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Fish Wrapper Downsizes, Blaming Facebook Instead Of Lack Of Local Content

June 5, 2019

 

The St. Augustine Record (Owned by national media giant Gate House Media) announced today that they are in the process of firing "talented journalists" as part of a "restructuring" of their newsroom. The Record blamed social media for their lack of local support, instead of blaming their lack of local content and actual news.

 

Most locals will tell you that The Record has become a hub for biased opinion masquerading as news for a number of years now.

 

The 'fish wrapper' as locals call it, put out a statement this morning riddled with excuses on why ad dollars aren't coming in anymore. What the paper fails to realize is that if they were focused on pressing local issues, instead of trying to influence people's political opinions, they could have a large majority of readers in town. Audience = people who want to advertise.

 

Instead Gate House is obviously less concerned with quality local information, and more concerned with influencing communities through their vast national network of national publication. Gate House specializes in acquiring media organizations around the country, and inserting their agendas into the communities they "serve".

 

FROM THE RECORD:

Some positions at The St. Augustine Record were eliminated in the past two weeks as part of a restructuring of newsrooms by GateHouse Media, the newspaper’s corporate owner.

This reorganization is part of a larger strategy to build a sustainable business model for quality local journalism as the industry as a whole faces mounting competition from major technology platforms such as Google and Facebook.

Like many newspapers in cities and towns across the country, The Record has been wounded by shrinking advertising markets both locally and nationally. And, The Record, like many other newspapers, has done more with less, and increasingly sought community support in storytelling. Newspapers across the country have taken steps to minimize the effects of these financial pressures. Perhaps those efforts were done too well.

A Pew Research Center survey late last year found that few people know about the financial struggles affecting local news operations. Among the causes of stress are that mainstays of newspaper financial support — retailers and retail advertising — also have been disrupted by digital competitors.

“Even amid declining revenues and staffing, about 7 in 10 Americans (71 percent) think their local news outlets are doing very or somewhat well financially,” Pew reported. “When it comes to their own financial support of the industry, just 14 percent of American adults say they have paid for local news in the past year, either through subscription, donation or membership.”

The survey of 34,897 U.S. adults was conducted Oct. 15 to Nov. 8, 2018.

Despite these challenges, the staff of The Record and GateHouse Media believe in the future of local news, said regional publisher Bill Offill.

“The St. Augustine Record is a critical institution in the city and St. Johns County,” Offill said. “We are extremely sorry that we have had to eliminate the positions of some very talented journalists. But this newsroom will continue to fulfill its First Amendment responsibility to provide objective and honest local news.”

GateHouse Media has become an industry innovator in digital storytelling in recent years. Its news innovation team and data projects teams have won national journalism awards for investigative projects that resonate with local interests.

In a message to publishers, GateHouse announced the company is making a significant investment in national and regional investigative reporting and digital development. The data-driven reporting team of more than 30 talented journalists will focus on critical areas including healthcare, public safety and higher education. The team will be embedded in a number of local newsrooms.

“Our mission is first and foremost to serve the community as we have for more than a century,” Offill said. “We urge readers to support us with a digital or print subscription, and we urge advertising to continue to use our print and digital publication to reach the most customers possible.”

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