In the Arena: Are Legacy Newspapers in Hospice?

In the Arena:  Are Legacy Newspapers in Hospice?

The current President of the United States has a very strong ability to discern weakness in long-unchallenged institutions.  For example, the President often attacks the news media as “dangerous and sick”.  He has stated the news media are the “enemy of the people”.

This column will explain why the President feels both comfortable and safe while making these attacks.  Specifically, this column will look at the crumbling power of Florida’s newspapers.

There is a quote attributed to Mark Twain that goes “Never pick a fight with a person who buys ink by the barrel.”  That was very true in the time of Twain when there was no internet, no radio stations, and, no television stations.  Newspapers then were king and larger cities had multiple papers serving the community.

Up until the 1970s the primary source of sharing information was through newspapers.  Here are two Florida newspaper examples and the power they once had.

In Miami-Dade County there is the Miami Herald.  The Herald has won the most Pulitzers prizes in Florida, twenty-three.

In 1950 the daily circulation of the Miami Herald was 176,000 papers.  In the Miami statistical area in 1950 there were 151,725 occupied dwelling units.  That equals more than 1.1 newspapers for every home in Miami.  While I realize Herald delivered to businesses, put papers in newspaper boxes, and delivered to newsstands.  For comparison purposes I am going to look at papers to occupied dwelling units.

In 2018 the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald total daily circulation is 78,632.  There are now 1,024,211 households in Miami-Dade County.  This means 92.5% of the households do not get a printed paper while 7.5% do.  The Herald does have 11,947 electronic subscriptions on top of what it prints but at best that gets you up to 8.8%.

Do you think the President sees strength or weakness there?

The Tallahassee Democrat is in better shape than the Miami Herald but not by much.  In 2005 the daily circulation of the Democrat was 49,652.  In 2018 the circulation was 18,825.

There are 129,665 households in Leon County as of 2017.  This means six out of seven households do not get a daily paper.  Only 14.5% do get papers.  The reported on-line circulation for the paper in 2017 was 1,930.  Adding on-line to print you get 16% or 84% are not reading the paper.

In Miami 14 of 15 households do not get a paper.  In the capital county five of six do not.

The power of the newspaper has dramatically declined during my lifetime.  I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where the Cleveland Plain Dealer (a paper I used to deliver regardless of weather conditions) was the morning paper and the Cleveland Press was the afternoon paper.  The Press went under and only the Plain Dealer survives.

The importance of newspapers endorsements, editorials, and, reporting has also declined.  The President knows this and that is why he attacks the media.

The President’s twitter account has the 13th largest following in the United States with 59 million followers.  The estimated total daily circulation of all newspapers in the United States is 31 million.  Delivering a message by Twitter does not require deep thought.  They are often superficial and hyperbolic.

The larger newspapers regularly report the President’s twitter posts verbatim so the President in many areas is getting free advertisements because utterances of Presidents are considered news.

Newspapers and their editorial boards were once the gatekeepers to news.  With the ease of access to the internet each person now serves as their own individual gatekeeper to news.  Individuals no longer have to read general interest newspapers.  They can limit their reading to their own interests.  Niche news sources may thrive because they will cater to the specific interests of a portion of America.

If you go to your local hospice you may find in one of the beds a general circulation newspaper.  When the newspaper in hospice passes I will miss the newspaper because I grew up with them.  I will read about their demise on the internet.


Jon M. Ausman is the longest serving member of the Democratic National Committee in Florida’s history (December 1992 to January 2017).  He can be reached at or at 850-321-7799.

29 Responses to "In the Arena: Are Legacy Newspapers in Hospice?"

  1. Of course Mr. Ausman defends the media, it is a tool that he and the Democrat Party find useful. He fails to truly address the key issue, clear liberal bias. Liberals love the print media and the talking head performers on the national TV networks. They, like Ausman, are anti conservative, and not just Trump, but anything conservative. When they quit presenting both sides of political issues, the media became a threat to our republic, no longer the protector of it. Mr. Ausman’s articles are examples of that sad demise.

    1. The TU was never a conservative newspaper. Media gatekeeping became liberal indoctrination. Local newspapers led the sad charge, and you were part of it.

