Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008 | Two months after it put itself up for sale, The San Diego Union-Tribune has been courted by four major suitors. One’s premier property is a famous Gray Lady. Two are run by larger-than-life CEOs who send their newsroom employees running for the Excedrin. And the fourth is a little-known dark horse from Canada whose name is mud in Akron.
All the companies — New York Times Co., MediaNews Group, Tribune Co. and Black Press, Ltd. — would have to overcome major financial hurdles in order to buy the U-T, which announced in July that it’s up for sale. The entire newspaper industry is in a major slump, and the economy’s credit crunch could make it impossible for the companies to borrow the money needed for the purchase.
Another complication: some local businesspeople are said to have their eyes on the paper, although none of them would confirm their interest to voiceofsandiego.org.
Then there’s the state of the U-T itself: Would a newspaper company even want this property? The U-T has suffered from sliding circulation and rapid declines in advertising, and some of its most talented and well-known journalists have left during rounds of buyouts.
On the other hand, the U-T’s dire straits are hardly unusual in the newspaper industry. And despite its troubles, the U-T is attracting interest: The four newspaper companies have all been in contact with U-T executives about a possible purchase, according to a source familiar with the proceedings.
Officials at Black Press and MediaNews didn’t respond to requests for comment. Spokespersons for Tribune Co. and New York Times Co. declined to comment. U-T officials have been mum about the sale since the paper announced it was on the block. A company spokesman wasn’t immediately available for comment Tuesday.