Matt Mansfield leaving Merc leadership post

The Society’s Vice President, Matt Mansfield, is leaving his longtime leadership role at the San Jose Mercury News, where he is a deputy managing editor and business development director.

Mansfield steps down as part of the paper’s latest voluntary staff reductions. The buyout announcements go out this week.

Mansfield joined the Mercury News as news design director in 2000, following the paths of Bryan Monroe and David Yarnold, who put the paper on the visual journalism map in the 1990s.

He rose quickly through the ranks, soon becoming design director and then assistant managing editor. His widely acclaimed redesign of the Merc in 2001 and subsequent coverage of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 garnered the paper a spot as one of SND’s “World’s Best-Designed Newspapers,” one of the last American papers to achieve the honor.

Mansfield ushered the paper’s impressive visual staff through an unprecedented string of news events: the recall of a sitting governor and the election of an action hero (for which the paper’s photography was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), the death of a pope and a beloved former president, a war and its aftermath, the world’s greatest home-run slugger and his subsequent disgrace in a steroids scandal, wildfires across California, the rise and fall and rise of the tech economy. The list goes on.

Mansfield assembled staff after staff of some of the best journalists in the business. He directed photographers and reporters. Editors and artists. Designers and illustrators.

The Merc quickly became the place to be, thanks in large part to his recruiting of top talent from far and wide. Columbia Journalism Review named the Mercury News one of the Top 10 papers in the United States.

Under his leadership, there were many SND highlights, too. Mansfield chaired the annual SND workshop in San Jose in 2004, the first time SND had visited Silicon Valley, and he was elected to SND’s leadership in 2005. He directed the editors who helped revitalize both Update and Design. And he worked with a small group to build the Society a better online site.

He’s also crafted a successful role for himself redesigning other newspapers, notably the Lexington Herald-Leader and the Spokesman-Review.

Now he’s trying something new. He’s just not sure what it is yet.

He’ll spend the next few months consulting, traveling and generally figuring out his next move.


I know Matt didn’t take this decision lightly.

I know because I drove with him from The Times of Northwest Indiana to the Mercury News in 2000. That’s 2,000 miles of not taking it lightly.

I was in the car because I was his first hire at the Merc. Matt hired me while we were still in Indiana, his second step after getting off the phone with the Merc, he liked to recall.

Matt and I started on the same day, along with Kevin Wendt, now an assistant managing editor in San Jose, and soon after Bonita Burton, an assistant managing editor in Orlando, and Gabi Schmidt, now a consultant based in Mexico City. That was an amazing first few months.

It’s been an incredible journey for Matt and the Merc, from the high-flying days of the dot-com boom to the challenging changes shaking the newspaper industry. All along the way, his leadership has been a beacon to guide the Merc. Matt’s been a constant in Silicon Valley, an innovator in one of the world’s most-innovative places.

Matt took a few minutes to talk to Update about his choice to step away from the Merc.
Let’s all wish him the best in his new challenges. Can’t wait to see what he does.


1. So, is it true? Is Matt Mansfield leaving the San Jose Mercury News?

It’s true. It’s also one of the hardest decisions I have ever made.
Without question, I love the Merc: the work, the people, the place.

Leaving here will be a heartbreaking end to an amazing ride and, yet, the time feels right to exit. The buyout seemed an appropriate moment to hit the reset button.

I must admit to being more than a little sad right now, but I think that’s just because I’m nostalgic for a time that was, ultimately, unsustainable. That’s the difficult truth for many of us in newspapers right now.

What amazes me, looking back on it, is how much of myself has become tied up in my Merc personality. I’m humbled by the work we have been able to do here. And I’m genuinely indebted to my colleagues — present and past — who have worked tirelessly to make the Merc smart, successful and daring. They made me look good every day.

At our best, I hope we were able to set a pretty high benchmark.

2. It’s been eight years and a whole lot of incredible work, what were some of your most memorable moments, pages and stories?

The hardest few weeks of my professional career were right after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. I can recall that day like it was yesterday. You phoned me. It was early here and your wife, Mari, was visiting Chicago so she was up and watching it unfold. You told me to turn on the TV just as the second plane was hitting the World Trade Center. We both knew what to do next: head to the paper.

