We know the drill. When two newspapers inhabit the same town, they attack each other. They toss the ordinary rules of journalism ethics aside and slam the competition. That’s the way it has been done since Ben Franklin was a newspaper publisher.
That said, San Jose Metro has printed an extraordinary quote from Matt Mansfield, the Mercury News deputy managing editor assigned to helping “rethink” his paper: “The problem we have is, no one likes us.”
Apparently he spoke alongside the paper’s executive editor, Carole Leigh Hutton, to a crowd of Santa Clara University students wondering about the future of journalism. Here’s how Metro reported it:
- “While Hutton spent a half-hour whining about hemorrhaging ad revenues like a brusque businesswoman, Mansfield cut to the heart of the matter. He’s in charge of finding out what readers want — a novel idea — in the hopes of revamping the newspaper’s image. All this while the paper’s news content and staff have been shaved to a skeleton of what they used to be. Market studies revealed what we’ve known all along. ‘The Mercury News has no personality,’ Mansfield said. His point of comparison? ‘The Metro has attitude.’ What’s really going on, Mansfield says, is that people don’t want to make the time to read something boring. Always an important, reminder, true, but doesn’t San Jose’s daily have bigger problems right now? Like front-page hot-dog contest stories, maybe?