San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas


Nearly four years ago, the San Marcos Mercury set out to change the way San Marcos communicates with itself, to provide a news source as dynamic and engaging as the city is.

In my youthful bluster, I called it a news war, declared with bombast and bravado. The rollicking good ride that followed has taken the Mercury through several stages of improvement and growth.

Our redesign, unveiled today, is the latest iteration of that vision, as we make allies of former competitors and focus our attention on the almost-daily, a dinosaur that has been on the endangered list for decades and which I still continue to think can be taken. As I love pointing out, the Daily Record is owned by Community Newspapers Holdings Inc., which in turn is owned by the beleaguered Alabama Public Employees Pension Fund. To meet its obligation to Alabama pensioners, CNHI is notorious for squeezing every last penny it can from community newspapers and leaving formerly venerable institutions as worthless shells unable to meet a newspaper’s obligation to the community.

The redesign implementation coincides with our merger with San Marcos Local News, itself a robust news outlet with a widespread and committed following. To SMLN enthusiasts, I want to say that the Mercury will continue SMLN’s dedication to providing a community forum for residents to gather and exchange ideas. The name has changed, but commitment to public discourse is a gene both the Mercury and SMLN have always shared — and one that the Mercury will preserve as it continues to gain audience.

This new design is intended as a framework for building on what we’ve started these first few years.

As I’ve said before, the challenge for newspapers these days is fitting into the way people live. People are doing a lot of living on Facebook. We were one of the first news organizations that I know of to develop an application, in 2008, to pull our story headlines into reader’s Facebook news feeds. Our new website takes the integration further.

Our new comment system lets people sign in with their comments, providing another option for users seeking the accountability of putting their name to their comments.

The new comment system solves another problem. There often are two parallel discussions going on about any given story at any given time — one discussion on the story on Facebook and another on the Mercury (or SMLN) website. Now, comments made on stories on our Facebook page will be automatically published on the San Marcos Mercury website.

As always, you can like us on Facebook to get our headlines in your news feed.

We seek to tell San Marcos stories on the Mercury. Our new interface makes it easier for readers to share those stories — and their thoughts on them — with people in their lives. Stories on the Mercury can now be easily shared in a variety of ways — by a Facebook wall post, a Facebook private message, Twitter and email.

While the fundamentals of the redesign are in place, I know from experience that the website will continue to evolve as we identify problems and fix them and identify opportunities and take them. Our readers have been invaluable in the past in helping us find our way forward. Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts here or by email.

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13 thoughts on “Brad Rollins’ blog: A new front in the news war

  1. My first instinct is to mourn the loss of a news outlet (SMLN). Not only was it a daily stop for me on the web, I firmly believe that there is strong benefit to the public from being able to glean their news from multiple sources. I am, however, more than willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the Mercury on this point for now.

    What I can not, however, bring myself to give you a pass on is your willingness to publish tripe like the latest “column” from Lamar Hankins. His antics were bad enough when he was just railing against the Republican Party or conservative principles in general, but his latest piece of work (about 9/11) crosses virtually every line there is for a news outlet hoping to establish itself as legitimate and/or be taken seriously. I would sooner expect to see such work on MoveOn or the like than a news outlet. Take all the shots you want at the Record, but I guarantee you won’t see junk like that over there.

    Another piece like that and I’ll be deleting this paricular bookmark from my web browser – and that would be a shame in so many ways.

  2. I am inclined to agree, not because his stuff is offensive (I never read it), but because it has nothing to do with San Marcos specifically.

    As far as I can tell, his stuff is just on here to attract traffic from outside of San Marcos (way outside), to get some better numbers to show advertisers. Whatever the reason for having his stuff, it is difficult to reconcile 99% of his columns with the stated goal “to change the way San Marcos communicates with itself, to provide a news source as dynamic and engaging as the city itself.”

