Island Issues

Area News Media Shuffle Underway

Area News Media Shuffle Underway

A flurry of media activity is taking place in Northeast Florida including reporting and editorial shuffling, an upcoming challenge to the area’s legacy news outlets, and the reemergence of the satirical Amelia Island News Wrecker.

Nationally, on Wednesday, April 26, the Biden Administration announced it would take steps to combat misinformation on social media by forming a new department called the “Ministry of Truth,” oops sorry, it’s called the “Disinformation Governance Board.” It’s going to govern misinformation or, in other words, things they do not want you to read or see.

Let’s focus initially on what’s going on with local media outlets.

Citizen’s Journal Florida will be the new kid on the block and is currently under-construction. This is not a kitchen table start-up staffed by a crowd of left-leaning Brenda Starr wannabes desirous of spreading neighborhood gossip, sucking up to local officials, hugging trees, and badmouthing local developers and businessmen.

The Citizen’s Journal is headed-up by publisher and veteran media executive, George Miller, a newcomer to the area from Ventura County, California, who created a similar publication in a much more inhospitable California media environment.

But, before shouting: “CALIFORNIA?” check out Miller’s background. He shares no resemblance to left-wing Fernandina Beach Mayor “Marxist” Mike Lednovich, another California transplant pictured here (below) during a Fernandina BLM parade.

In 2013 Miller constructed, successfully operated, and eventually sold a similar and now flourishing news outlet in that socialistic hellhole of a state. If he did it there it should be a piece of cake in a community populated hereabouts by mostly Republican-registered voters hungry for news other than the monotonous stream of pap currently spewed by the area’s politically timid, left-wing media crowd.

Mayor Mike “Left Wing” Lednovich marches in a Fernandina Beach parade advocating for the disgraced BLM group scammers, publicly displaying his left wing “California style” political leanings.

Miller says his new outlet will be loosely affiliated with his Citizens Journal Ventura County, CA publication but under different ownership and management. “We intend to share some content and resources,” he says. He said that CJ-VC is definitely not representative of “the predominant loony California culture, instead it will be a rare bright light of truth and courage.”

He says Citizens Journal Florida will be a source of “real news” initially concentrating on Nassau County.

“Our mission is to deliver information that is useful, valuable, and entertaining to readers in our target markets, to expose misinformation and to inform.

“We’re doing this because it’s necessary,” he explains. “It’s absurd that this community is mainly ‘served’ by dinosaur print media pushing the tired old ‘mainstream’ narrative. The Citizens Journal will be a voice of the people, warts, and all. We’ll deliver actual news, useful information and controversial commentary.”

He says the news section will be objective, while the opinion section will contain whatever the writer wants to say, “as long as it’s legal, not vulgar, and adds to dialogue and understanding in the public square. It will definitely NOT be politically correct.”

Miller is a harsh critic of the current “mainstream” media. The Citizens Journal will reflect his attitude, one that informal polling indicates is shared by a majority of folks hereabouts.

“Much of the news we and others like us have reported is disputed by the so-called ‘mainstream’ narrative as ‘misinformation’” says Miller. “However, it’s turning out to be true: election fraud really was election fraud; lockdowns, except for the most at-risk people, were ineffective and caused more damage than they avoided; COVID statistics were wrong; the experimental so-called “vaccine” has had major drawbacks/side effects for many, doesn’t protect against infection that well; “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) was developed by Marxist thinkers and really is designed to divide, not unite and is full of untruths and distortions; the “climate emergency” is vastly exaggerated; the unborn really are babies who have senses, feel pain and think more and more during gestation; crime and poverty tend to be much higher in so-called “progressive” jurisdictions; crime has soared under the permissive policies and ANTIFA/BLM’s ‘mostly peaceful protests’; following true family values and faith doesn’t make you ignorant, racist, or ‘white supremacist’;  the Hunter Biden ‘laptop from hell’ is very real; and January 6, 2021 wasn’t an ‘insurrection.’”

Miller says the Citizens Journal will focus on reporting news important to the community, including local governments, school boards, businesses, politics, among other issues. He says that it will put state, national, and international events into perspective, particularly how they impact local citizens.

“While our news will be objective, it will be viewed through a lens of traditional American values, which include Judeo-Christian and conservative thinking,” says Miller. He says people will be encouraged to submit material but there are parameters. “Articles that don’t meet our news standards will be rejected or relegated to the opinion section. Press releases will be labeled as such, not disguised as news articles. And if it’s a government or special interest handout, we’ll say so.”

