Update: South Florida News Execs Have No Clue How To Save Newspapers





Three South Florida newspaper executives resembled First Mates on the Titanic: They know the iceberg is headed their way, but they can’t figure out how to avoid it.

Miami Herald Executive Editor Mindy Marques Gonzalez, Palm Beach Post Publisher Tim Burke and Sun-Sentinel Publisher/Editor Howard Saltz had few concrete answers about how to save newspapers at the business group Tower Forum on Thursday.They were surprisingly candid about an industry that is increasingly irrelevant to readers and advertisers in the Internet age.


Howard Saltz

Howard Saltz



Asked how long he believed print newspapers would survive, Saltz said,“If I had to guess, 15 years.” By then the circulation would dwindle to the point where it wouldn’t pay to print and deliver a newspaper.

A merger of the three daily newspapers was “a possibility” in the future, Saltz also said, adding such a combination isn’t being discussed as far as he knew.

The newspaper executives agreed that the future was online. They just were unsure how to get there.

“We still have a lot to figure out,” Burke said. “We’re not good at technology.”

Saltz attacked the Sun-Sentinel’s online competition – he called them “blogs” written by kids in the parent’s basement and other “Gawker-like” sites – as not having the credibility of newspapers.

Not mentioned by Saltz was that the ultimate one-person website — Broward Health Blog — broke many of the stories on the troubled public hospital system Broward Health more than a year before the scandals caught the attention of other media outlets. It was the work of activist and political consultant Dan Lewis, who had personal reasons for believing the public hospital system was corrupt and being mismanaged, as Browardbeat.com earlier explained here.

Following Lewis’ lead, two of the Sun-Sentinel online competitors – PoliticoFlorida.com and Floridabulldog.org – carried the ball. They were following in the wake of Lewis, along with some help from Browardbeat.com. The Sun-Sentinel trailed in most of the coverage, although there were some outstanding pieces by editorial page editor Rosemary O’Hara long after Lewis and other websites uncovered the wrongdoing.

Asked by audience members how the newspapers can entice people under the age of Social Security to read them, the executives had no answers except to point to their successeses.

Twelve million people-a-month read the Miami Herald and its other publications in print and online, Marques told the 100 or so business types at the breakfast.

The figures of readers provided by Marques is roughly double the entire populations of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

That highlights a big problem advertisers may have with the Internet readership. If the Miami Herald readership figures are accurate, how many of them are local readers? Thus, how many are really potential customers of local advertisers?


Lay Off Plague Papers


Earl Maucker, former Sun-Sentinel editor who was the moderator, asked how the papers were managing to cover their communities with less staff. He noted that he had “laid off 150 people in the newsroom and closed six bureaus” before leaving the paper in 2010.

“We’re working smarter,” Saltz answered.

The three executives said “working smarter” meant skipping routine government meeting coverage and emphasizing watchdog journalism in their communities to uncover wrongdoing.

“The Herald has more reporters on investigations than when we had a bigger staff,” Gonzalez said.

My take:

All three papers continue to do some kickass journalism even with their diminished resources.

Yet an investigation every few months does not make up for a lack of real community coverage.

Maucker told the executives that he has never seen a daily newspaper reporter at a Lighthouse Point City Commission meeting since being elected a commission in 2012 and warned commissioners could be robbing taxpayers blind. Who would know?

Websites like Tamaractalk.com or Gold Coast’s Fort Lauderdale Daily and local print publications have sprung up to fill the gap. These sites whittle away further at the newspapers’ advertising base.

So what’s the future?

I surely don’t know and I don’t think the newspapers or their websites have tapped into it yet. Their websites are muddled, trying to do too many things.

Based on history, the newspaper companies will be about as relevant as typewriters in a few years.

Companies in the Internet that are called The New Media like Facebook, Google, Instagram, YouTube, etc. have one thing in common: They were all created by folks under 30-years-old.

This is nothing new for innovators. William Randolph Hearst was in his 20s when he went in the publishing business and changed the face of newspapers.

So what make anybody believe that a bunch of grey-haired suits in a newspaper company’s corner office have the key to the future of the media?



