Monday, March 3, 2008

Goldberg tells why she fled the Merc

Susan Goldberg (pictured) says she jumped from the job of editor of the Mercury News to the same job at the Cleveland Plain Dealer because she felt the situation at the San Jose paper was "just very unhappy. I didn’t see where it was going to end.” She made her comments to Cleveland Magazine, which has printed a lengthy profile of her:
    [I]n late 2005, impatient shareholders forced Knight Ridder to put itself up for sale. Goldberg tried to reassure the paper’s reporters and editors with optimism and candor. The turmoil could end pretty well, she said at a meeting, if the McClatchy chain bought the Mercury News — or “we could be sold to Singleton, and that would suck.”

    McClatchy did buy Knight Ridder in March 2006 — then sold the Mercury News 44 days later to Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group. ...

    Luckily for Goldberg, her new bosses apparently never heard about her candid moment. Still, she had to cut the news staff: first buyouts, then layoffs. ...

    “She had tremendous loyalty from the staff,” says [managing editor David] Satterfield. But she had cut about a quarter of the news employees, and she could tell more cuts were coming.

    “I just wanted to get out of the whole situation,” she says now. “It was just very unhappy. I didn’t see where it was going to end.”

    Late last March, a headhunter called her. The Plain Dealer needed a new top editor. Was she interested? No, she said at first. Her stepson was a junior in high school, so she didn’t want to move.

    “Then, after I hung up the phone, I started thinking, Let me get this straight, Susan. You’re in a situation that is not going well, and you have just told a top 20 newspaper to basically take a hike,” she says. “So I called the headhunter back and said, ‘Can I have a do-over on that?’


Anonymous said...

"we could be sold to Singleton, and that would suck.” ... that says it all!

Anonymous said...

But Susan was part of the problem: declining readership.

In her rush to embrace the diversity of San Jose, she permitted an astounding range of disparaging labels for her majority readership: WASP, non-Hispanic white, gringo, Anglo, cracker, white trash, and white-bread are just a few examples. And she never allowed rebuttal within the story to such disparagement as she did for smaller segments of readership.

In the meantime, and to her credit, she was strenuously opposed to similar slurs against African Americans, Asian Americans, American Indians, and Latin Americans, who were allowed to rebut slurs in quotations.

She could have accomplished her goal of inclusion without telling the largest share of her readership to get lost.