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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jan. 3, 202205:00 AM EST

New year bringing changes for Jacksonville Daily Record in print

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The Jacksonville Record & Observer and Daily Record are merging into a weekly print publication. Website will continue to be free and updated daily.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The new year is the beginning of a new business model for the Jacksonville Daily Record and Jacksonville Record & Observer.

Responding to the evolving marketplace and new public-notice advertising laws enacted by the state Legislature, the Daily Record print edition and the free Record & Observer are merging to become the weekly Jacksonville Daily Record, distributed every Thursday beginning Jan. 6.

“It saddens me to take this step with this historic Jacksonville institution, which, amazingly, has published daily for almost 110 years, but we’re facing a cardinal rule of business: If you want to remain viable, you must adjust with the times,” said Matt Walsh, publisher of the Daily Record and CEO of Observer Media Group.

Walsh purchased the newspaper in 2017, making it part of the OMG family of business and community newspapers in Florida.

The company’s portfolio comprises four free community weeklies in the Sarasota-Bradenton market; two free weeklies serving the east coast markets in Palm Coast/Flagler County and Ormond Beach; two free weeklies serving Winter Garden, Windermere, Ocoee and Horizon West in Orange County; the Business Observer, a paid-circulation weekly with subscribers primarily from Tampa to Naples; and the Jacksonville Daily Record.

The move to weekly publication is not the first transition in the past 109 years for Jacksonville’s oldest business newspaper.

All the transitions build on the foundation that began Nov. 14, 1912, when the first issue of the Financial News came off the press.

That was the year Woodrow Wilson was elected president of the United States, the year the RMS Titanic sank and the year the Cohen Bros. department store opened in the St. James Building, now Jacksonville City Hall.

Founder and first Publisher John Hall McManus focused his newspaper on providing the latest court, legal and public notices to readers.

No movie reviews, sports scores or recipes — it was and remains strictly business, government and law.

The communities that depend on accuracy and dependability recognized the newspaper for it.

The Daily Record became the official newspaper of the Jacksonville Bar Association on Nov. 21, 1926.

It became the official newspaper for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida, on Jan. 4, 1947; and the official court newspaper of Duval County on July 7, 1961.

When McManus died, his son-in-law, James F. Bailey Sr., took over the newspaper.

In 1974, Bailey had a heart attack and his son, James Jr., came home from college to work in the family business for what he thought would be a brief period while his father recuperated.

His days on campus had come to an end. Bailey continued to run the newspaper and increase its value to readers. 

He established an editorial staff to cover area business, government policy, real estate development, courts and the legal community.

Thirty-eight years after the second-generation Bailey took over the newspaper, City Council proclaimed Nov. 14, 2012, as   “Financial News & Daily Record Day” in Jacksonville to recognize the newspaper’s 100th anniversary.

In February 2017, Bailey, then 63, sold his family’s newspaper to Walsh.

The next transition was when the Jacksonville Record & Observer, the free weekly version of the Daily Record, debuted June 7, 2018. 

It began distribution on racks at business locations throughout the metro Jacksonville area.

The next major change came in March 2020, when the staff moved from 10 N. Newnan St., across the street from the old City Hall, into offices at 121 W. Forsyth St. 

It was just days after the coronavirus pandemic began, and the Daily Record continued publishing five days a week.

Next week, the Jacksonville Daily Record will be delivered to subscribers at their homes and offices.

Readers also can pick up a free copy from one of more than 100 racks in Duval, Clay and St. Johns counties.

Visit jaxdailyrecord.com/rack-locations to view a map of locations.

“While we no longer will be in print five days a week, we have found our readers are increasingly shifting to getting their business and legal information from us online. So you will continue to see us providing that information — and more  — on JaxDailyRecord.com,” Walsh said.

“This is a model that is working well in the other markets we serve around Florida — breaking news and features online, coupled with a weekly print edition that summarizes the week and serves those of us who still like to hold a newspaper in our hands,” he said.

Effective Jan. 6, the Jacksonville Daily Record has a new design with profiles of Northeast Florida entrepreneurs and their strategies for success, along with reports on economic, industry and demographic trends to provide readers with a competitive edge.

The Daily Record has been part of Jacksonville for more than a century.

“We’re adjusting with the times and intend to be around another 100 years,” Walsh said.

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