DAYTONA BEACH -- We don't have the inside government and chamber connections nor would we feel comfortable selling out souls the way print media does, which explains in part why we have little revenue, but tremendous readership that continues to mushroom.
W're barely hanging on as it is, but people are clicking our headlines in droves in the major search engines and online news directories and the results speak for themselves.
When our content is published, it dominates.
Doesn't matter tif it's the online version of the Daytona Bech News-Journal. Doesn't matter if it's the Orlando Sentinel. Doesn't matter if it's Florida Today.
And it doesn't take long for our stories to trend.
Our coverage of the Florida Senate committee approval of the bill that would allow for $60 million in tax incentives for Daytona International Speedway may have come near the end of a very long day, but when it posted it took only to show up third from the top of the Google News Directories for Daytona Beach, FL before 11 p.m. And right above our previous sidebar analysis on State Sen. Dorothy Hukill pandering to certain media outlets for self promotion.
Not everyone likes our brand of journal;ism, certainly not politicians and their insider friends used to getting their way for years with the monopoly the Daytona Beach News-Journal has had on greater Daytona beach fore more than a century.
But as we've shown with our intense coverage of the city known for the world's most famous beach and for Daytona International Speedway and its great American race -- the Daytona 500, we can provide an alternative point of view, which is the whole point of "new media."
It has not been an easy run for us since the launch of NSBNews.net on April 7, 2008, the precursor to HeadlineSurfer.com a year-and-a-half ago, with our registered trademark for Headline Surfer®, our identity asa husband-and0-wife media outlet.
We figured by keeping our operation small and sticking to the basic tenets of journal;ism, daily breaking news, news of record and the occasional investigative reporting, we could balance it out with the advertising, which admittedly is not my strong suit.
It's ironic that I compete with the Daytona Beach News-Journal every day, considering I worked for the newspaper from mid-July 2006 until mid-November 2004, for nearly the first two years out of the DeLand bureau, with DeLand and Orange city as beats and then Westside cops and courts when that opened up. Things were pretty tough those first two years.
To think I left the Journal News of West Nyack, NY., a much larger metro newspaper part of what was then Gannett Suburban Newspapers out of Westchester County for nearly a decade to chase a dream of covering NASCAR and the Daytona 500.
I knew I was the best reporter there coming in the door and so did everyone else in the operation, including the managing editor at the time, Don Lindley. I was initially hired to work night cops in Daytona, but when I got down here I learned the hard way that things change fast. I found myself covering municipal government, but my son was not yet 3 and I had a rental l;ease already committed in Port Orange so I had to make the best of it.
It wasn't long before the West Volusia cops and courts reporter quit. Bingo! The Daytona newsroom was planning this big spread on how tough life was in the Daytona Beach housing projects. They centered their story around the ministers doing work. I offered to help, but was told I was needed out in West Volusia and was encouraged in a not so nice to help fill up the Volusian -- the five-day a week equivalent of a neighbors section.
So I did just that. I came up with my own housing project story; except I was determined mine wasn't going to be filtered through the PR of a minister's organization. I actually moved in with three different families over a four-week period. I did ride-alongs with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.
While the News-Journal front page had the ministers out front for five consecutive days, my stories dominated the front pages of the Volusian.
A year later, 1998, Lindley the managing editor, got word from the Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists that the Daytona Beach News-Journal had won two major awards -- second place in the large newspaper division for breaking news and an honorable mention for the James K. Batten Award for Outstanding Public Service.
But he had to wait few days for a final list of the headline winners and writers. Of course, the assumption in the Daytona newsroom was their opus on the ministers had won an award that was a first for the News-Journal and there really was no way of telling which of the dozen or so breaking stories had won.
Suffice to say there was celebrating. That is until further description came in:
Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Chapter, 1998, 2nd place/large newspapers, breaking news "Little boy: He shot and killed my friend," Daytona Beach News-Journal, Henry Frederick. * Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Chapter, 2004, honorable mention/large newspapers, James K. Batten Award for public service project: "Spring Hill," Daytona Beach News-Journal, Henry Frederick.
Lindley was absolutely furious with me. In fact, he drove all the way from Sixth Street in Daytona Bech to New York Avenue in DeLand to confront me. Apparently back in those days, the bureau reporters weren't deemed good enough to submit awards. The way I saw it, as long as I paid my own entry fee, too bad! Here I was, the very first bureau reporter in the history opt the newspaper relegated to help filling up the regional product, having not won one, but two awards.
