Merc columnist Mike Cassidy is asking readers to e-mail him with ideas about how to improve his newspaper. He writes:

    Silicon Valley is filled with brilliant minds and good hearts who want better things for this newspaper. Tell us: What is it that draws you subscribers to the Mercury News every day? What would get you non-subscribers to join those who do subscribe?

    What would you pay for on the Web? Are there benefits print subscribers should receive that Web users don’t?

    What are the potential new business models?


Cassidy made it clear that he doesn’t want to discuss claims about political bias. “Let’s move past simplistic arguments,” he writes, “and get on to something fresh, something stunning, something that might change the course of an industry or at least one newspaper.”

Bay Area Media News


  1. Here's something "stunning" for the liberals who run the Merc and most other papers to ponder: No one will buy the cow if they can get the milk for free.

  2. It's very hard for me to give any credence to the numerous postings I find here that are signed "Anonymous". If you have an opinion, own it or shut your pie-hole. I'm especially disgusted by the multiple postings from the same person, all with a specific political 'hack' to grind.
    Fred Dodsworth

  3. Whew! Have I all along been reading a left wing rag? I do think there are folks who adamantly believe the media is left wing and refuse to see any nuances that come through in responsible journalism. And refuse to recognize fairly accurate reporting. Such as passing along results of Polls, or spilling the beans on scandals, etc., or delivering the complexities of economic news. And those right ring zealots latch onto the editorial pages. I have never judged a paper by its editorial views; otherwise, I would probably read none, be it the WSJ or the NYT. I judge it essentially on the quality of its reporting.

    Now, for example, any paper that refuses to use the term "illegal immigrants," I'll grant you, is skirting a key issue, is guilty of journalistic malpractice, and loses my respect.

    David Lewis

  4. Such a simple aswer!
    There are not enough Republians in the state to kill the Mercury, it was suicide. Apparently the corporate powers that be forgot the cardinal rule of business: "Offer a product that is worth the price." How can you slash the paper to nothing and raise the price? You offer less and try to sell it for more.
    The only thing that may make the MERC better is competition. I'd love to see another SJ paper spring up. Guess you guys don't take bloggers seriously.
    Capitalism and greed killed the Mercury. When their readership went down, they cut from the bottom (staff) and lost more than half their pages. Too bad some mucky mucks couldn't give up a new pool for a summer home.
    I wrote for a weekly, owned by a wealthy publisher who calls himself an lndependent (who pays ten cents per word).
    Now tell me again how liberalism ruined the Mercury. It was greed.

  5. "Let's move past simplistic arguments," he writes, "and get on to something fresh, something stunning, something that might change the course of an industry or at least one newspaper."

    How about this for stunning? Give the subscribers BOTH sides of the story. Instead of being lapdogs for the left wing, maybe actually covering the news could be an option.

    What happened to the days when reporters asked hard questions and didn't do "He said she said" stories. Maybe a little hard digging might just turn up the real reasons California is in the economic dumster.

    Bay Area newspapers have become enablers to the politicos that are trashing the state with impunity.

    Do some real journalism and subscribers might just buy the papers again.

  6. The Merc – and most of the news chain – started a slow death of a thousand cuts when UPI virtually vanished in the 1990s. This gave AP a monopoly on gathering and distributing news. Few people outside the biz noticed this. I doubt they will miss the Merc all that much. San Francisco used to have five papers – now it looks like none. We are entering the era of validation journalism. The pen is no longer mightier than the nouse.

  7. Perhaps some of these people don't know that some of the content of the paper comes from BANG-EB central in Walnut Creek.

    It has been taken over in MediaNews style–only pages with ads have content on them. This is a big change for a daily paper to go through. Especially one that is as beloved as the Merc.

  8. Without realizing it, Mike identified his paper's biggest problem — an unwillingness to admit and correct the Merc's left-wing bias. It's like the captain of the Titanic saying, "Ignore that iceberg, let's talk about how the deckchairs are arranged."

    You'd think the owner of the paper, who probably wants the Merc to be as profitable as possible, would fire people in the newsroom who are not willing to look at the paper's shortcomings and replace them with journalists who want to appeal to all readers, not just left-wingers.

  9. I imagine the e-mail will look like this:

    "Due to the industry climate, we only solicit suggestions on how we can generate more revenue through partnerships and cut costs by demanding more product with less manpower. Kindly pack your desk and you will be escorted out of the building."

  10. Mike, I'll try once more. You don't need editorial advice. You need to concentrate on the fundamentals, like getting your fine paper to the racks EVERY DAY, and the ENTIRE paper (often in the past, the arts and comics section was missing — I went over and over about this with your circulation people)and charging a decent fifty cents. These are not the exotics you want, I know. But let me tell you, I once got the paper several days a week. Now, present tense, rarely do I buy even one issue a week.

    David Lewis

  11. He doesn't want to discuss claims that "political bias hurt the Merc." Besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

  12. Mike,

    I like your paper a lot, my favorite Bay Area option, but.

    1. Often not on the news stands in Oakland; you have had miserably erratic distribution out of I think San Leandro.

    2. Go back to fifty cents. Sorry, I won't pay 75 cents. Hard to believe papers are upping the price when hurting for customers.

    I doubt my suggestions will be taken.

    David Lewis

  13. In fact it would be stunning to consider a point of view in contrast to the Chronicle. In reality laying ink on paper and expecting someone to pay you for it has no future. Mike can expect to play out his string for a few more months and then try a different occupation. Can't think of any? It doesn't help to advertise that fact like you just did in your column.

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