LA Times owner buys UT-San Diego for $85 million - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

LA Times owner buys UT-San Diego for $85 million

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The U-T San Diego newspaper was sold to Tribune Publishing Thursday for $85 million in a deal expected to close in a few weeks.

Tribune Publishing -- which operates the Los Angeles Times -- will consider changing the 146-year-old newspaper's name back to the traditional San Diego Union-Tribune, according to the report.

Austin Beutner, the Times publisher and CEO, told U-T San Diego that a regional operating organization, the California News Group, would run both newspapers as separate brands with different newsrooms.

"San Diego Union-Tribune will retain editorial independence, providing an authentic voice that reflects the diversity of the state and the distinct values of our communities," Beutner said. "I also know the Los Angeles Times will benefit with a closer connection to its older sibling down south."

Beutner will serve as publisher and chief executive for both papers, as well as the California News Group, according to Tribune Publishing.

It's been reported for about a year that U-T San Diego publisher Doug Manchester has been looking to sell San Diego's major daily newspaper, and Tribune had emerged recently as the most likely buyer.

Manchester, a real estate developer and hotel owner, purchased the paper four years ago. He later acquired the North County Times and a group of community newspapers and folded them into U-T San Diego operations. The community papers were included in the sale.

A bid by U-T San Diego to start a 24-7 television news operation proved to be unsuccessful, though the newspaper still produces individual video news reports.

Tribune Publishing also agreed to assume U-T San Diego's pension liability, which a report by Harvard University's Nieman Journalism Lab estimated to be about $100 million.

The report did say the sale does not include U-T San Diego's Mission Valley headquarters.

Before the sale, Tribune Publishing had eight metropolitan dailies, making it the fourth-largest newspaper chain in the U.S. However, revenues in the company's most recent quarter fell 4.9 percent, according to Ken Doctor, who covers the business of journalism.

Beutner said the company will be able to reduce costs, combine resources and share stories, photos, video and other content, according to U-T San Diego

"That's our comparative advantage ... we have more voices and more content, and that's how we win in a digital world," Beutner said in an interview by U-T San Diego before the announcement. "We compete by having the best content."

He said most people won't notice the changes.

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