U-T San Diego to combine with Los Angeles Times

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SAN DIEGO — U-T San Diego  has been purchased by Tribune Publishing, owner of the Los Angeles Times, for $85 million.

Tribune Publishing, which operates the Los Angeles Times, will consider changing the 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.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 4.02.22 PMIt’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.

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.

An earlier report carried by Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab, which said the sale was imminent, added that Tribune Publishing would also assume U-T San Diego’s pension liability of about $100 million. The report on the sale by U-T San Diego did not confirm whether that was the case.

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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