Do Manchester, Lynch Read Economic News?

New Union-Tribune owner Papa Doug Manchester and his chief executive, John Lynch, discussed their plans for the newspaper today (Dec. 15) on KPBS Midday Edition.

Manchester, local hotelier, and Lynch, radio entrepreneur, have had their ups and downs in business, and one wonders if they read economic news. The most interesting statement today was "There is no way to report the news if there is lots of negativity associated with that news."

Sorry. There is no HONEST way to report economic and financial news today without emphasizing the negative. The U.S. is recovering very slowly from its deepest downturn since the Great Depression. Europe and its banks are on the brink of the abyss.

These events, and more frightening ones, dominate any RELIABLE financial news. You can see that in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, Bloomberg/Business Week, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones newswires, MarketWatch, Yahoo! financial, and TV business/financial news coverage.

In today's show, Manchester and Lynch reiterated their philosophy of cheerleading for local business and institutions and emphasizing sports. It appears that these biases are already showing up in business, sports, and Chargers stadium-subsidy stories in the U-T.

The publication Poynter reported today that the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future says that most print newspapers will be gone in five years. Unless the Manchester-Lynch philosophy attracts advertisers who only want happy talk (especially about themselves), the U-T print edition may not make it through those five years.

The rumor is also making the rounds that KUSI-TV will take over SignOnSanDiego, which will be located on the first floor of the Mission Valley building. KUSI-TV has been late in its development of its own website compared with other TV stations.

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What a shocker: Another right-winger (Mike McKinnon) joining up with Papa Doug. Will Rush Limbaugh next sign on as a special correspondent for KUSI and the U-T? Will Gingrich be writing editorials?

I think Michele Bachmann, with her law degree from Oral Roberts University, is perhaps most suitable for the U-T's editorial page. Best, Don Bauder

Oral Roberts does not have a law school (that I have heard of)......

ORU shut down its law school in 1986.

Do you suppose the quality of its graduates -- Bachmann in particular -- had anything to do with the shutdown? Best, Don Bauder

You may not have heard of the Oral Roberts law school, but, then, Bachmann may never have heard of you, SurfPup. Best, Don Bauder

Good point!

I did research the law shcool, it was shut down, and what was left was merged into and renamed Regents LS, a 4th tier toilet law school that is part of Regent University. They are infamous for having one of their pathetic graduates being connected into a high level position at DoJ under those idiots ashcroft and Gonzales, and SHE was the one that was disqualifying US Attorney and AUSA applicants based on their political affiliations!!!!! Goodling was involed with the Carol Lam canning too.

That is too funny, a Regents LS grad who could probably not litigate a small claims court case connected into a position of authority in the hiring and firing of the best lawyers and law grads in the nation!

If Manchester is really serious about stomping out negative reporting at the UT, he has provided a wonderful opening for investigative journalism at all other local news outlets, including, of course, the SD Reader. What a wonderful early Christmas present!

However, I think Manchester will ease up on his policy after a few months as being impractical. In the Internet age, not reporting on the bad economic news won't stop people from finding out. They will merely get that news from competitors. As a businessman, Manchester has to understand that reality.

Manchester also (hopefully) learned a "reality" after the LGBT community launched a successful protest/boycott against the Manchester Grand Hyatt, costing the hotel $millions in cancelled reservations.

Hopefully, that particular message did sink in. Best, Don Bauder

Au contraire, monsieur. The old, Copley-run U-T was constantly putting "happy face" spin on local events, and kept it up until David Copley wanted to salvage some little value out of the paper and sold it. Business exec after business exec over my lifetime was described as facing facts and doing what was necessary for the good of the business. Why then did so many firms and corporations fail? It was due to the execs riding the boat right over the falls, refusing to heed the information that was right in front of them.