The Citizens Journal is currently scheduled to make its debut in July if all goes as planned.

“It will be all online,” says Miller explaining, “it doesn’t make economic sense to start a new print publication against entrenched competition. Online is much cheaper, faster, more nimble, more comprehensive, has links, videos and more.”

He says advertising is also migrating from print media online. “Online publications are eroding print media readership- even newspapers’ own editions compete with their on-line versions. Modern web, social media, and network technology work better and better. Some 90% of our California sister publication’s 300,000+ readers use mobile devices to view it.

“CJ-FL will be using a “Citizens Journal” mostly volunteer model,” he says. “As revenue increases we will be able to improve compensation. We will utilize a combination of local citizens, some with extraordinary skills and a few professionals, to write, publish and operate the publication. Those interested can sign up at: https://www.citizensjournal.net/2022/04/15/welcome-to-the-future-home-of-citizens-journal-florida/

Miller says he is seeking staff with various skills for the initially predominately volunteer-operated publication including the following:

  • Web skills (SQL, WordPress, SEO, social media)
  • Editorial-by geographical areas, categories, topics, managing editors, copy, proofreading, layout, and scheduling.
  • Reporters for government, business, NGOs, topics, such as education, medicine, faith, rights, health/fitness, family, business, environment, technology, energy, transportation, entertainment, sports, etc. (certain labor-intensive reporting is paid)
  • Circulation- distribution channels, social media, subscriptions
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Legal: copyright, permissions, liability, etc.
  • Sales: advertising and fundraising. These are paid contractual relationships.

For additional information on current positions and how to contribute contact: publisher@citizensjournal.net.

The Amelia Island News Wrecker, a 28-page satirical tabloid, returned during this year’s Shrimp Festival following a two-year hiatus necessitated by the Chinese covid pandemic.

The first copies of the 2022 News Wrecker that boasts the tagline “Amelia Island’s sacred cows make the best burgers” were appropriately distributed during Thursday’s (April 28) Shrimp Festival parade from the back of Bill’s Towing Company’s Wrecker.

Copies of  the Wrecker will be available in shops, restaurants, bars, hotels, B&B’s, and other publicly accessible establishments throughout Nassau County. As the logo says, they are: “Free to a good home.”

The bi-weekly Fernandina Beach News Leader is beefing up its newsroom. The reporter with the fortunate name of Julia Roberts, no longer appears to be tasked with covering everything from city hall and crime to the school board, county government and more.

New bylines are popping up including Marissa Mahoney and Holly Dorman and if the paper’s “help wanted” ads are an indication there are more to come. In the paper’s “Employment” classifieds, the past few weeks an ad headlined “Newspaper Jobs” says the News Leader’s parent — Athens, Georgia-based Community Newspapers — is seeking reporters, advertising sales representatives, graphic designers, and pressmen for its 25-paper chain in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.

The overextended Ms. Roberts has blossomed into an objective journalist, rarely inserting bias or opinion in her articles. In the beginning her reporting efforts were a bit sloppy, but that was probably because she was an overextended newcomer and a one-person newsroom. Apparently that’s been remedied.

On the opinion side, conservative columnist Steve Nicklas, is the star of the editorial page with his crisp, insightful and punchy weekly pieces. This former newspaper reporter and editor, turned private financial advisor, needs to have his efforts expanded and be totally unleashed. I’m not saying that because I mostly agree with Steve’s way of thinking, but because he’s a talented writer who is being constrained.

“Get off my lawn you little…..”

Nicklas’s opinion page counterpart is retired local school teacher and former Fernandina City Commission politico, Ron Sapp, who publicly admitted in one of his too lengthy columns that he’s a socialist and proud of it. He is to the editorial page what Farmer McGregor was to Peter Rabbit. Surely the paper’s relatively new editor, Scott Bryan, can find a more talented local progressive to articulately and convincingly present the left’s side other than this pathetic guy’s “Get off my lawn you little bastards” ravings.

Then there’s former corporate guy, Howard Pines, whose columns read like a time-and-motion consultant’s report to management – dry, humorless, and boring.

The two distaff columnists, Dickie Andersen and Cara Curtin, pen harmless “Around Town”
pieces about old houses, quilting, visiting relatives, beach walks, and other insomnia curing topics.