I remember all of us being exhausted by the avalanche of information we were trying to navigate, feeling, absolutely and with a certain force of will, that we had an obligation to be thoughtful, careful journalists in the wake of such a terrible tragedy on U.S. soil. Our coverage had a special duty. Everyone’s did.

Those events proved journalism had the power to matter more than ever. I think about that often. It’s interesting how your breaking news metabolism kicks in during times like that, how much it builds to something better than you knew you could do.

That sensation of being part of the Merc going full out on a big story really has defined my time here. It’s what we do. It’s who we are.

David Yarnold, the executive editor when I joined the paper, used to say that was the Merc’s DNA. I’ve been honored to be part of that tradition he and Bryan (Monroe) helped to foster. There has always been an incredibly large part of me that understood I was a steward of that legacy. My job was to extend it.

3. Given what’s been going on in the industry and what’s been going on at the Merc, what can other newsrooms learn from San Jose?

As many people know, I’ve been working on a rethinking project here (see the Merc rethink blog). Our aim was to use a great deal of observational research to reposition our product portfolio as massive change in media use has hit the newspaper industry hard.

That’s a fancy way of saying we needed to do something — and we needed to do it quick!

Look, I’ve been on the front lines of the online revolution.
I live in Silicon Valley, after all. My faith in what we do is stronger than ever.

But because I have grown up loving digital media, I know the imperative for change demands a different look at how we do business as journalists. I hope the industry begins to confront that in meaningful ways.

I have immense interest in and passion for the news, information, entertainment, technology and social media spaces.

I also know that building new audience segments is more important than ever because it helps define the overall impact of our media reach. So that means we have got to create some niche products that will draw in people who might never look at the traditional paper.

Trust me, I know that newspapers are in a tough market position because so much of the existing revenue model depends on the part of the franchise that’s getting less audience reach than it used to. I don’t side, however, with all the traditional folks who think that, if we hope and pray long enough, the good old days might just return. They won’t.

Media use has fundamentally changed. Smart people see this, both in that macro sense when they look out at the world and in the micro sense when they check out their own habits. We need to make media products that we want to use, and that other people might want to use even if we don’t.

For all those reasons, doing nothing (often the advice I hear) seems like doing harm. We must do something. Anything.

My advice: Try as many things as your organization can afford. And give until it hurts.

4. OK, so what’s next for you?

Want the scary answer? I have no idea yet.

My goal will be to use my skills in another media organization. I think there’s a lot I can offer as news and information shifts to online. The convergence of disciplines has been something I’ve been involved with and excited about for some time now. I know I’ll be lucky to find another institution that gives me the wide latitude for innovation I’ve enjoyed here at the Merc. Here’s hoping, though.

I’ll also be happily occupied on many things for the Society for News Design as vice president, working on everything from Quick Courses to the annual workshop in Las Vegas this fall (SND Vegas). I’m taking off on Thursday for the annual Malofiej Infographics World Summit in Spain, so you can expect reports from that great event right here on Update.

And, as the Society’s president next year, you can expect me to be a walking example of what mid-career change looks like, in a place so many members confront in this challenging environment.

5. Will you continue to work on the paper’s redesign?

Oh, right. I do know what’s next, at least for a month or two. I will be continuing to help the Merc because the paper’s new editor, Dave Butler, has asked me to finish some design work begun last year (when you and I tackled the business section). I’d like to get that work done. Dave has been kind enough to contract my services to see things through. My hope is to help set a solid architecture that can guide the excellent staff at the Merc for at least a bit of time to come.

6. What do you see as your legacy at the Merc?

Pushing for bold solutions.
Challenging the organization to reach.
Never accepting a single definition of my role or anyone else’s.
Those seem like lasting effects to me.

This would also be a good point for me to thank the Mercury News, our former corporate parent, Knight Ridder, and the current chiefs, Media News, for unflagging support of visual journalism. They leave a pretty decent legacy of institutional excellence in that regard.

The importance of the packaging and presentation of the news has not been lost on any of my employers, thanks in large part to the education that David (Yarnold) gave them. They have been stalwart supporters of my efforts inside the Society, giving generously of my time to the industry, as well as to my many other activities in journalism groups and associations. I could not have asked for a better cheering section.

