JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Due to the “economic freefall" brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sam Taylor, publisher for Folio Weekly, said Tuesday that the weekly Jacksonville magazine will cease operations.
“If you have been among our loyal readers, you are a treasure to me,” Taylor wrote in a story on the magazine’s website.
Taylor said he’s also picked this moment to retire.
The alt-weekly publication has been around since 1987. Before the decision to shut down, Folio Weekly announced in late March that the publication would be going monthly starting in April, according to Florida Politics.
Claire Goforth began writing for Folio Weekly in 2009 and spent three years as the paper’s editor. She said Folio Weekly served an important role in the community.
“Folio provides a voice for a lot of people in this community who feel marginalized,” Goforth said. “It wasn’t just a source of entertainment, but it was also what someone once (said), it gave him the 'juice’ about what was really going on.”
Among Folio’s more popular features were the annual Best of Jax, the Water Hog edition and the Person of the Year. Folio Weekly also was a major supporter of the arts. Tony Allegretti was named as the Person of the Year when he was the head of the Cultural Council in 2016.
“I’ve been here for 25 years and fully has always had the but you know some of the best writers in the south when it comes to independent voice for music and art," Allegretti said. "Even critique you know we don’t get a lot of critique in art and folio can provide that it was a real go-to.”
Now the question is whether Jacksonville can support an alternative weekly publication like Folio—and if so if a new print publication is feasible in the digital age.
“It’s just terrible to see these publications going under this pandemic and you just have to hope that something will arise to fill this vacuum, and it will probably be an all digital publication,” said WJCT radio host Melissa Ross, who routinely invited Folio Weekly writers onto her First Coast Connect program.
While the shutdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic were the coup de grace, the paper was fighting for advertising dollars, often losing those battles.
“When you’re relying on a business model that involves restaurants and entertainment facilities to provide the revenue, you need to survive and those businesses are no longer spending their money on advertising,” Goforth said. “Where do you go for revenue downtown?”
In the final months, Folio had just one full-time employee -- Taylor. There were four part-time employees and 20 contract workers.
Taylor, who turns 64 next week, told News4Jax that he is assisting in the launch of a local on-base paper called Liberty Life Weekly for the military, slated to launch in July.
Here is the full statement from Taylor:
Dear Folio friends,— Folio Weekly (@folioweekly) May 5, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live.
Folio Weekly has experienced the economic freefall of this outbreak, and I have picked this moment to retire and conclude our business operations... https://t.co/sjgBUDOvy5 pic.twitter.com/232Q7ttDmJ