News

Competing news racks found in Mercury News Dumpster

More than 30 newspaper and periodical racks found in Dumpster behind San Jose Mercury News headquarters

At least 31 newspaper distribution racks were discovered behind the San Jose Mercury News headquarters recently, and many, if not all of them, did not belong to the Merc, according to various reports in local media sources and the head of a Mountain View-based company that owns several of the racks discovered on the San Jose newspaper's property.

The discovery resulted in the newspaper issuing a statement explaining that the property was not stolen, as some publishers charged, but simply had been picked up at the request of private property owners or local city governments.

A San Jose-based blog reported that a Mountain View Voice rack and a Palo Alto Weekly rack were found behind the Merc.

Tom Lilledahl owns Circulation Management Inc., which runs its distribution business out of a warehouse off of North Shoreline Boulevard in Mountain View. He discovered all the racks when he went looking for some of his behind the Mercury News headquarters.

Lilledahl explained that the Mercury News sometimes takes down other newspapers' racks along with their own when they are asked by local municipalities to remove racks that don't comply with local regulations. Lilledahl said he is supposed to get a call when this happens but that he doesn't always receive a notification and he is usually able to go behind the Mercury headquarters and take his racks back without any problems. However, this time around, when he went to look for his racks, he found them not on the ground, ready to be collected, but in and around a large Dumpster, roughly the size of a moving truck.

"I was pretty disgusted," Lilledahl said. "There were 10 racks in that Dumpster that had no business being there."

He explained that he has repeatedly told the Mercury News staff not to touch his racks and has even taken them to small claims court to drive his point home.

While Lilledahl was there, the police were called, although no official police report was taken, he said. He called the San Jose Metro, an alternative weekly, and the Daily Post of Palo Alto, as he had seen both publications' racks in and around the Dumpster.

Both of those publications followed up with news stories on the discovery. According to the story that appeared on the blog SanJoseInside, which is published by Metro owner Dan Pulcrano, racks for the Mountain View Voice and the Palo Alto Weekly were among those behind the Mercury News headquarters.

A statement from the Mercury News was published Thursday, Aug. 2, along with the story appearing on the SanJoseInside blog. It reads as follows:

Earlier this afternoon, representatives from a local newspaper came onto our property unannounced claiming that we had stolen their newsracks. To be clear, we have not stolen anyone's newsracks. We were, however, recently contacted by local authorities and instructed to remove several newsracks that were not in compliance with a local rack ordinance. We complied with the request and notified the individual publishers whose racks we removed. The racks have been stored on our property since that time.

This is a normal practice in the industry that is recognized by the various municipalities as well as the publishers who place racks on the streets. This afternoon was the first time any of the publishers notified us that they were interested in retrieving the racks.

Given that we had not been provided with prior notice of their desire to retrieve the racks, after discussions with the publishers' representatives and the San Jose police, we agreed earlier this afternoon to meet again tomorrow. At that time, we would make all the racks available for pickup by the publishers' representatives, which had been our desire all along. Everyone was satisfied with this arrangement.

Given this prior understanding, we are unclear what led to the incident earlier this evening.

But Bill Johnson, CEO of Embarcadero Media, which publishes both the Mountain View Voice and the Palo Alto Weekly, denied that he had been notified about the removed newsracks.

"While I'm willing to accept the Mercury News explanation as to why they removed some newsracks, contrary to their statement no one at our company was informed that they had done so, and we had no idea they were in possession of racks owned by us," he said.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mel
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Here, let me help you finish your reporting. From the blog that actually does your reporting, but whom you refuse to name, "CMI personnel went to the Mercury News' Ridder Park Drive plant and found its missing property, along with news boxes of Metro, the Palo Alto Daily Post, the Mountain View Voice, Good Times, La Oferta, the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications. -- Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Follow-The-Paper-Trail
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2012 at 8:02 am

What's missing in this story is the proof that a paper trail would document. If the Mercury News was contacted, wouldn't it stand to reason that they would have made a record of the request to remove the racks, which would have included, at least: 1) name of person requesting racks be removed, 2) title of said person, 3) City/Agency, 4) date, 5) requested action date, 6) location of racks to be picked up, etc. And then there might be a similar paper trail to document that the pickups had been completed, and that the rack owners had been notified.

All of this is easily done via email, leaving a nice e-paper trail.

