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Rumor: U-T Sale Imminent

The rumor mill has the Union-Tribune being sold soon — perhaps this week. The same rumor mill has Canadian press baron David Holmes Black back in the picture.

Before Platinum Equity bought the U-T in 2009, Black was seen scouting out the U-T, the Reader reported. When the Platinum deal was consummated, it was announced that Black would be involved as one lending his expertise. But if Black played a role, it was behind the scenes: he wasn't seen around, according to good sources.

San Diego nabobs Doug ("Papa Doug") Manchester, hotelier, and John Lynch, radio baron, have expressed an interest in buying the U-T (probably to get the real estate cheap), as has KUSI-TV. If Black is involved, the print side could continue. On the other hand, Black is known as one to slash salaries severely. Remember: this is a rumor, but recent rumors have turned out to be pretty accurate.

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The rumor mill has the Union-Tribune being sold soon — perhaps this week. The same rumor mill has Canadian press baron David Holmes Black back in the picture.

Before Platinum Equity bought the U-T in 2009, Black was seen scouting out the U-T, the Reader reported. When the Platinum deal was consummated, it was announced that Black would be involved as one lending his expertise. But if Black played a role, it was behind the scenes: he wasn't seen around, according to good sources.

San Diego nabobs Doug ("Papa Doug") Manchester, hotelier, and John Lynch, radio baron, have expressed an interest in buying the U-T (probably to get the real estate cheap), as has KUSI-TV. If Black is involved, the print side could continue. On the other hand, Black is known as one to slash salaries severely. Remember: this is a rumor, but recent rumors have turned out to be pretty accurate.

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Comments
28

This is from Wikipedia about his Black Press: "In August, 2007, a story in the Victoria News sparked a complaint from an advertiser and led to the firing/resignation of three senior Black Press employees. Victoria News reporter Brennan Clarke quit the publication after a story he wrote about buying cheaper cars in the United States led to a complaint from Victoria car dealership Dave Wheaton Pontiac Buick GMC. Black Press claimed the article was not balanced, and said that reporters and editors should not purposely jeopardize advertising revenue with their stories, because that revenue pays their salaries. The company also fired the Victoria News long-time editor, Keith Norbury, in part because of the complaint, and Black Press's Vancouver Island Newsgroup regional editor, Brian Lepine, resigned in protest. The Canadian Association of Journalists publicly questioned the credibility and independence of the Victoria News, wondering how many stories Black Press kills behind the scenes because of advertising concerns."

Nov. 17, 2011

This reporter wasn't the first in the industry to be fired or severely disciplined for riling auto dealers. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 17, 2011

What's left at the Light News for Black to cut? The place is apparently operating on a skeleton staff now. A couple of weeks ago they borrowed columnist Logan Jenkins to write editorials. The paper seems to have only one or two reporters to cover all the news in North County. Whereas they once had a reporter at city council meetings and school board meetings, that is rarely the case. Even the broken-down North County Times still manages that. So, I ask again, what could be cut?

Nov. 17, 2011

Good question. If the U-T jettisons the print edition -- and that could come in less than a generation, maybe just a few years -- a lot of heads could be chopped. If the print edition goes, the Mission Valley building could be torn down so Manchester can develop that location. However, commercial real estate remains extremely sluggish. These changes might not come right away. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 17, 2011

Maybe the "new" U-T will hire high school journalism students at minimum wage with no benefits. And the already-shrunken paper size will drop to 8 1/2 x 11 inches. And pay toilets will be implemented.

Nov. 17, 2011

There are already some rookies on the payroll. That's obvious from reading it. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 17, 2011

UT just Tweeted: Platinum Equity has signed a definitive agreement to sell The Union-Tribune to MLIM, LLC, owned by Doug Manchester.

Nov. 17, 2011

See Matt Potter's excellent post from this morning on U-T massaging Manchester. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 17, 2011

So it's official...Doug Manchester has a deal with Platinum Equity partners announced this morning.

Nov. 17, 2011

Yes, official. John Lynch is to run the journalism side, as I understand it. He is a radio guy. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 17, 2011

This makes sense only as a real estate deal. The rag is just one small piece of the deal. Instead of Platinum putting it out of its misery, Manchester can do that. Or, he could turn around and sell it, or give it away, to someone else.

Nov. 17, 2011

Yes, it's a real estate deal, but the commercial real estate market is very sick, so the newspaper will probably carry on for awhile. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 17, 2011

So will the Upchuck-Trough have editorial independence from Manchester? Not that is has any integrity left anymore.

