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News-Journal Circulation Plummets 10% in First 6 Months Under New Ownership

| January 4, 2011

daytona beach news-journal newsroom

The late newsroom. (© FlaglerLive)

In his New Year report to readers, Daytona Beach News-Journal Editor Pat Rice summarized a couple of changes enacted in the last nine months at the newspaper, since it fell under new ownership: a reshuffling, though not an increase, of news beats, an increase in local items, a “hope to increase the amount of community news,” and so on.

The report was silent on two substantial changes (firings and lay-offs aside) that affect the paper’s personality and influence: the elimination of online comments, which reduced online readership, and the staggering decline in the newspaper’s circulation since the new ownership’s take-over last April. (There’s been other substantial changes over the months, of course, such as the editorial page’s about-face and the sports section’s more recent and wholehearted embrace of the drab, though ideological and stylistic changes are the wont of any new owner).

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In the first six months under new ownership, the paper’s circulation declined from an average weekday circulation of 70,721 to 63,902, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation. Newspapers across the nation have been bleeding readership, but the News-Journal’s 10 percent decline in the first six months under its new regime was double the average decline the nation’s daily newspapers experienced in the same period.

Sunday circulation has also fell 10 percent, from 92,553 to 83,486, though Sunday circulation across the nation feel 4.5 percent.

Going back to 2005, average daily circulation at the News-Journal has fallen by 41,431 copies, or 39 percent, while the cover price of the paper rose 50 percent. Advertising rates have not, of course, declined apace, though the paper reduced its subscription rates modestly late last year in response to the hemorrhage in subscribers. Available Audit Bureau of Circulation numbers don’t break out figures for the twice-weekly Flagler News-Tribune, whose peak circulation was around 10,000, including copies distributed as part of the main paper. If the News-Tribune’s circulation trend followed the News-Journal’s, that number would be significantly lower, as it would also reflect Flagler County’s diminishing population.

Not much circulation there, either. (© FlaglerLive)

Online visibility figures are less precise. Before the take-over, the company’s rate card for online advertising boasted 1 million total visits per month, and 4 million total page views. That was before the decision by the new Publisher, Michael Redding, to to eliminate online comments at what he called the “ideas-inclusive” News-Journal. (By way of comparison, FlaglerLive, after eight months online, drew 107,000 total visitors in December, and 700,000 page views).

A trio of investors under the banner of Halifax Media took over the News-Journal last April 1, ending the paper’s 82-year ownership by the Davidson family. The lead investor is Stephens Capital Partners of Little Rock, Ark. Smaller investors were Destin-based JAASSS Media and Redding, a former employee at the paper, under the Davidson, and now its publisher.

Rice and Redding did not respond to emailed questions about the paper’s circulation trend and its plans for improving coverage in Flagler County, anemic since well before the April take-over. Three reporters currently cover the county–Aaron London, Frank Fernandez and Annie Martin.

News-Journal Retirees Throw a Fund-Raiser

Several down-home Daytona Beach musical acts will headline the entertainment when current and former newspaper workers get together Jan. 8 for the N-J Reunion Jam.

The Park-O-Lators and Sitarick, joined by John “Elvis” Bozzo, will play a diverse medley at VFW Post 3282. The Saturday-afternoon bash is open to past and present Daytona Beach News-Journal employees and their friends and families as well as the general public.

Starting at 2 p.m., the four-hour party will include a silent auction, a 50-50 raffle, a few comedy bits, a smidge of nostalgia from humor columnist Mark Lane, and who knows what else. With the show date falling on the 75th birthday of The King, this will be a perfect time to don your blue suede shoes and dance up a storm. The VFW is at 5830 S. Williamson Blvd., at Taylor Road, Port Orange.

Sitarick, also known as N-J entertainment writer Rick DeYampert, has played guitar for decades but recently added the sitar and the Native American flute to his musical skill set. His profile is at Bozzo, who retired from Daytona Beach City Hall reporting, amuses himself on the guitar with classic rock tunes, including the Elvis songbook. You can find samples of his music on Facebook. Also performing will be copy editor Casmira Harrison, who plays guitar and keyboard.

The four-piece Park-O-Lators band is led by News-Journal business writer Clayton Park, who sings and plays guitar and electric violin, and his wife Susan, percussionist and vocalist. They will be joined by Julie Baker on bass and Graham Woodard on rhythm guitar. The Parks play their own music, which they describe as an “original blend of roots rock Americana.” They have been performing in the Daytona Beach area for the past year but their stage experience includes more than 20 years with various garage bands and gospel groups. You can learn more about them at

Sports writer Ken Hornack will help out as emcee, and former Accent and Food Editor Cathy Klasne is organizing the silent action. E-mail her at if you have merchandise or a gift certificate to donate.

The show is being organized by several News-Journal retirees who joined a federal lawsuit in an effort to safeguard the News-Journal’s pension plan. The $28 million plan is now under the protection of the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which is seeking $14 million from a receivership controlled by Cox Newspapers to help meet the plan’s obligations. A federal appeals court in Atlanta is expected to rule in coming months whether Cox has to give the pension plan some of the money it made by selling the newspaper to Halifax Media.

All proceeds will help defray the retiree-interveners’ legal expenses. The goal: raising $2,000.

Tickets are $10 if purchased in advance; admission at the door is $12. Wings, meatballs and other appetizers will be served, and an affordably priced cash bar will be available.

To reserve tickets, send a check payable to Bruce Kuehn at 2460 Jerry Circle, Port Orange, Fla. 32128. Be sure to include your e-mail address; you will be e-mailed a receipt allowing you to pick up your tickets at the door. If you don’t have e-mail, please include your phone number.

