Merc Merges with San Mateo Times, Considers Dropping “San Jose” Name

Nine newspaper nameplates in the Bay Area will disappear under a consolidation plan announced yesterday by the Bay Area News Group, which owns the San Jose Mercury News.

Mercury News Publisher and BANG president Mac Tully told the San Francisco Chronicle — the region’s only major daily not owned by BANG — that it’s “still under discussion” whether the Mercury News will drop “San Jose” from its name. If that occurred, San Jose would join Phoenix, Arizona, as the second of the U.S.’s ten largest cities without a major daily newspaper named after it. (The Arizona Republic is published in Phoenix.)

“After many months of research and planning, we are taking a strategy of re-branding,”  Tully told the Chronicle. “We are trying to gain efficiencies through streamlining.”

The Oakland Tribune will retire its 137-year-old nameplate and merge with BANG’s Alameda, Hayward, Fremont and West County titles. The multi-city regional daily will be known as the “East Bay Tribune” after Nov. 1. The Contra Costa Times will be combined with the Tri-Valley Herald and four other publications as “The Times.”

On the Peninsula, San Mateo County Times will be folded into the Mercury News. The San Mateo publication’s online content is already served online under the Mercury News’ URL: mercurynews.com/san-mateo-county . The San Mateo newspaper was published as the San Mateo Times for 106 years before its 1996 purchase by MediaNews, the Denver company that owns BANG. The family-owned, independent newspaper had 180 employees at the time of the asset sale to MediaNews.

BANG will cut 120 of its 1,500 employees and close its Walnut Creek printing facility. Most of the layoffs are related to the plant closure, though 48 editorial positions will be lost, according to the Pacific Media Workers Guild.

BANG is owned by the MediaNews Group of Denver, Colorado, one of the nation’s largest daily newspaper publishers. Media News underwent a bankruptcy restructuring last year in which Chairman William Dean Singleton and his longtime investors lost control of the company to a Bank of America-led group of lenders. The new owners received 89 percent of of the holding company’s stock in the transaction.

“It’s shocking to contemplate any change of this scale,” Pacific Media Workers Guild executive officer Carl Hall told KQED. “You’re talking about the loss of jobs on a mass scale and nobody knows whose job exactly is going to be cut, so everybody is trying to figure out what’s going to happen to my job, my bureau, my newspaper. ...I don’t know how long this chaos and consolidation and layoff is going to last. We were hoping maybe by now we’d be in a recovery, but it doesn’t look like that’s happening. I can’t just point the finger at MediaNews and say well they’re corporate ogres and they’re only cutting costs. I think they’re trying to find a strategy that will allow them to succeed, but right now we’re in this transition period that’s just devastating”

Tully was unavailable for comment Wednesday morning.

THE BAY AREA NEWS GROUP’S PRESS RELEASE:

August 23, 2011 02:55 PM Eastern Daylight Time

Bay Area News Group Rebranding Plan Signals Strong Commitment to Bay Area Market

Strategic Plan includes Multimedia Platform and Other Enhancements

SAN JOSE, Calif.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Bay Area News Group (BANG) today announced a rebranding of many of its newspapers to better reflect the scope of its regional coverage. The changes – which include a streamlining of its print operations – primarily involve its East Bay newspapers, and will result in greater emphasis on providing high-impact, regional and local coverage.

Mac Tully, president of BANG, said all of the existing newspapers titles will continue to be published after the changes take effect on November 2, 2011, but under two consolidated mastheads. The Contra Costa Times, Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times, Tri-Valley Herald, and East County Times will now be branded under The Times masthead, while the Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times-Star, Daily Review, Argus and West County Times will be rebranded as the East Bay Tribune.

The rebranding includes numerous enhancements plus an emphasis on multimedia content delivery that will continue to enlighten and entertain readers while providing new opportunities for advertisers to engage readers.

“We’re taking these actions to strengthen the company for the future and to offer additional value to readers and advertisers,” Tully said. “With these changes, we will continue to serve our communities with high quality daily and weekly newspapers featuring extensive local coverage. The continuing integration of the newspapers with digital products will allow readers to access timely news and information when, where, and how they want it.”

The San Mateo County Times will be branded under the Mercury News masthead and will continue to carry local news of the San Mateo area.

According to Tully, this consolidation of titles will result in a number of enhancements in the various publications, including:

  -  All newspapers will have a separate, stand-alone Local News section, 7 days a week, thereby giving more prominence to local coverage. 

  -  Top local, national and international news will appear in the Main News or “A” section.

  -  The Morning Report section will be discontinued.

  -  The East Bay papers will have a stand-alone Business section every day that will include business news from across the region. 

