James Bailey Jr., third-generation publisher and owner of the family’s 104-year-old Financial News and Daily Record, has sold the newspaper to another family-owned Florida publisher.
Bailey announced Wednesday the sale of the assets of Bailey Publishing & Communications Inc. to Daily Record & Observer LLC, a newly formed company headed by Matt Walsh, CEO and owner of Sarasota-based Observer Media Group Inc.
“I grew up in this business and after taking over the leadership over 40 years ago, I feel strongly that new energy is needed to fully see the potential of this company,” said Bailey, 63.
“I have known and worked with Matt since I sold him the Tampa Bay Review in 2001 and I believe Matt and his company were the logical choice,” he said.
Walsh’s Observer Media publishes 10 weekly newspapers in Florida, including the Business Observer, a business and legal weekly similar to the Daily Record.
Walsh and his wife, Lisa, started their company in 1995 with the purchase of the Longboat Observer near Sarasota.
“I thought one day Jim would decide to make a change and I let him know a few years ago our interest in the Daily Record,” he said.
“The Daily Record is a 104-year-old Jacksonville institution and that has a special appeal,” Walsh, 62, said. “We want to perpetuate the Bailey family’s legacy.”
Price and terms of the sale were not disclosed.
Bailey will maintain an office on the first floor of the Daily Record building and will continue to own the property.
Walsh has leased space in the building at 10 N. Newnan St. so the paper will continue to operate from its Downtown location.
Bailey will continue to serve as chairman of the Downtown Investment Authority and plans to stay engaged in the community, while seeking new business consulting and investment opportunities.
“Over the next few weeks, I look forward to introducing Matt to our dynamic community leaders,” he said.
When asked whether he will relocate to Jacksonville to serve as the paper’s publisher, Walsh said he plans to live in the city for the next six months to “get to know the business and Jacksonville and the players and how it works. And then we’ll decide what to do.”
Bailey, who has been married to his wife, Donna, for 27 years, has six daughters and three grandchildren.
Walsh said his plans for the Daily Record and the monthly Realty-Builder Connection are to make sure the publications remain relevant for readers and advertisers.
“I believe there is a long life for local community newspapers like the Daily Record — in print and digitally.” Walsh said. “Like the Daily Record, our company has continued to grow by focusing on local news and special niches.
“And a key to that is having staff members like Jim’s Daily Record staff, who understand their community,” he said.
Prior to starting the Observer Media Group, Walsh served as editor of Florida Trend magazine, Southeast bureau manager for Forbes and assistant business editor at the Miami Herald.
A native of St. Louis, Walsh and his wife have lived in Florida for 37 years, have three children and one grandchild.
His daughter, Emily, serves as publisher of the company’s four community weeklies in the Sarasota-Bradenton market.
Observer Media also publishes community weeklies in Palm Coast, Ormond Beach, Winter Garden, Windermere and Plant City.