Some folks just cannot reconcile themselves to the notion that there is bad news in the world, and that it is necessary to learn of it. They are the ones who want nothing but good news all the time, stuff that is fun and gratifying to read or hear or see. (Hence the popularity of pro sports and all the effort put into reporting them.) In the business world, the task of telling top management or ownership what they would rather not hear usually falls to the finance people. It is just in the nature of things that more financial info falls into the category of "bad" rather than "good" news. The smart execs heed the essence of the negatives in order to avoid pitfalls, and get their gratification from other sources. The dumb ones want their finance folks to report happiness, even when there is none. The lies of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were of that sort.

The Light News gets lighter with each passing day. Its future prospects are now bleaker than ever before.

You are correct. It seems to be a matter of psychological makeup. Some people just want to hear good news. Others revel in bad news. (Yours truly gets criticized for that.) News media should strike a balance, if only to appeal to both markets. But if Manchester and Lynch continue to slant the news to the happy side, sophisticated readers will soon realize it is an unreliable publication, particularly in today's environment. These are not happy times. Best, Don Bauder

Don't be so sure that the message with sink into Papa Doug's cranium. Remember, he bought the newspaper to propagandize for downtown legacy projects such as the Chargers stadium and, presumably, his own project on the waterfront. Those are front and center in his mind. The decline of the U-T will not be a high priority, especially for one who believes commercial real estate will come back. Best, Don Bauder

We had better be adapting to a frugal future. It's bubbles all the way down . . .

It's the bursting of bubbles that brings frugality. Best, Don Bauder

"The old, Copley-run U-T was constantly putting "happy face" spin on local events..."

I keep hearing that old stereotype repeated, but it always seemed to be something repeated by people who apparently didn't actually read the Union or Tribune.

From my own perspective I remember that when I was leading the 1990 campaign to prevent the takeover of SDG&E by Southern California Edison, the U&T certainly did not play along with SDG&E management, which wanted the takeover.

When I was Pete Wilson's campaign press secretary in 1988, the toughest coverage we got was from the San Diego Union's political writers: their coverage seemed to be based on bending over backwards to prove they were not showing favoritism to San Diego icon Wilson.

Every major newspaper has editorial boards and publishes its corporate opinion on the editorial pages, but my experience has been that San Diego Union and Tribune reporters were an independent lot not afraid to report stories that gave San Diego's establishment anything but a happy face.

Some of this anti-UT sentiment certainly dates back to the days when Jim Copley ran the papers, but he died 38 years ago, and despite his conservative legacy on the editorial board, San Diego has since elected such Democrats as DA Ed Miller, Congressmen Jim Bate and Bob Filner, and a slew of moderate Republicans to offices at all levels. Of course today we have a San Diego City Council that would give old Jim the fits. For a conservative, Navy town, we've elected darn few social conservatives over the past several decades.

But I now fear that the paternalistic boosterism of Papa Doug Manchester will take away the journalistic independence that UT reporters have practiced for many decades. I love newspapers, but I've decided to not renew my UT subscription: Papa Doug and Junior Lynch have already given ample reasons why they shouldn't get any money from me.

Bob, you will remember that you and I worked together when as financial editor and financial columnist for the Union I was opposing the takeover of SDGE by Southern California Edison. The late Charlie Ross and the late Ed Fike and I all wrote columns slamming Edison's attempted takeover, inept management, dishonest pronouncements, and the like. But the Union itself never took an editorial position until a day or so before the deal was thumbed down by regulators. The editorial board knew by then that the killing of the deal was a fait accompli. Until then there was silence from the editorial page, other than what Fike wrote under his own byline. I have always felt that Herb Klein had made some kind of deal with Edison. However, Helen Copley opposed the deal, and she trumped Klein. Mayor Maureen O'Connor also strongly opposed the deal, and she was Edison's toughest foe. Best, Don Bauder

From my own perspective I remember that when I was leading the 1990 campaign to prevent the takeover of SDG&E by Southern California Edison, the U&T certainly did not play along with SDG&E management, which wanted the takeover. == The ONLY act Mayor Mo can lay claim to that was of tremendous benefit to the City. I am glad you led that fight.

