Observer newspaper closing not a surprise

I was not surprised the weekly Observer newspaper folded Monday. I was the final editor under the daily version of what was the New Smyrna Beach Observer and warned ownership that converting it into a weekly would be its death knell. That is why I am so pleased to have established NSB News under This is greater New Smyrna Beach's daily home-based newspaper. Period. So here we are, 11 months later and indeed The Observer is no more. I remember the day I put together that very first weekly edition. As soon as it hit the press, I was shown the door. Just like that. Those who know me or drove by The Observer offices and saw my white Audi TT parked out front can attest that I worked every day of those seven months with the exception of July 4, 2007. When I came on board, there were three newspapers -- The Observer, published Tuesday through Saturday as a one-section broadsheet for 50 cents a day and two free weekly tabs -- The Breeze for New Smyrna Beach and The Edge for Edgewater. The problem with the newspapers was that the tabloids were mailed free of charge to everyone's home -- at least that is what we were told. The Observer was a paid circulation newspaper that carried legal ads. The advertising staff put emphasis on the weeklies because they were a lot easier sell to advertisers. The daily languished with virtually no advertising with the exception of a movie-theater ad and a couple of small funeral home ads. I rebuilt the Observer into a daily newspaper of record -- emphasizing breaking news and in-depth reporting. I also recruited a dozen or so residents to serve as community writers to give the newspaper more perspective. I made the tabloids more conversational by emphasizing community columns. The daily started to look and read like a real newspaper with just the right blend of local and national news. But ownership was interested in the bottom line: Profits. They didn't want the daily printing costs and the payroll that came with it. Horizon Publications, the corporate owner out of Indiana, said goodbye to me, literally minutes after I got the first edition of the new weekly Observer to the presses. In January, the publisher was let go and then The Edge was merged into The Breeze. Several months into the new weekly Observer, three distinct sections became one. And then without warning Monday, Horizon flew in one of its suits and shut the operation down for good. And so The Observer's 95-year publishing run is over. I had every intention of putting out my own weekly newspaper called NSB News. But the costs were astronomical and the return would have been abysmal. The simple fact is newspapers are dying and no one in their right mind is investing in them, nevermind starting up any new ones -- not in this economy. That is why I am so pleased to have started There are no printing or distribution costs involved. There are no facilities costs. I have my laptop, my God-given talent, my experience and college education to rely on and most of all, my love of journalism. At the end of the day, it is not how mny ads are sold, but the quality of the journalism. And the latter was the achilles heel of Th Observer and The Breeze. There was no substantive news. And yes, I have developed quite a few community friendships with people who also appreciate quality journalism -- the news -- people like Peter Mallory and the other regular contributors. Right now, I'm taking baby steps. It is going to take a tremendous amount of effort to build NSB News into a profitable venture. I've made the initial investment. The Web site is up. I bought a home right here in New Smyrna Beach and I am here to partner with the business community and the residents of New Smyrna Beack, Edgewater, Oak Hill, Samsula, Silver Sands and Bethune Beach. Newspapers are dying, but journalism is far from dead. The Internet opens up a whole new world for readers and advertisers. The Daytona Beach News-Journal is on the selling block. The mighty metro's commitment to Southeast Volusia was cut back months ago with the zoned Daily Journal being cut back to three days a week. Yet, the advertising rates have not gone down nor has the cost of the Daytona Beach newspaper. All that has diminished is the coverage. New Smyrna Beach is my town now. And is everyone's home-town source for around-the-clock news with more than 100 click-able items on the Home page alone and nearly two dozen accompanying pages.