• United States
News Editor

Fate of the Mercury News

Mar 20, 20062 mins
Data Center

The press writing about the press writing about the press: That’s what is about to happen here – a sin against journalism — according to old-school thought on the subject.

            But if you care about the quality of the news you consume – in particular, the quality of your technology news – then stories such as the New York Times has this morning about the San Jose Mercury News call for careful reading and thought.

            In a nutshell, the Mercury News – one of the nation’s most important chroniclers of the high-tech industry – faces an uncertain future today in the wake of its former parent company, Knight Ridder, being sold to the McClatchy Company. McClatchy has already announced that it will be dumping a dozen Knight Ridder papers, including the Mercury News, ostensibly to help finance the deal but in reality because those papers conduct journalism at a level too costly to be consistent with the industry’s brutal economics. For one thing, the papers are unionized.

From the Times story about the Mercury News: “The newspaper tried to be as innovative as the companies it was covering. It was one of the first papers with a Web site — — and one of the earliest to blog, back in 1999. It recognized that people were consuming news in a new and different way because of the Internet.”

“But the paper had missed an important innovation, one that would rock the entire newspaper industry. As the dot-coms collapsed, Silicon Valley companies were doing decidedly less hiring. When they did need to fill a job, they posted the opening free on their own Web sites or on and on the new nationwide Web job listings, like”

The result: revenue from help-wanted ads fell from $118 million to a mere $18 million a year. And that meant a paring of the newsroom payroll from 404 to 280.

The more that trend continues – and it likely will under new ownership — the more you’ll be depending on your favorite vendors to bring you the news about their products and services.

News Editor

In addition to my editing duties, I have written Buzzblog since January, 2006 and wrote the 'Net Buzz column in Network World's dearly departed print edition for 13 years. Feel free to e-mail me at