Critics ask: is Manchester's U-T just a prop for Holman's Reader?

Connection between papers suggested in wake of weekly's move and sale of its Little Italy headquarters

"I first got the notion when I was reading the U-T piece on the Reader's decision to sell its little piece of Little Italy and move to Golden Hill," explains former CityBeat rumor-monger Scuttle Butt, who now consults with digital news outlets on disaster preparedness. "In the story, [Reader owner Jim] Holman said, 'I'm not that much of hip person. But the Reader has that kind of cache...' Clearly, Holman actually said, 'a hip person' and 'cachet.' But apparently, neither the writer nor the editor nor the copyeditor at the U-T could be bothered to get the quote right. I thought, 'The U-T is a major metropolitan daily newspaper. How is this possible?' Then I thought, 'Wait a minute. Is the U-T a major metropolitan daily newspaper?'"

Butt says the pieces fell into place with disturbing ease. "It's simple. You can't be an alternative weekly newspaper unless there's a mainstream daily. The Reader needs the U-T in order to exist. But that's not to say it needs the U-T to be a real newspaper - you know, with professional standards and whatnot. All it needs is something in print. Actually, the dumber and shoddier it is, the better."

"Then I started thinking: who owns the U-T? Papa Doug Manchester, a Catholic who has backed conservative political causes like Prop 8. Who owns the Reader? Jim Holman, a Catholic who has backed conservative political causes like parental notification on abortion. Is there really any chance that these two guys don't know each other? Isn't it in fact much more likely that they would be partners on a media venture, as opposed to rivals?"

As of press time, Butt has been unable to establish any hard proof of a business association between Manchester and Holman. "But every time [Reader political writer] Don Bauder takes a shot at the U-T's laughable coverage of this or that city issue, my certainty grows: Jim Holman is the real owner of U-T San Diego. And Manchester is the real force behind the weekly's real-estate maneuvers."

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This is brilliant on levels that, unfortunately, most of San Diego won't be able to grasp.

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