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Thursday, July 12, 2018

The bean counters boot Bob Mercer

The Aberdeen American News announced that Bob Mercer is among seven employees laid off today. Here is executive editor J.J. Perry's explanation:

Bob Mercer’s situation is a little different. He is based in Pierre, and his work is sold by our company to other news outlets in South Dakota. Those subscriptions helped offset some of the cost, but not enough. 
Rather than an immediate layoff, the Capitol Bureau in Pierre will remain open through the end of September. That will give our member papers enough time to decide how to proceed with their coverage, including of our new governor and the legislative session that opens in January. 
My deep hope is that one of the other subscriber newspapers can pick up the Capitol Bureau position, and we can subscribe or otherwise subsidize some version of what the American News has been able to provide for nearly 10 years.
The layoffs come in response to a lack of operating capital.  What is obvious in Mercer's dismissal is that essential journalistic coverage is not much of a consideration.  Bob Mercer and the AP are the only coverage of state government in the state.  If editorial responsibility were a factor in the decision, a first concern would be that state government be covered and kept under scrutiny.  However, such journalistic concerns are not important in the world of bean counting.  In other words the primary reason that the press receives First Amendment rights is dismissed.

The South Dakota press has a reputation for deficient journalism, and the tradition continues.


Curt said...

Crap! Mercer has been an excellent reporter for decades. Despite his service as Janklow's press Secy, I have found his reporting to be thorough and unbiased - both before and after his tenure w/ Janklow. I'm searching for the proper metaphor … like perhaps our ship-of-state is losing its lifeboats.

Anonymous said...

Sad news especially for South Dakota. Can a South Dakota version of Minnpost exist or can South Dakota News Watch fill in that void similar to Minnpost?

Talked to an editor of a small town paper and they are being pushed into not going into much depth stories and more photos. Lots of photos. Dumbing down of America? Fake news? Old school Journalism with it's high standards is being de-valued?

Miranda Gohn

larry kurtz said...

At least Mercer has never advocated for removing ones testicles as a therapy for gender dysphoria while decrying other treatments. I confronted Mercer on his lack to ever file a story about clergy sex crimes in South Dakota and he blocked me on twitter for it. So much for unbiased reporting. As my late father would have said, "Bob is dead from the ass both ways."

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States