Daytona Beach Florida News-Journal’s Hypocrisy is Over the Top

Newspaper that decries the secrecy of Palm Coast economic development talks failed to tell its own partner of an ego-driven $13 million payment for naming rights to Daytona’s performg arts center.

Palm Coast, Florida – August 11, 2008 – Several Palm Coast residents with whom I speak have expressed two recurring themes. First, they share in the belief that Flagler County desperately needs industrial and commercial development both to provide jobs and to balance the property tax burden. Second, they see the News-Journal as an increasingly irrelevant source of news and information because of its often extreme editorial views, which overflow the opinion section and permeate the entire publication. The News Journal’s anti business posture has caused many Palm Coast businesses and nearly all local real estate professionals to choose alternative advertising venues.
A recent News Journal editorial piece titled "Mystery Company – Public deserves transparency as cities bid for a business" is over the top. It takes the Palm Coast City Manager, state officials, and an unnamed mystery company to task for secret dealings, implying nefarious motives. A very limited number of state and local public officials is negotiating with an unnamed company (the mystery company) about its possible expansion to Palm Coast, bringing approximately 700 badly needed new jobs. The talks include possible tax incentive packages that may be made available to the company should they choose to move here. Both sides have a legitimate reason for non-disclosure. This is common practice and it is perfectly legal. But the N-J doesn’t like it. In fact, it’s rumored that they were going to file a freedom of information act lawsuit to force disclosure of the company’s name until dissuaded by city officials.
Why does this make me so angry? On one level their arrogance might have cost our area a much needed employer. On another level, their hypocrisy is exceeded only by their chutzpah. The News-Journal that spanks the Palm Coast City Manager and economic development efforts is the same newspaper that spent $13 million for naming rights to the News-Journal Center, a performing arts complex on Beach Street in Daytona Beach while failing to tell its own 47.5% partner, Cox Enterprises, of the ego-driven payment. The other 52.5% is owned by the Davidson family who has controlled the paper for 79 years. Cox characterized the spending as wasteful hobbies of the Davidson family.
Cox sued. The News-Journal elected to take the option of buying out Cox to end the lawsuit. Unfortunately, a judicial ruling determined that Cox shares were worth $129.2 million, much more than the Davidson family was willing to pay. The News-Journal is now up for sale. As a result of the N-J’s unforthcoming behavior:
  • The News-Journal has paid Cox nearly $2.8 million for legal costs.
  • The News-Journal "willfully violated" a judge’s orders when it paid dividends to its owners and contributed money to support local cultural programs.
  • Seaside Music Theater, the primary tenant of the News-Journal Center had to cancel its summer program (more lost jobs), leaving some who had purchased advanced tickets unable to get refunds.
  • The News-Journal laid off 99 (12%) of its 794 workers and closed bureau offices in DeLand, New Smyrna, and Palm Coast.
  • The News-Journal is fighting to keep severance packages totaling $13.5 million intact for 27 of its executives, all but a few unnamed.
A March 6, 2008 N-J article lists a group called "The Newspaper Support Team" as interested parties supporting the News-Journal’s legal appeal. Most are prominent businessmen and businesswomen who advertise in the News-Journal. In the interest of transparency, wouldn’t it have been better if the annual amount spent by each group member on N-J advertising was disclosed?
No wonder the News-Journal reported a near 10% decline in business. When you are out of touch with your customers, your customers lose touch with you.
7 replies
  1. Tom Pruitt
    Tom Pruitt says:

    News Journal Polictics and policies

    This is exactly why I cancelled my N-J Subscription. They are extremely biased and would rather make news than report the facts. Their anti-republican bias does not allow the people to get all of the facts. The only info you get is what agrees with their opinion


  2. Sydney
    Sydney says:

    NJ is not news

    Left leaning? Please. I cannot READ the NJ because they are crap, period. They are not left leaning or right leaning, they have their own view which does not fit into either category. I hope they have not damaged the potential for jobs in this area, which is and should be a priority for both major parties.

  3. Jason Gambone
    Jason Gambone says:

    Thumbs down on NJ

    Toby is right on the money. My hunch is that the NJ’s editorial board is uncomfortable with the fact that Palm Coast surpassed Daytona Beach in population and that they may not want Palm Coast to surpass them in jobs, business, commerce activity, or even "take away" some of their tourists. They play into Palm Coaster’s NIMBY-istic instincts on issue after issue in blatant muck raking style. We’ve seen everything from silly and false accusations about 70 foot smokestacks towering over the county to the playing of the environmental card to justify their opposition to economic growth and prosperity in this county. This foolish editorial on the 700 jobs is the latest in a long string of examples. It’s a shame because they have some good business reporters in Aaron London & Joe Crews who are certainly capable of thinking beyond the petty politics of the editorial board.

  4. Golf I
    Golf I says:

    News Journal

    Right on Toby. For those of us that have been down here for some years, we call it the "mullet wrapper" as that’s about all its good for!
    See ya! Down the middle — Golf I

  5. HGordon
    HGordon says:

    More Costly, Too!

    Just got my N-J bill in the mail for the current period… a modest 23% increase over last period! Guess we all have to chip in to pay their legal fees.

  6. PalmCoast1
    PalmCoast1 says:

    Biased and Ignorant

    NJ really is most suited for lining bird cages.
    Since we have no alternatives, we get the weekend NJ so that we can read through the flyers and coupons.

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