  2. The Florida Times-Union, that started publishing in 1864 making it Florida’s oldest major daily, has what is considered a right-center editorial bias. In the year 2000 the daily circulation of the newspaper was 170,504. In 2018 the daily circulation was 47,116.

    The general assumption that a liberal bias is the reason daily general newspapers are losing circulation is false. Conservative newspapers are also losing circulation.

    The Times-Union, over the three year period from 2015 to 2017 lost 28.2% of its circulation. During the same three years the Tallahassee Democrat lost 16.5% of its circulation.

    The most likely reason for the loss of circulation by the general daily newspapers is the rise of the internet, the rise of many news sources, the rise of Facebook, as well as other technological improvements in smart phones, and, Twitter, to name a few.

    The days of media gatekeepers are numbered. General circulation newspapers are gatekeepers.

    1. All the ex-journos I knew from the T-U are all libs.
      The region, with its military citizenry, is right-center, maybe even right. But not the paper, and even less so now.

      Therein lies the problem – not reflecting the values of your customer base.

  3. “Are Newspapers in Hospice?”

    Interesting how the article simply makes a case for declaring newspapers as ailing. But these excellent commenters make the case for the much more interesting question of WHY.

    1. Well, after a weekend where POTUS was cleared, I would proffer that as Exhibit A to your point. $40Million of our tax dollars piddled away on 2 1/2 years worth of investigating THAT YIELDED NOTHING (other than process crimes by a few bit players). All the time the Lamestream Media breathlessly telling us the end of Trump’s presidency was near. LOL!!! WRONG!!!
      They all blew it, doubling down on stupid.
      If they had a hair of credibility before, even that’s gone now.

      More like: “Is this the break-the-glass beginning of the end for the Fake News biz?”

  4. After almost 40 years as a subscriber, I recently cancelled my subscription to the Democrat. It was a hard habit to break. After I retired, the Democrat and coffee had become my morning favorite time. But the content had become so biased, I became angry with the editors who clearly had adopted a political agenda in lieu of just telling us what had happened in our city, state and country. I was no longer able to read about what government was doing, just about the stupid, illegal, immoral and unjust things the President, all elected Republicans and Progressives and all other non Democrats were doing or had done. Simply put, the TD, along with most of the rest of the local newspapers had shot itself in the foot. They turned on the largest segment of the population that supported them to cater to the left. The definition of Propaganda is “Information of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.” That is a fitting epitaph for the hometown newspapers, and my lost friend, the Tallahassee Democrat. That’s why they have become our national weakness, and no longer our strength. That’s why the President attacks them.

    1. Wow, Ben, you must be a glutton for punishment to delay canceling your subscription to the local leftwing rag and their “Propaganda Today” insert for so long. Congrats for finally seeing the light!

  5. When the local newspaper prints 50 plus stories about Rocky Hanna’s notebook, before finding out the whole thing was a huge lie put forth by Rocky Hanna, then the paper prints 1 article with the fact that the FBI dropped the case because none of the lies in the notebook were true. They print Hanna’s response to the FBI publicly closing the case (something the FBI never does) without fact checking anything Rocky says, the local paper should be out of business. We have allowed the local press to be unchecked as they grabed headlines with the outright lies of Rocky Hanna. Rocky Hanna cost taxpayers over $600,000 with his admited notebook filled with lies. Why no outrage? Why no outrage that a man elected to be Superintendent knew he had a child, he hid from his parental responsiblities for 10 years, my God 10 years without paying child support, until sued. Where is the outrage, the headlines, the investigation? Rocky Hanna tried to put someone in jail with a notebook filled with what he admitted, all lies. Who will Rocky go after next? Rocky already has a hit list, that cost several employees their jobs, cost overruns at Rickards by millions, no reporting, inflated graduation rates, no reporting. Assistant Superintendents making over $100,000 each who teach no children, while teachers get less than one dollar per hour raise. Where is the reporting?

    1. You were lucky to get one article out of the Tallahassee Democrat as they have not done any articles on thousands of things that should have been exposed.

      I believe some of the things in The Notebook had Merit.

      I agree that you should pay child support for your child.

      There are always shake-ups in job situations when there is New Management.

      Cost overruns on projects are not new.

      Perhaps the graduation rate should be looked at more closely.

