U-T San Diego Fails To Disclose Owner's Ties To Controversial Convention Center

The U-T San Diego editorial board hyped a court decision that would benefit a project to expand the San Diego Convention Center but never noted that the paper's owner, Douglas Manchester, has a financial interest in the convention center's development.

A March 11 editorial by the U-T San Diego called for the expansion project to “move forward as quickly as possible,” now that the plans to finance it -- including a controversial hotel-room tax -- have been validated by Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Prager's tentative ruling. The editorial concluded that the “worst-case scenario” would be that the center does not expand at all, as "[t]ens of millions in annual tax revenue, and the creation of thousands of jobs, are at stake."

What the editorial does not say, however, is that the owner of the U-T San Diego, Douglas (Papa Doug) Manchester, is one of the driving forces behind the convention center's birth. According to Manchester's own website, “Papa Doug is considered father of the San Diego Convention Center after his generous contribution of the property for its development.”

As a Media Matters report noted last year, the U-T San Diego was criticized soon after Manchester's acquisition of the paper when it ran a front page editorial hyping a “new vision” for the San Diego waterfront. The editorial said the waterfront -- where Manchester owned hotels -- should be redeveloped with more hotels, a convention center expansion, and a new NFL stadium. Although Manchester had sold the hotels near the convention center property, he owns stock in the company that purchased the hotels -- solidifying his financial stake in the development of the area.

Although the editorial touts the “thousands of jobs” that will be created as a result of the expansion, it fails to note that they will not be high quality jobs. According to a report issued last year by Murtaza H. Baxamusa, director of Planning and Development at the Family House Corporation, San Diego Building Trades, the city estimated that only 16.8 percent of the new jobs would be above the regional median wage of $18.41 and that 71.2 percent of the jobs would be below the self-sufficiency wage of $13.92. Baxamusa concludes that, “the results of this study indicate that the quality of jobs created by the project may actually depress wages, increase uninsurance and lower the standard of living in the region.”