Parent companies of the most widely read news sources in San Marcos — SanMarcosMercury.com and SanMarcosLocalNews.com — have merged effective this week, their owners announced today.
The sites collectively recorded more than 20,000 visits from San Marcos IP addresses in the last 30 days and tens of thousands more from surrounding cities and counties. Visitors read an average of four stories per visit and logged a total of 76,000 pageviews during that period.
The websites will continue to operate as separate titles for the immediate future before consolidating under the San Marcos Mercury brand later this year. The new company, Mercury Media San Marcos LLC, is owned by Brad Rollins, Scott Gregson and Barton Publications Inc., parent company of the Hays Free Press.
“Our readers will benefit from the expanded resources of both teams working together. Our advertisers will benefit from a larger platform to put their products and services in front of customers,” said Rollins, who will serve as editor and publisher for both publications. “The Bartons are longtime giants of the Hays County news industry and Scott is a pioneer who built a successful online news business where others were afraid to go. I am honored to work with both of them.”
“I am excited to move forward with a consolidation of local news sources within our community and county. With this merger, the sum of the parts is greater than each venture continuing to stand alone. It has always been my belief that local news should be provided by local sources, not those just looking to use the news as a way to export advertising dollars and their profits out of our community,” Gregson said.
“We are excited to be able to offer the best and largest news coverage in Hays County. With our multi-media approach, we are able to offer readers not just in the Interstate 35 corridor, but also everyone in Hays County — full, balanced news for San Marcos, Buda, Kyle, and the county,” said Cyndy Slovak-Barton, Barton Publications general manager and publisher of the Hays Free Press.
San Marcos Mercury advertising representative Delilah Reyes will meet with current advertisers this week to discuss the transition. Advertisers with active contracts will be offered space on both sites at their existing rates. The company will offer combination rates in partnership with the Hays Free Press, giving advertisers further reach at affordable rates.
Sean Batura has been named assistant editor of the San Marcos Mercury/San Marcos Local News. Mercury co-founder Bill Peterson, who has served as San Marcos Local News editor since January 2009, is relocating to Los Angeles, Calif. to pursue other opportunities.
San Marcos Local News launched in January 2008 as Newstreamz San Marcos. The San Marcos Mercury started in April 2008.Email | Print
So basically Barton Publications will own a stake in every major news organization in Hays County?
Considering both the Mercury and SMLN have faced allegations of taking sides on key issues in the past (editorializing under the guise of reporting), I am underwhelmed by this announcement.
While the spin is that everyone benefits from this move, I fear that this could be a bad thing. The consolidation of local news sources often results in a more homogenized (at best) or uniformly slanted (at worst) version of the news.
Where do we go now for a different perspective?
Yup! I couldn’t agree more…but let’s take a wait and look and see.
Sounds like smoke and mirrors to me. Rollins boasts that “the expanded resources of both teams working together” will benefit the readers. Gregson says “the sum of the parts is greater than each venture continuing to stand alone.” But one part that isn’t involved is Peterson, who made SMLN, co-founded the Mercury when it was a lot better and long before then brought The Free Press into the 20th and 21st centuries. I hope Bill does well in Los Angeles.
There is absolutely no doubt that Bill Peterson’s leaving SMLN is a loss for San Marcos, nor is there any doubt that he contributed substantially to what the Mercury and SMLN are today. I have learned more from Bill Peterson than from any other single mentor. I appreciate that you hope he does well in Los Angeles — I have no doubt that he will.