And to top it off, the James K. Batten award, the first for the News-Journal and mort ironically, the last. Lindley screamed at me -- it was hard to contain my smirk -- and treated me to lunch. A couple months later I actually quit the News-Journal and moved my family back North to Massachusetts, but when a job there fell through as the small daily was being sold -- I was quickly hired back by Lindley, this time in Daytona, but on night cops.
It wasn't long that I moved up to day cops and then the courts and for the most part both beats at the same time over the next 61/2 years. And the awards kept coming
* Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Chapter, 3rd place/large newspapers, breaking news, "(Trull) Brothers on trial."
* Florida Press Club, 3rd place, excellence in general news writing, "Spring Break: Collision Course," "Lawsuit: Monopoly justifies splitting up NASCAR," and "Behavior nets police chief two-week unpaid suspension."
In 2003: * Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Chapter, 1st place/large newspapers, Front Page Sports Reporting "Lawsuit monopoly justifies splitting up NASCAR."
* Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Chapter, 2nd place/large newspapers, breaking news "The execution of Aileen Wuornos."
* Florida Press Club, 2nd place, excellence in general news writing, "Property takeover may change boardwalk," "Unusual cases re-ignite legal arguments on Miranda rights," and "Word on the street: Few police."
* Florida Society of Newspaper Editors, 3rd place, sports, "Lawsuit: Monopoly justifies splitting up NASCAR." In 2004: * Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Chapter, 2nd place/large newspapers, Investigative Reporting, "Silent Cries" (3-day series on child homicides).
* Florida Society of Newspaper Editors, honorable mention, investigative "Silent Cries."
* Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Chapter, breaking news, hon. mention/large newspapers, "Community mourns death of longtime area educator."
And then in late 2004, it wasn't fun any more. The paper was in trouble financially. I knew this better than most as I was covering Cox vs. the News-Journal Corporation lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Orlando. I was not pleased with the edits -- the lawyering of the stories and trying to shrug it all off. But my run was over.
I stuck with print media, including a nearly two-year-run as a city editor in suburb of Boston where I won several more awards, but the commute to and from Port Orange where I lived at the time, and being away from my son for weeks at a time wasn't good, either. So I moved back in 2007, and worked a few more newspaper jobs until I launched the internet newspaper in April 20089, first as NSBNews.net with a financial boost from my dear late friend, Peter Mallory and lots of help from my wife of nearly five years now, Serafina, who was there to help from the onset with video production and graphics while I wrote stories, and sold ads.
Mallory retired, content to write his award-winning blog when he could, and then he passed away nearly two years ago at the age of 77.
Soon afterward, I secured the registered trademark for Headline Surfer® as the new brand over NSBNews.net and the companion VolusiaNews.net domain with HeadslineSurfer.com as the new domain, even though news still trends through all three until we can do another major upgrade with Headline Surfer.com as the sole domain.
The year 2012 was our best yet advertising-wise, especially because it was a presidential election year with lots of races at the municipal, county and state levels throughout Volusia County. We also won a record number of awards from the Florida Press Club in 2012 for six stories, three blogs and top internet news site.
Last year held great promise with a $10,000 contract with they Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority that was to springboard into a smiler contract with the Halifax Area Advertising Authority and the County of Volusia.
Then it was the News-Journal that went on the offensive writing 14 stories on our lawful contract and some of the politicians like New Smyrna Beach Mayor Adam Barringer piling on for our extensive reporting on the $2 million in CRA spending , mostly for bars, and ethics charges against he and the city manager that were eventually dismissed, but even that is controversial in how information was twisted around based on records of the investigation trickling out.
Barringer and some of his friends were instrumental in getting ads that we had for five years cancelled. It got to the point where we could no longer afford to live in New Smyrna Beach and had to move in September.
Because of the controversy created with the SVAA contract instigated by the News-Journal, the other ad opportunities didn't materialize. And so here we are in the new year, pretty much starting anew revenue wise. It's going to take time and patience.
I might even have to work a part-time job job to pay the bills, but the news will continue. Having relocated to Lake Mary and reached into the Orlando market news-wide, there's no reason why we can''t do the same with advertising.
Where there is a will, there's a way. We've got a full-functioning 24/7 internet newspaper that has become wildly popular. And let's be really honest about it. Where else throughout Central Florida can you find a new media outlet other than Headline Surfer®, from Daytona to Orlando and beyond? We're it.