Pensacola News Journal
|Type of publication
|Daily regional newspaper
|1889 (Daily News)
|101 East Romana Street
The Pensacola News Journal is the most prominent and widely-circulated daily newspaper in the Pensacola area, and in the greater Northwest Florida area. As such it serves as the area's de facto newspaper of record.
The News Journal is owned by Gannett Company, a national media holding company that owns newspapers such as USA TODAY and the Arizona Republic, among others. Gannett owns a number of other papers in the area, including the Pelican and Pensacola Home & Garden, which are also produced at the News Journal's headquarters at 101 Romana Street.
In recent years, as newspaper circulation has declined nationwide, the News Journal has pursued other avenues of revenue, including an increased focus on their website, pnj.com.
Although newspapers in the Pensacola area date back to 1821 with the Floridian, the pedigree of the News Journal can be traced to 1889, when John O'Connor's weekly paper, the Pensacolian, went out of business. He and John C. Witt approached a group of investors about starting a daily paper, selling fifty shares at $100 apiece. The resulting venture, the Pensacola Daily News, quickly found 2,500 subscribers and printed its first issue on March 5, 1889. The paper was produced by ten employees at the old Armory Hall, with O'Connor as managing editor and Witt as business manager. They pledged the Daily News "will be Democratic, conservative but yet sufficiently aggressive to give weight to its remarks."
William Marion Loftin, who moved to Pensacola from Alabama in 1887 and worked for a time as city editor at the Daily News, founded the Pensacola Journal with two other employees in 1897. Originally a weekly paper, the Journal converted to a daily format in 1898.
The two dailies competed fiercely, each driving the other to edge of bankruptcy in the struggle to be recognized as Pensacola's top daily newspaper. By 1922, the Journal was in dire financial trouble, and was eventually purchased by New York businessman John Holliday Perry, who at about the same time also acquired papers in Jacksonville and Panama City. In 1924, Perry bought the Daily News and merged the two newspapers' operations. For the next six decades, the Pensacola Journal continued to appear mornings and the Pensacola News evenings, with a combined Sunday edition as the Pensacola News Journal.
Perry developed the News Journal into an extremely popular and successful newspaper. By the early 1950s, the News Journal had developed into one of the most modern and efficient newspaper operations in the Southeast. Under the leadership of Perry's son, John Holliday Perry, Jr., who succeeded his father in 1955, the News Journal continued to expand. Perry Publications, Inc., eventually owned 28 newspapers throughout Florida.
Like many U.S. evening newspapers in the post-war period, the News sustained declining circulation and was folded into the Journal in 1985.
Before the News Journal outsourced printing operations in 2009, its press room was three stories tall and occupied more than half a city block. It was capable of printing 96 pages with color at speeds up to 55,000 papers per hour. From May 1997 through 2009, the News Journal operated a Goss Headliner offset press, which was capable of printing 112 pages at a speed of 70,000 per hour. Production consumed more than 15,250 pounds of newsprint, 45,000 gallons of black ink and 40,000 gallons of color ink annually.
Notable stories & investigations
The paper gained nationwide notoriety in 1997 and 1998 with a series of investigative reports about the Brownsville Revival at the Brownsville Assembly of God. The paper had initially written glowing reports about the revival, but after former members told the paper that all was not as it appeared, the News Journal began a four-month investigation that suggested the revival had been "well planned and orchestrated" from the very start. It also called many of the claims made by the church's leaders into question, and delved heavily into the church's finances. The series won many awards, but was roundly criticized by evangelicals throughout the country as a "hit piece" against the church and the meetings. The church answered the paper's allegations by publishing a two-page spread entitled, "The Facts of The Brownsville Revival."
- Miller, Vivien Mary L. Crime, Sexual Violence, and Clemency: Florida's Pardon Board and Penal System in the Progressive Era. Page 68.
- 1894 City Directory