Disagree, SurfPup. I think Mayor Mo was a very good one in many respects. I remember when she knocked down a subsidized housing developer begging for a handout. In fact, I think she was the best mayor San Diego had in the almost 40 years I have been covering the region. Pete Wilson was most celebrated, but he sold out when he sought higher office. Best, Don Bauder

In fact, I think she was the best mayor San Diego had in the almost 40 years I have been covering the region. == Don, that is not really saying much considering who has been in the Mayors offfice.

Golding was a disaster, as was Murphy and KFC Sanders.............Hedgecock will not even be mentioned.

It is always interesting to hear another viewpoint. I was reading the Tribune daily from 1974 until it folded, and then have seen the U-T daily since then. You mention the So Cal Edison attempted takeover of SDGE. There was no way the U-T could make all its constituency happy, because the establishment was vigorously opposed to losing the headquarters of the largest local NYSE-traded corporation. The bigwigs could always bully the dolts who ran SDGE, and also knew they would not fare so well with the sharks in LA who ran SCE. In that contest, someone had to get the short end of the stick.

As far as Pete Wilson goes, his early moves had the locals seeing him as a liberal. He wanted "smart" orderly growth, and no repeats of the leapfrog developments of Mira Mesa and Penasquitos. So, by 1975 when he was up for reelection, he was branded a slow-growther or a no-growther. Add that to the fact that he faced down the police union over pay and benefits (sound familiar?), and he didn't look Republican or booster or anything the Copley papers would like. It is more likely that he had not kissed up to the Union and Tribune over the years, and the editorial board remembered that when they asked their questions and stated their opinions.

For a very long time, the U-T organization just didn't dig out local corruption, and didn't report on it until it could no longer be ignored. The U-T probably had the resources to deal with C. Arnholt Smith and didn't do it until the Wall Street Journal exposed him.

I'll stand by my generalization.

The Wall Street Journal expose of C. Arnholt Smith was in 1969, I believe. The Copley organization did absolutely nothing to go after Smith even after the organized crime task force began going after him and Alessio in the early 1970s. The Copley papers continued to lick Smith's boots even after the SEC and bank regulators had moved into the investigation by 1973, when I arrived. Smith was close personally to the Copley clan. I can personally attest to this; I have the scars to prove it. Early in my tenure in 1973 I wrote a column saying that Smith's banks would be seized. I caught holy hell and the next day a column appeared under my byline, with my picture, saying what a wonderful bank it was. I never knew who wrote that col. A month later the bank was seized. Best, Don Bauder

It will be interesting to see if the California Coastal Commission can prevail in its strong opposition to the butt-ugly Manchester Pacific Gateway/Broadway Complex. Hmmm, I wonder if the U-T editorial board will favor the project 100 percent. Manchester's view of things seems to parallel GM's old CEO Charles Wilson: What's good for Manchester is good for the City of San Diego. And that's obviously bogus.

Let's put this question in a much broader perspective. One of the reasons for the 2007-2009 Great Recession (from which we have barely, if at all, recovered) is that very few journalists, securities analysts, economists, academicians et al saw the tsunami coming, and warned of a possible chain reaction. Chief executives worldwide isolate themselves in beautiful offices and refuse to listen to critics or Cassandras. Ditto for politicians and bureaucrats. Nobody wants to hear bad news. But any intelligent enterprise does downside planning -- that is, what do we do if all this sweetness and light doesn't eventuate? Few warned Wall Street that the proliferation of derivatives was a time bomb. Few told the housing industry, and Wall Street, that housing prices might come down -- in fact, come down hard, as they did. (San Diego knew all too well that housing prices could come down; yet the San Diego bubble was one of the worst ones.) Few warned how the securitization of mortgages, and the worldwide peddling of derivatives based thereon, was a hydrogen bomb that could go off. People need to hear bad news and they need to hear about the possibility of bad news. But don't tell Manchester and Lynch; they are happy living in their little bubble. Best, Don Bauder

C. Arnholt Smith's daughter wound up homeless in her twilight years and lived in her car for a time. She got off the streets by obtaining a job as caregiver to an elderly couple in exchange for room and board.

