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Like Chron, Merc to cut 1/4th of newsroom

The Merc plans this summer to eliminate 60 more newsroom positions — 24 percent of its 250-person news staff, according to SJSU journalism professor John McManus.

The news comes two weeks after the Chronicle said it intended to cut 25 percent of its newsroom.

It will be the second round of layoffs at the Merc since Dean Singleton (pictured here in a newsroom meeting in April 2006) took control of the San Jose daily 10 months ago. After the first round, the Merc negotiated a layoff moratorium negotiated with the Guild expires in July.

Susan Goldberg, who resigned as executive editor of the Merc on May 11 to take the same job at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, was also present at the April meeting, said San Mateo County Times Editor John Bowman, who was present at the meeting. (Bowman has since resigned following a similar round of cuts at his newspaper.) McManus said he called Goldberg in Cleveland but she didn’t return his phone message.

Bowman said the April meeting may have been a factor in Goldberg’s job change. She had tried to spare the Mercury News some of the 60 position reduction, he explained, but was told the other MediaNews papers were already operating on such thin staffs that they couldn’t absorb further cuts. After the meeting, “she seemed pretty defeated,” Bowman said.

“They’re way past the point of diminishing returns, of penny-wise, pound-foolish,” Bowman said.

McManus called a couple of reporters at the Merc to get their reactions. “Sixty is huge; oh my God!” Mercury News business reporter Elise Ackerman, exclaimed. Said Julie Patel, “If that’s true, it would be devastating for the quality of the journalism that we do.”

The Merc had 380 employees in its newsroom at its peak in 2001, according to ME David Satterfield, who declined to comment to McManus.


(Photo by Karl Mondon, Contra Costa Times)

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