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Black Press Ltd., which produces newspapers in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, sent its bean counters and press experts to look at the Union-Tribune Friday (Aug. 22). An executive with broad experience in buying and selling media properties led the trip through the Mission Valley building. The visit lasted most of the day. Black Press is owned by David Holmes Black, who is not related to media baron Conrad Black, who was sentenced to prison last year for mail and wire fraud and obstruction of justice. Black Press owns more than 150 papers, mostly in Canada, but including the Akron Beacon Journal, a former Knight Ridder paper that was sold to McClatchy, then sold to Black two years ago. Black also owns the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Copley Press announced it was for sale in late July. A foreign buyer makes sense because of the weak U.S. dollar. The Canadian dollar, called the "loonie," dropped to below 62 cents to the U.S. dollar in January of 2002. Then, as Canada prospered because of agriculture, oil, and other commodities such as gold, the loonie soared to parity with the U.S. dollar in September of last year, and actually inched slightly ahead of the dollar that same month. It is now worth 95.51 U.S. cents. Canadian banks are poring over the books of depressed U.S. banks with acquisition in mind.

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Comments

JohnnyVegas Aug. 24, 2008 @ 10:57 a.m.

The UT must have a way to generate an income stream suffecient to support the paper.

I have no idea if that type of income is possible or not, so it could be a big risk.

I think the paper could be managed better-less partisan in the editorial department-which could only help it.

The UT is in between a rock and a hard place.

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2008 @ 12:01 p.m.

Response to post #1: Much depends on how profitable the U-T is, if indeed it is profitable or cash flow positive. We know its profits are down sharply from a year ago -- something like 70 percent. This time next year, earnings may be down another 70 percent So it's difficult to buy based on a multiple of earnings. Black Press is willing to buy papers with challenges. The Star-Bulletin is second to the Advertiser in Honolulu. The Akron Beacon Journal was an excellent paper under Knight Ridder, but I understand it has declined, just as Akron itself has faded. The favorable currency play could make purchase of even an ailing U.S. paper seductive. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2008 @ 12:12 p.m.

Response to post #2: The U-T's printing operation is not up to date. Job shop printing would not generate much extra income. Computerization throughout the paper is only so-so. The editorial page is wasting most readers' time by pursuing a vendetta that takes up a large percentage of space. That vendetta slops over into the so-called news coverage, giving the paper an even worse reputation for bias -- and bias that doesn't score with the new demographic of San Diego County. These are only minor reasons for the stark circulation decline, however. As I have said so many times, the main reasons are economic, demographic and technological. Best, Don Bauder

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MarkScha Aug. 24, 2008 @ 7:16 p.m.

The last time I looked, the Orange County Register requires payment to view articles. Does anyone know how much this is and if they do well against other SoCal ad-supported web news?

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2008 @ 7:36 p.m.

Response to post #5: It depends what articles you are talking about. Most papers, including the U-T, charge those wanting an article from the archives. But the U-T doesn't charge for recent articles from SignOnSanDiego. Best, Don Bauder

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Russ Lewis Aug. 24, 2008 @ 8:52 p.m.

The last I knew, the New York Times was charging more for a single article than the price of the whole damn paper. That's an outrage.

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Anon92107 Aug. 25, 2008 @ 4:05 a.m.

Priceless! U-T Editorials should be referred to as “The Loonie Bin”

But the sad reality is that San Diego U-T “The Loonie Bin” Editorials have created a leadership vacuum to serve the purposes of the The U-T Establishment which has the motto: Of The Establishment, By The Establishment and For The Establishment.

So The Establishment continues to dictate the future of San Diego to suit their own purpose of maximizing their avarice regardless of how many People die and property burn in San Diego Firestorms which have become iconic representing the current era of crashing and burning San Diego.

Like it or not, regardless of the current state of the U-T, The Establishment still rules San Diego through “The Loonie Bin” and their phalanx of corrupt judges who overrule social, political and economic progress in San Diego until the San Diego electorate decides to fight back and restore democracy in San Diego, first by taking back our courts to support the fundamental American concept of Freedom and Justice For All once again. http://www.parade.com/articles/editions/2008/edition_02-24-2008/Courts_O_Connor

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Don Bauder Aug. 25, 2008 @ 7:07 a.m.

Response to post #7: I am conflicted on this one. About six months ago, I bought 100 shares of NY Times, my only media holding. As I recall, I paid $16 and change. It's trading a bit above $13 this morning. The paper should charge what the traffic will bear. I want to recover my loss, no matter what Russl says! Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 25, 2008 @ 7:09 a.m.

Response to post #8: The U-T has been written and edited for the benefit of the establishment for as long as I can remember. That's one reason -- not a major one -- that the paper can't make it on its own and has put itself up for sale. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Aug. 25, 2008 @ 1:20 p.m.

Response to post #9:

One would think that The Establishment would want to continue controlling the U-T Loonie Bin Rantitorials so they can at least continue to give marching orders to their brain-dead constituency, especially those who tend to lose their concentration and might forget who to vote for, so they can perpetuate their majority with a list of puppeticians that can be cut out of the paper and taken into the voting booth. I’ll bet many of them actually try to slip the “Ballot Recommendations” into ballot box instead of the ballot, which is why there are monitors in polling places stationed at the ballot boxes by the Republican Party.