Yes, and his daughter would call me once in awhile to scream that my coverage of her father was biased. C. Arnholt himself was borrowing money right up to his death. Best, Don Bauder

The expose on the Nixon Administration's efforts to stop the criminal investigations of C. Arnholt Smith was published in the 3/24/72 edition of LIFE Magazine. GOOGLE books has the article. David Stutz was the investigator who got the ball rolling.


Yes, David Stutz as a major investigator in the organized crime task force was key in the investigation of Smith and the bank/conglomerate fraud. Smith's "empire" was based on a bunch of phony deals among cronies. Stutz uncovered much of that. I wrote a piece for the Reader in 2003, I believe it was, highlighting that Life Magazine article, the relationship of Smith with Nixon, the attempts by one local reporter in a street publication to get out the truth during the 1960s, Stutz's yeoman work, etc. The Copley papers continued to massage Smith, although the bank's failure in 1973, along with revelations by regulators and criminal prosecutors, cooled off that snug relationship. Best, Don Bauder

Don -- when a publisher enters a Catholic confessional, I wonder if what is shared with the priest is good news or bad news. Seriously though, trying to repackage old-fashioned boosterism as a "good news" editorial strategy seems silly. Here are the good-news stories I would focus on -- how the regular folks without megabucks are surviving and how now they realize that they were royally screwed, including a heavy dose of 99 percent news. Here's the bad-news stories I would cover -- how the folks who screwed the rest of us try to rationalize their greed and deceptions.

On another note, I would have been very angry if something I never wrote or endorsed appeared under my byline. Stories sometimes are extensively rewritten and key points edited out, but writing something from scratch without your knowledge and attributing it to you sounds a bit too much. So much for journalistic integrity from the decision makers. Anyway . . .

Merry Christmas!!! to you.

"Oh journalist, Oh journalist . . . " (sung to the tune of "oh tannenbaum, oh tannenbaum.")

The blatant boosterism under Copley control worked with some people, such as many advertisers, but backfired with sophisticated readers. Back in the late 1970s and in the early 1980s, I wrote letters to both Helen Copley and Hubert Kaltenbach, the president, showing how the combined market shares of the Union and Tribune lagged the shares of papers in similar markets. I think that the boosterism, and hence credibility, was one reason, but I didn't mention that, I must confess. I hadn't been in San Diego long and didn't feel secure enough to do that. I believe the boosterism continued, in more muted tones, under Platinum Equity. Now Manchester and Lynch are not only returning to that model, but talking openly about it. I believe it is a bad mistake, but perhaps San Diegans have become so accustomed to sweetness and light that they want happy talk. This proclivity, incidentally, is one reason that San Diego is a scam haven. Crooks see the county as a great place to fleece the populace.

As to being handed a column that was to be run under my byline and mug, you are right: I was mad. But if I had said a word, I would have been fired. I swallowed my pride and professional ethics and kept my mouth shut. Best, Don Bauder

Today's crooks make me miss C. Arnholt Smith. He may have plundered city land for sweetheart deals, such as the Stadium and Fashion Valley, but the city didn't go out of pocket, and the development wasn't an ugly flop. With the Ballpark, Liberty Station, Manchester's planned row of skyscrapers and the proposed Stadium at Crack Central, the City bankrupts itself for idiotic projects that aren't worth the sunlight they block.

C. Arnholt swindled the City, but he didn't bankrupt it. When i think of the chicanery since then, and how typical he was, perhaps he earned the title Mr. San Diego.

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