On a personal level, I have two people to thank: You, for believing we could do this way back in that crazy bar in Miller Beach and helping me each step of the way every day since, and Susan Goldberg, who gave me the keys and never asked for them back. If I have a legacy in San Jose, you and Susan certainly share in it with equal measure. Thanks for helping me build this thing.

7. Over your time there you put together some pretty great groups of visual journalists (including, full disclosure, me … three times), any sage advice from The Professor to the rest of us?

My best advice is to spot talent wherever you can. Don’t be wowed by a big newspaper name or a slew of awards or any particular cult of personality.

Instead, really look deeply at what’s in front of you, the thought behind someone’s work, and take a mental judgment of how a person responds to coaching and feedback. Some of my best hires have been people whose greatest work was just around the corner.

In fact, I want to believe my own greatest work is just around the corner. Fingers firmly crossed.


• Jonathon Berlin is the editor of Design magazine and the design director at the Chicago Tribune. He’s been hired three times by Matt Mansfield, once in Indiana and twice at the San Jose Mercury News.

• Matt Mansfield remains the Society for News Design’s vice president. You can reach him by email: matt@mgredesign.com

About Jonathon Berlin

is graphics editor of the Chicago Tribune and a past president of the Society For News Design.

59 comments

OK, my brother. Greener pastures lie ahead – I promise!

A great run you had there – I still remember you telling me about this job and showing me the paper during a conference when you took the job eight years ago to be the design editor. Now look at you!

Kudos – big shoes to fill. Mighty big shoes.

I wish you nothing but the VERY best in your future. Now you can conquer the entire world!

We will always be here supporting and believing in you.

Congratulations and good luck! Wherever your path might lead you, you can count on some Deutsch support…

You’ll be missed ‘round these parts. And I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment: “For all those reasons, doing nothing (often the advice I hear) seems like doing harm. We must do something.” Rethinking has been a great experience. Good luck on the next stop.

Matt was the greatest coach I’ve ever had. And I think anyone who has come through the Merc can agree. He has a way of transforming your work while still letting you have a voice. It’s a sad, sad day for the Merc but I’m happy for you, bud, you need a break. Just promise you won’t leave the Bay Area. smile

“Give until it hurts.” Not only is this Matt’s most perspicacious advice to the rest of us, but the perfect summation of what he’s done for the Mercury News – for visual journalism everywhere.

I have two favorite Matt encounters. The first came at the end of an 18-hour day that began at 6 a.m. on 9-11. As we regarded the extra edition and next day’s report that would go on to win multiple SND gold medals and “World’s Best Designed” distinction, I turned to Matt and said, ‘You knew exactly what this paper was going to look like before you even left the house today, didn’t you?” Exhausted but totally amped, he just smiled and nodded.

The second came at SND Orlando in 2006, where Matt graciously contributed his summer internship to our program. I bumped into him in a hallway and casually commented on the number of students who couldn’t afford entry into the closing banquet. He gave me $1,000 on the spot with instructions to go find 10 deserving students and not reveal their benefactor.  Well kids, now you know.  Not only is Matt one of the most gifted, forward thinking natural-born leaders in the biz, he’s also an incredibly generous human being.

Best of luck in whatever comes next, Matt. We know you will continue to inspire. I, for one, count myself blessed to have worked for you in San Jose and am honored to be your SND VP.

Bonita just spoke volumes about Matt. His generosity has been stunning to SND over the years, and will certainly continue in whatever he ends up doing!

Matt’s a tremendous leader, a visionary for the industry and a great friend. We all wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors!

First Favre and now Matt!!!, so what’s the deal…:(
O.K. Matt I wish you the best, you are a kind person, a strong and powerful thinker, a visionary that has done a lot for this business. I have had the chance to talk to you several times, either on board meetings, SND, judging or just on hallways and every time I had the opportunity, I got just kind and excellent advice, plus a much-respected friendship. Thanks so much for what you have done for us.

— Javo

I had the unique circumstance of leaving the Merc right before Matt arrived, then returning three years later. This gave me a rare perspective of the changes at the Merc before Matt and after Matt. (B.M. and A.M. if you will.)

