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CJR casts a wistful gaze at the Mercury News

Friday, November 11, 2011

imageColumbia Journalism Review has a treatise by Michael Shapiro about the Mercury News and what might have been, before the digital revolution, before Knight-Ridder peddled the newspaper to McClatchy, which peddled it to Dean Singleton’s MediaNews. It’s sad and illuminating, not that the Merc’s fate as best-of-breed in Bay Area News Group is any worse than other newspapers once with resources to match ambition. Here’s his description of the Merc’s physical plant:
The Merc is headquartered in a white wedding cake of a building that sits off a highway, and across from a largely deserted mall. There is a red linotype machine in the lobby, and late on a rainy afternoon it seems to be the only splash of animation in a building where voices feel not so much hushed as absent. The conference room looks out onto a dim and quiet newsroom . . . After one of several rounds of newsroom layoffs, a photographer went through the building taking pictures not of people—the people had left—but of rows of empty cubicles, stacked computer terminals, blank bulletin boards, and vacant corridors.

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