The Mercury News is Lying

There are two kinds of thieves: ones who own up to their actions when caught and those who make up facts to justify their thievery. The Mercury News executive team has chosen to go the route of lying thieves. Luckily, no one is really fooled, and the ethical character of the group running the Bay Area’s daily newspapers is now on display for all to see. The emperor has no clothes.

Bay Area News Group has neither apologized nor reached out to the victims of its wide-ranging, multi-county initiative to deprive competitors of circulation spots. More than a simple property crime, BANG’s activities need to be seen in the context of its long history of monopolistic activities to buy up and consolidate publications, force competitors out and reduce consumer choices.

Let’s take a look at the false statements the media group provided to the widely respected Jim Romenesko blog yesterday (in bold):

“We were, however, recently contacted by local authorities and instructed to remove several newsracks that were not in compliance with a local rack ordinance.”

If the Mercury News was asked by a city official to perform illegal removals, they should immediately release the names and dates of those communications, and the content of those alleged instructions.

Further, the newsrack removals were a wide-ranging sweep of competitors’ property that took place from Palo Alto to Santa Cruz and would have had to involve multiple jurisdictions, different drivers and knowledge of company management.

The City of San Jose on Friday released this statement: “We do not have any records pertaining to this issue. We would not ask the Mercury News to confiscate a competitor’s property. If there were a violation, we would contact the owner directly to correct the issue or we would confiscate the news rack.”

“We … notified the individual publishers whose racks we removed. ”

Not one publisher has indicated that they were notified. The owner of Pink Spot incredulously screamed “What!” into the phone. La Oferta’s Frank Andrade said “I was wondering, ‘What the hell is happening to my racks.’” Palo Alto Weekly publisher Bill Johnson was equally shocked. “No, nobody notified us,” said Philippines Today.

“The racks have been stored on our property since that time.”

The racks were not stored. Most were disposed of in a metal recycling dumpster. The Mercury News needs to disclose what “that time” is, how long the newsrack roundups have been going and whose newsracks have been removed and destroyed, as well as provide documentation on the newspaper’s alleged notices to affected owners of the property removed.

“This is a normal practice in the industry”

Is theft the new normal?

“that is recognized by the various municipalities“

Pure BS. No responsible public official would instruct a newspaper to selectively remove the racks of its competitors. Why did the Mercury News remove the nicest, newest rack in the lineup in front of the Starbucks on the Alameda while leaving old and abandoned racks in place? So they could put two of their own big racks next to one another and crowd out competiton?

“as well as the publishers who place racks on the streets.“

The industry practice is to not move your competitors’ property. No publisher recognizes the right of another one to secretly drive off with their racks and toss them in a dumpster.

“This afternoon was the first time any of the publishers notified us that they were interested in retrieving the racks.”

What publisher would ever leave their property sitting at the Mercury News? When I found out from an independent distributor, I dropped everything and was there within 15 minutes. The Palo Alto Daily Post’s circulation manager was on family time when the call came, and he packed his 9-month-old and stroller into a car to get right down to Ridder Park Drive.

“after discussions with the publisher’s representatives and the San Jose police, we agreed earlier this afternoon to meet again tomorrow.”

No discussions took place. Mercury News turned its back to the publishers, ordered them off the property, sent out security guards and huddled privately with police officers. After an extended wait, a Mercury News representative gave a phone number of a manager in San Ramon who would arrange for the return of the racks. When a writer from Metro called for a comment, that manager slammed down the phone and could be heard screaming “motherf****” in the background. (The handset wasn’t properly returned to the base.)  No meeting took place on Thursday. Metro received no call inviting us to pick up the racks, and no racks were returned.

“At that time, we would make all the racks available for pickup by the publisher’s representatives, which had been our desire all along.”

Then why were they in a dumpster?

“Everyone was satisfied with this arrangement.”

Someone’s smoking crack.

Hopefully, the San Jose Police Department will thoroughly investigate and determine the actual facts behind this media monopoly’s assault on smaller publications and forward the matter to the District Attorney for proper handling.

Postscript: The story has begun to change since the original statement to Romanesko. On Thursday, Bay Area News Group’s Vice President/Circulation David Rounds modified the claim that they had notified publishers of the removals: “We have now had the opportunity to further investigate this matter.  We have confirmed that we are in possession of three newsracks owned by the Palo Alto Post, along with seventeen others owned by fourteen active publishers.