This news release was distributed by Tribune Publishing, parent company of the Sun-Sentinel, late Thursday:



From: Tribune Publishing
Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2016 4:35 PM
Subject: Exciting News


Today, I am pleased to announce another important step in our transformation – the renaming of our Company to tronc, or tribune online content. At our core, we remain a content curation and monetization company focused on creating and distributing premium, verified content across all channels. This rebranding acknowledges our important evolution as a company and captures the essence of our vision for the future.

Tribune Publishing has a proud history, with iconic brands that remain the core of who we are. But as we are all well-aware, the media industry is shifting rapidly, and the path to success requires an innovative new approach and a fundamentally different way of operating.

We are embracing this evolution with open arms and executing a transformation strategy focused on leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to create an interactive and customized user experience to benefit our 60 million monthly users. It has been a busy time – in just a few short months, we have already made significant progress, including:

· Reorganizing the business into new operating and reporting units to increase transparency and drive corporate focus;
· Launching troncX, our content curation and monetization engine, which combines our existing assets with new artificial intelligence (“AI”) technology to accelerate our digital growth; and
· Partnering with Nant Capital and Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong to accelerate the transformation from a legacy news company to a technology and content company.

Renaming the Company is the logical next step in this journey and underscores our commitment to completely transform the business – and the industry – and to continue to best serve our readers and the communities in which we operate.

We will be communicating with you often over the coming weeks about the mechanics of the transition process. Importantly, this change does not impact the name of our proud and iconic brands.

As part of this announcement, we also announced that the Company will be transferring its stock exchange listing from the New York Stock Exchange to the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. tronc shares are expected to begin trading as a Nasdaq-listed security under the new ticker symbol “TRNC” on June 20. Nasdaq is the home to many other leading innovators and technology companies, providing the ideal platform for tronc shares.

Separately, you may have also seen that our Annual Meeting of Shareholders was held earlier today in Los Angeles. We are pleased to announce that shareholders elected all of the Company’s nominees. On behalf of the Board, we are grateful for the support of our shareholders, and look forward to continuing to serve their best interests as we execute our strategic plan.

Importantly, the majority of voting shareholders rejected Gannett’s symbolic, feeble and expensive withhold campaign. We cannot speculate as to what Gannett may choose to do as a result of this rejection, but the best thing we can do is to stay focused on the important work we have underway. I sincerely hope that the Gannett shareholders begin to express their displeasure to the Gannett Board regarding the corporate waste that has been perpetrated these past six weeks with their massive spend on this emblematic campaign. Gannet’s interest in our Company only reinforces the high value of our innovation and strategic vision.

This is an incredibly exciting time as we continue to transform our Company and industry. As we start this new chapter as tronc, I want to thank each of you for the hard work and dedication that has allowed us to create a better future for our Company.

Thank you for all that you do.


Justin Dearborn

23 Responses to “Update: South Florida News Execs Have No Clue How To Save Newspapers”

  1. A news future says:

    As a former TV journalist, I never understood why newspapers didn’t wipe out the local news. The larger staff alone is a killer, yet they continue to practice 50’s reporting (and unfortunately, so does local TV). The real future is dedicated reporters doing one minute video pieces that are hyperlocal. If you don’t live in Homestead, why do I care what’s going on there? Major stories will always need coverage – the hurricanes, the riots, etc., but daily I want to know weather, sports scores and a snippet of my town’s news. And throw in important education/political news – so there will always be a need for local beat reporters. Enough news to fill my tank at the gas station to – which is a great place to start selling your hyperlocal news. Have them email me…I’m a lot cheaper than a consultant.

  2. Bank of Rupt says:

    I am sure Mr Saltz has a great record of business success and that is obviously the reason he was hired to steer the ship off the rocks and onto calmer waters….

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Sun-Sentinel is dead. It just ain’t buried yet.
    Buddy,what is that picture of Saltz? Weird.

  4. HillaryIn2016And2020 says:

    The SunSentinel newspaper is a total Joke. Yesterday June 1, Letter to the Editor said: “The school board was given the OK by the voters for an $88 million bond issue to fix our deteriorating two years ago.”

    The truth is that bond issue was for $800,000,000.00. And not for $88,000,000.00.

    This shows that they will allow any complete idiot to write a letter and print it. No one checked the letter for accuracy.

