Friday, January 14, 2022


Thomas Jefferson said, "I have sworn eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." 

No response from GANNETT to my January 13, 2022 e-mails about possible unfair and deceptive trade practices involving the incredible shrinking St. Augustine Record, a/k/a Mullet Wrapper,, a/k/a Wreckord:  

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: <>; <>; <>
Sent: Thu, Jan 13, 2022 2:50 pm
Subject: Re: URGENT: Declining Quality of St. Augustine Record: Is It An Unfair Trade Practice?

Good afternoon:
Please call to discuss today.
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin <>
To: <>; <>
Sent: Thu, Jan 13, 2022 12:16 pm
Subject: URGENT: Declining Quality of St. Augustine Record: Is It An Unfair Trade Practice?

To: Ms. Polly Grunfeld Sack, Chief Legal Counsel, Gannett
      Ms. Ashley Varese, Editor, St. Augustine Record

Dear Ms. Sack and Ms. Varese:

  1. I've written some 70+ letters and columns printed in the Record since 2000. Some may no longer be on-line. How much is archived and how much is deleted and why?  Who decides?  
  2. I would like to discuss the sadly declining quality of the St. Augustine Record, whose last several editors were abruptly sacked or left.  Were any of these "resignations in protest" of Gannett's eviscerating our hometown newspaper? 
  3. May I ask you to please call me to discuss my concerns?
  4. I have lived in St. Augustine since 1999.  I am chagrined by the Record's longtime decline under three (3) successive absentee corporate owners. 
  5. This decline is preventable with more investigative reporting, as I informed the court in the Morris Communications bankruptcy case.  
  6. As was reported in Editor & Publisher, I predicted the Record's further decline, absent more investigative reporting.  
  7. Now more than ever, the Record is increasingly a dull, tepid, uninformative newspaper that favors the status quo.
  8. As Editor of the Appalachian Observer, 1981-1983, I won declassification of the world's largest mercury pollution event at Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee -- leading to massive ongoing cleanups in Oak Ridge and nationwide in eleven (11) states -- a feat recommended by the local DA for a Pulitzer Prize.  Fifteen  years later, the Tennessean did excellent Pulitzer-worthy series work on the sequelae of Oak Ridge pollution -- sick workers and residents.  (The Tennessean deserved a Pulitzer, but Oak Ridge influencers lobbied the Pulitzer Committee at Columbia University.). The AO showed what reporters can do with few resources is they merely ask questions and demand answers. 
  9. Our once-local paper no longer prints much local news.
  10. There are government meetings without a Record reporter, and meetings where little of the news is reported. 
  11. Local columnists and reporters have been cancelled.  
  12. Why does Gannett advertise its contributions to local communities, when the case is exactly opposite?  
  13. In 2020, there were no Record endorsements of local political candidates, and no interviews of candidates. Why? Cui bono?  
  14. Under prior owners, the Record ignored and then attempted to trivialize the September 2, 2010 homicide of Ms. Michelle O'Connell in the home of a Sheriff's deputy, requiring New York Times stories with four inside pages in 2013 and 2017.  
  15. Under Gannett, there is no followup on the Michelle O'Connell case and the case of Eli Washtock, who was murdered while investigating Michelle's murder.  
  16. Who benefits from destroying our once-local St. Augustine, Florida newspaper and replacing it with a thin gruel of USA Today and press releases? 
  17. Who benefits from answering machines and no people answering telephones in a newsroom?  
  18. Who benefits from bored readers, bad morale and sloppiness? (No Publix supermarket ad supplement today for the first time since 1999).
  19. There are now "temporarily" no more editorials or letters in the Record, except on Sundays!  
  20. Our once-thriving Sunday Op-Ed pages were a bouquet of free voices.  
  21. The Sunday editorial page is now, dull, one page, with only one or two letters, and with editorials from other Gannett papers, few of which have anything to do with St. Augustine.
  22. We deserve better for the culture and politics of Our Nation's Oldest City and St. Johns County, which are besieged by secretive, clear-cutting, wetland-filling and wildlife killing by developers and one-party-rule by the politicians whose campaigns they fund (barely covered by the dumbed-down Record). 
  23. There were four (4) days without print newspapers on December 24-25, December 31 and January 1 -- first time in anyone's memory.  I called Gannett's call center (now located in Colombia, South America  and got credit for the four (4) undelivered newspapers.
  24. Today, January 13, 2022, we learned that our Saturday print edition is being ended March 26. Why?
  25. Monopolization and unfair trade practices are no way to run our local newspaper.
  26. It appears that Gannett hedge fund owners' intention is to run the St. Augustine Record into the ground.  If otherwiseplease explain it to me, as if I were a six-year old.
  27. Is Gannett fulfilling its "watchdog" function under our First Amendment here in St. Augustine?  You tell me.
  28. Ms. Sack, would you please be so kind as to call me today to discuss whether Gannett is in possible violation Section 5 of our Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 or the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, both of which forbid unfair and deceptive trade practices?
Happy New Year!
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,


Pink Spoonbill said...

I have to wonder why other Florida newspapers are able to survive the competition for news, and not the Record. And why are there no letters to the editor during the week? The internet provides unlimited space for content. So it makes no sense that they wouldn't run letters at least online during the week.

I do feel that it's a positive development to run a full digital replica of the newspaper (on Saturdays) including ads. Having made a significant investment in ads for Save Guana Now (three years ago), I would be very hesitant to buy ad space today with the dwindling readership of the print version. If I knew the online readers would see my ads, I would be FAR more likely to buy them. Without ad revenue, there's no newspaper. I predict the Record will experience good ad sales on Saturdays with the vastly increased ad audience.

Your blog post inspired me to click on all of the links to letters to the editor written about Save Guana Now that ran in the Record in past years, and I was relieved to see all 8 letters are still there. What letters are they getting rid of and why? Again, space on the internet is unlimited; eliminating newspaper articles and letters is essentially eliminating history.

Thanks for shining a light on this important issue. We need a strong local paper or our media watchdog will become a media lapdog. Fair, balanced and thorough local news coverage, investigative reports, and editorials are a crucial element of the balance of power in local government.

BTW, after all the coverage the Record gave to the Outpost fight, they have not even reported the big news of 2021 that the Outpost was sold. We need an investigative report to determine who bought it and what it's future is.

Ed Slavin said...

Thank you! And thanks to SaveGuanaNow for fine testimony, organization and advoacy. Florida property ownership recording and conflict of interest laws need to be changed. I often ask Commissioners to identify the benefice owners and investors in projects they're voting on. No response. Their campaign accounts are full of developer money and they are louche lapdogs for the rich and powerful, like the Peytons.