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The Mercury News is a daily newspaper that publishes in the heart of Silicon Valley. It was Knight Ridder’s "hometown" paper and one of its flagships. Now it’s being sold by McClatchy. SiliconBeat alerts us to the "Save the Merc" campaign, which contends that the potential sale of the paper will have disastrous effects on the quality of its journalism and, by extension, the community.

Dan Gillmor, who will be keynoting Drilling Down, sounds off at length on the situation and argues why it might make sense for Yahoo! to acquire the paper:

This wouldn’t be an expensive acquisition by Yahoo standards, and the paper’s cash flow is still significant, so Yahoo’s shareholders might willingly tolerate such an experiment. Certainly, if Yahoo really means to be a serious player in journalism, it could do a lot worse — way, way, way worse — than to employ the still terrific (if vastly smaller than it was) editorial staff of the Mercury News along with the already talented journalists who work at the company.

Yahoo could become the international test bed for the transition we all know is coming in print journalism. (One place it could start is fulfilling the promise of the under-utilized SiliconValley.com asset that Knight Ridder has failed to nurture.)

Again, the shift to online is clearly happening even though papers have some future ahead of them. Yahoo, better than most — if it cared — could help make that transition the kind that honors the reasons we all should care so much about the future of quality journalism. If Silicon Valley and environs aren’t the best place in America to start, what is?

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Here’s a piece from today’s NY Times (reg. req’d) about Dan, the McClatchy transaction and the situation at The Mercury News.

Here’s CNET’s blog community’s responses to Gillmor’s suggestion about Yahoo! buying the Mercury News.

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