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Doug Manchester: A New Breed of Newspaper Owners

Doug Manchester a trendsetter? That what some media experts are saying after New Jersey insurance executive and democratic powerbroker, George Norcross announced he and a group of investors were purchasing Philadelphia's two major dailies; the Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In a April 5 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the purchase has caused some to worry that Norcross plans to use the dailies to push an agenda.

Analyst with the Poynter Institute, and former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, Rick Edmonds, used Manchester's U-T purchase as an example of outspoken executives buying large daily newspapers.

"We clearly are coming to a point where there's a different set of prospective owners," Edmonds told the Inquirer.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"The new ownership quickly drew criticism, according to the online news organization Voice of San Diego, when its top executive urged sports reporters to advocate for a new stadium for the Chargers and "call out those who don't as obstructionists." The executive later acknowledged it was a misstep."

In an email to the Inquirer, U-T editor Jeff Light said Manchester has brought an "aggressive editorial approach" to the paper while understanding "the separation between church and state."

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Don't Sleep on Samuel Coleridge-Tayor

Doug Manchester a trendsetter? That what some media experts are saying after New Jersey insurance executive and democratic powerbroker, George Norcross announced he and a group of investors were purchasing Philadelphia's two major dailies; the Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In a April 5 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the purchase has caused some to worry that Norcross plans to use the dailies to push an agenda.

Analyst with the Poynter Institute, and former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, Rick Edmonds, used Manchester's U-T purchase as an example of outspoken executives buying large daily newspapers.

"We clearly are coming to a point where there's a different set of prospective owners," Edmonds told the Inquirer.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"The new ownership quickly drew criticism, according to the online news organization Voice of San Diego, when its top executive urged sports reporters to advocate for a new stadium for the Chargers and "call out those who don't as obstructionists." The executive later acknowledged it was a misstep."

In an email to the Inquirer, U-T editor Jeff Light said Manchester has brought an "aggressive editorial approach" to the paper while understanding "the separation between church and state."

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A number of thoughts. First, at least Manchester and Lynch made their intentions known. The Copley Press and the various Copley family members had an agenda but often denied they had one. Second, if there is a belief out there that newspaper owners and publishers didn't have agendas, I have some real estate to sell you. None of them was just trying to report the news--every last one of them had some viewpoint to push, and they did just that, some more subtly than others. If this is a new trend, it is so old as to be very new. A century or more ago many newspapers were openly and vigorously partisan, and the sort of reporting they did was called "yellow journalism." So, if I may coin a term, let us call this new trend as represented by guys like Dougie, "the new yellow journalism."

April 5, 2012

Points well taken, Visduh. You're right those agendas have always been there. However, most of those agendas were pushed by media moguls, not wealthy executives from outside the industry (though, I'm sure you could find at least a few).

Thanks for the comment!

April 6, 2012

I hate to quibble, but the U-T was owned for many years by John D. Spreckels, who was a rich man prior to owning the newspaper. His fortune came from sugar refining and he was the son of the man who founded it all. Upon Spreckels' death, "Colonel" Ira Copley purchased the U-T. He was already a rich man, with his fortune based on utilities in the midwest.

In the midwest, farm implement inventor Cyrus McCormick used his fortune to acquire one of Chicago's largest newspapers. (Forgive me, but I cannot remember if it was the Tribune or the Sun-Times.) McCormick wanted to simplify spellings of words and his paper used those for a long time. They never caught on, altho (an example) many people would have preferred to see them emerge as standard.

Then there was W R Hearst. Most remember him as a media mogul, but his fortune came from his father, George Hearst, who was a very rich man. His fortune came from western mining. I think he was involved in the Homestake mine in South Dakota, and I do know that much of his fortune was a result of taking an early interest in Montana copper mines.

All of the aforementioned were already business executives and very wealthy before they ventured into newspapers. This purchase of the U-T by Manchester is nothing out of the ordinary and follows a pattern established over a century ago. (Not that I'm supporting him or defending him in the least.)

April 6, 2012

I rest my case.... Thanks, Visduh.

April 7, 2012
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