Why no comments allowed on publisher’s Christmas message?

Hotelier Doug Manchester (left), who recently bought the San Diego Union-Tribune, tells his readers that “I pray that ownership of the U-T will provide me the opportunity to support our community, promote the economic strength of the region and improve the lives of all San Diegans.” He adds:

I take the stewardship of San Diego’s primary and most significant media very seriously. We will adhere to the highest standard of journalistic integrity and objectivity. We will do our part to be a positive force in our diverse community as we create a superior newspaper and a complement of digital information sources.

Manchester wishes San Diego residents a merry Christmas and prosperous new year, but they aren’t able to return good wishes because, oddly, “comments on this story are closed.” I’ve inquired why.

* Publisher’s note: A day to count blessings and share happiness

* Nov. 17: A newsmaker buys the local newspaper (Voice of San Diego)

UPDATE: Union-Tribune editor Jeff Light sends this email:

We turned off the comments on that piece because I didn’t like the way it was going. The publisher’s letter brought together his thoughts about San Diego and his new stewardship of the Union-Tribune with his personal feelings of faith on the occasion of a religious holiday. I think it was written from the heart, as a sincere message of good will.

In the early comments, you could tell that some people took it that way, and others did not. Soon there was a debate heating up about competing religious dogma, the historical accuracy of Catholic doctrine, and the virtues of the writer.

I thought all of that was way off base. My reaction was, hey, it’s Christmas, let it go. Someone tried, in their own way, to say something nice, and now we’re headed for acrimony and debate.

Not every utterance needs a response on every occasion.

Comments

comments

4 comments
  1. Let’s see:
    * He doesn’t have time to monitor the comments.
    * The wild, wild west atmosphere of online comments is distasteful and unconstructive.
    * He doesn’t know how to access the website’s comment section.
    * His administrative assistant who does that stuff is off today.
    * No comment.
    Pick any or all.

  2. The Union-Tribune was shamelessly used as a grandstand to promote San Diego businesses for many decades, one big reason that its reputation and readership suffered.

    There’s an inherent contradiction when Manchester says “We will adhere to the highest standard of journalistic integrity and objectivity” and “I pray that ownership of the U-T will provide me the opportunity to support our community, promote the economic strength of the region and improve the lives of all San Diegans.”

    Publishing a newspaper that adheres to the highest standards of journalistic integrity and objectivity is the best way for the Union-Tribune to improve the lives of all San Diegans, period.

    The fact that several times he uses the first person in referring to the main beneficiary of his benevolent administration should tell us why no comments are allowed.

  3. This is another case where prior coverage of the newspaper’s issues would have aided the current coverage. Design-based silliness took hold at some point, and that will need to be rooted out of the editorial process.

    The rest of this is the usual tale: Wealthy publisher makes power bid, etc. Journalists have long failed to deal with that issue, and this case will be no exception.

    Finally, the issue of no comments for this piece is a non-issue. There are plenty of places for people to rant about how “I haven’t canceled my subscription, but today’s the day!”

  4. martha hart said:

    Oh, it’s a terrific start – throwing in personal religious beliefs which decidedly do not resonate with many in the news rag’s audience…. combined with censorship of comments. So much for the 21st century.