Mercury News Seeks New Owner

Fed up after years of cost-cutting and layoffs, employees of the San Jose Mercury News took out a “Help Wanted” ad asking for a new owner.

“WANTED: NEW OWNER,” the ad reads. “Employees of your community’s newspaper want a new attitude respecting quality jobs and quality journalist on the part of ownership. And if the attitude won’t change, maybe the ownership should.”

The message was repeated in similar ads across the country, an appeal from unionized newsrooms for deep-pocketed buyers to rescue a host of papers from Digital First Media and the New York-based hedge fund that runs them.

“We haven’t had any across-the-board raises—cost of living, that sort of thing—since I joined the company,” Mercury News reporter Rob Salonga told the Pacific Media Workers Guild.

Salonga, hired by the Bay Area News Group in 2007 and transferred to the Merc in 2012, says he’s endured pay cuts, unpaid furloughs and a dearth of healthcare options.

According to the guild, Media News/Digital First “operate in the black but benefit little from the revenues they generate.” Instead of investing in better journalism, the owners have “sold off presses, offices and properties, extracting the proceeds.”

Digital First operates under the aegis of Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund specializing in “vulture investments."

Sale of the Mercury News property reportedly made the company $30.5 million. Yet newspaper staff at BANG papers remain a quarter their size of six years ago. Asking management for a new contract, Salonga said, “is pretty much like talking to a wall.”

“Newspapers are supposed to be a community asset, a public service,” Salonga said. “It’s high time to make a push for reinvestment into the field and into the craft—content delivery in print and online. Professional news-gathering has never and will never go out of date.”

12 Comments

  1. “WANTED: NEW OWNER,” the ad reads. “Employees of your community’s newspaper want a new attitude respecting quality jobs and quality journalist on the part of ownership. And if the attitude won’t change, maybe the ownership should.”

    Welp, that excludes the metro.

    • What San Jose needs is to let “the Merc ” die , it is a joke of a paper . Everything they print is insanely Biased , exaggerated , and /or flat out lies . This Rag has pushed Reeds agenda to the point , that most people actually think he is a co-owner . Herhold , Woolfolk should go to to pasture . time has passed them by

  2. Reading hopefully between the lines, it seems like there might be some staff members at the MN with enough journalistic integrity to be embarrassed at what the MN has become. It’s been a long time since the nation’s 10th largest city had a real newspaper.

  3. Dear Employees of the San Jose Mercury News,

    Where were you when the citizens of San Jose needed you? When City Employees needed you? When your “journalism profession” needed you?

    You sold your integrity for a pretentious agenda When the returns on the sale didn’t pay the bills you sold your souls to the politicians and their profiteering development backers.

    Now the bell tolls louder than ever… it’s not a good thing for this City to loose it’s paper but the sad fact is we lost our paper a long time ago. Where are the Rodney Foo’s, Joe Rodriguez, or old what’s his name the guy who used to love bashino the police department then took a job as Rosen’s media guy? Or Bert Robinson or any number of other s…they faded into obscurity as their paper is doing now.

    Good riddence…. City Employees will still be here, fewer in number but persevering to , to do the best they can in spite of all the Merc has done in collusion with the likes of Reed, Liccardo, and the developers to sell papers so others ma line their pockets and gain fleeting fame.

    When and where is the wake? I’ll be the first to raise a glass in cheer!

  4. ps Metro SJI…. learn from the failure of your competition….

    – SunTzu Weed.

  5. In the last four decades the Mercury has used its influence:

    — to ruin public education by blaming minority failure on teachers and policies
    — empower some of San Jose’s most ignorant and hateful citizens so they could wage a culture war against America’s history and institutions
    — promote the destruction of the culture by supporting sanctuary and amnesty for illegal aliens
    — ignore city hall fiscal negligence, where special interests and debt accumulation consistently trumped infrastructure and frugality
    — undermine public safety by pounding the drum to convince the public that the crimes of its children were the fault of racist cops and courts

    It appears that, after forty years of redefining the meaning of local journalism, the Mercury News has led itself into a quagmire as ugly and hopeless as has the city it helped lead. It, like the city of San Jose:

    — took an established and promising enterprise and ran it into the ground
    — offers a product that interests no one with other options
    — lost revenue and corporate value despite being surrounded by some of the most profitable and smartly run enterprises in the world
    — so embraced national politically-correct values that it is now devoid of local identity
    — must list arrogance as its number one asset

    Had both the newspaper and the city council made serving the needs and interests of residents its priority, instead of trying to turn sophomoric1960’s values into a cultural model, the Mercury would be high-tech industry’s paper of record instead of its Fry’s merchandise directory, and San Jose would be high-tech’s hub, instead of home to its busboys, maids, and janitors.

    • Sheesh. there’s not much point in commenting while finfan’s on the job.
      Imaginatively, accurately, completely illustrating the situation with San Jose AND it’s daily newspaper.
      Not only couldn’t I have said it better myself, I couldn’t’ve even thunk it better myself.

  6. Ha Ha. Public Union guys not sticking up for private sector union guys.

    I guess their right to pension-spiking is too important.

  7. Lets think about something really radical – how about a group of public-minded citizens, including professional and citizen journalists, form a cooperative to buy the newspaper.