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On the U-T sale: This could be fantastic news for the community. Why? And why is it still only a possibility?

Well, let’s think about this. The paper has clearly been paralyzed ever since it was announced last year that it was for sale. In the last five years, you’d look at the U-T and wonder what it thought its mission was. It had no identity — it was just as likely to put a big picture of a cute puppy on the front page as it was a syndicated story about an international issue or a locally focused article.

But that wasn’t a huge problem as it was making money hand over fist. Then, faced with a crisis in the industry, and then vast economic downturn, it obviously needed to do something major to revitalize its revenue stream (or find entirely new ones) and simultaneously craft a new relevant identity.

Yet it was paralyzed by the pending sale. No movement. No leadership changes. Nothing happened while some of its most talented writers and editors left in a steady stream.

Now the sale is done. The new owners — if they sincerely plan on keeping the paper alive — will no doubt implement massive changes and craft a strategy for recovery. And this might be good news for the community if it involves a clear determination that public accountability and investigative reporting on local issues is a top priority for the new management.

This is all up in the air still. And we’ll all be interested in what happens. Does this new entity sell everything — the U-T’s Mission Valley Headquarters, its name, etc — off for parts? Or do they rededicate to the community.

We’ll see. We’ll have a pretty good idea from the moment the first big decision is made.

SCOTT LEWIS

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