I am joining a fantastic cadre of fellow journalists at the Jacksonville Daily Record.
Well, hello there, Realty-Builder reader. It’s an absolute pleasure in making your acquaintance.
Since this obviously is a one-way conversation and I can’t see or hear you, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself.
My name is Jay Schlichter and I’m pleased to report that I am joining a fantastic cadre of fellow journalists at the Jacksonville Daily Record, which has been publishing a variety of important newspapers in Northeast Florida region since 1912.
Along with accepting a job as an associate editor of the Daily Record, I also have been asked to take on the role of managing editor of Realty-Builder, the monthly publication that serves a large and steadily growing audience interested in the ongoing growth, development and expansion of the greater Jacksonville area.
I know that I have big loafers to fill, especially considering that the gentleman who sat at this desk prior to me — Andrew Warfield — is an accomplished writer and editor. I hope that I am able to at least match his expertise and bring this community the news it deserves.
But first, let me give you a brief background about me. I am a 48-year-old man, married to an incredibly beautiful woman and blessed with two gorgeous children (luckily for them, they got their good looks from their mother). I was born in Colorado but raised in Wyoming (yes, I know, I’m probably one of the first people you’ve met who actually lived in the Equality state. I get that reaction from folks all the time).
After high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy where I spent four years as a radioman aboard two large ships, the USS Midway and USS Belleau Wood. I was serving on the Midway when she played a key role during the first Gulf War in both the Desert Shield and Desert Storm operations in the early 1990s.
After being honorably discharged, I enrolled at Miami-Dade Community College, earning my associate’s degree in journalism and graduating with honors. I transferred to the University of Florida to finish my training to be a newspaper journalist, where I earned my bachelor’s (not with honors that time, but darn close).
Days after graduating from UF, I was hired at the Fernandina Beach News-Leader, one of the state’s oldest weekly papers, where I worked for two years as a general assignment reporter, photographer and web producer. For a small town, Fernandina Beach sure had its share of major controversies and tragedies worthy of front page news. I was there when the Nassau County Commission moved its courthouse from its historic downtown location to a boring facility out west toward Yulee, a decision not favored by a majority of the populace.
A sister newspaper, Palatka Daily News, owned by the same parent company, discovered my work and asked me to help them. I spent a year there and covered everything from a prostitution sting in the wee morning hours during a ride-along with the local police force to a murder trial that resulted in the accused being sent to death row.
When we were informed that the Palatka newspaper was being sold and its future looked bleak, a good chunk of the staff bolted. I was among those who searched and found a new job. I was hired by the Naples Daily News in 2000, where for the past 18 years I served in too many positions to list here. But one of the jobs I am most proud of was being the editor of the Collier Citizen the past several years. It’s a weekly community newspaper that won numerous awards and covered everything from the heroin/opioid crisis to homelessness in Southwest Florida.
One of my proudest moments as a journalist is the first story that was assigned to me. Before I switched from being a computer science major at Miami-Dade Community College to journalism, my English professor told me that I was one of the best writers she had ever taught. She suggested that I give journalism a try. She was friends with the editor of a newspaper in Homestead and she was able to secure an unpaid internship for me.
It was right before Christmas and the editor suggested that I contact a local mother whose daughter had just been in a horrific car crash. The accident left her 17-year-old daughter paralyzed from the neck down. The mother had always lived paycheck to paycheck but now the medical bills and expenses to renovate her home to make it wheelchair accessible were weighing her down.
I was extremely moved by their story. I typed up and submitted my article, thinking that it might get some play in the paper but not front page. I was shocked to see the story and the photograph I took of them on the front page just a couple days later.
But what happened afterward is what changed my life — and theirs. The town of Homestead and a bunch of community organizations and businesses rallied together to raise funds for the family. There were canned food drives and other major fundraisers that ended up allowing the mother to fully renovate their home and even purchase a special van that lifted her daughter’s wheelchair into the vehicle.
Upon witnessing the incredible power of the written word, I knew what I had to do. I immediately switched my major. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Now, I hope to bring that same enthusiasm and tenacity to my new job. I ask for your advice, insight and input as we forge ahead together.
Finally, since I haven’t heard your story yet, send me an email with your details and what you’d like to see covered in the Daily Record and Realty-Builder.