The U-T San Diego was sold recently to the Tribune Publishing Company, which owns the nearby Los Angeles Times. For those keeping score, this will be the paper's fourth owner in the past six years. And that kind of ownership turnover is not unusual when it comes to newspapers.
They're changing hands faster than the ink can dry on the contracts …
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The Minneapolis Star Tribune has had four owners since 2006. The Worcester Telegram & Gazette in Massachusetts was sold in 2014, which was the fourth time that happened in less than 18 months.
The Philadelphia Inquirer and its sister paper, the Daily News, holds the record, we believe. They've been sold five since times in the past decade.
Other newspapers are being sold or are on the auction block as they struggle to remain viable in the digital age. Advertising has plummeted, devaluing them greatly. The Boston Globe, for instance, was purchased by the New York Times Company for $1.1 billion in 1993. It sold it 2013 for $70 million to the owner of the Boston Red Sox, John Henry.
Indeed, rich guys buying up papers has been a trend. They can afford to lose money, and the bargain-basement prices are enticing. In San Diego, it was developer Doug Manchester who became the paper's owner. But he apparently didn't like playing Citizen Kane. After owning it for about three years, he sold the newspaper — sans the prime Mission Valley real estate it sits on— for $85 million. (He does like playing developer …)
Before that, Platinum Equity, a private equity firm, had purchased the paper from David Copley, whose family owned it for decades.
This is tough on staff, to say the least, as sometimes it results in layoffs. It did with Platinum, for instance.
“The changes in Philadelphia since 2006 have been brutal,” said Bill Ross, executive director of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia. “We have gone through a bankruptcy in 2009, and our now on our fifth owner. Our members have been through hell.”