Manchester buys more San Diego papers

Mainstreet Communications, umbrella over eight publications

Doug Manchester, owner of U-T San Diego, is continuing his monopolization of San Diego print media.

According to the La Jolla Patch, Manchester's U-T has purchased Mainstreet Communications, which includes the La Jolla Light, the Del Mar Times, Poway News Chieftain, Rancho Bernardo & 4S Ranch Journal, Solana Beach Sun, Carmel Valley News, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Ramona Sentinel.

The sale is expected to close Monday and the price was not disclosed. U-T chief executive John Lynch said the purchase was part of the strategy to broaden hyerlocal coverage.

The eight weekly papers have a combined circulation of 99,431, according to U-T San Diego.

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How much value is there in these free local weeklies? Am I missing something? Aren't those just the annoying small papers wrapped in plastic that get dumped in your driveway whether you want them or not, on their way to your recycling bin?

Matt101: I don't know about the other papers, but I believe the La Jolla Light is a good local publication. I hope it remains that way. I don't think these are shoppers or semi-shoppers. Best, Don Bauder

Will Dougie be adding the circulation totals for these papers to the dwindling numbers of the Manchester U-T? The numbers would look so much better...

aardvark: I doubt that he could add weeklies to his Alliance for Audited Media totals, which are set up for daily numbers. However, when the U-T makes claims about its reach, I suppose it could add in the weeklies. Best, Don Bauder

Don - More kitty-litter-box-liner. Wanted to tell you Aguirre has 2 votes from my house. Anybody else makes me wanna baarrffandgag. Maybe the nerds will be voting and make it real. We can dream Donny.

shirleyberan: Newspapers are perfect for the bottom of bird cages. I was told that putting my columns at the bottom of bird cages had cured a countywide outbreak of canary constipation. Best, Don Bauder

No doubt a rumor spread by a parroting gossip-monger.


by Duhbya

Duhbya: Once again, you are absolutely correct. A+. Best, Don Bauder

Don: Maybe true, but the canaries were smarter for it, assuming they read the columns before depositing on them.

aardvark: I don't know that the canaries got any smarter. Most, after being cured of constipation, were lowered into coal mines. Best, Don Bauder

If the boys handle this the way they went about integrating the North County Times into the Mill, all of that circulation will be lost. Except for the La Jolla Light, I doubt that any of that circulation was paid. But looking at the names of the papers, all except the one in Ramona are in upscale areas and coastal. Many of the folks who live in that affluent area really like having a local paper. It offers the chance to get their names and photos in the paper and get news of pleasant happenings printed. Then small local boutique advertisers can afford to put ads in the small paper.

If D & J decide to attempt to just tell the readers in those areas that the Mill will add all the local "good stuff", and that they can get it there, nothing good will come of this. Maybe they learned from the miserable takeover of the NCT that they cannot just shut them down. Unless, of course, that is the reason for buying them.

Here in No County, two of my neighbors who live behind me up a long driveway once were NCT subscribers. Neither now gets the Mill. Multiply that distaste for the loss of a local paper a thousand or ten thousand times, and we can see why folding NCT into the Mill had no positive effect on paid circulation.

Visduh: The U-T obviously lost a lot of readers after it bought the North County Times. That show up in the Alliance for Audited Media statistics. If the U-T tries to cut back on personnel and news coveage for these weeklies, the same thing will happen. It may happen even if the U-T does not make those changes.

The U-T is trying to reach an audience that is dwindling markedly. Best, Don Bauder

I advertise my small business in local community papers and when the UT bought the North County Times and essentially shut it down, it resulted in the loss of a major advertising outlet in north San Diego and southwestern Riverside counties. Advertising in the UT after that was more expensive and far less effective, so I had to stop doing it.

I cannot tell you how happy I was to see that none of the community papers I still adveetise in are on the list of the UT's latest purchases!

The UT has been calling offering three days of weekly delivery (including the Sunday paper) for 56 cents a week which also includes a digital subscription. That's essentially giving the paper away.

As a newspaper executive, John Lynch makes a good radio salesman.

Bob: Yes, the U-T is aggressively slashing prices to sell its product. I hear regularly about people who drop the paper but it continues being delivered. Also, people call to drop the paper and are offered a stunningly low price to continue the subscription.