  5. Flame on says:

    Howard Saltz made another comment at he breakfast that I thought showed how he does not understand South Florida.

    “Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach are all the same, there is no difference.”



    You are right. There are significant differences which he didn’t seem to recognize.

  6. A reader says:

    The Sun-Sentinel is actually committing suicide by letting Gary Stein and Danny Vazquez write pieces filed under “Opinion”. Their columns are infantile at best. It is mind boggling to see such drivel written on the editorial page from time to time.
    What’s wrong with the newspaper??? Look in the mirror Saltz, Stein, and Vasquez.

  7. Millenial says:

    I was at this morning’s Tower Forum and was appalled at the amount close minded comments towards millenials that were spouted including those of NSU President George Hanbury who lamented that millenials can only speak in 160 character sentences.

    If you want to save the newspapers and care about young people getting an education so that they are productive members of society then figure out ways to engage this generation. You can start by not being condescending and instead listen.

  8. Stormwatch says:

    Just because someone lives in Ft. Lauderdale doesn’t mean they don’t care about what goes on in Palm Beach or Miami. Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County are pretty much one big town a hundred miles long, 30 miles wide, and about 6.5 million of us. Lots of folks frequent all 3 counties for living, work, social. Recreational purposes, etc.

    Im no journalist and I don’t claim to know anything about the newspaper business. But my parents taught me to read before I reached kindergarten and I have been a “newshound” since about 12 years of age. So I know something about the reading business.
    My advice to any newspaper would be that current day “subscriptions” or home delivery on the front porch or at a business will be extinct much sooner than what the gentleman predicted. Go all digital, and make your content free. Forget about digital subscriptions. Theres too many news sources with free content. You’re better off getting as many hits as you can and basing your ad rates on that. 2 of the best local news sources in south Florida are Browardbeat and Floridabulldog and they’re both free and easy to read.
    Just my .$02

  9. Virtus says:

    How can the Sun Sentinel expect any educated person to take this publication seriously? This past Saturday the lead editorial was a drivel of anecdotes by a would be comedian. The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board has the professional staff to write excellent opinion pieces. Instead of reading an intelligent and informative editorial, they default and allow a buffoon to write drivel.
    I briefly subscribed to the Hearald only to see that it has sunken even below the Sun Sentinel.
    It is sad that the best reason to subscribe to the Sun Sentinel is for it’s coupons.
    In the meantime, the corruption and ineptitude of our County entities is not held to account by our pathetic newspaper.


    The dirty little secret of the Sun-Sentinel is people tell me that when you stop subscribing, a free package full of coupons and ads is thrown on your lawn once a week.

  10. WTF says:

    WTF, that news release came from a “communications” company!!!!!

  11. Howard the Scammer says:

    Howard Saltz ripped off the taxpayers for millions when in 2011 he filed personal Bankruptcy and defaulted on millions in mortgages, even collecting rents while not making payments. And ran up tens of thousands on multiple credit cards. Then he had his wife do the same thing. This just happened, not 20 years ago. Why would they hire someone with this kind of sleazy behavior. The man is a con artist and now is at the helm of an institution that matches his morals.
    Google “Howard Saltz bankrupt” and you will see the whole story.

  12. Not a SS Subscriber says:

    And Daniel Sweeney a former music editor writes political opinion. SMH.

  13. Oysterbone Clambelly says:

    Did ya ever think that these publishers and editors are just there to oversee the Fire Sale?

    Earl had a layoff in 2010, imagine that, no mention of the November 2015 layoff or other labor reductions.

    #6 – You are spot on

    #3 – No burial, it’s a cost cutting action.

  14. Mitch Pellecchia says:

    We at MargateNews.net in Margate Florida are hyperlocal and strictly online. Readership has grown at a clip of about 25% a year and we now enjoy more than 20,000 unique visitors monthly consuming more than 70,000 pages. Our reporting of community news, government, politics and business in our two city area have left both the Sunsentinel and Forum print publications in the dusty. In fact, reporters from mainstream media companies often pick up on our leads. We’re proud of our publications and continue to grow. We have been integral in letting readers know about corruption at the government level and in eeking out financial problems in our cities. To boot, we report on goings on in the schools and local businesses and keep readers abreast of current events.

