Tips for the Mercury News

Last week, the San Jose City Council voted to demolish the old library building.  Did you read about it in the paper?  Neither did I.  Where will the city move all of the city employees who work in the building?  How much will it all cost?  This is a story that should have received coverage.

I have long held the opinion that the San Jose Mercury News is out of touch with its readership, particularly the people of San Jose.  In an effort to help the Mercury News strengthen its ties with the people of San Jose, I would recommend the following changes:

Every week, the Mercury News should offer a full report on the decisions made by the San Jose City Council.  Select the three or four agenda items that receive the most attention during the council meeting and then write up a brief report on the debate and the final decision, complete with a listing of how each councilmember voted.

The paper should also provide more commentary and interviews from city council members, city officials, and neighborhood leaders on a continual basis. 

Shouldn’t the Mercury News have at least one person on its editorial board who holds views that are right of center?  Over the past decade, has the Mercury News had even one columnist or editorial board member who voted Republican or Libertarian?  Of course, the paper often runs columns written by conservatives, but George Will doesn’t live in San Jose.  Maybe, just maybe, a conservative point of view could offer some perspective and relevance to a city concern.

The San Francisco Chronicle has a regular feature called “Chronicle Watch.”  The feature invites readers to call or write in with complaints and requests that need to be brought to the attention of city and county officials.  The Chronicle publishes the name, photo, and contact information of the government worker who is responsible for the item or action in question and provides continued follow up until the issue is resolved.  A San Jose specific “City Watch” column would help get things done and keep city officials on their toes.

Bud Geracie’s “Wake of the Week” was one of the sports pages’ best features.  For some reason, they canned it.  Bring it back!

What advice do our readers have for the Mercury News?


  1. Don’t forget, the Council voted to demolish the building on the premise that it was in the way of the proposed convention center expansion. What happens now, if the Governor has his way and raids Redevelopment money, and the expansion does not go forward. Is the library building saved? Seems like it should be since there was no reason to destroy it in the first place.

  2. Pete – save your breath. The Merc is only interested in making money not in providing a service to the public. As long as people continue to subscribe to the paper they will convince themselves they are doing a good job and not change a thing.

  3. Pete—Even when the Ridders were around the Murky never ever took an interest in San Jose, from when it started its long slide down in the ‘50’s and 60’s when Valley Fair opened, and Joe Ridder led the drive to keep BART from coming south, afraid it might diminish his influence. The Murky never could find the voice to scold San Jose Water when it owned all the judges and supervisors and made all the land use decisions to suit its purposes. Investigations of the Expressways “engineered” by the Buck of the Month Club? Of course not. Not even a tiny look at just a cul-de-sac in the long trail of making San Jose into a million people podunk collection of easily influenced neighborhoods, a hairbrained scheme thought up by Prof Terry and the local Democratic Party Machine. The Murky complains about the mini-mayor system, still flourishing, but has never offered a solution.
    And now there’s new ownership that has given up on having a local paper. Pete, just who do you think is listening to your suggestions for betterment? The guys who have invented the quarter page page to save printing costs? A 4 page “business” section that can’t afford to list commodities? Please. George Green

  4. Pete,
      Face it. The new Media News-owned Mercury News is no longer a real newspaper that covers real issues. The past week or so the on-line version has averaged only about 3-4 local stories per day. One can’t help but wonder what the 100 or so reporters who have not been laid off do all day long?
      As to your second point: Are you in a position to know the party affiliations of the members of the Merc’s editorial board? Didn’t we read an op-ed piece recently by Pat Dando (pro-business Republican) on 8/24?
      Full agreement on Bud Geracie…even though I did not always agree with his columns.
      Finally Pete, since you seem to have a strong interest in so many local issues why don’t you take advantage of the void and set up your own local news site and fire away?

  5. The council did not vote to demolish the old MLK library. they voted against giving it landmark status.Big difference.

  6. How could a photo of Earth from space be inverted? In space there’s no “up” or “down.” Having the North Pole at the “top” instead of the “bottom” of the world is an arbitrary human creation.

  7. #3, actually, I believe that the Merc is only interested in not losing money. If they were focused on making money, they might actually adopt some of these suggestions.

  8. The Mercury News cannot survive in its current form. On today’s front page is an article about McCain and his VP choice that has been available on the NYTimes web site (in a longer form) for over a day.  Why bother printing old news?  The coverage of the recent San Jose council elections was sad. In our district there was only a brief biographical article on the candidates.  We heard much in the past about “rethinking” the paper but all I have seen is shrinking page sizes and coverage.

  9. I guess I meant to say backwards, not “inverted”.
    The North Pole WAS at the top of the photo, but the East coast of North America was to the left of the West Coast.

    Here I go extrapolating again and drawing broad conclusions based on a tidbit of evidence, but I just have to wonder why I should trust their reporting on complex subjects when they can’t even get knowable facts right.

  10. About 3 years ago, the Mercury News had an ad campaign which included the iconic photograph of Earth from space on all their newsracks. I looked closely and realized that the photo of the Earth was inverted.

    I realized then that what I’d long suspected was true- the Mercury News’ view of the world is backwards. Literally.

  11. 6. In this case it is not a big difference. They voted against landmark status to facilitate demolition. The Council and RDA have made it clear they want the building down—fast.

  12. MC #5:

    Great idea. 

    FYI Everyone:  Never heard back from the RDA regarding the questions posted on this site last week.  I placed a courtesy call to the RDA Administrative office.  I was bounced to one of the director’s assistants, where I left a message.  No reply.

  13. I agree with you, Pete, the paper is thoroughly out of touch with the people of San Jose.  Indeed, the Mercury News is ashamed to be from San Jose, as evidenced by its online masthead:

    “San Jose” doesn’t appear on your subscription invoice either. 

    What other American daily newspaper is ashamed to admit where it’s from?

    Seems to me, all of the paper’s myriad problems follow from this curious outlook.

  14. Another example of the decline of the Mercury News.  In today’s edition the Mercury News has an article with the headline: “Pill that boosts productivity gaining favor in Silicon Valley”.  What evidence does the reporter, Mr. Steve Johnson, give to support such a serious claim? Comments from a old blog entry on Mr. Johnson should explain how he correlated the comments (many are anonymous) with location from TechCruch’s “worldwide readership” to conclude this is a problem in Silicon Valley.

  15. While I don’t necessarily disagree with Mr. Campbell and some of these posts regarding the Merc (they’re not even located downtown!), using the pending demolition of the old MLK Library as an exhibit stinks to high heaven!  The thing is just plain hideous!  A large concrete block that has no business on W. San Carlos St.  TEAR IT DOWN AND TEAR IT DOWN NOW!