“The Palo Alto Post racks were removed from two different sites in response to calls from the Palo Alto police dispatch.  We have learned, however, that we failed to contact the Palo Alto Post after removing the racks, and may not have contacted the other publishers as well, contrary to our normal practice.”

Dan Pulcrano is the executive editor and CEO of Metro.

44 Comments

  1. I am no fan of the SJ Merc for various reasons but I will say that I am happy to see that you too have now been a victim of the Merc. 

    The Merc has consistently written stories that were one sided with many false claims all throughout the city’s battle with union employees. From Measures V & W to the more recent Measure B,  the Merc was used by Reed to sway votes by writing articles without disclosing ALL the facts. 

    I hope that this latest occurrence will open some eyes to see that there has been, and still is, a very biased “news”paper operating amongst us and they are consistently being used for political agendas instead of reporting in a fair unbiased way.

    • I’m sure we’ll all agree, though, that the Merc is an invaluable community resource. Exposing all sorts of corruption and wrongdoing. For example, just recently they did an investigative report on court appointed trustees and how a lot of them were ripping off the most vulnerable among us. They also successfully sued to get public payrolls publicized so we can see whats really going on with our money. Does anyone actually think that we should know less about where our resources are spent?

      • The Merc is “an invaluable community resource…” to people like prescient who rely on false information to support what ever their agenda happens to be.

      • The Mercury has some good reporters, yes, but stories like the one you described are in the SF Chronicle all of the time. Despite the Mercury’s few good reporters, the institution itself and its management are deeply immoral, and now is not the time to be singing its praises.

        “Does anyone actually think that we should know less about where our resources are spent?”
        That loaded question deserves to be answered with the question, Do you really think that those of us who are angry with the Merc for stealing the property of competitors really just want to know less about where our resources are spent?

      • Nope.  Disagree wholeheartedly.  The San Jose Mercury News is bought, sold and controlled by this corrupt City Council.  Anything they print is to sell newspapers and distort the truth.

  2. Pretty shady business “removing” your competitors newsracks without their permission.  Why in the world would the Palo Alto police (or any of the other city’s cops) contact the Merc to remove another publisher’s racks?  Sounds fishy all around.  Go get ‘em Metro!

  3. Thanks Dan.  This is a great explanation of what happened.

    Makes me glad we canceled our 25 yr paid subscription to the Merc 2 years ago because of biased reporting. The Merc will never get another dime from us. 

    Why am I not surprised at the Merc’s behavior in taking other publishers news racks? It’s completely consistent with the Merc’s behavior in terms of its biased reporting, such as favorable reporting toward issues where the Merc stands to financially gain.  The best case for this is the Merc’s fawning over the Santa Clara stadium.  Our family, and many others we know, canceled our paid subscriptions out of disgust with the Merc’s reporting slanted in favor of the stadium, and its lack of truthful reporting on the stadium costs.

    A few years ago Mike Cassidy of the Merc compiled the results of a survey in which readers were asked what could be improved about the Merc.  The number one complaint readers had was that reporting is biased.  Mike Cassidy and the Merc completely blew off that complaint to focus on other more minor complaints.  They didn’t listen to their readers.

    The Merc needs to take a good look in the mirror at what’s wrong with its organization.  Putting out a high quality, unbiased product would help.  Stealing other publishers news racks won’t.

    • For the record, everyone agrees that this is a great deal for the City of Santa Clara. You do don’t you? To do otherwise is to be part of the group that believes the earth is 5,000 years old. Complete lack of credibility.

  4. The Merc is like Mayor Chuck, full of lies.  It is time for both to just go away.  Who wants to live in San Jose with increasing crime and decreasing SJPD.

    Who wants to pay 75 cents for a crapping paper.  I won’t even go into the cost of a Sunday paper.

    Lousy reporters, lousy editorials and boy do they love Chuck and hate public safety!  Funny how many times I see them reprint articles from smaller weekly papers like they own it!

    Daily news papers in general are a waste of time, you can wake up in the morning go on the internet and get up to the minute news.  The Merc does not publish anything new after 10 PM.  Hell, I can turn on the 10 PM news and again at 7 AM and get more than I could from this paper.

    They should be fined at the very least if not charged with theft. Better yet, let’s boycott this paper and see how long they last!