  15. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    I disagree i think the sun-Sentinel and others etc. are doing just fine. I read that paper, plus several others being the NY>Times, The Post,USa today and also Miami Herald, again everyday. The prices for ads etc,i mean I sold two cars in the paper, and also a mermoriam for my late mother, and I paid alot of money. And to point out to pay $1.50 per day, and what is it three bucks on Sunday, you see what i mean. I’m not ninety, although will be fifty in January(i don’t know something about turning the big 5-0 is really something, now you see why i go to the gym everyday)i love the paper, all of them. Money comes, money goes ,the papers will be here for a long time. Besides i have connections w/ alot of them. Say what you want, on any given day i can pick up that phone and like a grand wizard myself, poof its in the paper the next day. I know the players, i know the residents, and most important I know the system. Paper this one, that one goes nowhere. Want more rev. ad more features to the paper,more sections,you will do just fine. Besides there is a bidding war to buy the Sun-Sentinel. If its broke why are they(paper) refusing that last cash offer??. See what i mean. Big money,they got it. Trust me…

  16. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    1. Newspapers are closing all over the country. They are dying here because few under 30 read them even on the internet.
    2. Europe Australia New Zealand Canada are different because blogs for news mainly created by non White immigrants whose communities are not covered by local news sections. People still read news papers.
    3. Newspapers grew on income from local department stores then survived their death radio n tv station income. With radio tv separated the newspapers are deficit ridden skeltons. A few because if timber land n printing plants are limping along.

  17. Le Peerman says:

    Hahahahahaha hahahahahaha good one Mitch hahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahaha
    Margate FL resident

  18. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @14 – Your local news stories are very well done. The story navigation tools on the home page should be greatly improved. News photography is a very strong point. Overall, I’d give http://margatenews.net an A-, along with my best wishes for continued success. Your Florida Press Club award for Excellence In Journalism is well deserved!

    @17 – Your criticism is unfounded.

  19. le Peerman says:

    Ha Ha Ha
    Unfounded?? Hmmm let’s see I have a real name and I live in Margate. If a news source(in reality a blog) has to keep convincing people he is a news source then chances are something is not right. He edits his stories constantly and the only way one would know was thru google. Speaking of fake names he was outed by Tamarac Talk for posting nasty stuff about someone under a fake name, ip went back to him. As well as posting on his own articles to stir up drama, he and some others have not realized when they post on facebook and use their real names and then post the same thing on margatenews under their fake names people pay attention. He slants the articles to whatever way he wants to, even to the point of posting the wrong food someone was eating because chicken wings sounded better(then he could slam the restaurant with comments about rancid oil). People who make comments towards him get a phone call threatening that person. He has been asked to leave more city meetings than I think anyone in history, course he is the victim. That’s your news source. Sorry Ha Ha Ha all I did was laugh at his post you allowed me to expound on it.

  20. Charlie tango says:

    Margate news is a joke. He copies and pastes what other people do. Forgets after he does that to delete words or numbers, then when brought to his drunken attention he changes it. He has had lawyers threatened him to change the story to the truth. he thinks he is all it, but is not. Guy has more baggage then a airport carasol. Let’s not forget all the names he runs under, so he can can’t paid for every click. If you want the lie of the newspaper then please do. Just remember it’s all one lie and one sided. All his

  21. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Except for Broward Beat n Florida Bulldog where can you read EXPOSURES OF COUNTY COMMISSION. COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD or other Government malfeisance? Not in the Sun Sentinel or Miami Herald!

  22. Jimmy Ray Hart says:

    That’s why I only read Cahoots

  23. excompassionate conservative says:

    This stupid paper can’t even let subscribers renew easily without a big hassle. When you call Customer service you go straight to someone overseas . They look up your account number and give you the highest price to renew. The “discount” they offer you as a multi decade subscriber is higher than the bill they sent me. Oh, they sent several bills, each with different amounts and incomprehensible to decipher what you are being charged.

    Years and years ago I got simple bills which made clear what you were paying and if you wanted a longer duration, the price dropped. Now, I have no idea what this crap costs and the paper is just a shell of itself. They don’t have prices on their web site to renew there. These idiots also want you to do auto renewal , but don’t post the price for your account. What kind of business geniuses do this and expect to stay in business ?