Current subscribers might be wise to call up and request cancellation, and see what kind of a deal is offered. Best, Don Bauder

Lynch isn't even a good radio salesman--after he brought in investors to help him with his radio "empire", they eventually told him and his daughter to basically go away.

aardvark: And the matter went to court. Best, Don Bauder

Don: Is that still in progress, or was it settled? I don't recall.

aardvark: I think it is in the past, but really don't know. Best, Don Bauder

I think a year from now the La Jolla Light will be the only of the eight still in bidness. The others will not make it financially. Papa John will proclaim the papers have failed buisness models and can't be turned around.

Burwell: Since I don't know much about the other papers, I can't comment on that. But it wouldn't surprise me. Best, Don Bauder

This is all about enlarging Manchester's GOP biased MSM viewpoint in and around San Diego.

One has only to try and find public debate about key issues in San Diego's Mayoral race to realize that voters are being force fed crapola instead of anything approaching real news... which is why air time and mailers are being used to wage this political campaign, instead of actual debate that includes actual questions from the audience that have not been approved by the candidates!

I would not be a bit surprised to find that the Koch Brothers are enabling Manchester to further extend his MSM reach...

CaptD: True: San Diegans are not hearing about the critical issues in the mayoral race. This is a result of consolidation and alliances among mainstream media.

Koch brothers? Don't think some sharp eyes aren't looking into that. Best, Don Bauder

I predict that the San Diego Reader will replace the UT as THE go to source for local news that does not include either Sports and/or T&A fluff articles about the areas wealthy!

I bet Manchester has already made offers for the Reader, if so perhaps someone can describe those talks, which would make a great followup to this article!

CaptD: Our owner/publisher/editor Jim Holman has confirmed publicly that the U-T has inquired about buying the Reader. Jim has expressed no interest in such a transaction. Best, Don Bauder

Mega SALUTE to Mr. Jim Holman for being the person he is! I'd like to shake his hand... and I bet many others would like to do the same!

CaptD: Jim has integrity. I can vouch for that. And I would not say that about other editors I have worked for over 50 years. Best, Don Bauder

I find it a bit interesting that on Sign On San Diego, the comments to the story trumpeting the purchase of those 8 local papers have mysteriously disappeared. A little censorship, perhaps?

Just noticed that myself ~ there are 2 comments on there but when one goes to click on them the comments do not appear. BTW with Doug buying all these newspapers up would this not be considered a monopoly? Which the last time I checked was not allowed

My comment (which was 1 of the 2) asked why no papers were purchased south of I-8. Must have been too touchy for the Doug and John show. Or would that be dog and pony show?

aardvark: The money is concentrated north of I-8 but the news right now is dominated by the corruption in South County. Best, Don Bauder

PowayMike: For many years, the federal antitrust authorities have been very lenient with media mergers and acquisitions.

That is particularly true with newspapers. However, I share your reservations. How many papers in one market can one company gobble up? Best, Don Bauder

aardvark: Sounds like it. Do you remember the thrust of the comments that were removed? If so, I would like you to share your memories with us. If the comments were removed, it wouldn't have been the first time. Best, Don Bauder

Don: I don't remember the other comment, but I don't think it was too nasty. Apparently the Manchester U-T is getting a wee bit sensitive.

aardvark: The U-T's circulation -- both print and digital -- is not doing well. So Papa Doug and his minions are more than a little bit sensitive, I would suspect. Best, Don Bauder comments were removed. Their text is below.

"A little censorship...." No. A lot of censorship. I follow the messages on U-T stories and believe me, the get deleted. They sometimes changes the story heading and delete all the messages. They also ban or blackball certain posters. My posts don't show up anymore under a real Facebook account. So even though I am "all-in" with my identity, my comments are suppressed. This Manchester/U-T thing is the biggest farce I have witnessed in San Diego in 30 years.

Ponzi: I don't follow many U-T stories, and therefore seldom look at the comments. Having viewed your trenchant comments on the Reader site, I believe what you say. I will have to start following U-T comments and how they seem to disappear. Best, Don Bauder

It appears that this story has magically disappeared from the main page of the Sign On San Diego website. You would have thought a story that was such big news (for the Manchester U-T, at least) would have stayed visible for at least a few days. Maybe someone there has seen The Reader's numerous comments on this story, and they are hoping it just goes away. Those boys really do have some thin skin.