Nov. 17, 2011

Don't expect independence. Read Matt Potter's excellent post on News Ticker. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 17, 2011

Don, here's a true story about auto dealers and journalism. Some years back, the monthly Palm Springs Life magazine ran a glowing cover story on five top auto dealers in Coachella Valley. The cover featured the dealers dressed in tuxedos. But the whole thing was paid for (costing many $thousands) by those auto dealers. I don't recall there being any disclosure about that sham. Of course, most legit magazines do not sell their covers.

Nov. 17, 2011

San Diego Magazine was obviously selling its cover as far back as the 70's. Buy some full-page color ads, and next thing you know, your business or you is subject of a feature story. And the cover led right to the feature story. That mag was in many ways better than many others of that sort around the nation. It did make an attempt to feature some good journalism. But the publishers/owners, a married couple, were always walking on eggs around the power brokers.

Nov. 17, 2011

Some don't know this but guess who owns it now? Statement from their website: "In late April 2010, the magazine was acquired by Jim Fitzpatrick and Milt & Frank Jones—owners of Palm Springs Life."

Nov. 17, 2011

Fitzpatrick had it once and bought back in, to the best of my knowledge. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 17, 2011

I didn't read the magazine enough to notice that it was whoring out covers. But that was common in the mag industry, and probably still is. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 17, 2011

Hey, I was on the staff of Business Week when the covers were kept -- going to big advertisers, sometimes as a direct quid pro quo. There were times when a company would buy space in a bunch of McGraw-Hill magazines, including Business Week, and one cover story after another would follow, including in Business Week. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 17, 2011

I'd like to know the evidence that Ed Self sold covers, "obviously" or otherwise.

Re: "San Diego Magazine was obviously selling its cover as far back as the 70's."

Nov. 17, 2011

The best example was a guy who owned a tourmaline mine at Pala, and had a fancy jewelry store in La Jolla that sold tourmaline jewelry. He was young and good looking and his wife at the time was also young and even better looking. A pair of local "beautiful people." One month, there they were on the cover and there was a very laudatory feature story about them and the mine. Starting that issue and for a full year, the store had a fancy full page ad in the magazine. Thereafter, as I recall, the ads appeared only sporadically. Pretty obvious quid pro quo to me.

Nov. 18, 2011

Don and others commenting -- does anyone know why Mr. Manchester likes to be called "PapaDoug?" I'm curious. Also just read that $110 million was paid for the U-T in this latest sale. What is it about the lure of newspaper ownership that causes rational people to make emotional business decisions? I think Mr. Manchester paid too much.

Nov. 18, 2011

According to the LA TIMES: "The Union Tribune building in San Diego's Mission Valley has an assessed value of $41.4 million." But it would have more value as a tear down, since it's a big (13-acre) site in a prime location. Good spot for a hotel, or multiuse (retail, offices, residences), once the economy recovers.

Nov. 18, 2011

In case most of the posters here missed it, the U-T publisher Ed Moss weighed in today with a full page (page A-5) of braggadocio about all the accomplishments (?) of the U-T since Platinum took it over. In the third paragraph he states "Back in 2009, we pledged to San Diego a new Union-Tribune would emerge." Well, I'd guess so! The new paper is smaller, carries less advertising than it ever did in the history of its predecessors, and has a bare staff of "reporters" who generally print whatever the press releases say. It routinely misses massive amounts of local happenings. Oh, Moss goes on and on about all their "accomplishments", and at least half of it sounds like a parody.

If I did not know better, I'd say Moss was making a statement to his new employers that was intended to keep his job. Newspapering is not a career that I'd want to be pursuing now.

Nov. 18, 2011

Sounds like a brown noser.

Nov. 18, 2011

Reply to #25.

The only good things that happenned after Platium Equity purchased the UT: 1. No more pictures of David Copley. 2. No more Karin Winner. 3. No more Reuben Navarette. 4. No more society page. 5. Burl Stiff's $1,000 per story cut back to next to nothing.

I could go on.

Nov. 20, 2011

Don:

In the past ten years or so, there has been a running feud between some sports talk show hosts (John Lynch has owned different stations during this time) and the UT. The main feud has been between Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton and Jay Posner, who wrote the stories. Posner is currently the Sports Editor. If Lynch was ever involved in the feud with Posner in the past, Posner must not be sleeping well since the anouncement of the sale.

Nov. 20, 2011

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