The changes were phenomenal. Matt had transformed a good visual paper to a world-class one. This became a paper that took chances on all departments: front page, sports, business, features, etc. Matt showed us what striving for excellence meant, and what it took to achieve it. And it shows in our pages.

Matt made the Mercury News into the mecca for top designers, photographers and artists. I’m astounded by the talent that has crossed these halls: Jonathon Berlin, Kris Viesselman, Stephanie Grace Lim, Michael Tribble, Tim Ball, Dai Sugano, Martin Gee, Javier Zarracina, Shan Carter, Kenney Marlatt and many others. Matt had a hand in getting these folks into the paper, even in the worst of times.

Despite his departure, his influence will still reverberate for many years to come. Good luck to any of you who are able to work with him.

Shit.

“… to make the Merc smart, successful and daring.” That’s a direct reflection of you, Matt, and in many ways that’s what you’ve helped the Society to become through your leadership and through your tireless and generous contributions.

I wish you nothing but the best because that’s what you gave all of us.

First, here’s to all of your many accomplishments in San Jose, Matt!

I am absolutely sure that your time at the Merc will be one of many successful chapters in your career.

Best of luck, old friend. First drink’s on me in Pamplona.

…and big hugs to pals in San Jose going through such a tough time.

Matt, my good friend and tireless SND partner.

How courageous and heart-beating exciting!

Yet I can understand what a sad decision it was to leave the Merc.

You will continue to inspire and lead in your new challenges.

My very best wishes!

Matt, you’ve done amazing work. There’s more to come, I’m sure… Best of luck to you.

Matt. The Merc is suffering a great loss with you heading out the door. It’ll never be the same. But, as these comments atest to, you will always be the same—and continue projecting greatness through your work and those you work with.

take care smile

i still don’t want to believe this and don’t know what to say. you leaving is the last straw and it breaks my heart. best wishes. thank you for everything. thank you for bringing me home.

While I never got the chance to work with Matt at the Merc, my experiences with him through SND were just as rewarding. He has been inspirational, giving and a great role model in the time I’ve been associated with him. It’s a great consolation that he will still be contributing to the organization that has grown and improved greatly over the past decade thanks, in large and small ways, to his efforts on its behalf. Thanks for that and good luck with your future plans. As I’m sure all who have commented on this blog to this point will attest, if there is anything I or others can do to help you as you go forward, don’t hesitate to ask. You deserve some return on all you’ve given us.

Favre, Elections in Texas, and Matt leaving the Merc… I agree with Javo… WHAT A DAY!!!
Matt, the best of luck on whatever will be your new professional step.
Saludos y un gran abrazo!,

AA

Wow. I always wondered when Matt would take his amazing show on tour. On one hand, its a monumental loss for the Merc, but Matt’s DNA is in everything they do. Couple that with the incredible team they have and you can guess how well they will carry on (my wayward son). On the other hand, we all get a chance to see Mansfield: Act 2, which should be more than interesting.

Good luck, man.

Add my best wishes, too. The world is open to you. My, what an exciting proposition.

================
The Merc quickly became the place to be, thanks in large part to his recruiting of top talent from far and wide. Columbia Journalism Review named the Mercury News one of the Top 10 papers in the United States.
================

November 1999: CJR names Mercury News to top-10 list.
January 2000: Matt Mansfield joins Mercury News.

Pre-emptive inspiration from 2,000 miles away!

That’s a fair point and correction, John Ryan!

I was not here when the paper was named by CJR. I think that paragraph might have been talking about the extraordinary hiring the Merc did during that period. It’s nonetheless correct that I was not on the Merc staff in 1999!

Meantime, thanks to everyone who has responded. It’s nice to see such good vibes!

Did anyone mention fun yet? The too few times I got to hang with Matt I was always struck by his energy, creativity, and determination that he and everyone around him have a good time while doing great work. He’ll always be a part of this design community that he helped build. And like a lot of members of that community I’ll always be grateful that he reminded us to keep fun in the mix.

Matt is a talented and capable leader and innovator – a rare combination. The Merc will be the lesser for his absence, and any paper lucky enough to get him will be the beneficiary of his talent and skill.

