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Business Brief: Jacksonville's Last Locally Owned Daily Newspaper Sold

Financial News and Daily Record logo
Financial News and Daily Record

Jacksonville’s Financial News and Daily Record is under new ownership as of this month. It was the last Jacksonville newspaper owned by a local family.

The Daily Record has been publishing for 104 years, and former owner Jim Bailey was the third generation publisher in his family, with 41 years under his belt.

To make the Record stand out among papers in Jacksonville, Bailey build a niche with its constant publication of public records from the courthouse. No record was too minute: Everything from utility hook-ups to new car sales was fair game. That build up a following among businesses including insurance salesmen and country clubs, who would comb the new utility customers for potential new members .

And the Record undercut other papers’ rates to print legally required notices, cornering that market for decades.

Bailey said, “I think, by providing those documents, the public records, the court liked that the general public wasn’t coming in and trying to look at things and pulling files. So it helped. We had several designations over the years—the Official Court Paper of Duval County, the paper of record for the Bankruptcy Bar, things like that—trying to find those things to add little nuggets to the publication to make it more valuable.”

What’s resulted is a relatively small but extremely loyal readership.

Bailey is in his 60s and decided he wanted to retire, but the sale was really more driven by his finding the right buyer: Matt Walsh from the Tampa area. Bailey sold Walsh a Tampa Bay paper back in 2001, and he was happy with the way Walsh managed it.

“For me and my wife and my family, it was more about continuing the publication and ensuring that…he was going to be fair and good to the employees. That was more important—we were offered a lot more money,” Bailey said.

Bailey readily admits Walsh brings more cash flow to the business, and he’s more well-versed in the digital side of publishing. But readers shouldn’t expect too many changes, at least at first. Bailey says 2016 was a very good year, so Walsh is starting with a product that works well already.

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Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP
WJCT Business Analyst John Burr is a veteran journalist who has been been directing news coverage and reporting in Jacksonville since 1983. He is currently also a news analyst for WJCT, where he can be heard regularly on the "First Coast Connect" media roundtable.