Folio Weekly Publisher Sam Taylor announced he was retiring and the alt-weekly would close, citing economic repercussions from the coronavirus pandemic.
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Folio Weekly, Jacksonville’s alternative-weekly newspaper, is closing.
On Tuesday, Publisher Sam Taylor announced in a blog post that he was retiring and business operations would conclude.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live," Taylor wrote. "Folio Weekly has experienced the economic free fall of this outbreak, and I have picked this moment to retire and conclude our business operations."
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In late March, the publication announced it was temporarily shifting to monthly circulation because of the coronavirus. Editor-in-Chief Georgio Valentino also told the Times-Union the staff was taking pay cuts but declined to detail by how much.
The publication had just celebrated its 33rd anniversary.
Valentino told the Times-Union the decision was announced to staff on Monday.
"I was aware that this was one possible outcome of the pandemic, so I was prepared for it on a personal level," the editor told the Times-Union. "But it is a tremendous loss for Northeast Florida."
On March 25, a tweet from Folio’s account said "these are tough times for alt-weeklies, but we at Folio Weekly shall persevere, as we always do."
Dear readers, these are tough times for alt-weeklies, but we at Folio Weekly shall persevere, as we always do. We have decided to skip this week’s issue and introduce a monthly version on Wednesday, April 1 (which happens to coincide with our 33rd birthday). Watch this space!— Folio Weekly (@folioweekly) March 25, 2020
Across Florida, alternative weeklies — including Orlando Weekly, Tampa’s Creative Loafing and Miami New Times — are facing pay cuts, furloughs and closures caused by additional economic strain from the coronavirus.
In Jacksonville, other media outlets facing pay cuts include the Times-Union and First Coast News, where employees are being forced to take furloughs.
Taylor didn’t immediately respond to questions from the Times-Union, including whether a selling the paper was an option.
According to Valentino, employees were not given severance pay. When asked how many employees would be affected, Valentino declined to give a specific number, referencing a "handful of full time staff" and "lots of freelancers."
One journalist affected is longtime columnist, Shelton Hull.
"Folio Weekly was my first full time job in journalism," Hull said. "I started there in July 1997 and I probably wrote at least a thousand articles for them."
"Sam has been my mentor and friend most of my life," Hull added. "He has given everything he has to this industry and he deserves to be recognized as one of the key players in the evolution of Northeast Florida over the past four decades."
Former Folio editor-in-chief and local journalist Claire Goforth said the alt-weekly is where she cut her teeth in journalism.
"I know I speak for a lot of people when I say that Folio Weekly filled a void felt by many in this town," Goforth told the Times-Union. "Like all alt-weeklies, ’the Folio’ spoke truth to power without a filter — to the chagrin of the powerful and jubilation of the afflicted."
Goforth added, "It will be sorely missed. I am honored to have been a part of it, and will always cherish friendships made and lessons learned within its folds."
Still, Hull is holding onto hope.
"I hope that the Folio brand can be reborn and rebooted once the world returns to normal," Hull said, "if it ever does."
Emily Bloch: (904) 359-4083