selfish; this is a gift that keeps giving," he said. Just as Rush Limbaugh's ratings rose during president Bill Clinton's troubles, Filner's woes sparked an increase in readership and U-T TV viewership, he said.
Lynch's presentation included Steve Breen's Filner-themed editorial cartoons. Some audience members giggled at the images.
Lynch again referred to Filner when speaking about a new Chargers stadium. He said the potential locations are downtown, the current location, and Escondido.
"It's something we've got to face if we want to keep the Chargers. One of the greatest challenges is when you've got a mayor like this," he said.
Lynch discussed the U-T’s expansion, which has included starting U-T TV. He said that when he and Manchester took over, some columnists learned they would no longer write only two columns a week; writers would produce more and appear on U-T TV, but they wouldn't receive extra pay. However, as "quid pro quo," they would be trained "to go on TV," Lynch said.
He then spoke about plans to launch a national news network. When there was an event like the Boston Marathon bombing, Lynch said that Boston media "would report for our network only." Furthermore, although the company "failed to purchase the Los Angeles Times," Lynch said there was a "northward strategy."
When Lynch took questions from the audience, a man said, "There's a program to build condos all along the [San Diego] river. How can subscribers of the Union-Tribune fight these guys?"
Lynch replied, "I promise to give you an opportunity to present your side of the story."
When questioned about the biggest challenge after 18 months of ownership, Lynch said, "Running a business in California." During January, February, March, April, "we were booming" until April 15 and the retroactive state excise tax.
Lynch also referred to his company's part-time employees working close to 30 hours. "Obamacare will cost a half million more [dollars],” he said.
He concluded by saying he and Manchester bought the newspaper to "make money, so we could try to rebuild our city," and serve as a "cheerleader."