While I am sure this is person is a great guy, as a real person who has been working in various managerial roles at newspaper websites (very large and within Knight Ridder) for more than 10 years, I argue with the “I’ve been on the front lines of the online revolution” assertion.

I posted this on Romanesko and will post the rest here:

ANYONE who was related in any way to any Knight Ridder Digital initiative is NOT someone who was on the “front lines” of the online revolution.

As someone who worked with and launched “Market Leader” and had many, many conversations with other Knight Ridder newspaper “cellmates” across the country during this time, I can tell you that the people in San Jose had no idea what they were doing. None.

Now, this guy, who apparently didnt work for Knight Ridder Digital (which might be his only saving grace) says he was “on the front lines”?

Sorry, but I think it says quite a lot when McClatchy buys Knight Ridder and then doesnt keep any employees from the online division and abandons the wonderful “Market Leader” software…

I’m going to call someone’s bluff on anyone at any KR newspaper—especially that close to the corporate DISASTER—as part of the “online revolution”

Just living in San Jose doesn’t do it.

In fact, the complete idiot Tony Ridder moved the entire company from Miami to San Jose based on that flawed logic. And, that move alone cost and wasted MILLIONS at Knight Ridder. (Who knows how much more quickly that contributed to its ultimate demise)

So, please spare us this “front lines” stuff. The people in Lawrence, Kansas were not on the front lines, but they sure outwitted a lumbering foolish giant like Knight Ridder (Digital being optional).

Matt, you are a great leader who knows more about the information business—in all its forms—than anyone I know. If there’s something new going on in the world of innovation, I hear about it from you first.

You have also been a great friend, partner, confidant, inspiration, instigator, playmate and karaoke pal.

I can’t wait to see what your next chapter looks like.

Take a long vacation, Matt. Come visit me in Florida!

My very best to all my friends at the Merc. I know how hard it is to lose a great leader. But you will all continue to do him and yourselves proud.

Jim,

You’ve got a fair point about KR, though the company did some interesting (and costly) stuff early on. I don’t know if anyone is gonna jump out and disagree with you there.

I do think you’re misreading what Matt’s saying in the “frontlines” quote, though. Romenesko’s headline doesn’t help much.

I think Matt is saying that the view from Silicon Valley showed how much we need to change as an industry, not that he invented the Internet along with Al Gore and Sen. Ted Stevens. At least that’s how I read it.

Jonathon

Matt:

There’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been said. So I’ll simply wish you only the best as a fellow EIU guy and a fellow Times of NWI guy. And like everyone else, I’ll look forward to what’s coming next.

MattE.

Matt, I don’t know if we ever met. We may have exchanged e-mail once or twice, but I’ve followed the Merc and its visual journalism for at least as long as you’ve been there. And what you’ve done has been no less than superb, an example for the rest of us to look to.

I’m shocked to read the news of your departure, though I know the economic climate in newspapering is dismal, but wish you nothing but the best. Like everyone else, I’m eager to see Mansfield 2.0.

Hi Jim,

I think a clarification is in order. Matt was not directly involved with Knight Ridder Digital, but I wish he was. I agree with you, Jim, that KR Digital was a mess. It destroyed the Mercury News’ reputation as an online news site pioneer. Remember Merc Center? We started out on AOL in the early 90’s and trail-blazed many innovations. Some people credit the Merc with being the first newspaper online. We’d produced news Web packages before most papers discovered e-mail. That spirit was lost when KR corporate took over the Web presence.

Now, to the present, Matt has tried to infuse that sense of innovation and nimbleness back to our Web site, but his duties with the rethinking project kept him from doing so. I truly think, if he was given the time and money, Matt would have transformed our Web site, as he did with our print product, into something exciting and once-again trailblazing.

So, when he states “front lines,” he is stating it as a geographic term. Being in the heart of Silicon Valley, one would be in awe with the culture of enterprise and innovation, which is why thousands of techies move here and take a chance at starting up their own companies. Although I agree that innovation can happen elsewhere (like Lawrence, Kansas), the intensity here is unlike anywhere else. There is just a lot of cool stuff happening here. It’s too bad that doesn’t show on our Web site yet, but that’s another story…

Matt,

Wow! I remember when you hired me at The Times … during my interview sitting at Chili’s, throwing back Rolling Rocks. Thanks for taking a chance on a kid right out of school. You and all the other Times folks taught me a lot. Good luck on wherever life takes you next.

