Morris Publishing, after emerging from bankruptcy last year, has been maintaining a virtually empty complex at the St Augustine Record – Florida Times Union building; moving its publishing operation to Jacksonville — but that may be over soon, according to a source close to discussions with Gannett, the national media organization that may be best known as the publisher of USA TODAY.
Gannett, who publishes the Tallahassee Democrat and website, tallahassee.com is said to be interested in Florida Times Union and jacksonville.com as well as the St Augustine Record and staugustine.com, the source revealed to Historic City News last night.
This news comes on the heels of an announcement from Morris that Record publisher Ron Davidson will be leaving the company. Two years ago, when Davidson was reassigned from the Times Union, Record publisher Derek May was called back to the Morris corporate offices in Augusta, Georgia.
Gannett already owns NBC affiliate WTLV and ABC affiliate WJXX and operates a combined news gathering organization billed as “First Coast News”. The Record often refers to First Coast News in their articles as their “news partner” and the local paper, whose print circulation continues to dwindle, often runs entire articles with a First Coast News by-line.
Historic City News editor Michael Gold notes that The Record was always slow to adopt Internet based technologies — clinging to a capital intensive ink-and-paper business model that is dying out across the nation.
That is not the case with Gannett, who is considered a digital leader with a portfolio that includes a network of hundreds of local and national web sites that reach 52 million unique users monthly. “Gannett gets it,” Gold commented.
A corporate statement from Gannett said the company “is expanding its mobile and digital businesses” and expressed that the company intends to “build on its valuable local brands and strong journalism”. Gannett would not comment specifically about plans for The Record, on-the-record. Morris has not yet made a corporate statement on their website.