Tribune Publishing, the Chicago-based media giant and owner of the L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune, is buying the Union-Tribune for $85 million.

Here are the facts: The deal is not quite closed. Doug Manchester will be stepping away when it is (here’s his farewell). The U-T’s new publisher is a man named Austin Beutner, who will also remain as the publisher of the L.A. Times. Former U-T editor and current president, Jeff Light, will be staying on at the paper, though Beutner told our Scott Lewis he did not know what Light’s title will be.

The newspaper’s staff will have to leave its longtime offices in Mission Valley (Manchester’s keeping that property and will be developing it into two residential towers). Beutner would not say where the company would move. “I’m not being coy. We haven’t found a space yet,” he said.

There will be layoffs. The U-T and L.A. Times will now be part of a new entity: the California News Group. “There will be some overlaps and there will be some areas we want to grow. The net of those probably means some reduction in the head count,” Beutner told us.

Here are memos from Beutner. His letter to readers gracefully quotes Voice of San Diego founder, Neil Morgan.

Lewis asked Beutner about the editorial page – how much would the U-T’s opinions change? “We’re going to remove some of the owners influence – and I’m not just referring to Mr. Manchester. I’m sure it happened with the Copleys,” he said.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

Manchester had bought the paper for $110 million. But he keeps the real estate he got in the deal and the development he does there will likely more than make up the difference. Our 2012 profile of Manchester highlighted how irresistible it must have been for him to get the prime real estate and become a media mogul at the same time. The greater risk was really the media part and now he has shed it.

One thing that’s pretty sure: We’re not going to lose the print U-T to a digital-only edition. That would be suicide. As the L.A. Times itself notes, “the print product still generates the lion’s share of revenue at Tribune Publishing and other legacy media companies.”

Finally, we’re old enough to remember that weird front-page letter Manchester put up himself saying no, he would not be selling the paper.

• A bit forgotten in the hoopla about the L.A. Times purchase: The fact that the U-T under Manchester killed off the North County Times, itself the product of a newspaper merger. (Disclosure: I worked up there for 7 years and contributed for another 8 more.) The U-T’s Logan Jenkins went over that history a while back, noting that the “stately” Tribune Co. (which recently split from Tribune Publishing) owned the Escondido paper, where both of us were colleagues.

Drought’s a Tree-Killer in Balboa Park

VOSD’s Ry Rivard takes a look at the dying-tree crisis in Balboa Park. How many trees are losing the fight? No one knows because no one keeps track, and tourists may not notice the die-off, but trees are definitely struggling.

The park is trying to save certain trees, including those that are “horticulturally important.” As a public service, we won’t repeat Dorothy Parker’s reported joke about horticulturalists.

This VOSD story, by the way, may be the only place you’ll see a reference to “denuded tops” this week outside of Black’s Beach.

• The New Yorker has published an epic story about the fate of the Salton Sea, a creation of human overreach that’s now a barren, ugly, smelly mess: “The air smelled sweet and vaguely spoiled, like a dog that has got into something on a hot day.” Eww.

Gonzalez: Fix Civic SD for Workers

Last week, Andrew Keatts got some grief for writing that at the heart of the controversy about the future of Civic San Diego was a push by labor to organize hotel workers. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is pushing legislation to emasculate the agency by forcing the City Council to approve its decisions. Keatts decided to follow up his piece with a direct Q-and-A with Gonzalez.

It absolutely is about labor. Gonzalez hopes that forcing Civic San Diego to run its decisions past the City Council will make it easier to prod hotel owners to do better for their workers. “What we’re looking for is hotel management that will be neutral if workers exercise their rights to unionize,” she said.

Councilwoman Myrtle Cole, who represents some of San Diego’s poorest neighborhoods, is oddly still quiet about where she stands.

San Diego Explained: Bond Spending

San Diego Explained, our TV feature, looks at how San Diego Unified is figuring out how to spend the millions that it borrowed (and taxpayers will pay off).

Cops Rethink Body Camera Rules

“The San Diego Police Department announced a change to its body camera policy after an officer failed to turn on his camera before fatally shooting a man in the Midway District,” NBC 7 reports. The police chief announced, the station said, that “instead of hitting record when they contact a suspect, officers will now have to turn on their cameras before they arrive at a scene.”

Quick News Hits: Bottom-Ranked

• SeaWorld’s attendance is recovering but the company is still losing money. (AP/NBC 7)

• An environmentalist group is miffed by prospects for more desalination plants. (Times of San Diego)

• The city is taking its sweet time to do something about the decrepit former downtown library. (City News Service)

• Today, whippersnappers consider longtime curmudgeonly U-T sports columnist Nick Canepa to be a bit of a “off my lawn, damn kids!” kind of guy, especially when he gets cranky after being called out over insisting on nonsense. But back in the day, Canepa seems to have been a bit of a badass: the Clippers, when they were based here, even let him make a draft pick, he tells Deadspin.

• Here’s how Airbnb could go totally wrong, via Gawker.

• No, the announcement of the U-T sale didn’t look like this, but it’s nice to think so. And here’s a Twitter note about what I’ll miss most.

• NerdWallet, which sounds like something I’d keep in my back pocket, is out with a list of the Top 100 Best Places for Tech Jobs. San Diego has got to be at the top of the list, right?