The U-T is not journalism. It's not even yellow journalism. It's just a playground for Doug Manchester to spread lies. Doug Manchester is comfortable with lying and he's now doing his pathological lying on a grand scale.

Ponzi: Manchester bought the U-T to propagandize for corporate welfare projects that would line his pockets, and also to enhance his real estate portfolio. This has become very obvious. Best, Don Bauder

aardvark: Yes, I would think that story would have stayed around for some time. This suggests that you are absolutely right: the U-T is hypersensitive about its sinking circulation and reputation. Best, Don Bauder

Today's report in the Mill indicated that there will be a new management group to publish those papers, implying to me that they intend to continue publishing them. But what happens when a writer, previously a tiny bit critical of UT reporting or policies, wants to say something that is construed as demeaning? Doubtless the story will be suppressed or the comment edited out, and then the writer is warned. Any sort of editorial competition between those papers and the Mill will cease.

I'm just wondering how many changes of ownership there have been at the La Jolla Light. It was one of the papers bought up in the early 70's when Harte-Hanks made its move to challenge Coplley dominance. They actually put together a fairly strong group of local papers in the county, but they didn't go for No County. After all the effort and investment, the papers they produced were major disappointments in most cases (the Light may have been an exception) and actually should have embarrassed Harte-Hanks. How many other owners have had the Light since then?

The Del Mar Times, La Jolla Light and others are just mirrors on paper for the mutual admiration society of the affluent. They are actually decent little local organs for sharing neighborhood news and keeping up the local spirit. But Manchester's record with the U-T and North County Times is any evidence, those papers will be ruined. Most have locals that contribute stories more on a basis of pride than money... Those people will probably leave. I can only figure that he's trying to buy up press in order to monopolize the news. Shows how ignorant Manchester and his yes-men are neglecting the migration of news to the internet. It's funny watching Manchester chasing all the falling knives.

Ponzi: I do think Manchester's management is trying hard to utilize the other non-print platforms. I don't know if they have such plans for these weeklies, but I suspect they do.

However, the current management of the U-T manifested stunning hubris in firing Tim Sullivan and Tom Blair. Will such insensitivity to the market continue? I suspect so. Is it a secret death wish? Best, Don Bauder

I agree with you about those papers. Many other local efforts, both of the paid and the free distribution variety, have gone by the wayside in recent years. And many were doing a really good job of reporting local goings-on, yet they went under or out of business often because as the population grew the readership did not. I remember the woebegone Vista Press, that had its roots in the 20's or even earlier, as I watched it become almost a parody of a real newspaper before just closing up for good in the late 90's. That was a story repeated across the county with a large batch of papers. Oh, then in the north coast area, there was the chain of papers owned by the Hicks family. Their flagship publication was the Coast Dispatch, but they had different mastheads for Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, and Carlsbad. Around 1980 it appeared that those papers were like a license to print money, but by the early 1990's they were gone. Oddly enough, not everyone who receives those papers loves them. I do recall some long-time residents of Encinitas who called the Hicks paper the "Coast Disgrace." Inaccurate reports and slanted reports are not limited to the bigger papers.

Visduh: Correct. The smaller, so-called hyperlocal papers can slant the news like the big dailies. One way they do it is to avoid any negative news about the fat cats in town and about advertisers. Best, Don Bauder

Visduh: I had not read that story about change of management at those papers. Frankly, this should be a little scary for those who read those papers for local news.

I don't know how many owners the Light has had, but from what I have seen, it is a good publication. Best, Don Bauder

Another story in the Manchester U-T is singing the praises of Dougie getting an award from the Nice Guys group--and has also had the 6 comments for the story removed and the comment feature again disabled. Dude is getting way too sensitive.

Oh yeah, they ran a double full page color spread to sing Dougie's praises. When you own the paper, it really doesn't cost that much to add a couple pages to the paper you're already producing. Humility isn't part of his makeup in the slightest. He's determined to be a legend in his own time (he already is one in his own mind.) So, a few folks made Facebook postings that were not flattering and they took them down? I'm not surprised, and that's sort of funny. But then we also can cry for what that rag has become.

Some of the posts were flattering, but they all went away. The article itself is getting harder to find.

