Wake of the Weeklies

Accountant Sharon Ryan takes over as president and publisher of the media consolidation monster that is Bay Area News Group this month as lines blur further between previously distinct publications. Last month, Silicon Valley Community Newspapers—a once-independent group of weekly papers that fell into the hands of the San Jose Mercury News—announced it was going to an “all access model.” This exciting new development was billed to readers as a way to have all the news in all formats, a media smorgasbord of sorts. But it would require a subscription to the Merc. In return, readers would get unlimited digital access to the newspaper’s website, which put up a much-discussed and fearfully implemented paywall at the end of last year. BANG marketing director Erika Brown told Fly that weeklies in Almaden, Cambrian, Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Sunnyvale, Willow Glen and the Rose Garden will continue to go out to non-subscribers once a month on a rotating, zoned basis free of charge. In the past, non-subscribers received the community newspapers free every week, so it looks like distribution numbers are being chopped. “There will be a small impact,” Brown acknowledged. “But the reason we’re doing the rotation is to keep up circulation.” Fly was happy to hear no cuts were planned for editorial or production departments at the weeklies, which are already overstretched, with some services outsourced to Bangalore, India — or worse, the East Bay. Mort Levine, an institution in the South Bay newspaper biz and former owner of some of the papers in the 1960s and 1970s (Several owners later, Metro reassembled them into SVCN and spun the group off in 2001), said worries could be overblown. “It’s another one of those decisions that is subject to pushback from the audience, and particularly from advertisers,” he said. “I suspect that decision will get modified somewhat, probably in individual areas, with probably the first areas to change slightly in Saratoga and Los Gatos.”

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.

One Comment

  1. Hey Josh, can we get an update on the status of the paper dispenser stealing case? You know, the one where BANG stole hundreds of your METRO machines and threw them in their dumpsters?