In 1990, four years before the Internet browser was invented, then-Mercury News Executive Editor Robert D. Ingle (pictured) wrote a memo to his bosses proposing an online service aimed at “extending the life and preserving the franchise of the newspaper.” That memo is the starting point for a BusinessWeek story about how newspaper executives ignore the potential of the Internet. The article says:

    “If Ingle’s proposal had been enthusiastically embraced by Knight Ridder’s 28 dailies, perhaps the fate of the chain might have been different. …

    “Today, with advertising weak and readers flocking to the Web, the Mercury News is trying desperately to reinvent itself. Executive editor Carole Leigh Hutton has vowed to “blow up the newspaper” to make it relevant to today’s plugged-in readers. The overhaul is coming early next year.

    “But the shivers rippling through the Mercury News also serve as a dramatic example of what happens when industry leaders get complacent in the face of fundamental shifts.”

(Photo credit: Newspaper Association of America, 1997)

SF Press Club News

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