Ken Doctor, the Outsell Inc. newspaper analyst, is weighing what The San Diego Union-Tribune’s sale to Platinum Equity, the Beverly Hills private equity firm, means for the beleaguered industry.

Doctor specifically dives into our story that considered the role that the Union-Tribune’s real estate holdings had in making the newspaper look attractive for potential buyers. Gary London, a local real estate analyst, estimated the value of the paper’s headquarters (and surrounding 13 acres) at about $95 million.

Doctor writes:

[W]e may have entered a new rocky period for newspaper companies. It would be a period in which the real estate on which they sit determines their market value. Consequently, their real estate value may determine who wants to sell the newspaper property and who wants to buy it — to get at the real estate.

What happens with the newspaper itself? Its fate could be one of collateral damage. It could be the residue of the transaction, to be run or sold off, after the real value — real estate — is harvested. …

Other endgames lead us down the path to unknown owners like Platinum Equity. These apparently are not eager owners of newspaper — or even news — companies, but real estate buyers, who will then turn to the question of what to do with their orphan properties.

Who knows where that will lead?

ROB DAVIS

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