COVID-19 economy shutters Jacksonville alt-weekly

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The virus put the publication into 'economic freefall.'

Northeast Florida’s self-styled independent voice has, as of Tuesday, been muted.

Jacksonville’s media portfolio continues to thin out, with the May 5th announcement that Folio Weekly would close permanently.

The alt-weekly, which existed since 1987 and had a strong run well into the 21st century, ultimately fell prey to the coronavirus-induced market forces that have devastated the industry.

“Folio Weekly has experienced the economic freefall of this outbreak, and I have picked this moment to retire and conclude our business operations,” Publisher Sam Taylor said.

Even before the decision was made to shutter operations, the paper had already made significant adjustments, including a late-March announcement that, beginning in April, the publication would be monthly.

Former editor Georgio Valentino told the Florida Times-Union that monthly production would be a “temporary arrangement, but it will likely last longer than one month.”

“Luckily for us,” Valentino added, “we’re masters of our own fate.”

However, the April issue was the last gasp for the paper, which in previous eras had been up for and won numerous Association of Alternative Newsweeklies awards.

While Folio’s trajectory mirrors the rocky path taken by alt weeklies around the country, local media is replete with examples of the paper’s legacy.

Anne Schindler, who has long since moved on to First Coast News, helmed the publication during what was its peak in terms of revenue and quality of writing.

Compared to the slender books of recent years, Schindler’s editions were full of news and feature writing that would have been at home in alt weeklies in larger markets.

A former editor of more recent vintage, Claire Goforth, has moved on to a career working for national outlets.

Goforth’s tenure was generally regarded as the last gasp for a product that, coronavirus or not, didn’t have much longer to go. Advertisers had abandoned the product, and much of the quality control of the glory days was gone with them.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


2 comments

  • Bonnie Hayflick

    May 5, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Folio Weekly Wraps Up. Thank you Sam Taylor for providing northeast Fla. with an alternative viewpoint, plus fine arts news and all types of entertainment.

  • Frankie M.

    May 5, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    I miss your sports column AG. Taking over the reigns from the greatest fat athlete in Jax Greg Larson were no small shoes to fill. Debating the futility of the JDR years specifically Brian Leftwich vs. Diamond Dave Garrard brings back waves of nostalgia. (Not unlike rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.) I didn’t always agree with you but I enjoyed reading the column. As the infamous Pete Prisco used to remind everyone, “you are entitled to your wrong opinion.”

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