Record publisher leaves – headed for Augusta

As many people are speculating, week-to-week, on the future of The St. Augustine Record publishing company, Morris Publishing Group, LLC, Historic City News has learned that Morris Communications Company, LLC, is getting a new assistant.

Derek May, a native Augustan and graduate of Augusta State University, began his career at Morris in 1988; working in information technology at the corporate headquarters.

Now, May has been named assistant to the president of Morris Communications Company LLC. His appointment to the position is effective Jan. 4, 2010.

Some local residents who have subscribed to the daily paper in the past have remarked that this may be “a soft landing” for May — another former reader, upon learning that the position was newly-created, and awarded to May, likened the announcement to that of “a golden parachute”.

Morris, who also owns The Florida Times Union, has already shut down local printing of the newspaper; moving those operations to Jacksonville earlier this year. Times Union subscribers in St. Augustine receive their morning papers from the same route carrier — in fact, one reader who still subscribes remarked, “they are delivered in the same bag!”

Subscription prices were raised to Record readers under May’s watch this year, however, it is advertising dollars that fuel the operation of Morris’ 13 newspapers, magazines, visitor publications, radio stations and broadband company.

Advertisers have made deep cuts in daily print advertising through newspapers; in favor of the lower costs, deeper penetration and immediacy in delivery of their message through new digital media.

In his new role, May will work with all Morris business entities, with special emphasis on advertising. He will be based in Augusta. “I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with the entire Morris family of businesses in this capacity. I’m also excited to move back to my family’s hometown,” said May.

Morris Publishing, LLC, has threatened to file bankruptcy if an exchange offer is not accepted by holders of at least 99% of the principal amount of $278.5 million of Morris Publishing’s 7% Senior Subordinated Notes.

Photo credits: © 2009 Historic City News photographer Kerry McGuire

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