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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).

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 www.rickdeyampert.com. 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 www.parkolators.com.

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 cathie0209@hotmail.com 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 brownt218@yahoo.com.

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

  1. lawabidingcitizen says:

    What about-face in the N-J’s editorial page?

    We would have stopped subscribing years ago, but my husband can’t do without a mornimg newspaper to read with his coffee even though the lefty slant makes him furious. I never look at it.

    The new owners are just like the old owners except that local coverage is even is even scantier.

    The online edition is truly awful and that from someone who’s a news/political junkie who has surfed to hundreds, if not thousands, of websites.

  2. Dissen says:

    While I am one of many who thrive on any opportunity to bash our less than adequate local newspaper, I think the decline in circulation is more economy based then content based. With unemployment at its highest, people are cutting back in every way possible. Saving money by reading online is just a quick and easy way to save a few bucks.

    And yes, I agree with “lawabidingcitizen” that the online content is god-awful compared to real newspapers, but at least it’s free!

    It’s also true that alot of users don’t go to their website now that they’ve cut off comments.

    In my opinion, the NJ is just a rag without much semblance of true, fact based, journalism. They could learn alot from FlaglerLive, but we all know that they won’t spend any time or thought looking into why your journalism and format are far superior.

  3. emile says:

    Despite the decrease in circulation, monthly subscription rates have increased as of January 1, 2011. Way to go to get new readership!

  4. rickg says:

    I have kept my subscription to the NJ for a few reasons. None of which has to do with the editorial page. I like getting my baseball box scores for those games played late and I love Ken Willis and Mark Lane. Should the NJ get rid of those two by by subscription.
    This paper is truly a print version of Faux News. It constantly repeats the same right wing wacko talking points that one could hear on Hannity etal… Volusia County is a blue collar community. There are more Democrats than Republicans and much more Independents that lean left than one would think. Thank goodness for Flagler Live… Thanks Pierre.

  5. DLF says:

    It looks like sour grapes on Pierre, part. Pierre is still not over the parting of ways between himself and the NJ. The artice and pictures was so slanted it makes Fox’ News look balanced. No bull, no fluff., no smudges that is a lot of bull.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Sour grapes DLF? You bet. Any company that screws its employees for a few dollars more sours my grapes, and I hope yours, though you’re a bit off on the parting of the ways business: almost ten years in one place was enough. I had to start something new and more interesting for the likes of you, and in any case my allegiance was to the Davidsons, whose allegiance, even though they did their share of screwing (at least it had a noble purpose) was to good journalism and the arts, two things the present regime wouldn’t recognize if it canvassed them in its narcissistic ass. I mean, look at you: you’re here far more than you’re with your copy of the news-journal for a reason. It takes you four and half minutes flat to get through the old paper. It takes you at least three times as long here just to calm your giddy heartbeat every time you click in. Don’t worry. You’re one among a growing legion of closet conservative Live lovers. Nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone welcome here. Some of my best friends are closets.

  6. NortonSmitty says:

    P, cancel the first Lubricated Goat comment, will send another. Damn, it was funny before it got complicated! DS

  7. NortonSmitty says:

    OK Pierre, I knew you know the definition of Shadenfreude, but did you know there is an Austrailian rock band by the name Lubricated Goat? I may have found my new pen name.

    # Schadenfreude ( , ) is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. This German word is used as a loanword in English and some other languages, and has been calqued in Danish and Norwegian as skadefryd.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schadenfreude

    # Schadenfreude is the second EP released by the Australian noise rock band Lubricated Goat, released in 1989 through Black Eye Records.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schadenfreude_(album)

  8. DLF says:

    I stand by the sour grapes even after all your name calling and who screwed who the most, a screw is a screw.I would think you liberalss would know that better than anyone.

  9. elaygee says:

    The NJ favors mindless Creepublican Teabaggers. Rest in Peace soon.

  10. John says:

    Law abiding citizen: Your posts are so rife with ignorance.
    Just so you know, the new NJ owners are extremely right wing Republicans. Your husband should be so happy.