Pretty sure Jonathon and Pai have covered this (thanks, guys), but let me declare myself far from an apologist for Knight Ridder’s failed online strategy. When I said “front lines” I was indeed talking about covering the amazing revolution that’s happening here in Silicon Valley, the center of global innovation and, for my three or four cents, the most amazing place in the world. I was not suggesting that Knight Ridder was leading pioneering efforts (though, as Berlin notes, KR did try a lot of things). Merely that we had a front-row seat.

Matt is the King of Cool Cats, an impressive guy who put together a fabulous team and used it in a brilliant game of design chess!

Good luck to Matt in whatever he does next. There is no doubt he will be successful at it.

Just one more note on “front lines.” If we’re going with the war analogy, all Matt said is that he was in there, he didn’t say anything about:

* Google and Yahoo and such inventing online advertising, shunting newspapers to the side.

* Craigs list et. al. destroying our classified ad business.

* Changing reading habits resulting in the Merc losing 50,000 subscribers.

Safe to say Matt and the rest of us on the print side at the Merc *have* been on the front lines of the digital revolution, and it has kicked our skinny asses in the dirt.

I don’t consider this position permanent, however.

Mattman: Not one moment with you proved less than interesting. And fun. Definitely worthwhile. Always informative. But my absolute favorite is your imitation of typefaces. Best over PANcakes. Big hug.

Best of luck, Matt!

Looking forward to see what you are going to do in the future. What ever it will be; it will be good!

Matt,

I met you as young journalist and was in awe of you then as I am now. From the first time we met in Indiana to my time on the SND board and beyond you’ve always treated me like a colleague and a friend. I know your spirit will be missed at the Merc, even as it lives on there. I wish you the best of luck.

Congrats and good luck in your new adventures, Matt. It’s been fun to watch the Merc evolve over the years, even the more recent tumultuous ones. Your very talented team has inspired and surprised us repeatedly, and they’ve spread out to lead pockets of change all over the place. That’s something to be proud of in addition to everything else. You’ve brought class, style and smarts to SND at a critical time too. And who could forget the SND Update video reports and banquet shows (with a shout out to Denise. And Harris. And Mangle).

To my friends at the Merc: Best of luck in the days ahead. Big shoes to fill? Sure, but you’re keen professionals with mad skillz. Godspeed.

Congratulations, Matt!

If you’re going to take some time off to travel, do you mind if I borrow your Midas touch for a while? The next time you come back to Chicago, your first pint at Shannon’s is on me.

Best o’ luck.

Matt, you’re an inspiration … and an endless source of good talks, good laughs and good times. I’m excited to see what you’ll do next, and I wish you all the best!

Wow, sad day for the Merc and for the industry as a whole, Matt, depending on what you decide to do next.

I think subconsciously you’ve been something of a comfort blanket, like as long as you were still toiling away, fighting the fight in San Jose, the future was at least in good hands and had potential to turn out well.

I hope you land in a spot that allows you to be as influential as you have been the last several years and that you continue to be a beacon in an otherwise bleak time. But maybe that’s just me being selfish — and not particularly upbeat, at the moment … smile

Anyhow, I wish you the best and go get ‘em!

Good luck in whatever your new ventures might be, Matt. The legacy you and the Merc have created speaks for itself

I know this guy pretty well—as well as anyone, I’d guess.

We’ve worked countless hours together on SND projects. We’ve ensconced at dozens of workshop hotels and closed down their lobby bars. We’ve flown across the country and around the world together, hoarding thousands of miles on our beloved AA (who became our cursed AA when we were inevitably stranded on the annual trek to Syracuse). 

And even though we like to tell people we were born in the same hospital in Springfield, Illinois (true), I didn’t really know Matt Mansfield until he was at the Merc.

Over these last eight years, I’ve learned to think of the two as inextricably linked. Hundreds of times I’ve heard him introduce himself as “Matt Mansfield of the San Jose Mercury News”—so many times, in fact, that I always introduced him that way too.