If you can’t attend, please consider sending Bruce a few dollars anyway to help meet the goal. For further ticket information, contact Tom Brown at 386-576-6671 or

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27 Responses for “News-Journal Circulation Plummets 10% in First 6 Months Under New Ownership”

  1. NortonSmitty says:

    DLF, WTF? Again, is there any problems, any situation that ever crossed your sorry path through life that doesn’t require one of your regurgitations of Rush Limbaughs ass-music? Maybe it’s time to find another note to pound to death.


  2. DLF says:

    Norton Smitty: same old crap out of you, name calling, lack of reason or facts so you resort to name calling. That was the way you were on NJ page and past reports on Flagler Live, get a new line


  3. NortonSmitty says:

    First, I never wrote for the News/Journal, ever. I don’t imagine that will ever happen under the new regime.

    Second, I am so tired of your right-wing brainless intellectually bereft drivel. Bullshit dogma that you haven’t even thought of yourself, but parrot like your gonna’ get a cracker or some copacetic clucking from your fellow frequent flier flock of conservative cuckoos. And then, the passive/aggressive conservatives favorite counterattack, after your usual Church Lady worthy proudful strut, ending with name calling ( Dizzy? Liberalass?), you snivel and whine when you get the same in return. By the way, if you read my post, I don’t see any name I called. I must be slipping.

    As far as facts, I do pretty well when I have something to get out to someone who will listen. I don’t waste good facts on people who’s minds are armored against them. Closed because they consider the baser facets of human nature like greed, selfishness and lack of compassion to be a political platform that they believe with a perverted religious fervor. Half of us are embarrassed by these flaws in our characters. The other half are Republicans.

    I do have to say I sometimes fail to be civil to people like yourself when they repeat their same old Repub/Fox talking points for the umpteenth time. I am thankful every day to have this gift.


  4. Kevin says:

    If one reviews the content of Norton Smitty’s and the chronological sequence of the comments he has made, one will see that he is the hatemonger, the first to spit his ugly little-man comments into the eyes of those he disagrees with. NS makes Michael Savage seem like a choir boy in comparison. Smitty is exponentially guiltier of the very actions that he accuses others of; the facts to support my accusations require only that an intellectually honest observer review the chronological sequence of his tripe on this page alone. He is merely a reflection of the ugliness that is often expressed by those who share his ideologies.

    It is embarrassing to read your comments Smitty, and the reason I don’t respond to you like I use to. You are transparent in your need to compensate for what I argue are probably inadequacies created by you unsuccessfully completing major developmental milestones during your life. Examine how ugly you get towards those you disagree with, and to support your notions you rely constantly on nothing more than ad hominem attacks, ridiculous comparisons, and insinuations that only people like you believe to be insulting because what you say is often based on a lie or false representation-you choose which.
    Smitty why? Why do you project yourself to be the intellectually deficient jack-ass that you seem to think you are entitled to be? You don’t write like Pierre but I see you like to pretend you are in his class. You certainly don’t back up anything you say with even a tenth of credible points so get a grip on yourself and not in a weird way either if you get my meaning.

    If you stop acting as you do, there still may be time to prevent yourself from falling further down the rabbit hole. Unfortunately, I see you as a person who is unable and unwilling to admit to the error of your ways because as I said in the beginning, you delusionally consider yourself to having the intellectual high ground on various topics.Why this is I can’t understand because you don’t come across as a particularly highly trained individual in anything but being a blowhard gas-bag:o)


  5. NortonSmitty says:

    Thanks Kevin for spending so much time analyzing the deficiencies in my Psyche. But did you ever stop and think that maybe I just really fucking hate Republicans?


  6. Dissen says:

    Wow, it’s amazing how hateful, narrow minded, and hypocritical you are Kevin. Get off you high horse! Do you think Einstein walked around at a party explaining to everyone why they were idiots and how he’s the smartest man on the planet? I don’t think so, because he actually was intelligent.

    DLF, nice try. Okay, I’m lying. That was the weakest response straight from the Rush Limbaugh, Handbook For The Clueless, I’ve ever heard. But yes, I am Dizzy. Dizzy from all th blowhard B.S. you spew contaminating my airspace.


  7. Kevin says:

    Yeah, I know Dissen, in the delusional mind like your’s it might seem that way.

    NS: I give you points for admitting to what you did. I’ll keep that in mind but going forward don’t pretend anything less than what you admit to now and all will be good.


  8. NortonSmitty says:

    Wait a second Kev boy! I don’t ever pretend to be anything other than me. In the words of one of my favorite American philosophers,” I am whats’ I am!”. (That’s Popeye, for you Philistines)

    And just what was this game changing revelation that I admit to?


  9. DLF says:

    Kevin; well said about Norton Smitty and he has yet to have a reply that makes and sense what so ever, but whats new , I have yet to read one of his comments that was not full of name calling and factless comments, but that is America now, look who they elected.


  10. Dissen says:

    You guys, with your superior intellect win again! Excellent debate and your use of persuasion is unequalled anywhere. I tip my Tricorn hat to you and as a new convert to your Conservative think tank, I surrender any use of my brain from this point forward.


  11. Captain Courageous formerly ItsMe says:

    NortonSmitty says:
    January 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm
    Wait a second Kev boy! I don’t ever pretend to be anything other than me. In the words of one of my favorite American philosophers,” I am whats’ I am!”. (That’s Popeye, for you Philistines)

    You sound a little more like Bluto to me…


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