Mercury blues

The recent announcement that the San Jose Mercury News was slashing its newsroom staff by 40 positions was more bad news for Bay Area readers. The Mercury will now have 200 people in its newsroom, half of what it had in 2000.

The Mercury News is part of a chain, MediaNews, that now owns virtually every newspaper in the Bay Area with the exception of the San Francisco Chronicle, which announced in May that it was laying off 25 percent of its news staff. (MediaNews also owns the Chico Enterprise-Record, the Oroville Mercury Register and the Paradise Post, as well as several other papers on the North State.)

With these cuts come serious reductions in coverage, chief among them a cutback in capital bureaus and the resulting decrease in quality state government reporting. And Local coverage also diminishes, replaced by regional pool coverage and far fewer individual voices.

As veteran capital reporter and blogger Frank D. Russo asks, “Will ‘citizen journalism’ and the Internet medium rise to the challenge?” A tall order.