La Jolla Light is sold to Alden Global Capital as part of purchase of San Diego Union-Tribune
Alden is the parent company of MediaNews Group, which runs Southern California newspapers including the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News and Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Los Angeles billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong has sold The San Diego Union-Tribune and the U-T Community Press newspapers, including the La Jolla Light, to an affiliate of MediaNews Group for an undisclosed amount.
Denver-based MediaNews Group is owned by Alden Global Capital, which owns roughly 200 publications, including the Chicago Tribune. Alden is the second-largest newspaper publisher in the country, behind Gannett.
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MediaNews Group is the parent company of the Southern California News Group papers, among them the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News and Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Phyllis Pfeiffer, publisher of Union-Tribune Community Press, said, “The Light has experienced multiple ownership changes and always comes through strong.”
The Union-Tribune was sold to Platinum Equity in 2009, then to Douglas Manchester in 2012 and then to Tribune Publishing, which later became Tronc, in 2015, before its sale to Soon-Shiong in 2018.
An email memo July 10 to employees of the Union-Tribune said the Soon-Shiong family, which also owns the Los Angeles Times, “made a good-faith effort to rebuild and support both news organizations. We hope this change now will position both the L.A. Times and San Diego Union-Tribune to succeed.”
In a subsequent email to Union-Tribune employees from MediaNews Group, Sharon Ryan, the company’s executive vice president for California, said cutbacks will be needed to “offset the slowdown in revenues as economic headwinds continue to impact the media industry.”
An effort will be made, she said, to find efficiencies in business operations, distribution and production “while striving to support and prioritize the robust local newsgathering needed to serve the communities that rely on the Union-Tribune for excellence in journalism.”
Staff was notified that the new owner is offering buyouts through Monday, July 17. If the company does not “reach a sufficient number of employees” taking buyouts, “the company will lay off additional employees,” the staff was informed. It wasn’t immediately known how deep the potential cuts could be.
The Union-Tribune employs a total of 220 in the company, with 108 in the newsroom.
Responding to the announcement, Union-Tribune Editor and Publisher Jeff Light said: “I’m grateful to the Soon-Shiong family, who were good owners. Now it’s time to start another chapter. As our staff knows, this isn’t an easy business, but I have a lot of confidence in the future of the Union-Tribune.”
— La Jolla Light staff contributed to this report. ◆
12:26 p.m. July 11, 2023: This article was updated with a statement from Union-Tribune Community Press Publisher Phyllis Pfeiffer.