    • I actually live in San Jose and care about it’s future. Just because they exposed the fleecing that was being perpetrated on this town by the PD and FD is not a good reason to hate them. Remember now, they supported Jerry Brown and Barrack Obama in their editorial section.

      • prescient,

        Please tell me more about this fleecing you speak of.  Everything that was given to police, fire, and every other employee of the this city was done so through processes that the city has agreed with.

        I know you think employees make too much or are given too much in benefits in SJ but just look around at your neighboring cities and jurisdictions and you will see that in SJ you are getting one hell of a deal. SJ ranks near the bottom in salary in these parts and the retirement packages are on par with other cities.  How come the Merc never picks on the salaries of employees in Milpitas, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Moutain View, or Palo Alto?  All San Jose employees have wanted is a competitive salary/benefits package, which they have had up until the 10% cuts, and now Reed wants to slash salaries another 16% to 24%. 

        Sure he says you can avoid the pay cut by opting in to option #2 of his retirement package but the only problem is that option #2 does not exist because the IRS has not approved it.

        So tell me prescient, how much should a cop or firefighter or any other city employee make? How much should they be paid to put their lives on the line for you knowing that if they are injured in the line of duty and not able to continue to work this city will turn its back on them.

        • You have to excuse me. Sometimes I get delirious from all the servicing I do at 1010 The Alameda. Looking forward to my future in San Jose. Monday is a great schedule.. I get to serve Pete Constant and Sam Liccard together. Both are coming in on a Groupon deal!
          Just sayin.

      • Prescient , your sheer hatred for public safety is showing. get off your horse like you are single handedly the only resident in San Jose who cares about this city’s well being. its people like YOU who believe everything you read in “The Merc” , and blindly follow Mr. Burns like he is the savior of San Jose. Look around Graffitti everywhere, Violent crimes,burglaries,gang activity all on the rise. Lets see how thankful you are when San Jose is in the Top 50 “Unsafest Cities”. You can always put your money where your mouth is and apply to be one of San Jose’s Finest, But we all know you will never do that. Its much easier to criticize while others are risking their lives for ingrates like yourself

      • Rick Heller hates Obama. That argument’s not going to fly with him.

        I love Obama, but I’m certainly not going to give the Mercury News a free pass just because they endorsed him. It’s pretty astounding how you’ve posted three times on this article without once acknowledging the thefts that this article is about.

  5. Who would have thought our local Mercury News would make Rupert Murdoch’s shenanigans in England look so tame. 

    Let’s see if any of the Mercury News reporters or columnists (Mr. Herhold?) have the courage to cover this story.

  6. Dan,
    As you know, many of us on SJI have complained about the ethics of the Murkey News, and their bias/shoddy reporting for years now. Stealing your racks and lying about it comes as no surprise to many of us. I say, keep exposing them for what they are,liars and thieves.

    One very important point that you haven’t addressed is how this action by the Murkey News has affected your ad customers. Businesses pay a lot of money to place ads in papers like yours to increase their business. By stealing your racks, the Murk has caused financial loss to those businesses who advertize with you. If I had placed an ad in any of the papers that had their racks stolen, I personally would sue the crap out of the Murk for impeding my effort to advertize my business.

  7. There needs to be a criminal investigation into this, its illegal and it is outrageous. This is not just a move against rival companies, this is undemocratic and un-American.

  8. Just reading the stories here are a couple of things that caught my eye. I won’t sit here and talk about the Merc and their editorial policies. That’s always debatable and for the most part just peoples own skewed opinions. What i find interesting is that one of the publishers KNEW to go to the Mercury News for his racks. How did he know where to go? Maybe because it’s normal practice? Funny how Pulcrano tries to take advantage of this. The Metro racks are normally empty and they have a hard time refilling them. If I was an advertiser, I’d be watching that more closely than a few missing racks.

    • You honestly think it’s normal practice for a major newspaper to round up 31 news racks from their competitors and throw them in a dumpster? You’ve obviously drunk the koolaid.

  9. So when the Mercury KNEW that PLO was stealing signs they did nothing to call him on it… so it appears that the Mercury is not to concerned with theft?

  10. Imagine that “The Merc ” Lies?????? what else would you expect from associates/friends of the Mayor+5? The sad part is that Nobody is surprised by these events. Im just shocked that the Mayor hasnt came out and Defended his PR firm. Sorry , Nothing shocking here!

