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Why Manchester Bought the Union-Tribune

Doug Manchester, the Union-Tribune’s new owner, wants the paper
to promote a new Chargers stadium.

 

Doug Manchester, the new owner and publisher of The San Diego Union-Tribune, wants his new media outlet to be a booster.

The newspaper’s new CEO, John Lynch, made that clear in an interview with me after Manchester bought the paper Nov. 17. Lynch said he wanted the newspaper’s sports page to advocate for a new Chargers stadium and call out opponents as obstructionists. He’s since revisited those remarks, telling a Union-Tribune reporter that he was “acutely aware” of the importance of an independent newsroom.

Manchester, the downtown hotelier, hasn’t said much publicly. He did this week, though, explaining his motivation for buying the paper in a KUSI interview. In his comments, he made it clear that politics played a role.

“Local newspapers need to be a cheerleader for what’s right and good for the country, such as promoting the new stadium or whatever,” Manchester told KUSI anchors. “I felt that there’s been a lack of that here in San Diego. And so that’s one of the motivations.”

It’s particularly noteworthy that the only issue he identified by name was the Chargers stadium. Lynch did the same in my interview with him.

A few other takeaways from the KUSI interview:

• Lynch suggested that SignOnSanDiego.com, the newspaper’s website, may change. “There’s no reason why we can’t make SignOnSanDiego — or whatever it becomes — one of the greatest sites in the history of the world,” Lynch said.

• Manchester said the purchase wasn’t about the real estate the Union-Tribune’s headquarters sits on in Mission Valley. “There is valuable real estate. But we certainly didn’t buy it for the real estate by any means,” he said.

• Lynch outlined two roles for the newspaper: Cheerleader and watchdog. “We want to be a real player in this city in terms of being actively supporting what’s good, holding people accountable when you reach the San Diego malaise,” he said.

• Manchester addressed the cosmetic changes to the newspaper’s front page: Its new motto (The World’s Greatest Country & America’s Finest City) and a slightly larger American flag logo. “That obviously was by design,” Manchester said. “Both John and I love this country and love this city. And we want to promote both of them.”

Here’s video of the interview.

Rob Davis is a senior reporter at voiceofsandiego.org. You can contact him directly at rob.davis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0529.

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