They like to toss around the “it’s-in-our-DNA” phrase a little much in the Merc newsroom. But one thing was for sure: the Merc was in Matt’s DNA.

So I truly realize how tough this departure was, is and will be. But I also know, as 50 of the people who commented before me, how much Matt has done and meant to the Mercury News and vice versa.

It was an amazing run of years with so many accomplishments. And I have no doubt that Matt will become just as invested and successful in his next venture, whatever/wherever that may be.

It’s in his DNA.

Best wishes, my friend.

Working with Matt was a daily, contagious lesson of talent, passion, energy, leadership and style. And that’s just the professional side. In the personal area, as his numerous friends can tell you, Matt is even more impressive, smart and fun.

With Matt at the helm, one has the impression that any innovation, achievement or revolution is possible: Actually, it is.

Looking forward to being inspired and amazed by your next projects. Buena suerte, mi amigo!

To my friends at the Merc: Keep rocking!

Now that the wave of congratulations is over (and maybe nobody will even see this) it’s worth noting the state of our industry when people of Matt’s caliber are written a check and told “so long.”

And, please, at least send some positive karma to the folks who won’t be so lucky, talented, ambitious or charming to be sitting pretty like Matt is. Some with families to feed are going to be fired on Friday and I don’t know how they’ll make it.

Matt did everything right—hired some of the best talent on the planet whose work was a pleasure to see in print or online—and the Merc still got spanked in the aforementioned revolution.

SND’s detractors think it’s mostly a forum for self-congratulation of the ability to put pretty wrappers on things. A more cutting description is that SND has helped perfect the art of putting the prettiest lipstick possible on the pig we know as the daily print newspaper.

Mostly, SND reflects the rise of tools that allowed mere news junkies to become People who Designed Things. Papers have become more aesthetically pleasing, but they are still going out of style.

We’ve had 24,686,842,003 redesigns in the past 20 years but no reinvention.  It’s time to get moving.

I only made one mistake at The Detroit News back when. I didn’t hire Matt Mansfield when I had the chance.

Maybe he’ll hire me now.

Dale Peskin

Everybody around the world knows Matt Mansfield, at least everybody who has been in this business and once has dreamed to work with him….Matt, take a break,  drink a couple of beers, and wait for the next call, a bunch of newspapers are thinking to hire you right now…..God bless you!

Folks: I’m incredibly moved by what you have said about me, the work we have done at the Merc, just the whole of it …

Before I get to any of that, though, I have to tip my hat to many fine friends at the Merc who, as Tom Mangan points out, were let go today. There is no consolation for this kind of thing. It’s terrible.

It’s also safe to say that anyone who exited the Merc in the last week would be in my top people to work with. These are amazingly talented individuals who had no other luck than to be “next up” when the decision came.

These are wonderful journalists. They deserve better.

But I know they will do great things as they transition. The cool thing is how the market needs each and every one of you!

To my very good friends at the Merc: You are tremendous. You give more than anyone should.

Matt, my friend:
I’m impressed by how long you stuck it out at the Merc. It says a lot about your perseverance, work ethic and the high regard you have always shown to everyone there. And, oh yeah, you’re a helluva journalist, too.

I’m terribly saddened by the circumstances surrounding the departures of all my former friends and colleagues. And I’m frightened by the prospect of fewer talented journalists banging away at their beats. Not to overstate things too much, but a reasonable person can fear for democracy itself.

But when the dust settles, we will all be able to look back on our time in San Jose and see as it was: the golden age of journalism. We were lucky to have been there. And I was so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with you.

So, now that you’ve got all this time on your hands, be sure to come up to Puget Sound for a visit. There’s got to be some karaoke around here somewhere.

Matt,

we’ve never crossed paths, but as a alumni of “the region” in nw indiana i wanted to say thanks for providing inspiration to the rest of us… as well as giving readers something fresh and new at every turn.  personally, getting feedback and guidence has been tough over the years, esp. recently, but a constant has been seeing what you guys turned out at the merc and its always been invigorating. it was like having an online mentor and i just want to say thanks. i look forward to see where you land next.

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