      I believe $100,000 salaries are appropriate for assistant superintendents and possibly should be more.

      1. The notebook had no merit. The facts is it was totally a hit job by Hanna.The U.S. Attorney closed the case with no finding of any merit. Rocky Hanna lied, his new confidant John Hunkiar should immediately forward the ethics violation of Rocky Hanna to the Commissioner and Governor. Given John was given a raise by Rocky, odds are he will be silent.
        So you are ok with Assistant Superintendents who have office jobs, they do not teach or provide direct contact with students making over $100,000 while teachers in Leon County are the 46 lowest paid in the state. Rocky Hanna should be charged with a crime, the school board should be charged with negligence.

  6. Mr. Ausman, I’m a former editorial graphic journalist who worked about 14 years in the newspaper business. One job was a decade spent at a major FL paper that had 300,000 daily circulation back in the early 1990s, the other job was in the early 2000s for 4 years an under 50,000 circulation paper in a smaller city.
    One interesting I saw during that time was the big-city metro daily steadily lost circulation despite it’s rapidly growing population area. In contrast, the smaller paper gained steadily in circulation and advertising revenue, even with only moderate population increase in it’s area. The difference: The large metro daily went steadily Liberal and more Leftist, alienating a huge swath of it’s readers. The smaller paper was far more moderate and catered to the mostly conservative makeup of it’s readership. I imagine that pattern is still continuing today.

    Many newspapers committed the fatal economic act of becoming Liberal activists and abandoning actual Journalism, alienating and insulting much of their readership. So most Liberal newspapers (the vast majority in the industry) are dying. As a parallel example: CNN spends 100% of it’s energy 24-7 as a pro-Leftist, pro-Socialist, and Anti-American activist broadcaster. As a consequence, not many are watching, so most of CNN’s energy (and much of the MSM’s) is empty noise droning to a dwindling few. So, media – go Leftist if you wish, but the American marketplace will determine whether you survive or go broke.

  7. Ironically the Democrat wrote its own obituary on the 19th.

    “Democrat shuttering press; print operations to move to Panama City”

  8. I agree that the struggling newspapers alienated half of their readership years ago. Many of us kept reading for awhile, until the lock-step march to the Left became all too insulting. Canada is now enacting media subsidies to prop up the machine. Government funds will of course be allocated only to “QCJO”-stamped, general-interest news organizations still printing a physical paper. (Qualified Canadian Journalism Organisations.)

  9. You ask if Are Newspapers in Hospice? Bad Ones are. Biased One surely are and the Tallahassee Democrat is BOTH. I have noticed a few things about the TD, half of it is actually “USA TODAY” too much of it is written by Opinionators trying to put their own spin on the story. The TD is VERY VERY Pro Democrat and VERY VERY Con Republican. I don’t think the TD has had a REAL True Journalist in YEARS.

  10. The newspapers at one time were a wonderful thing, but the decline in integrity was sad to watch.

    Due to the internet people were able to comment… which many times the comments gave more information than the article and exposed biased reporting.

    It’ll be interesting as the publishing world recalculates and changes to see how it plays out and if the Integrity aspect well return.

  11. I’m sure If Trump was a dog person he would value local newspapers more.

    I would recommend that the Democrat cater to its subscriber base and increase the physical size of the paper. I haven’t owned a pet myself for a while so I haven’t been paying attention but the last time I saw the Democrat it was dimensionally equivalent to a paper restaurant napkin.

    Being staffed entirely by crazy cat ladies maybe wasn’t the best business model and I suspect the Toxoplasmosis is too far advanced for even a sudden uptick in ads for isecondhand housewares to reverse the decline.

    If you’re suggesting that the Democrat is a Hospice lined with old Democrats that is a kind of poetic justice and would complete the circle of life In a metaphoric sense. Not my idea of a socialist utopia but It would technically qualify as Obamacare.

  12. I grew up reading the Tallahassee Democrat. I greatly enjoyed reading each and every day. I discontinued my subscription 20 years ago. The demise of newspapers can be blamed on no one but the newspapers. They made a clear choice to alienate 50% of their audience by going all left wing liberal. Newspapers support every radical Democrat idea that comes along. They are anti-America, anti-Christian, anti-life, anti-basic morals and participate in the most insidious hate speech, name calling, and revel in their censorship of all view points that are different from their own. Their is no such thing as local news anymore. All newspaper news comes directly from the power brokers of the radical left.

