Tuesday, March 2, 2010

'New' SM County Times becomes more local

Ever since Dean Singleton bought the San Mateo County Times from its local owners in 1996, the paper has run a lot of copy and ads from the East Bay, where his chain has other papers, such as the Oakland Tribune. Longtime Times columnist John Horgan announced Monday that after 14 years, the paper's content has been shifted from the East Bay to the Peninsula.
    On its face, that may not seem like a big deal. But it is. The move, effective this week, gives San Mateo County's daily newspaper a decidedly West Bay flavor once again.

    Some history is in order. The Times, whose origins stretch all the way back to 1889, had been a strictly Peninsula operation, controlled for decades by the heirs of Horace Amphlett.

    However, because of unrelenting financial pressures on the ownership, the three surviving adult children of the late J. Hart Clinton, it was sold to Dean Singleton's far-flung media empire in early 1996. It was then integrated into what once was the Alameda Newspaper Group, based in Oakland and Pleasanton.

    There were some problems with the new setup, the most obvious of which was content. Because of the East Bay connection, the Times contained a good deal of — some would say too much of — news and advertising devoted to unfamiliar communities, issues, people and businesses across the Bay.

    The culture clash created a unhappiness among subscribers, and readership declined. There has been a nagging concern that the situation could not be remedied in tough economic times for newspapers across the country. Still, Denver-based Singleton and his associates understood the issues on the Peninsula.

    Something had to be done. Now, it has. ...

    Today, the "new" Times is prepared to flourish under this fresh and, hopefully, reinvigorating arrangement. Coverage of local news will increase. So will local advertising, the lifeblood of any journalistic enterprise.

    The Internet, of course, remains to the future of the Times, the Mercury News and the rest of the newspaper industry. Gaining significant revenues from the online world, however, remains a challenge.

    Some things will stay the same. The Times' office is still in downtown San Mateo at the intersection of Ninth Avenue and South Claremont Street. Telephone numbers and e-mail addresses won't change.
We're told the paper's copy desk will remain in Walnut Creek, where other MediaNews Group papers in the Bay Area are edited.


Anonymous said...

About time!
Before the buyout, the Times was an institution in San Mateo. Longtime subscribers got tired of reading about events in Livermore and finally gave up.

Maybe this will be a fresh start.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like they're gonna simply use more Mercury News content to fill out the local pages instead of stories from the East Bay. But any notion that original, local content will increase is laughable.

John C. Baker said...

And, blessedly, I assume this will mean less Raiders coverage in the sports pages!

Anonymous said...

So... instead of repackaging news from the Hayward and Oakland papers, they will now repackage news from the Daily News and Merc. Does that editor really believe the stuff he says?

Anonymous said...

With Horgan's announcement, I was expecting some significant changes. But the format is similar to what the Times offered in the past -- maybe two or three solid local stories and then a hodge podge of press releases, wire stories and stories picked up from sister papers. They really need more reporters and photographers to fulfill their pledge of being more local.