Can the San Jose Mercury News save itself?

December 19, 2007

“We all look at our slumping circulation and revenue numbers and wonder what kind of changes it will take to grow — or even keep — our audience. The good news is that we can find out. The answers lie in the people who walk, talk, drive, shop, and read among us every day.”

“The Merc” is trying to radically redesign their paper as a response to the declining circulation that afflicts almost every newspaper in the country. Being in Silicon Valley, though, they’re doing it the “open source” way, by blogging about the experience as it goes on (and soliciting feedback through the blog).

Here’s a post from last month that lays out the current prototype. The idea is that 70% of the staff would post news online, and 30% of the staff would dedicate themselves to making three really good section fronts for the print edition every day. The rest of the print paper will be plucked from online.

At the same time, the paper’s vowing to up its “personality.” Matt Mansfield, a deputy ME at the paper, wrote: “We repeatedly heard that people felt the writing and storytelling was flat, monotonous. They wanted some more lively pieces, with more flair. Our writing needs to reflect the personality of our community.”

Another post, musing on the impact of all this: “Are we zagging when everyone is zigging? Under this concept, we are becoming more a magazine, moving away from breaking news.”

You can follow the redesign/revamp as it progresses here.


4 Responses to “Can the San Jose Mercury News save itself?”

  1. Danny Lucas Says:

    How come your blog is no longer on the list at Erie Blogs?
    You never scroll the list either… matter what you post.
    You are a hidden resource.

    Erie Blog Watch and Heart Attack Jack got knocked off the list too. I can find you, but I was curious why so many are leaving the Erie Blog venue?

    I also see this move away as a step up and above the rant rage that persists in so many blogs there.

  2. Rachel Says:


    I’m not sure. It might be because I don’t live in Erie anymore–I didn’t ask them to take me down, but they probably (rightly) decided that my posts aren’t of interest to most Erie bloggers.

    That doesn’t explain what happened to Heart Attack Jack though.

  3. Danny Lucas Says:


    Heart Attack Jack officially retired and announced it.
    He has done it twice so I would not be surprised if a “Resurrection” crosses his mind again.

    Erie Blog Watch did the same, and both blogs among a host of em were removed on Erie Blogs
    (tho Outside Erie by Panepento retains a link to Erie Blog Watch–the defunct one, go figure).

    Panepento’s Inside Erie was removed too. He wrote that inside Erie.
    His Global Erie written outside Erie, consists of bloggers from a huge bank of cities so your thought that you have to be in Erie are not accurate.

    Heather Cass wrote of you, so there must be Erie interest in your blog, beside my own. I found yours to be one of few quality blogs on the whole Erie Blog board.
    Most are preenings and rants.

    Maybe you should click the Erie Blog button again and put your blog back. Dennis will be asleep at the switch anyway.
    I swear Mike or richard committed an act they do not want revealed and Dennis knows what it is. Any human type person would jettison Dennis as hazardous to your health.

    You have not scrolled the blog list at Erie Blogs for a long time now either, but this is true for many, many other blogs. Erie Blogs has techno failures up the yin yang daily.

    I think the link would help you, for if you scrolled by the daily sludge nearby, everyone would gravitate to you like osmosis (hey, put osmosis in your funny sounding word category—-
    Question: “What was the name of Moses dad?
    Answer: “Oz” I thought osmosis had a zing and will send a few more to you….like Managua, Nicaragua. :)

    Replug in town. Erie has already lost the best of everything already and needs some quality to return.

    Best regards,
    Danny Lucas

  4. […] written on the Rethinking Project before, in December. I thought it was an interesting if not excellent idea then, and (with no updates to the Rethinking […]

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