Mercury News Changes Editorial Strategy as Columnists Depart

Last month’s retirement by longtime Mercury News metro columnist Scott Herhold marked yet another departure for the South Bay’s daily paper of record, which has recently seen quite a few of its journalists call it a career or get poached by competing outlets. In June, columnist Mark Purdy hung it up after several decades of penning columns about sports and french fries. A month later The Athletic, a chain of subscription-based sports websites that wants to lay waste to the newspaper industry, launched a Bay Area vertical under the leadership of former Merc columnist Tim Kawakami, who brought along fellow Bay Area News Group (BANG) scribe Marcus Thompson II and others; BANG is the Merc’s parent company. Now there’s word that the Merc’s county beat reporter Eric Kurhi is leaving to join the local Registrar of Voters’ press team, which is usually very responsive even if final vote tallies aren’t. Merc managing editor Bert Robinson told Fly that there isn’t a set plan yet on replacing Herhold for opinions on South Bay politics, and the task in the meantime will fall to the paper’s on-staff editorial board members: Barbara Marshman, Ed Clendaniel and Daniel Borenstein. Asked why the paper decided to replace one old white guy with three old white people, Robinson noted that the paper’s opinion staff could use more diversity—admittedly, so could Metro’s—but the trio aren’t replacing Herhold as much as taking a new approach to editorial writing. “To be clear, we’re not replacing Herhold. This is a different thing,” Robinson said. As reader habits shift, he added, so, too, should older formats such as anonymously written columns by the editorial board that “don’t draw the traffic that we hoped.” The Merc’s counting on online readers responding better to bylined pieces.

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8 Comments

  1. Marshman et al would be better known as the Mercury News Gov’t Relationship team for their willingness to shill out endorsements based on the needs of the politicians that vote to give the Merc tax subsidies. They’d endorse an empty suit if the establishment was behind it, and that’s basically what they did for Manh Nguyen in the summer of 2015.

  2. Fly’s article should be titled “Dead man Walking”. I suspect the Merc’s recent switch to online ‘pay for view’ will hasten its demise. The New York Times was eventually able to the switch to digital work, but the Merc’s owner, Alden Global, are not similarly motivated or experienced. Last one out, please shut off the lights.

  3. “Asked why the paper decided to replace one old white guy with three old white people, Robinson noted that the paper’s opinion staff could use more diversity…”

    If you approve of ageism and/or racism when you’re in the political majority then you are either universally in favor of it or a mindless tribalist.

    • > Robinson noted that the paper’s opinion staff could use more diversity…”

      The Mercury News coverage of political news is one hundred percent Democrat Party Establishment.

      The great Rush Limbaugh has recently noted that newspapers used to be aligned with political parties, but in today’s world, the newspapers ARE the political party. The New York Times and the Mercury News no longer just transmit Democrat party policy pronouncements, they DECIDE on the policies of the Democrat Party and then promulgate them.

      The Democrat “party” is just a “get out the vote” service that prods people to vote for whatever the New York Times and Mercury News say to vote for.

      So, if the Mercury News embraces “more diversity”, it will achieve nothing but diluting the Mercury’s current party message.

      There is precious little “news” in the Mercury News. The political “stories” for 2020 have already been written.

      Who will the Mercury News support for president in 2020?

      Kamala Harris.

      Now, go back to your homes. Nothing more to see.

  4. The Mercury has become a horrific publication. I subscribed for decades before cancelling a few years ago.

  5. “Old white guys” may be the only group that it is still socially acceptable to treat poorly in public writing. If you want to point out that their choices lacked diversity or didn’t reflect the community, you can say that in clear, unoffensive terms. Please don’t treat old white guys better or worse than you do anyone else. Would you point out age if it was another group? Would you use “guy” to indicate gender if was another group? You can do better.

  6. The Murky News wants some diversity. Great, I nominate Smoky, Outside the Bubble, and FinFan their readership should double in 6 months !

    There I have solved another problem!

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