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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Dec. 14, 201707:35 AM EST

Times-Union to move offices Downtown by year-end 2018

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Daily newspaper to outsource printing, affecting 50 jobs.

The Florida Times-Union announced Wednesday evening that about 50 jobs will be “displaced” as it moves production of the daily newspaper from its Riverside plant in mid-February to Gainesville and Daytona.

Times-Union President Mark Nusbaum also said that after a half-century operating at 1 Riverside Ave., the paper will move remaining departments, including news and advertising, to a Downtown location by the fourth quarter of 2018.

Times Union executives did not comment Thursday to Daily Record inquiries about where the staff may be relocated, how many staff are involved or the amount of square footage it would need.

Nusbaum announced the plans at a 6 p.m. staff meeting Wednesday and a story was posted on the paper’s website, Jacksonville.com.

The report said The Times-Union’s circulation is 45,000 daily and 70,000 Sunday. The Jacksonville.com site has daily page views of about 380,000.

Nusbaum said the Monday-Friday papers will be printed in Gainesville and the Sunday paper in Daytona.

Production employees could pursue openings at other printing plants operated by GateHouse Media, which bought the newspaper in October.

According to Nusbaum, it would “require a very, very substantial investment” to upgrade or replace the aging presses.

The Morris family of Augusta, Georgia, sold the paper along with 10 other dailies to GateHouse, which operates more than 140 dailies.

The Morris family owns the 18-acre Riverside Avenue office building and production plant on the Northbank at the base of the Acosta Bridge and has indicated it wants to redevelop it.

Moving the newsroom and other departments Downtown takes the paper “where we need to be,” Nusbaum said.

The paper set up J Magazine to advocate for Downtown redevelopment. It is published by the editorial page staff, not the newsroom.

“Downtown Jacksonville, and its revitalization, is a major source of interest to us here at the Times-Union,” Nusbaum said.

Also, he said, much of the paper’s coverage is generated from City Hall, the Duval County Courthouse, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and other Downtown-based entities.

“We want to be there, right in the middle of it,” he said.

The moves are not unexpected.

Morris Publishing Group, the former parent company of The Florida Times-Union, announced June 4, 2016, it was putting the property at 1 Riverside Ave. on the market.

Then, Nusbaum made it clear the company preferred to continue operating on the property and was “very interested in being a development partner,” including a possible sales-leaseback.

That was before the sale to GateHouse. Morris bought the newspaper in 1982.

Nusbaum said after that announcement that because of changes in the industry, especially the move from printed to digital news distribution, the company didn’t need all of the Riverside Avenue space.

At the time, he said employment peaked at about 1,000 in the last decade and had declined to about 330.

He told a June 2016 meeting of the JAXUSA Partnership economic development division of the JAX Chamber the company needed to “right-size” the business.

A move to the central business district would be a return to the urban core.

According to Jacksonville.com, the newspaper’s roots began in 1864 when The Florida Union began publishing weekly from an Ocean Street office.

It merged in 1883 with The Florida Daily Times, which began in 1881, and the paper moved to southwest Bay and Laura streets.

In 1900, the Times-Union moved to the Astor Building at Bay and Hogan streets and in 1911 to southwest Pearl and Adams streets.

It moved to Riverside Avenue in 1967.



 

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