  -  A section focusing on Technology will be added to the East Bay papers on Mondays.

  -  The sports section in the East Bay papers will be expanded to include more pro and collegiate news.

  -  The line-up of comics, which has varied from paper to paper, will become more uniform and will contain the most popular comics as determined by a recent poll of readers.

  -  Two weekly newspapers will be launched, joining several others published by BANG and its affiliates in towns across the region. The new papers include the Valley Journal, serving Alamo, Danville and San Ramon; and the Times-Herald, serving Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore and Sunol.

As part of this streamlining, Tully said that BANG will consolidate production operations into its three existing plants located in Concord, Hayward and San Jose. This consolidation is made possible in part because BANG recently increased production capacity at its Hayward and Concord facilities. He further explained that these efficiencies will enable BANG to utilize a smaller facility than the one currently operating in Walnut Creek, therefore the organization will be closing the current facility to move to a smaller one in Contra Costa County.

The streamlining of its print operations will also result in a reduction of approximately 95 jobs – primarily in the production and editorial divisions – out of a local workforce of 1,500 employees.

“These are challenging times for the newspaper industry,” Tully said. “These adjustments, some of them very difficult position us to execute our strategic plan to maintain and grow our position as the leading multi-media company in the Bay Area,” Tully said. “We will continue to be the largest newsgathering and newspaper publisher in the Bay Area. We remain committed to embracing emerging digital technologies to buttress our existing products and services.”

Regarding new digital initiatives, Tully pointed to the recent launch of the TapIn Bay Area iPad application, which easily shows users what is going on in their neighborhood and across the Bay Area, including events, restaurants, deals, a business directory, and local news.

That app joins the Bay Area News iPad app, which focuses on the best news in the region; the Bay Area News iPhone app, which focuses on breaking news and sports; and the SV2020 iPhone app, which focuses on tech in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. These are among a number of new digital products, including a digital ad agency that will offer customers a comprehensive range of advertising possibilities.

Tully also said the newspapers’ various web sites including http://www.MercuryNews.com; http://www.ContraCostaTimes.com; http://www.SiliconValley.com; and http://www.InsideBayArea.com will continue to offer new and expanded coverage and services.

Recently, Jeff DeBalko, whose background is in digital media, was appointed to the new position of senior vice president and chief revenue officer. Tully said DeBalko will help BANG continue its transformation.

About Bay Area News Group

Headquartered in San Jose, California, Bay Area News Group is a division of the privately-owned MediaNews Group http://www.medianewsgroup.com, one of the largest newspaper companies in the United States situated throughout California, the Rocky Mountain region and the Northeast. MediaNews Group operates nearly 60 daily newspapers in 13 states with combined daily and Sunday circulation of approximately 2.6 million and 2.9 million, respectively. Bay Area News Group has the largest newsgathering operation in the Bay Area. http://www.MercuryNews.com; http://www.ContraCostaTimes.com; http://www.SiliconValley.com; and http://www.InsideBayArea.com.

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23 Comments

  1. Probably good marketing to de-link San Joser from the Mercury masthead.  Pretty much everything about SJ is an embarassment – general planning, maintenance of capital items and infrastructure and greasy politicians hell-bent on politically positioning themselves, rather than acting on behalf of the citizenry.  While the Merc may be fishwrap, at least it might jetison the loser status of being associated with SJ.

      • Thanks, Tony, for the death wish!  I won’t stoop that low and wish you the same.

        I will, however, say that it’s very close-minded of you to wish me dead, simply because I exercise my right of free speech.

        Shame on you, Tony, living in this country with your attitude.

  2. As a reader who has come to loathe the San Jose Mercury News, its editors, and its writers for its highly selective and slanted coverage, and its divisive anti-American, anti-male, and anti-white party line, I am delighted to see the bonds of loyalty by long-time readers broken in this way.

    Folks who respected the name “San Jose Mercury News” for old-time’s sake will be set free from those habitual chains as the daily paper becomes the light-weight daily it was destined to be.  And I’ll bet they’ll raise the daily cost, too.

    Just think…our very own McMercury paper!  It’ll fit right in with the loss of our sense of place amongst the McMansions east of Old Piedmont Road (where the mayor lives) and the dorms downtown, oops, the high rise rentals.

    All this verifies something a lot of us have believed for years and that is the special tendencies displayed by our daily paper (sometimes called liberal, sometimes progressive) unfailingly suffer from the necessity of devouring themselves after devouring all that is true, noble, and beautiful in society.

