Doug Manchester, the hotelier and new owner of The San Diego Union-Tribune, is interested in buying the North County Times, the region’s other major newspaper, which covers Del Mar to Riverside County.
Lee Enterprises, the Times’ parent company, filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month, struggling under the weight of nearly $1 billion in debt.
Manchester said he hasn’t made an offer for the paper, but has discussed how it could allow the Union-Tribune to expand.
“Everyone is looking at it,” Manchester said. “It could add to our collection and it could be beneficial. We’re probably the logical buyers, but we haven’t met with anyone on it.”
Manchester and the Union-Tribune’s new CEO, John Lynch, have said they are interested in bringing in television and radio stations into two empty floors of the newspaper’s Mission Valley headquarters.
Buying the Times would give the Union-Tribune a stronger presence in North County and likely enable some consolidation between the two papers’ operations.
Since buying the Union-Tribune, Manchester has said he wants it to be a cheerleader for San Diego and hopes to increase the amount of positive news the paper reports. Lynch has attracted nationwide criticism for saying that he wanted the paper’s sports page to call out opponents to a new Chargers stadium as “obstructionists,” a comment from which he has since backed away.
The Times’ circulation has proven to be more resilient than the Union-Tribune’s in the last few years. Since 2004, the Union-Tribune has lost a third of its Sunday subscribers (some 150,000 readers), while the Times has lost about 15,000. Its Sunday edition, its most circulated, still has about 81,000 subscribers.
Rob Davis is a senior reporter at voiceofsandiego.org. You can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0529.
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