Goodbye to the Red Racks?

Abetted by the Adobe Systems-funded group 1stACT Silicon Valley, San Jose’s Office of Economic Development and Redevelopment attempted last month to introduce an ordinance to regulate newsracks in the downtown area—without talking to a number of local newspaper publishers. Although the advocates of uniform news boxes spent time with the publishers of daily papers, they failed to contact free newspaper publishers. “They didn’t talk to me,” says Hilbert Morales, publisher of the bilingual El Observador.
Among the publications not contacted until the day before the ordinance was scheduled to go to council June 10, was Metro, the city’s largest locally-owned publication. The City Council responded to the sneak attack by deferring the matter until August.
Some publishers fear that consolidating all publications into uniform boxes will cause further economic damage to an industry already hammered by competition from digital media and the general state of the economy.
The desperate state of dailies was underscored in Merc Publisher Mac Tully’s July 16 speech to the San Jose Rotary Club, in which he twice invoked the positive affirmation, “The Mercury News is not going away,” before qualifying his prediction with an appeal: “But we do need your help.” Tully beseeched the group to assist the Mercury by subscribing and buying advertising, breaking Rotary’s longstanding practice of avoiding sales pitches from the podium.
Tully, whose short speech was greeted by one of the most hostile questioning sessions a speaker to the genteel group has ever faced, probably wishes he spoke longer and left less time for questions.

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

2 Comments

  1. The Murky News got a reprieve from bankruptcy from the home mortgage crisis—every day there are a page or two of notices of foreclosure.  Since it’s a legal notice, I’m sure the per line ad rate at least doubles.