OK, let’s take a look. A-ha! There’s San Marcos. Oh wait, that’s Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Tex., at No. 9. Hmm. Looking in the 10s, the 20s… the 70s…there goes Topeka… Oh boy! At No. 88, there’s San … Antonio.

Hmm. This is not looking good. We’re not No. 100, are we? Nope. Whew. We’re at … No. 90. Why? Because tech pay is on the lower side here, and housing prices are waaaaay high. Virtual reality, meet virtual quality of life.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

    This article relates to: Morning Report, News

    Written by Randy Dotinga

    Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

    Thomas DeSoto
    Thomas DeSoto subscriber

    Doug Manchester's Republican influence during his tenure and especially during the elections was horrific,... giving Bill O'Reily of Fox News a run for his dark money. When the press takes political sides supporting just one conservative view, it's credibility becomes tarnished by corporate influence which serves to defeat free speech and American democracy. Silencing the truth, misrepresentation and blatant hypocrisy had replaced good old fashion journalism which became a thing of the past in San Diego under Papa Doug Manchester for far to long now, tearing at the very fabric of our Constitution. I'm still extremely skeptical about this ownership change bringing about any real journalistic change since this GOP Conservative take over of all our News Media is nationwide, as most real investigative journalist have now been persecuted, fired, ridiculed, belittled, character assassinated and jailed for exposing the truth, like Julian Assaud and Edward Snowden, but I do think any change is a positive move in the right direction at this point in time, after all, how could it get any worst. Maybe now we will learn more of the real truth behind our Ocean die offs, our tree die offs, our water shortages, the real polluters behind all our underground fresh water supplies, wealthy corporate tax dodgers hiding their billions overseas, our ramped corruption in our local law enforcement, Government and our corrupt justice system. The moral downfall of our society secretly hiding behind religious conscience is why our founding forefathers decided to separated church and state, and for good reason. As Mr Manchester so eloquently states in his farewell address, it was a real estate move for huge profits long before it ever became a noble try at community service and democracy which always becomes a distant second to any Republican corporate agenda. Who elected John Lynch and Papa Doug Manchester into a leadership role in San Diego? According to these two wealthy guys, owning a newspaper gives them that right,... That's called Fascism. Making huge profits in the United States and hiding it all overseas in the Cayman Islands may be the Republican way of doing business, but in my book it's called treason. The entire Bush/Cheney administration has brokered a backdoor deal with Argentina where they have purchased huge plots of farm land to retire,... The only reason why they are still here in the US is because many other countries around the world would go to Argentina and arrest them for terrorism and crimes against humanity. Something Republican politicians should be reminded of ever so often,.. Not that it would do any good or change their twisted ideology,... Doug Manchester like many wealthy Republicans see the writing on the wall,... Our country is in for a huge financial downturn and the rich are divesting themselves of everything they have in the US and moving to South America where the exchange rate is still huge. American Capitalism at it's finest. Millions will suffer as a direct result of their greedy actions,...

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    @Thomas DeSoto Welcome to conspiracy day, Mr. DeSoto.  If you want the unvarnished truth, just leave your TV on MSNBC.  They've got the real POOP.

    Mike subscriber

    VOSD has served San Diego well by filling in an important void. Namely it covered public policy without right-wing propaganda. VOSD, PBS, and a few smaller news outlets kind of formed the anti-UT (in the readers' minds). If the UT transforms to a more balanced tone similar to the LA Times, what will happen to VOSD's audience?

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    I may get stoned and run out of town on a rail for saying this, but I think the quality of the U-T actually improved under Manchester's "guidance".  Sure, the editorial content was outrageous, but newspaper owners of every political persuasion exercise the right to vent their spleens.  Check the L.A. Times for completely opposite opinions, just as left-leaning as Papa's were to the right.  

    Personal opinion:  the depth of the reporting got better, they did more investigative work, actually breaking a few big stories, and added a couple of columnists including Steven Grenhut who, I think, does very good work on state issues.  And they added back our old friend Ruben Navarette, who had departed several years ago.  He's not every day but can now be considered a "regular".

    All in all, Manchester's tenure was far from the disaster many Voice readers had predicted.  

    Thomas DeSoto
    Thomas DeSoto subscriber

    @Bill Bradshaw I thought ex-cops like you were already run out of town many years ago,... especially after your pro cop comments that were made,... and nullified. Still around making more ridiculous comments,...  glued to a chair like most trolls hired by the Heritage Foundation. They must have given you a raise. 
    I for one am glad your still around, since you remind us all of the old guard,... dinosaurs hanging on to old school ideology, which has long been refuted. Without this huge contrast of ideology , how else can anyone of us learn good from bad,....Like Rush L, your a gift that keeps giving,...

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    @Thomas DeSoto @Bill Bradshaw I hate to tell you this, pal, but I was never a police officer.  I'll admit that, after retirement, I did volunteer work for SDPD for eight years in the RSVP program.  Why?  Because my Daddy done tol' me that you have to put something back into your community whenever you are able.  It was fun. 

    I'm also an occasional volunteer for VOSD.  They give me the deadbeat list to call and remind people their subscriptions are up for renewal.  It's fun too.  Let's see, Davis, Deane, DePalma.  Ah, here it is.......