Florida Times Union buys majority stake in Urban Jacksonville (April Fools!)

Yes this was an April Fools joke. Thanks to everyone for playing.

I just inked a deal to sell Urban Jacksonville to the Florida Times Union for an undisclosed sum of money. I’m all about being transparent and in my original draft of this post, I did indicate how much I sold the blog for. My wife advised me otherwise so I plan on keeping the sum between me and the Time Union.

I sold out! I know, I know. I’m always saying how bad the Times Union and their new media initiatives are, but I think adding the Urban Jacksonville content and attitude can add some credibility to their struggling newspaper and failing new media site. Besides, they had to do something with newspaper ad revenues taking their worst drop in almost 60 years.

According to new data released by the Newspaper Association of America, total print advertising revenue in 2007 plunged 9.4% to $42 billion compared to 2006 — the most severe percent decline since the association started measuring advertising expenditures in 1950.

This deal has been in the works for some time now, one reason I haven’t been posting on a consistent basis. I’ve spent quite a few nights after work at the TU offices in Riverside working out details and negotiating a contract. As it stands I will become a full time employee of the Times Union starting Tuesday April 15th, two weeks form today. I just put in my notice at nGen Works.

Instead of averaging 5 posts a week, I’ll ramp up my posting frequency to 5 times a day for a total of 20 posts a week. Lana a Lifestyle columnist, will take over posting on the weekend. That was actually one of the items I had to negotiate. They wanted me posting 7 days a week, but I wanted to make sure I had time to spend with my family.

The content and tone of the site will stay the same. I have full editorial control over my post content and media (photos, video, and especially comments). The site will be redesigned slightly and co-branded with the Florida Times Union look. My stories will appear in the news rotation of the homepage (see above sample) and selected articles will be reprinted, on-demand, in the Metro and Lifestyles sections of the newspaper.

One big change you will see is more advertising on the blog. I have been saying forever what a good value advertising on Urban Jacksonville is. Targeted market, juicy demographic and great daily page view numbers. Apparently the TU is the only business in the City to recognize this.

In the long run, this will be a good thing. There will be a few growing pains, but I’ll have more resources at my disposal and more visibility in the city. Exposing a broader audience to my brand of activism and cultural awareness will, I think, make the city a better place in the long run. Since I don’t have the same editorial mandates to please advertisers and political connections I will, hopefully, bring a breath of fresh air to our hometown paper.

I’m curious to hear what you think so please feel free to leave a comment.

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