  11. And anyone is surprised by this? Dan please be persistent and press charges with the authorities. Call the DA and stay on top of this. These blood suckers cannot get away with this type of illegal behavior. Once again the Murk is all about censorship. This time they want to censor their competition. I would read the METRO any day of the week before the other sinking rag. Merk employees if you are listening: Take a long hard look in the mirror. Do you believe in your employer and what you are participating in?

    • I wouldn’t be expecting too much from District Attorney Jeff Rosen’s Office on this matter.

      Let’s not forget that Rosen hired Sean Webby as his Press Information Officer… Webby is a [former???] Merc “reporter” known for his anti-police pro-criminal anti-prosecution bias.

      I know Webby isn’t a position to make DA policy but Rosen’s choice shows where his head is…

  12. The San Jose Mercury is a disgrace. I hope the other involved papers don’t let this go. The Mercury needs to be held accountable, hopefully in court. They have trampled not only on the other publications, but on free speech itself. I wonder if they will have the integrity to even report on what happened in their own publication, or will censor it from their circulation.

  13. what if this was just some random disgruntled employee? You all have some big axes to grind. Nothing logical about any of this from a company stand point. “Ok, guys, the little papers out there are KILLING us. (not really). However, we’re going to go out and STRATEGICALLY remove the other guys racks. Not all of them mind you, just those areas where we’re being hit hard….what to do with those racks? Let’s just keep them behind our building for now….we haven’t thought it out that far yet.” Really? Someone come up with a logical reason the Murk would sponsor this? Anyone. Without the typical “past accusations and opionions” I’ve already seen.

    • If that was the case (a disgruntled employee), then the Merc would have had no reason to say that:
      “We were, however, recently contacted by local authorities and instructed to remove several newsracks that were not in compliance with a local rack ordinance.”

      And ‘stored on our property’ should not equal dumped into a dumpster.
      “The racks have been stored on our property since that time.”

      The Merc is probably wishing the garbage company had come sooner.

      @Dan @ Metro – who knew to go check the Merc’s dumpster to search for the missing racks? Who figured this out, and then notified the other publishers?

      I hope all of you are compensated for your loss. From the photo, it looks like the racks were damaged when thrown into the dumpster.

    • Hey StanboyGreen,

      Since you want to be a voice of reason why don’t you tell us why the Merc would have all those racks in a dumpster behind their building. The fact is the racks are there, period.  If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck,  well you know the rest.

      • Justanumber, this is what i think happened. There was clearly a past practice of the Merc being called to do something with old or ugly news racks, that’s a fact. As circulation dept. has been cut, nobody was minding that particular store. Over time, publishers were not called and mistakes and oversight were made. If the merc was going to try anti competitive practices they’d do a much better job of it. News racks in plane site if they were trying to hide them? Pulcrano isn’t whining..he’s PR’ing. lol.

        • Guess it is time to do a midnight raid and get rid of a few MN racks that are an eye sore.  Maybe we can put them in PO’s trunk.  Better yet let’s stack them at city hall.

        • “If the merc was going to try anti competitive practices they’d do a much better job of it. News racks in plane site if they were trying to hide them?”

          That’s seriously your argument? That if the Merc REALLY WAS stealing news racks, then they wouldn’t have been caught? They were in a dumpster behind their building, since when is that even considered plain sight? I can understand how you might like the Merc’s editorial staff. That’s a difference in opinion. But acting like the Merc rounding up 31 of their competitors news racks and throwing them in the dumpster behind their building was NOT theft is almost inconceivable to me. People who can do mental gymnastics of THIS degree are the reason why society is so terrible, because people can get so fanatical about a NEWSPAPER that they suspend their critical reasoning! No wonder politics never resolves anything, with people like this!

  14. I am telling you folkk: City Attorney Rick Doyle is most likely behind this theft! Read the Mercury’s explanation… Someone high up in San Jose city government gave the MercuryNews the immpression that they were “deputized” and had special authority to remove other media outlets property from public and private property.

    Most likely Doyle because he is the City Attorney… Doyle because he gave PLO the justification for his sign stealing… Doyle…becasue he gave Pete Constant legal advice to step down as head of the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce PAC while still a sitting Councilmember… 

    Was Doyle acting on his own? or was he given the green light by the Mayor TOO GIVE LEGAL ADVICE TO THE MERCURYNEWS – Many suspect that the Merc is the Propaganda Outlet for Mayor Reed and Company – perhaps through some stretch of the imagination the size of prescient’s-  Doyle is under the impression that the Merc IS part of City Government and falls under his representation umbrella?