  3. I agree wholeheartedly. I used to visit the Mercury regularly but got to where I despised Hankins stuff to the point where I stopped and only visited SMLN. Now I don’t have the option. Sure, I don’t have to read his drivel, but when it is 1/5 of the latest news, that is too much. It is NOT news in any way. It is a screwed up thinking editorial. If you want to leave it, at least bury it in the back yard where it belongs.

  4. I rarely agree with Lamar but he is very thoughtful. If you want to get inside the mind of the liberal he’s probably more fruitful even than Jim Hightower or Molly Ivins. I’ll never know what he hopes to accomplish advancing the atheist agenda since a world full of the idiots we seem to be producing, without at least a little fear of God, is truly a dismal prospect.

    I’m hoping that the old maxim that two can live as cheap as one prove true and, with reduced overhead, the quality on the one remaining site is superior to what we had. Best of luck to Brad and all the crew. I’ll still check in every day and hope for new stories and reasons to bust balls on the other posters.

  5. As someone who spent time beside you as well as across the table from you in those news wars, I have to say, “Congratulations!”

    It has been one wild and crazy ride and hints of the fun that is yet to come!

  6. Hankins aside, there is hope that the merger will provide some benefits to online news readers in this area too.

    For example, I would hope that the newly minted/merged Mercury would take a more even approach to its coverage of the business climate in San Marcos than SMLN did. There was a painfully evident bias in SMLN’s coverage, with “downtown development issues” taking a clear center stage….and that’s to say nothing of the coverage given to the Texas Music Theater compared to other venues around town. At times, you would have thought that nothing else was happening in San Marcos other than a concert….

  7. Dano,

    Did you even read Hankin’s column on 9-11? He makes some very legitimate points. Yes, it has nothing specifically to do with San Marcos, but in another sense…do we not have service men and women who live in our community, and who deal with the effects of fighting the wars that occurred because of 9-11? Do we not make choices at the polls that deal with our collective responses to evil?

    You don’t have to agree with the man, but you carry more weight when you respond with your own measured arguments, rather than dismiss him as trying to advance an atheistic agenda. What ever that means.

    Having said this, back to the original article: I’ll miss SMLN, and hope we’ll still get multiple viewpoints on the local news.

  8. Excuse me, Dano, I attributed the atheistic agenda comment to you , and it wasn’t one that you made. My apologies.

  9. Thank you all for the ideas.

    Lamar’s views are his own although I can’t say I always, or even very often, agree with them. I do appreciate his intellectual honesty. By this I don’t mean that I think he speaks self-evident truths but I think he is consistent in how he applies his worldview to the world. (Ted, numbers we provide to advertisers and prospective advertisers typically include the “San Marcos IP” address numbers to help determine how many readers are local readers.)

    Along these lines, I have made real, sustained efforts over the years to recruit conservative columnists but haven’t been able to do it. For that matter, I’m interested in signing up columnists of all persuasions — most of all pragmatism. If you’re willing to take a shot at it, please let me know.

    Dano, business coverage is going to be one of our forte so I think you’ll find much to like in that area.

    I appreciate all the well wishers and those willing to join this community and help improve it.

  10. I suggest Ted Marchut contribute a regular column on San Marcos public schools (SMCISD) – he seems to have a real passion for the topic and it always draws a lot of participation in the comments.

  11. Right on Ted! I like to say pompous stuff about other people’s stuff especially when it’s stuff I’ve never bothered to read.

    I also try not to think about stuff outside the 78666 zip code…who has the time? Just more stuff to clutter the brain…

  12. I’d love to do something like that, covering our school board meetings, programs at school districts like ours, etc. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have enough knowledge to fill a regular column, without investing a lot of time (which the subject deserves), and I’m doing an internship this semester, which takes me from working 50 hours per week, to 65.

  13. Wow Morris, thanks.

    All I said was that it is difficult to reconcile his column, with the stated goal of providing better coverage of San Marcos news. Not sure what is pompous about that.

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