    I still miss reading my newspaper. But, I will cheer the day the TD goes belly up. It is no longer my newspaper. It belongs to the people from New York City.

    1. Excellent post Willie.
      Snidley’s perdictions:
      The Democrat Party as a national entity is in decline just like the newspapers that try to prop the Party up.
      2020 and the elections beyond will be a basic toilet flush for The National Democratic Party. Sure they will have a few local and regional areas but just write the obituary for the National Democratic Party now!
      Speaking of obituaries thats the One and Only thing the local Tallahassee Democrat has managed not to eff up. Honestly any local business that is fool enough to still pay them advertising money should be avoided.
      Hey Steve here’s an idea: start running free obituary services as a public service. This could help your news service take off!!!

      1. Snideley, I sincerely hope your prediction about 2020 being the last gasp of the Dem-Socialist party and their chance to seize power. Because if they ever attain it with any of the lunatic candidates and policies they present now, America is headed for dark times that could place us on the same hellish path as Venezuela or Cuba.
        The DS platforms of nationalizing businesses and corporations and the entire health care system, free education at all levels, guaranteed salaries even for those who refuse to work (not to mention the termination of the 1st and 2nd Amendments and most of the Constitution) – all these are stages in the downward slide that Socialist countries enter as the country becomes a poverty prison under an eventual iron dictatorship. The frightening part is that many ignorant (due to Leftist indoctrination in schools) millenials and deluded adults (and rabid Liberals) actually think all those DS goals are great and will vote for them. So I really hope you’re right that 2020 is the end of the DS party in any effective form.

  13. Like railroads who thought they were in the railroad business instead of transportation, many newspapers seem to think they are in the newspaper business rather than the information sharing business; so they failed to invest early in other news providing methodologies like 24-hours news TV..

    Love or hate him, one must admit Trump is good at self-promotion resulting in inexpensive marketing. How much “free” advertising did he receive during his campaign; LOTS!

  14. Trump calls “Fake News” the enemy of the people, but he does NOT consider all journalists to be generators of Fake News.
    This is kind of like saying he is against immigration (Fake News), when actually he is against ILLEGAL immigration.
    Concerning the Lamestream Media’s waning ability to influence its readers/viewers, I have relayed this example before, and will repeat it again. Back in 2009, a PAC opposed to Rick Scott put out an attack mailer that depicted an image of the state, with annotations over the top dozen or so markets showing that local newspaper’s endorsement of the Democrat candidate for Governor, Alex Sink.
    A powerful mailer, if it had been 1979 or even 1989.
    So what happened?
    Their readers were not swayed – they elected Scott instead.
    That was the moment in time I knew with absolute certainty that newspapers were heading to their graves.
    To make it worse, they’ve doubled down, even tripled down, on spewing the Democrat Socialist propaganda. BIG MISTAKE.
    Like that garbage 1A article yesterday on the last seven words a bunch of LEO-hating knuckleheads said.
    Who cares?
    I’m told the Democrap is only printing about 13,000 papers right now, at best. One-fifth what they were printing 35 years ago, while the population of their coverage region has tripled in the same time frame. That’s gross mismanagenent, no matter how you slice it.
    The few advertisers they have left should demand an updated audit, and an adjustment to their rate card fees.
    In 2019, there are an endless number of news sources, making it a lot harder to fool everyone than the pre-internet days.

    A great thing for ‘MURICA.

  15. MT,

    The President feels free in attacking the press because the press do not have an effective counterstroke to his tweets and speeches. Florida newspapers, for example, once were king but now they deliver newspapers to just a small percentage of the community they serve. Even if the newspaper has an effective counterpunch the fact is few will read it. Thank you for writing.


    1. Honestly Jon you would make a fine conservative.
      You can switch parties for free or if you are still getting paid by the DNC everyone will understand if you skip the primaries and just vote straight line “R” in the general elections.
      Of course if you are all in for your Democratic Parties latest views on being Jew Haters and viable new born human killings AKA infanticide we dont need your kind.

  16. Why is the President comfortable saying, “Enemy of the people”? Why does he say that? I thought you were going to explain why.

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