In case you missed it earlier this week, several Bay-area newspapers in California are in an uproar over the case of the missing newspaper racks.
It seems that racks belonging to several papers, including the Palo Alto Daily Post, Metro Silicon Valley and Palo Alto Weekly went missing from their regular spots. They were found, at least some of them, in a garbage bin belonging to a competitor, the San Jose Mercury News.
The Mercury News claims that it removed its own racks and competitors’ racks that were in violation of local ordinances. They claim it is “standard practice” for the major newspaper in the area to remove other papers’ racks and keep them for later pickup.
At first, the Mercury News claimed it had called the other publishers to let them know their property had been rounded up. However, on Friday the Mercury News acknowledged that it had “failed to follow its longtime practice of calling the other newspapers.”
San Jose Inside is, to put it bluntly, calling BS.
In a post today, headlined “The Mercury News is Lying,” San Jose Inside writer Dan Pulcrano writes:
There are two kinds of thieves: ones who own up to their actions when caught and those who make up facts to justify their thievery. The Mercury News executive team has chosen to go the route of lying thieves. Luckily, no one is really fooled, and the ethical character of the group running the Bay Area’s daily newspapers is now on display for all to see. The emperor has no clothes.
The part I like best pertains to the city of San Jose, which told Pulcrano on Friday:
“We do not have any records pertaining to this issue. We would not ask the Mercury News to confiscate a competitor’s property. If there were a violation, we would contact the owner directly to correct the issue or we would confiscate the news rack.”
Long term? Papers in San Jose, which apparently already don’t like each other very much will continue with their hard feelings. Circulation directors scheming across the country will rethink a few ethically questionable ideas. Romenesko will get quite a few tips about copycat situations going on around the country — no doubt they exist.
Short term? My wife, a former circulation department worker, and I got plenty of giggles from following the situation. I hope you do too.