A new weekly community newspaper in Morgan Hill has suspended operations after publishing just two editions, due to financial difficulties and a “disgruntled” employee who made steady business difficult, according to the publisher.
The free newspaper, Morgan Hill This Week, also never delivered on its intention to directly mail each edition to about 15,000 residents and businesses in Morgan Hill and San Martin, due to “logistical” difficulties, according to publisher and owner Terrence Wild.
Instead, the first two editions - one each published in October and November - were hand-delivered to homes, Wild said. He said he printed 15,000 copies of each of the first two editions, but a former employee of the publication said he did not print that many copies.
Then, he said, he learned of local policies and practices that discourage such blanket delivery unless recipients want or request the item being delivered.
Wild now thinks he will have these setbacks straightened out by Feb. 1, when he plans to print and deliver the next edition through the mail.
Morgan Hill This Week was planned from the beginning to be a bi-monthly publication, with editions printed on the 1st and 15th of every month, Wild said. He hopes to meet that schedule after operations resume.
Wild added he has not received any “direct complaints” from advertisers, but he said one of his employees has been making accusations and false claims about his operation, which made it “impossible” to continue business. He did not identify the employee.
Plus, he started the newspaper “on a shoestring” to begin with, but Wild thinks his financial situation will be settled in time for the Feb. 1 edition.
Wild, whose publishing experience goes back to the 1970s, described Morgan Hill This Week as “a community newspaper, concentrating on consumer news and consumer interests.”
Deb Porter, a former employee of Morgan Hill This Week said she left her job there as a sales representative about a month ago, because of what she called Wild’s failure to deliver on his promises to advertisers and readers.
Porter was told the newspaper would be delivered by mail to 15,000 residents and businesses, and she relayed this promise to businesses she sold advertisements to. She said she doesn’t think Wild printed as many as 15,000 copies, though she did not know how many were ultimately printed.
Though she thinks Morgan Hill This Week could have been more successful, this lack of follow-through on the stated intent hurt the publication’s credibility.
“He didn’t provide what he said he was going to,” Porter said.
Brad Jones, the co-owner of BookSmart, one of Morgan Hill This Week’s advertisers, doesn’t have any criticism of the new publication or its practices. But he said he was told it would be mailed to “every house and business in Morgan Hill.”
“They said it was going to be a weekly publication focused on Morgan Hill, and events in Morgan Hill,” Jones added.
In general, newspaper advertising isn’t greatly effective for his store, Jones said, but he chose to advertise with Morgan Hill This Week because of his previous relationships with two of its employees - Porter and editor Robert Airoldi.
Both Porter and Airoldi have worked for Main Street Media Group newspapers - including the Morgan Hill Times - in the past, for several years each. That’s how Jones knew them.
“I was trying to support them at their new jobs in Morgan Hill,” Jones said.
Airoldi declined to comment for this story.