The paper lost talented nature columnist Pat Turley because she refused to allow her column to be edited, and she’s now wasting her time writing about bugs and birds for the online Blind Observer. There should have been a compromise there as she’s too good a writer to be closeted away in that dead end mess.

The paper needs a writer who can inform and generate a chuckle or two.

The Observer,  a myopic online publication that is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Fernandina Beach City Commission is getting a new editor as Suanne Thamm and Susan Steger, step down after 10 years of hyping city hall and “pretend reporting”.

According to the Steger-Thamm  duo the “Blind Observer” will now be run by community newcomer and veteran newspaper guy, Mike Phillips, who will assume the editor’s responsibilities. The Observer says Phillips — whose political leanings are unknown at this time — comes here from Cincinnati OH, where he retired as an E.W. Scripps executive overseeing 19 of the company’s newsrooms from Florida to Puget Sound. His bio says he began his newspaper career as a reporter and copy editor, continued as a senior editor, then ultimately corporate executive. He was a digital news pioneer and specialized in community news.

His background is impressive. He can’t do any worse than the Steger-Thamm duo of city hall suck ups, who took 10 years to take this once promising concept, turn it into a  muddled left-wing mess, and drive it off a cliff.

Phillips said Steger and Thamm told him they were getting “worn out” and were thinking of shutting the Observer down. He encouraged them not to do that saying: “This town needs a good source of news.” Apparently he doesn’t read this stinker whose low point came this past February 25 when one of its totally inept and addled scribblers, Anne H. Oman, wrote a nasty, tasteless and inappropriate article about a local resident who contributed to Canadian trucker protestors that neither she nor the two incompetent editors could explain.

Their response to massive criticism from their angry readers as to why they did it was: “Huh?” They doxed a local resident and then claimed they had no idea what “doxing” was. They have yet to explain why they attacked the local person who donated to peaceful protesting truckers in Canada but ignore those left-wing whack jobs hereabouts, like one of their city hall favorites,  Mayor “Marxist Mike” Lednovich who openly supports the fraudulent, disgraceful BLM organization.

Lednovich recently proposed an absurd unenforceable ban on smoking on the beach. This is a guy who probably wears a mask in the shower. Steger and Thamm have never mentioned the locals who contribute to BLM, Antifa, and others who kill, burn and loot on the streets of U.S. cities. Nowhere did they ever mention that BLM is a charitable fraud with $60 million in unaccountable funds that boasts several luxurious mansions for its Marxist organizers. I guess Thamm and Steger got “worn out” covering up news that doesn’t align with their leftist narrative.

If Mr. Phillips is taking advice from this crowd he’ll last as long as CNN+. He’d be wise to take a look at the Citizens Journal site to get a taste of what he’ll soon be up against. In fact he might even consider talking to Mr. Miller or Mr. Miller might think about calling him and considering a joint venture. Just a thought.

In a note to Observer readers Mr. Phillips says: “I was a journalist for many years: an editor or publisher and then a media company exec overseeing newsrooms from coast to coast. I know how to run a news operation…” OK then,  why would you even consider listening to Steger, Thamm or Oman, who have never done any of that?

He said Steger and Thamm have agreed to be the first two members of a board of directors that he’ll be creating and that he is converting the outlet to a non-profit from an LLC. Again, if he wants to accomplish what he says, he’d be wise to ignore anything those two say or do just the opposite. Or better yet, reach out to the Citizens Journal and Mr. Miller.

He said he is also “bulking up the Observer’s finances and plans to stop relying on volunteers and start paying writers and photographers freelance fees and ad sales people commissions.

He’ll be competing with the Citizens Journal for talent and, if he is going to run a balanced news outlet, he’ll also be competing with it for readers.

The Florida Times-Union is the last remaining print seven-day daily anywhere near Northeast Florida, and it’s in steep editorial decline.

The Morris family sold their flagship Jacksonville-based paper to Gatehouse Media in 2017. Gatehouse then purchased Gannett in 2019 and the paper quickly shifted from a right leaning publication to a far left-wing one.

Local bylines, and editorial content have been replaced by Associated Press pieces and progressive USA Today Network blather. The sports section is still obsessed with the pathetic NFL Jaguars no matter what the sports season. Looking for baseball box scores? Forget it.

The Sunday April 24 Sunday paper I picked up at a local convenience store cost $4.28, about four bucks too much.