    Maybe it was City CLerk Dennis Hawkins who gave the MercuryNews this “extraordinary” authority – They could always blame him because it is Hawkin’s EXPERT OPINION that is the basis for the City’s position that it is NOT responsible for providing factual legal information…

  15. StanboyGreen, asked, “Someone come up with a logical reason the Murk would sponsor this? Anyone. Without the typical “past accusations and opionions” I’ve already seen.”

    You must have missed the part in the story where the Murkey News has already admitted doing this. They claim the authorities asked them to. Hum….

  16. I stand in awe that this Mercury News Goliath feels that laws that apply to everyone else do not apply to them, “they can steal other publishers property and it is not called stealing”.  While David Rounds, vice president of circulation for the Bay Area News Group calls the accusations of theft “absurd”, Bob Lampkin, former Merc Employee and current circulation director of Embarcadero Media, which publishes the Weekly, called the removal of the racks “a totally normal situation.” Is this the new normal?  Since when is theft not stealing?

  17. Amazing they will not even make a comment in their cat litter paper, and yet they comment on Mr. Fraud (Constant) and his who cares back surgery.  They cannot even get the facts straight.  He was not working in the Vice Unit, when took his so called tumble and injured his back.  Time to get back on your bike and lose a few pounds.

  18. Wow, now I know where all the people with ugly axes to grind come to vent. Majority of you are butt hurt from something. I imagine you let this stuff rule you in your spare time.

    • My feelings would be more hurt if you hadn’t just tried to make the argument that the Mercury News are the good guys for stealing news racks and throwing them in a dumpster and that Pulcrano is the bad guy for whining about it.

  19. Hey, Dan Pulcrano, welcome to the real world and what city employees have been screaming about for years – and especially police officers. The reality is that the Murk is only interested in the salacious and sensational, hates police officers and consistently presents extremely one-sided information which, at best, marginalizes police officers, the jobs they do and their worth to the community and in terms of their compensation.

    Just as an example – and this is not an isolated incident – today I have posted a comment three times in the comment section of article about one of the recent homicides. Within minutes, that comment has selectively and deliberately been removed. Those comments were well reasoned, backed up with facts and research references, and directly contradicted several comments by another poster as well as indirectly contradicting comments Mayor Reed has given to news reporters.

    I understand that the Murk is under no obligation to allow any comments whatsoever, but once they do, it is incumbent on them – a moral and journalistic obligation – to allow all comments unless they express profanity or bigotry. Doing as the Murk currently does is nothing more than orchestrated censorship, a tool of oppression, and, in this case, a tool of City Hall.

    • San Jose Inside doesn’t edit comments because of the ideological view expressed. If a comment is not approved, it’s because it violates the terms of service. Which most of the time is a personal attack or off-topic comment.

      • If I understand his post correctly, he is referring to the Mercury News selectively deleting comments, NOT San Jose Inside. I would also add that I’m shocked (not really) that the Mercury News isn’t heavily covering/investigating/editorializing the past violent week in San Jose

  20. YOU GOT TO LOVE THIS DRAMA!

    AS AN OLE DOWNTOWN MERC PAPER BOY
    AND CARRIER,IN THE PALM HAVEN PARK
    AREA.
    THE MERC LOST ME WHEN THEY INSTIGATED
              “NUEVO MUNDO”,
    BY ENLISTING A BUNCH OF “LEADING” HISPANICS
    AND TRIED TO BREAK THE HISPANIC PUBLICATIONS IN SANTA CLARA VALLEY. THIS IS YOUR LIFE! PLEASE STAND!
      THE GRAFFITTI A TOP THE CAPITAL CLUB, REALLY NEEDS TO BE REMOVED, OR THE WORDING CHANGED TO “METRO” OR “LA OFERTA REVIEW” OR “EAT AT JOE’S”!
      I LOVE THIS TOWN!IT’S SO SILLY CON!
      THE VILLAGE BLACK SMITH

  21. Too bad Pulcrano. I don’t see your magazine out there working for the rights of your readers.  So wah wah wah. Comes around goes around.