Two plans are emerging for the reinvention of the Mercury News, reports Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz. Under one prototype, the paper would be cut back to three sections: Live, Play and Innovate. In a second blueprint, it would junk everything except Silicon Valley business news.

Kurtz writes:

    “In an era of declining circulation and shrinking budgets, virtually every paper in America is trying to jazz up its product while beefing up its online presence. But the effort in San Jose, where the Internet bubble popped hard in 2000, may be the most ambitious — or the most desperate.”

Kurtz (left), perhaps best known for his CNN media review program, quotes Merc Executive Editor Carole Lee Hutton (above right, standing in the newsroom) as saying the impetus for the reinvention effort was budgetary. “We have to have a print product that requires fewer people and less newsprint,” Hutton told him.

As for the idea of combined Live or Play sections, Kurtz quotes Pete Carey as saying, “It’s going to be a little weird to put the cooking in with the sports section.”

Kurtz says the editors’ blog chronicling the reinvention discussions has been “brutally honest” with one person saying the paper has no personality and another saying “staffers are cynical that the process is going to lead anywhere.” (Photo credit: Randi Lynn Beach, Washington Post)

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