But publisher turns into 'Dark Helmet' baffoon by transforming print products into drivel as shown in four years with flagship Daytona Beach News-Journal
DAYTONA BEACH -- Halifax Media Groups's Michael Redding showed with his handling of the acquisition of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette why he's the Darth Vader of newspaper publishers.
But with his ongoing oversight of the flagship Daytona Beach News-Journal, Redding's shown he's more like Dark Helmet in turning the product into watered-down drivel.
Regardless, Redding is driven by the desire to make money, especially in markets where there is little competition. And what better place to start with than the Sunshine State with older readers -- many of the print media mainstays consisting of retirees -- who remain addicted to their morning paper with a cup of Joe.
With his boorish behavior and ill-treatment of the proud Worcester Telegram staffers who ensdured being twice dumped -- first by the New York Timrs Company and then by John Henry, principal owner of the Boston Red Sox and publisher of the Boston Globe, Redding showed the ruthlessness that has remained in place at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, which was purchased off the scrap heap of a federal court-supervised firesale four years ago.
Ruthless aggression with Worcester Telegram & Gazette staffers
Redding waited until after the lunch hour to make an appearance in the newsroom of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette -- with the certainty that a full one-fourth of editorial staff had been sent packing to the unemployment line -- where he gave his rendition of 'success is at our fingertips.'
Redding is the Gong Show version of William Randolph Heasrt for the 21st century state of journalism. As more and more papers are seeing rapid declines in print readership as more and more readers are turning to the internet and new mredia outlets like the Huffington Post in Washington and our own Headline Surfer® here in Daytona Beach, Redding and his rich business partners arte gobbling up print products.
Why? He and his inner circle have come up with what looks to be a multi-pronged approached to developing revenue streams:
• Chamber-friendly press release news that caters to political and business insiders. The reporting staff on the business desk for the Daytona Beach News-Journal is the largest block of staffers in the newsroom;
• Promotion of county and municipal governments in exchange for the lion's share of advertising. In Volusia County, for example, the News-Journal receives between $2 million and $3 million in revenues for predominantly-discretionary advertising that is borne by the taxpayers through county government, city governments (including CRA districts) as well as special taxing districts, including the advertising authorities, indigent-care hospital districts and state-funded Daytona State College.
• Maintaining a close and private marketing relationship with International Speedway Corp., owners of Daytona International Speedway and its 12 other tracks, owned by the France Family that also controls NASCAR, the sanctioning body for the sport of stock car racing.
By purchasing outr-of county papers, Redding is banking on promotion of Florida's tourism authories, ogf which Volusia County is the only one statewide with more than one. The isdea is to receceive money for promotion of "heads in beds."
With the acquisition of newspapers in other partys of Florida, Alabama, Luisiana, the Carolinas and now Massachusetts, Redding can tap into that market. Buit in order to do so, the news has to be more pliable -- more busuiness- and government friendly to make that happen. This was something the New York Times Company was unable to do and keep its reputation as a leading jourmalism instititution.