The front page of my four-buck plus copy contained three articles: one critical of  Governor Ron DeSantis, an almost half page story headlined “Transgender athletes: A path forward”, and the third about Democrat Congressman Al Lawson’s angst over the redistricting of his district.

The tiny business section reported on a new Publix opening in Nassau County’s Wildlight and a review of a Jacksonville Mexican restaurant. The pickings were slim.

Oh, the Sunday paper introduced a 12-page section of nothing but puzzles. But, as far as I was concerned the entire paper was  a puzzle, begging the answer to: What ever happened to old-fashioned news gathering and reporting?

In 2012 my annual seven-day-a-week home delivery subscription was $383.41. I cancelled it in 2017 when the paper started asking for more than $1,000 a year.

Does management ever compare the editorial balance and the demographics of their publication? This paper appears to be committing suicide and is on its deathbed.

***

Speaking of Media Messes:  A recent poll by Yougov provides an insight into how a misleading media narrative can distort the public’s perception and lead to a stream of unquestioned media claptrap and false claims.

The survey asked a cross section of Americans a variety of questions about the demographics of the United States and then compared their answers to the actual figures. The results were eye opening.

Following are the questions and the survey responders answers followed by the actual figures:

How many Americans are black? Responders – 41%; Actual – 12%

How many Americans are Hispanic? Responders – 39%; Actual – 17%

How many Americans are gay? Responders – 30%; Actual – 3%

How many Americans are transgendered? Responders – 21%; Actual – 1%

How many Americans live in New York City? Responders – 30%; Actual 3%

How many Americans have an annual income of more than $500,000? Responders 26%; Actual – 1%

Answers to poll questions like those come from people who depend on media outlets like the Times-Union and CNN as their sole source of information.

***

Loud Mouth Celebrity Deadbeat On The Run: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the state legislature have told Mickey Mouse to pay up and shut up.

Mr. Mouse thinks he, and not the voters of Florida, run the state. Do you know any other folks other than the Mouse and his fellow California-based woke Disney fantasy-world empty suit executives who want to go against the recently enacted education bill that gets rid of the discussion of sexuality and gender identity for inappropriate age groups and follows Florida voter’s wishes? Yeh, me either.

Disney’s idiotic lawsuits and corporate wokeness already have its stock tanking. Customers for its products and patrons to its parks are rapidly following.

Without their “special district” status the arrogant woke Disney suits will now have to pay their own way like all other Florida companies. Thank you Governor DeSantis.

Why are the perversions of children so important to Democrats and Disney?  I’m open to answers.

I’ve always been convinced Mr. Mouse was a hypocrite since he is obviously black and was never involved in the civil rights movement.

***

New Poll: The most recent poll asked readers if they felt the Nassau County School Board was structured in a way that enabled residents to fully express their views. Of the 75 folks who participated 91% or 68 said it was not. Only 7% percent (5) said it was and 3% (2) didn’t know.

A new poll asks if folks hereabouts agree with Governor DeSantis and the new state parental rights legislation, which prohibits teachers from discussing gender fluidity and sexual identities to third-graders and younger.

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14 Comments

Faith Ross - 08. May, 2022 - Reply

Governor DeSantis isn’t working for the Republican Party. He is part of the “Evil Forces” Jack Knoche talks about. If you read the Wall Street Journal (also conservative). As a result of the Disney fiasco, “business” is rethinking its relationship with the party. Business needs customers, businessess need to be open to all customers or receive boycotts. When held hostage to narrow views, businesses suffer. The party is going down a very narrow rabbit hole. Hope you don’t make the same mistake.

ELIZABETH JOHNSON - 02. May, 2022 - Reply

If there only 12% blacks in this country, why does every other commercial on tv feature blacks? It seems to me 12 out of 100 would be about right.

Mike Lednovich - 30. Apr, 2022 - Reply

Dave: for the umpteenth time please get your “facts” correct.
I am not a transplant from Southern California having grown up in Ft. Lauderdale and attended Westwood Heights Elementary. Parkway Junior High and graduated from Stranahan High School in 1965. I worked as a reporter for the Ft. Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel until 1986. As of 2022, I have spent a third of my 74 years on the planet as a resident of Florida.
Please put some effort into correctly reporting on the people in your blog.

Stephen Hall - 29. Apr, 2022 - Reply

For those lovers of the press, here’s the classic Three Stooges bit on getting reporters into an event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNVgoCTpFMY

Harvey slentz - 29. Apr, 2022 - Reply

Great blog as always, Dave.

