March 31, 2010
From Michael Redding, Chief Executive Officer and Publisher of The News-Journal
What a story these walls could tell at 901 6th Street, home of The Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Over the past 82 years, the Davidson family had the opportunity of seeing their big and small dreams fulfilled. Among other things, the Davidson’s almost single handedly brought the arts to Daytona Beach, which will surely perpetuate into the future. The family’s philanthropy and generosity touched thousands of Volusians of all ages and backgrounds, and for that everyone should be thankful. Cox Enterprises, Inc., the silent News-Journal partner, is also to be commended for their support locally, considering they owned 47.5% of the company that contributed to local organizations since 1969.
It is unfortunate that since 2004 the community witnessed a very public court battle between Cox and the Davidson family. These years have been particularly excruciating for the hundreds of News-Journal employees who have endured the internal stress of the sale process. It has also been difficult for readers who love to get their newspaper every morning. At times readers no doubt wondered, “What is happening to my newspaper?” Yet despite the blow-by-blow headlines detailing the fight, The News-Journal operation continued publishing a quality newspaper every day. The support from subscribers and advertisers proved to all that The News-Journal is incredibly strong at the core. The News-Journal’s employees and court-appointed receiver Jim Hopson should be praised for their commitment.
Halifax Media is the new owner of The News-Journal. We are a small collection of long-term investors and career newspaper veterans who strongly believe in the future of The News-Journal. The lead investor is Stephens Capital Partners, an investment group based in Little Rock, Ark. Stephens has other media investments including the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The remaining investors are JAARSSS Media, LLC from Destin, Fla., and Redding Investments, LLC based in Daytona Beach. This is also a sensible move for me professionally as I believe enough in the future of The News-Journal that I am stepping down as CEO of HarborPoint Media, a Florida newspaper company I founded in 2004. My family and I live in Daytona Beach and over the past eight years I have had the opportunity to evaluate The News-Journal and have formulated ideas that I believe will make the newspaper more relevant to more people. I look forward to leading this organization and hearing from you our readers, our customers, and our neighbors.
Among other things, The News-Journal will immediately begin to increase the amount of local news we provide our customers every day. Above all else, we will be a ‘local’ newspaper. You can also expect the news report to be balanced, and you can expect the award-winning newsroom to continue to fulfill its watchdog role of government.
You also will see changes in the editorial positions of The News-Journal on our opinion pages. Our own editorials will champion free enterprise, individual rights and responsibilities, and the importance of community involvement. We want to include the voices of community members, and we’ve come up with a novel way to jumpstart that effort. In the coming weeks, we intend to forego our own editorials most days, and instead will invite a variety of local folks to use that space to share their point of view about our greater community, its challenges, and its opportunities for success. It’s our way of showing from the beginning that the new News-Journal will be ideas inclusive.
It’s also my pleasure to announce two key management changes at The News-Journal. I am excited to introduce Pat Rice as our new Editor, and Mike Baskin as Advertising Director. Pat is currently employed by Freedom Communications as director of content for that company’s two dailies and eight weeklies in Northwest Florida. He has held editing positions for multiple award-winning newspapers, including nine years with Freedom and eleven years with Gannett. His focus has always been on local news. Pat and his family will soon relocate to Daytona Beach from Panama City. Mike Baskin is a sales management executive who brings a 25-year track record of accomplishments to the advertising department. Mike has worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and Chattanooga Times Free Press. He is a graduate of the University of Florida. Mike and his wife are looking forward to returning to Florida from Chattanooga, Tennessee.
We look forward to a bright future for The News-Journal. But we will never forget the newspaper’s storied past. Back in 1883 Florian A. Mann moved to Daytona from Ohio to start a newspaper called the Halifax Journal, which eventually became The News-Journal. The inaugural edition of the Halifax Journal had 86 subscribers and included Mr. Mann’s personal hope and optimism for the Halifax area. Interestingly, the very first printing had its own challenges. The schooner (vessel) carrying newsprint encountered a storm and couldn’t make it by press time. Mr. Mann contacted a local dry goods store and purchased a bolt of white cloth on which the Halifax Journal was printed. What a perspective Mr. Mann would have of The News-Journal today if he could encounter the idea of digital photos, color ads, online access to news, or the massive audience of more than 150,000 readers every day. I think he would be very proud.
In closing, I believe that measuring the success of a business is not confined to only one period in time, but rather it is the cumulative measurement of multiple years of successes and challenges. This newspaper has been printing news for more than 127 years, certainly a longer period of operation than most of the businesses in the area. It has enjoyed many more good times than bad. It found its way through the Depression of the 1920s-1930s. And it has endured the turmoil of the past few years. So The News-Journal is uniquely prepared for such a time as this. It will learn again from its past and gain perspective that will make it a better newspaper. It will dust off its proverbial pants and endeavor to exceed both reader and advertiser expectations.
As I accept this new role at The News-Journal I do so with great respect for those who have owned and published this newspaper. I am committed to producing quality news and publishing great newspapers with content you can fully trust. You have my word.