    To everyone, including you, Pierre…the newspaper industry sucks at this moment. Regardless if you got screwed, lost your job or benefits, or was lucky enough to keep your job under a new and miserable regime, it is a sad state of affairs when everyone roots for the demise of anything that even resembles journalism. Not to mention, there are those who still need those jobs at the NJ, have you forgotten about them and their families?
    Back to the demise of newspapers… When it’s gone, even if it’s not the greatest, it’s gone and then we will rely on the mass media to report to us. Frightening. I know the NJ lost a major amount of talent but even when the NJ had them, these online scavengers bitched about the content. It is sad what happened to that paper but without it, what would this area have done? It’s funny how people who gripe about it constantly, still read it.
    I’m glad you started this online paper Mr Pierre, I hope 10 more ex-NJers do the same. Even if I don’t always agree with your viewpoints, it is refreshing to have them. Unlike DLF (the dumb ass) I’m happy to hear both liberal and conservative ideology. Yep, I know it’s hard not to be sour about the job loss, but I am sure you would agree that this has been a great catalyst for your growth as a journalist, no?
    The NJ is not the enemy, just a bad example of mismanagement and greed on all sides. I still read it because it’s local news, but I also read other online publications such as this and the NY Times, etc.
    Still, I don’t believe half of it. I’m still looking for a news media that reports without bias.

  11. Dissen says:

    DLF, does the “D” stand for Delusional?

    It seems to me like the die hard conservatives believe that the term “Liberal” is some kind of put down. Let me reference the definition of Liberal for you: “favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs. favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties. free from prejudice or bigotry.”

    Now, here’s the definition of Conservative:”Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change. Archaic.”

    Based on these definitions, I find it embarrassing for everyone in the teaparty, as well as, those of you (DLF included) who believe that calling me a liberal is some kind of personal slam. Are you kidding me? It’s a huge compliment! More so, doesn’t this mean that the foundation of the Tea Party movement comes from “Liberal” ideology? Except for the prejudice and hatred that have grown from the movements mass ignorance, that is. I mean, come on people, show me one Liberal who doesn’t want less taxes and less government. I want both because both inhibit my individual freedoms. The difference is that “Liberals” actually embrace Christian ideologies, even if most are not tied to any formal religious vacuum. We believe that we need to step up and pay our fair share for the well being of our nation, our national security, and insuring that we take care of our Senior citizens and less fortunate. We believe that doing the right thing for man, includes not only our families, but all families. While the good ole’ “Christian” Conservatives belive that their hard work should only benefit them and the preacher they donate to every Sunday as they attempt to buy off their sins. Luckily for the Conservatives, ignorance is bliss.

  12. emile says:

    But back to the newspapers, if you please. Print news is declining everywhere, and it will be a sad day for all of us when we have nothing left but Kindle and online news sources.

    Like Lawabiding’s husband, I just like the feel of a newspaper or book in my hands. Somehow it feels more real and valuable. And at the prices N-J is charging, it should be bronzed. :-)

  13. Kevin says:

    Good comment Emile “back to the newspapers, if you please.” I basically stopped coming by because I felt compelled to respond to ignorant comments, wasting time, made by certain people (Smitty, dissen, and alaygee to name a few). They live in a delusional word where they see themselves, I can only assume from their comments, as having the intellectual and factual highground on topics, then resort to using offensive comments and ad hominem attacks against those who disagree with them.

    At least at Candide’s Notebooks, one got slapped down by other’s who really did have outstanding intellect, or at least sounded as though they did.

    Happy New Year Pierre and to some of you here.

  14. Sisyphus says:

    Declining numbers should be the norm as more people get into getting their news online. I was a daily devotee to the paper, now I just accumulate my brothers copies and read them on laundry day, filling in what I may have missed online, and it always gives me a funny feeling when I put that stack of paper in the recycle bin as to what a waste of resources it is to print all that paper up for a single read. The world, and peoples habits in it, are changing. Even a low tech former luddite like me is figuring that out these days.

  15. DLF says:

    Dissen, liberals,one who spends other peoples money, makes laws for the rest of us but not for him/her,wants to control everything but only for the rest of the world,wants the goverment to take care of him/her and wants the goverment to be as big as possible and in most cases looking for his/her entitlement or handouts. Is Dissen spelled right or is it Dizzy?

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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)

  20. 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?

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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?

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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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