Of course, if the Mercury doesn't use computers like they could, or don't believe in internal paper trails--that sort of explains the lack of documentation at this point in this story.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Retired Staffer
a resident of another community
on Aug 3, 2012 at 9:09 am

Missing from this story is the fact that the CONTENT of these newsracks is what really belongs in the dumpster!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Aug 3, 2012 at 10:16 am

Mel -- Let me help you complete your reading. And CMI, which you quote, it Circulation Management Inc.:

From the Palo Alto Online story:

A [www.sanjoseinside.com San Jose-based blog] reported that a Mountain View Voice rack and a Palo Alto Weekly rack were found behind the Merc.

Tom Lilledahl owns [www.circulationmgmt.com Circulation Management Inc.], which runs its distribution business out of a warehouse off of North Shoreline Boulevard in Mountain View. He discovered all the racks when he went looking for some of his behind the Mercury News headquarters.

Lilledahl explained that the Mercury News sometimes takes down other newspapers' racks along with their own when they are asked by local municipalities to remove racks that don't comply with local regulations. Lilledahl said he is supposed to get a call when this happens but that he doesn't always receive a notification and he is usually able to go behind the Mercury headquarters and take his racks back without any problems. However, this time around, when he went to look for his racks, he found them not on the ground, ready to be collected, but in and around a large Dumpster, roughly the size of a moving truck.

"I was pretty disgusted," Lilledahl said. "There were 10 racks in that Dumpster that had no business being there."

He explained that he has repeatedly told the Mercury News staff not to touch his racks and has even taken them to small claims court to drive his point home.

While Lilledahl was there, the police were called, although no official police report was taken, he said. He called the San Jose Metro, an alternative weekly, and the Daily Post of Palo Alto, as he had seen both publications' racks in and around the Dumpster.

Both of those publications followed up with news stories on the discovery. According to the story that appeared on the blog [www.sanjoseinside.com SanJoseInside], which is published by Metro owner Dan Pulcrano, racks for the Mountain View Voice and the Palo Alto Weekly were among those behind the Mercury News headquarters.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 3, 2012 at 11:02 am

Again?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2012 at 11:46 am

Why would the authorities only correspond with the Mercury News regarding the issue of rack removal? Wouldn't it make more sense to contact each publication about compliance issues? I'm also curious as to who these "authorities" are that supposedly requested the removal. Was it a local city government, county, or state agency? Just some thoughts.

This also makes me reflect on what I believe will be the soon demise of the print media as we know it, at least in major metropolitan areas anyway. In another five years we might be hard pressed to find a newspaper rack of any kind, anywhere. This story wouldn't even be a story before too long I'm afraid. A newspaper rack will become as rare as a pay phone.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm

The Mercury News states:

"Given that we had not been provided with prior notice of their desire to retrieve the racks..."

So, let's see, this means that Lilledahl taking them to Small Claims Court still doesn't help them figure out that he wants his racks?

Wow.

Do these guys have their heads up the midnight tunnel or what?

Very unfortunate that the Merc, an otherwise impressive newspaper with some quality journalism, has stooped to this level.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Am I the only one who wonders why these newspapers have their racks in so many places where they don't belong? Why does the Mercury have to pick up other papers' racks unless maybe they ignore complaints when they get them and then let the Mercury do the work and take the blame?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 3, 2012 at 1:46 pm

It's good to learn the name of the company responsible for the news racks. They are dirty and unsightly. How about a little clean-up once in a while, instead of confiscation.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by me
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2012 at 6:41 pm

The Daily Post reports some important information that this article omits:

"Police yesterday launched a criminal investigation into how dozens of newspaper racks ended up in the back lot of the Mercury News in San Jose -- racks that belong to the Merc's competitors."
...
"But city officials in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Mountain View told the Post that if they have a problem with a particular newspaper rack, they contact the owner of the rack -- not a competitor."
...
"San Jose police Sgt. Jason Dwyer said officers found 30 to 35 metal newspaper racks in a dumpster at the Marc, and another 75 lined up next to the dumpster."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by me
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2012 at 10:18 am

"Observer" says: "Am I the only one who wonders why these newspapers have their racks in so many places where they don't belong?" There's no evidence that they do. It sounds like the Mercury News can't stand the competition and decided that petty thievery is the solution.

By the way, according to the Daily Post, the Mercury News, when challenged by the police to back up its story, has changed its tune and now claims that Code Enforcement, not the police, asked them to remove the boxes.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mercurial
a resident of University South
on Aug 6, 2012 at 9:24 am

"Very unfortunate that the Merc, an otherwise impressive newspaper with some quality journalism..."

LOL. Many moons ago, the Mercury was one of the best newspapers in the region. Unfortunately, those days ended over 20 years ago. It looks like the Mercury is following the Palo Alto Times into oblivion.


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