U-T San Diego Sold

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NiemanLab has an article out on then-rumored (but now confirmed and  imminent) sale of my former employer, the U-T San Diego (formerly the San Diego Union-Tribune) to Tribune Publishing, the owner of the Los Angeles Times, among other papers.

The majority of the article is your standard inside-baseball media story, but every time something like this happens you feel for former colleagues who are potentially affected by the almost certain “streamlining” (read: layoffs) of the operation.

What struck me about this article, however, was the last bullet item in the story.

Finally, there’s the political angle. “Papa Doug” Manchester and his associate John Lynch define themselves by their conservatism, an important strand of San Diego culture.

Beutner’s L.A. Times, though, is proving itself out to be a liberal force in L.A., and he would presumably bring that perspective to San Diego. The days of by-the-old-book, down-the-middle objective journalism are clearly numbered overall, with Southern California now a prime case history in the reinvention of the local news business. [emphasis in original]

I’m sorry, but the days of down-the-middle, objective journalism are long gone. Have been for the better part of a decade at least. If you think that the U-T’s newsroom is conservative, then you’re just flat-out wrong.

It will be interesting to see if the Tribune Publishing purchase means a change of editorial direction at the paper. As media has fractured and proliferated with the Internet, blogs and online-only media outlets, many liberal readers long ago abandoned the U-T, getting their local news from the likes of Voice of San Diego and everything else from Politico, Salon, etc.

The paper also lost a few readers when the editorial page debuted an online section called “Seeing Red” before the 2012 election that focused on conservative media and blogs. (It was a section that I edited.)

Will those readers return if the paper turns leftward? Will the number of readers who do return outnumber the conservative readers who throw in the towel? Time will tell.

In the meantime, I wish all of my former colleagues the best of luck in surviving the bloodletting that will soon come.

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