Manchester Purchase of North County Times Complete

San Diego's largest newspaper has completed its purchase of the North County Times, U-T San Diego announced Monday.

The U-T San Diego owners, Manchester Lynch Integrated Media Holdings, say the new product will combine the two papers' content and resources, but may result in as many as 100 layoffs at the North County paper.

The company also finalized the sale of The Californian in Southwest Riverside County.

Employees were informed of the purchase last month after the San Diego Business Journal reported the impending sale. The paper's parent company, Lee Enterprises, agreed to sell the newspaper and digital media operations to San Diego entrepreneur Doug Manchester.

Manchester, referred to as "Papa Doug" by co-workers and friends, also owns several hotels throughout San Diego. He has attracted criticism as publisher of the U-T, printing front-page editorials on political endorsements and development plans.

The announcement Monday stated that combining the two papers resulted in an excess of 100 positions. In an effort to eliminate the redundancies, some if not all of those employees will be given severance packages and career transition training.

The statement did not specify exactly what the new North County Times paper would look like, or if it would remain consistent with U-T branding. Some elements of the U-T may appear in the new North County product, such as the business, lifestyle and watchdog coverage, the statement read.

“While we understand it is a change for current North County Times readers, we asked readers about their preferences for the content of the paper and will design a product that contains the elements readers have identified as high value,” said Doug Manchester, publisher of U-T San Diego, in a statement.

The North County Times' editor Kent Davy will no longer be working for the company, according to KPBS. Davy wrote in a final column for the NCT that he has no regrets regarding the purchase of the paper and hopes readers will give the new management a chance.

Lee Enterprises revealed the purchase price as $11,950,000. The paper’s 170 employees, including those working out of satellite offices, heard the formal announcement and few other details about how the paper will look in the future.

The news was concerning to many members of the community worried about the reach of Manchester throughout the county.

"The North County Times has been an important second voice in the county and you're putting that voice under Doug Manchester," said Voice of San Diego reporter Rob Davis. "He has significant political power owning both papers."

MLIM LLC, owned by Manchester Lynch, purchased the Union Tribune in November 2011.

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