  3. Can I get my money back if the Merky news folds.  Probably not?  Hope they change editors because they all suck.

  4. The Mercury News hasn’t been a good paper in about a decade, and I sure as heck ain’t paying 75 centavos for the tiny pamphlets they publish these days, but if they remove “San Jose” from the title, I’ll find something else to wrap my fish in. Freakin’ ingrates! Where do they think that “mercury” came from, after all? It came from Almaden.

  5. Merc has been losing subscribers and reputation for years but Knight Ridder sold out all we see is inaccurate biased opinions as news and horrible editorials completely biased and out of touch with majority of people, so they stop reading

    Good Bye and good riddance – Murk – we will not miss you

    Buy NY Times or Wall Street Journal if you want good newspapers and get news from KLIV(best local news radio ), KCBS, CNN , FOX, BBC, KQED etc depending on how you want your news and politics spun

  6. I say it serves them right! That’s what they get for letting Woolfolk and Herald sit accross from Figone’ and her feed them one sided garbage. Now where am I going to get my fishwrap and bird cage liner?

  7. Sorry for the Times readers. The decades of substandard reporting, willfully.deceptive editorials and outright fabrications by so-called “investigative journalists” made the Mercury News an absolute joke. This poor reputation will only bring the Times down.

  8. Merc has for years missed the Big Stories local and state news published junk local news and reprinted NY Times and other articles

    You can tell what is republished news in Merc because it is better written, logical and informative than local news and editorial biased to make Merc’s political point poorly written opinions as news junk

    Stopped reading Merc years ago except online, get more better news from other news sites, will not miss Merc

    Taking San Jose’s name off Merc is great
    Stop killing trees, and close Merc

  9. Dateline: San Jose

    San Jose Mercury News to drop everything. Residents search for new bird cage liner & fish wrapper. Nobody else notices.

  10. The Mercury News’ headline today was “Bay Area News Group announces rebranding plan.” Kind of dishonest to spin this as a “rebranding” when it is actually 1) a plant closure; 2) a mass layoff; 3) a move that will rob a dozen community publications of their identities.

    “BANG” has a right to make economic decisions as a private business entity. However, as a news organization, they should be communicating truthfully and not dishonestly presenting information. They have lost credibility in my eyes as a news source.

    • THAT IS SO FUNNY…………….NOW THE MERCURY NEWS WANTS THE TRUTH!HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.THEY WERE NOTHING MORE THAN THE TOILETPAPER IN THE OUTHOUSE(CITY)!

  11. Now if the Chronicle dropped San Francisco from its masthead, we would have two appropriately named papers left: “The Murky and the Comical”!

  12. I feel a slight twinge of sympathy for the Ol’ Murk, seeing all the brutes and bullies tromping all over it’s helpless, skinny carcass with their hobnail boots.

    But only a twinge.

    And then I remind myself of the Murk’s utterly scummy, deceitful, deceptive, false, distorted, dishonest and—did I say scummy—coverage of “global warming” and then I run to my closet and dig for my own pair of hobnail boots.

    As far as I know, the Murkury to this day maintains the sham position that human caused global warming is “settled science” and that there is an unprecedented “scientific consensus” never before seen in the annals of human existince.

    Buncombe and lies!

    The wheels have fallen off the global warming hoax and the perfidious mendacity and cooked data have been laid bare for all too see by the release of the Hadley Climate Research Unit files.  It’s the smoking arms depot of scientific fraud.

    Scum and vermin. Liars and swindlers.

    And the Murk piously flacks for the sham by plumping for “cap and trade” and every cuckoo environrnental larceny scheme that venal politicians and science fakers can dream up.

    Damn the California Global Warming Solutions Act!

    Damn the California Air Resources Board!

    Damn the High Speed Rail, the pathetic Chevrolet Volt and the stupid “Smart Car”! 

    The only redeeming value of the “Smart Car” is that it makes the driver look like a clueless, grinning dork, especially when insensitive teenagers in muscle cars stop to tip the “Smart Car” into a gully.

    If the demise of the Murk, or the disemployment of its principle news cookers spares one innocent child from exposure to the Murk’s toxic global warming distortions, the human condition will be improved, and at least one child will have been saved from a life of benighted ignorance.

    Stomp a news faker!  Save a child!

  13. I hate the Mercury with a passion. That being said, there is a need for a reputable and unbiased daily news source with legitimate reporters to take its place.

  14. I hate the Merc too, and would be glad to see it fail, with one exception—make it two. Gary Richards, aka ‘Mr. Roadshow’, and Dennis Rockstroh, the Action Line guy. They seem to be the only ones doing something to benefit the rest of us.  Save them and toss the others!!

  15. Geez, What a bunch BS from a bunch of BS’ers. All these comments and every one so negative. either it’s SJI’s readers that are negative or a sign of the times….glad I am out of the news biz.

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