How else could someone like Bubba the Hutt Sanders have been re-elected after the disaster of his first term where he proved to be as corrupt as Murphy, thus Firestorm Sanders followed in the footsteps of Firestorm Murphy.

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Don Bauder Aug. 25, 2008 @ 10:27 p.m.

Response to post #11: As I have stated, if the establishment kicks in enough money to keep the paper going, it will want to keep it as a propaganda organ. This is not a good portent. Mike McKinnon is a newsman, but he will be only one of the investors, I believe. An out-of-town, probably foreign owner might be better for the sake of balanced journalism. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Aug. 25, 2008 @ 2:29 p.m.

Anon92107 gives the U-T too much credit, methinks. With its shrinking circulation, and the skepticism many subscribers have for the editorial stance, I doubt the U-T is responsible for keeping the "old boy", establishment structure in power.

More likely is voter apathy, always a huge factor in San Diego. As long as many voters can get down the street without a pothole swallowing up the Expedition, as long as water flows from the faucet, as long as there is current to power the flat-screen TV, and as long as there is beer at the nearby supermarket, things here in Paradise are fine. Vote for the incumbent, or the one who has more signs in the street. What can be amiss? (Well, plenty, actually, but it is upsetting to think about all THAT.)

It's easy to blame Republicans for all that needs to be fixed. Most cities with this sort of indifference and corruption are Democrat. (Think Chicago.) The corrupt locals will be part of the dominant party.

Keep reading the Reader--it's one of very few sources of honest reporting of local events.

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Shadow Aug. 25, 2008 @ 5:23 p.m.

Did anyone else sadly note the ad stripped across the bottom of A-1 today? They won't dump Burl and Diane, but they'll sell ya space under the fold!

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Don Bauder Aug. 25, 2008 @ 10:30 p.m.

Response to post #12: You make some good points. All the time I was with the U-T (30 years), I never thought it had as much political clout as its critics did. Also, I agree that San Diegans will put up with a rundown infrastructure and corrupt politics as long as the sun keeps shining year-round. In that sense, the perfect weather is one of San Diego's enemies. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2008 @ 6:29 a.m.

Response to post #17: Donna Frye and Mike Aguirre, whose efforts you consistently praise, are both Democrats. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 25, 2008 @ 10:31 p.m.

Response to post #13: All kinds of newspapers are putting ads on the front page and on section fronts. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2008 @ 6:39 a.m.

Response to post #18: The Union and Tribune were losing market share in the 1970s and 1980s, and in the 1990s and 2000s as the Union-Tribune, but so were other metro dailies around the country. I was futilely pointing out at the time that the sinking of Copley market share was more rapid than that of comparable papers. In re the Reader: Jim Holman is a Libertarian, I understand. There has never been a time that he objected to anything I wrote because his politics differed from mine. I believe Matt Potter and other Reader writers would tell you the same thing. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Aug. 26, 2008 @ 4:16 a.m.

Response to posts #12 & 14:

You bring up very good points Visduh, but the reality is that there are still enough brain-dead establishment sycophants subscribing to the U-T and marching to the “Ballot Recommendation” orders to get candidates like Sanders re-elected.

That is the major problem that has perpetuated the continuous decline and fall of the San Diego economy under Golding, Murphy and now under Sanders, with firestorms being the worst case scenario consequence of their failures to provide and coordinate fire resources, because they are never even held responsible and accountable for the death and destruction they cause as long as the Establishment controls the courts.

You are most correct about apathy, which Don has also pointed out many times.

The reality is that the quantity and quality of water flowing from our faucets is constantly threatened because of apathy. Any San Diegan who does not have at least a kitchen sink filtration system for their drinking and cooking water is at grave risk today because politicians won’t be held responsible and accountable for public health and safety failures as long as the Establishment rules.

You are also most correct about the democrats. It is the democrats who have enabled the republicans to get away with destruction of the American way of life at local, state and federal levels. The bottom line today is that the democrats are just as great a threat to American Democracy as the republicans.

The Reader must do more than “honest reporting,” you must motivate their readers to take actions to end the era of Establishment rule over San Diego before time runs out to keep San Diego-Tijuana from becoming a third world city-state.

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HellcatCopley Aug. 26, 2008 @ 6:24 a.m.

When I was in high school at Saints, about a thousand years ago, I was fortunate to have a journalism instructor by name of Mil Chipp. Mr. Chipp was the "liasion editor" of the Union and the Tribune ... I never really understood the function. But Mr. Chipp loved to regale me with insider stories of the Copley tribe, and how Jim Copley had essentially set the paper up as a retirement job for former Navy officers. This policy worked well for a long time in the sleepy San Diego backwater of yore. But after Jim's demise, Helen could simply not fathom that the times and, more importantly, the city were changing -- and rapidly. Thus began both papers' long slow loss of readership penetration. By the late 1980s, Helen had lost focus of good journalism and increased readership completely, and was concerned only with making her company union free.

The Reader tries hard. But make no mistake: its owner, Mr, Holman, is as rock ribbed conservative as Helen and her predecesssors ever were. And this also leaks into editorial content. For example, Mr. Holman is virulently anti-gay. Looking at the Reader in terms of coverage of San Diego's large gay and lesbian community is like looking into the Copley press circa 1955.

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