The current state of affairs at many levels is really concerning, and I’m comforted by the fact that we are only 193 days from the midterm elections nationally.

When I think about the Florida Times Union newspaper, it reminds me of the general observation that when you only have one product or alternative with the same rules (like school tuition portable to public/private schools). In the market place, it’s difficult to evaluate how good or bad it is and whether or not it’s a value. All

I’ve read the TU a couple of times since I ended my subscription and my experience was the same as yours: it was 100% pro Democrat zero anything else. I don’t mind any publication providing both sides of a story, but I don’t read anything that Joseph Goebbels or his reincarnation want to write.

I would like to learn more about the CITIZENS JOURNAL online publication and how to access it. (haslentz@aol.com)

At this point, I have the trio of — selected articles in the News Leader, everything in the WSJ, and a couple of cable news networks.

Please up the great work; it keeps many of us sane, at least to some extent.

Harvey

Chris Boelkes - 29. Apr, 2022 - Reply

Add a subscription to “The Epoch Times”, digital or print versions. You also get access to Epoch.TV which presents in-depth analysis of major current topics. The “American Thought Leaders” with Jan Jekielek is particularly exceptional. Straight-up, factual news.

Bruce Smyk - 29. Apr, 2022 - Reply

Will we have to pick up the Citizens Journal at a Trump Tower? He spouts lies as badly as the Left. Election fraud- proof? Covid stats are wrong – proof? Vaccine – proof? Climate emergency – let him spend a summer in Florida first? January 6 was “not an insurrection”? I guess it was a tea party where 5 people died.
We don’t need more Trump wackos or Pelosi ass-kissers. We need centrists to keep the country from splitting into 2 misinformed camps.

john Whitlow - 30. Apr, 2022 - Reply

No worries Joe’s Disinformation Governance Board will take care of misinformation.

Bill Shaffer - 29. Apr, 2022 - Reply

You are a valiant free press warrior, Mr. Musk. — err, Mr. Scott.

George Miller - 29. Apr, 2022 - Reply

Dave, excellent analysis of the local news media scene. Thanks for mentioning us .

We call upon interested members of the public to assist in this effort. We named our publication CITIZENS Journal for a good reason: we want it to be supported and run by the people and more responsive and accurate than the predominant so-called “Mainstream Media” with its predictable establishment narrative. Readers- please consider helping us with donations, advertising, subscribing free, or working with us directly in one or more of a number of available roles.

Charles Brown - 29. Apr, 2022 - Reply

Not surprised to see looney bin “Woke, Socialist, Fascist, Mayor Mike “Left Wing” Lednovich promoting BLM.one big spender of taxpayers money promoting a group that is the fraud of the decade spending others money gotten by threats of violence. America needs to realize ALL LIVES MATTER INCLUDING THE UNBORN CHILD.

Peg Dickinson - 29. Apr, 2022 - Reply

My parents moved to Winter park, in Orange Co in 1977 so we have followed Disney with interest for years. There are a few things you conveniently left out….
In dissolving Reedy Creek Orange and Osceola counties will lose about 168 million dollars in taxes every year at no cost to those counties, They also will be responsible for providing fire and police to an area that has provided their own care for years. Lastly, and most interesting. by dissolving Reedy Creek and by federal law, Florida will now become responsible for their debt – at this time about one billion dollars.
Disney is Florida’s largest employer with about 77G employees. Disney turned a cow town into a huge tourist attraction, like it or not, and area businesses have employed thousands more. Florida attracted more then just beach goers and has helped us keep taxes down compared to many other states.
DeSantis and the rest of the legislators didn’t think this through, and may have bitten off more then they can crew by tackling the Mouse.

Harrison Waller - 29. Apr, 2022 - Reply

I believe there is plenty to be sorted out as this change does not go into effect until mid 2023. What are your supposed sources for your facts? Disney isn’t going anywhere with their 77G employees (by the way, how many employees does 77G add up to?). They have over 25K (not G) acres in Florida and Florida’s climate. Where would they go? And to the lost revenue of 168 million, don’t you think Orange and Osceola and Florida are going to tax Disney to make up for that?

Fred - 30. Apr, 2022 - Reply

Great counterpoints! If it was such a detriment to Disney to have to pay for all their “stuff” why would they want to hold on to it so fiercely?