What day did it run? I may still have it in the paper recycling bin. I have to say that I glanced at it, chuckled, and then went on to NEWS (such as it appears in the Mill.)

I found the full spread in yesterday's (Saturday, 11/2) edition on pages A10 and A11. As to a news piece on the same subject (Dougie's honor as Nice Guy of the Year for 2013), I seem to recall one, but haven't found it in print yet. I'll keep looking.

aardvark: Mercifully, the article I saw was not very long. But I am told that the ad inside the paper ran across two full pages. Best, Don Bauder

I'm one of the posters that had my comments deleted. I've put the text of each post at the bottom of this thread.

aardvark: There was not only a story about that award. I understand the U-T ran a double-truck ad spread across two pages congratulating its own publisher for receiving the award. Among those singing the praises of Papa Doug in that ad was John Lynch, the chief executive of the U-T.

This is an embarrassment to San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

The whole operation is and has been an embarrassment to San Diego. Manchester has turned it into a house organ for his ego, ambitions and avarice.

Visduh: I am afraid you are right. The U-T has become a tout machine for Papa Doug and the self-aggrandizing projects he favors. Best, Don Bauder

aardvark: If they truly had sensitivity, they wouldn't have run the two-page ad lauding the publisher. Best, Don Bauder

I posted comments to the Nice Guy story. Deleted several times. The text of my comment is below.

Wonder if he wants to buy the gay papers too and convince the readers that marriage is bad for them?

HellcatCopley: Remember that when he gave big bucks to an anti-gay campaign, his hotel got picketed and boycotted, and he caved in. Best, Don Bauder

Since the UT sells papers in all the areas mentioned, it's difficult to see the business sense in the move, perhaps Douglas Manchester doesn't understand that he can't buy advertising access to the demographic of those repulsed by Douglas Manchester. This perhaps is one more proof of Franklin's first law of economics: "A fool and his money are soon parted.".

Psycholizard: The U-T sells DAILY papers in those areas. He is buying WEEKLIES that concentrate entirely on local news. So it may work...unless he makes the same kinds of changes he made at the U-T and the former North County Times. Best, Don Bauder

I made comments to both the UT's "Hyper Local" coverage of itself AND Manchester's "Nice Guy" award. Both were deleted. I re-posted them, and both were subsequently removed. Here is my short post for the UT''s buying up several local community newspapers and then heralding the news, in essence covering itself: "The San Diego Union-Tribune reporting on itself is, at best, self-serving self promotion and, at worst, a blatant conflict of interest. " And here is my comment about Manchester's nonstop streak of self-promotion: "Joan Kroc gave millions of dollars to charities over the years, often anonymously and with specific instructions to avoid the limelight. The far-reaching extent of her philanthropy wasn't completely known until after her death. I can't help but compare Doug Manchester's vomitous nonstop self-promotion to that. It's pathetic to campaign publicly to be liked, accompanied by the constant trumpeting of the UT's Public Relations machine, instead of simply letting your good deeds speak for themselves". Both comments are still currently up as of 5pm Nov 4. I'd be surprised if they are still online on the UT'S website tomorrow.

Why don't you tell how you really feel? "Vomitous nonstop self-promotion." And you think they might take exception to that when the Fearless Leader and Publisher-for-Life, Kim-il-Doug is criticized? In running that double-truck, color, full page splash, the paper sank to new lows. In the (not so) good old days, the Copleys had enough taste to avoid such flagrant displays. Their displays were subtle, attempted to be tasteful, and still infuriated many local folks. What are these in-your-face pieces of promotion doing many local readers? Can't say, but the readership is a ghost of what it was ten or twenty years ago, and this sort of misuse of a publishing platform isn't helping at all.

So.....did you like what I wrote or not? I'm confused.

SDLono: Visduh obviously liked what you wrote...very much. I have never heard the word "vomitous" but it fits in very nicely. Best, Don Bauder

Visduh: I agree. This kind of self-promotion is embarrassingly gauche. I also don't think it will succeed as the U-T obviously thinks it will. It will turn off three times as many people as it impresses. Best, Don Bauder

SDLono: Those are very perceptive comments you made. I am glad you made them here. I hope all of those who had comments removed by the U-T pass them (or something like them) on to the Reader. You are right on Joan Kroc, and the comparison with Manchester is very observant. Best, Don Bauder

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