There is a growing worry that the falling value and failing business models of many American newspapers could lead to a situation where moneyed interests buy papers and use them to prosecute a political and commercial agenda.
That future appears to have arrived in San Diego, where The U-T San Diego, the daily newspaper bought by the local developer and hotelier Douglas F. Manchester, often seems like a brochure for his various interests.
Mr. Manchester is anti-big government, anti-tax and anti-gay marriage. And he’s in favor of a remade San Diego centered around a new downtown waterfront stadium and arena.
Public agencies that have not gotten the hint have found themselves investigated in the news pages of The U-T. A sports columnist who was skeptical of the plans found himself out of a job, and the newspaper has published front-page editorials and wraparound sections to promote political allies who share its agenda. According to several employees at the paper, a feature called “Making a Difference” has included flattering profiles of many of Mr. Manchester’s associates.
The oddest part? Mr. Manchester and the chief executive, John T. Lynch, who also owns part of the paper, are completely open about their motives.
“We make no apologies,” Mr. Lynch said by telephone on Friday. “We are doing what a newspaper ought to do, which is to take positions. We are very consistent — pro-conservative, pro-business, pro-military — and we are trying to make a newspaper that gets people excited about this city and its future.”
— “Is the New York Times a Liberal Newspaper? Of course it is” — Daniel Okrent, the New York Times, July 25, 2004.