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August 2013

What Florida newspapers could learn from Peter Schorsch

While Florida newspapers are struggling to woo back advertising, newspaper owners and editors remain oblivious to the obvious. Some of them might want to have a chat with Peter Schorsch.

 Schorsch has just launched Context Florida – basically a website featuring columns from a wide variety of Floridians.  He did not have the idea first. Instead, he picked up the pieces of Florida Voices, an ambitious effort that ultimately failed because the founders struggled to find enough advertisers.

 In that failure, Schorsch sees opportunity.  He has kept many of the original writers and editors. And he is adding more.  He also has a track record for bringing in advertising. 

 This is not the first time that Schorsch has capitalized on someone else’s idea.  Not long ago he created Sunburn – a daily compendium of political news stories that are emailed free to subscribers.  It is a nearly an exact copy of the popular Politico Playbook by Mike Allen.  Schorsch even chatted with the folks at Politico about his idea to offer a Florida version.

 The cornerstone of Schorsch’s mini internet empire is SaintPetersBlog.  Through sheer pluck, he turned that blog into a must-read in the St. Petersburg area.  He later pushed hard to make himself a presence in Tallahassee.

 He is shameless. He is brash. He is combative. He apparently never sleeps.

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Rick Scott, barbed wire, and talking to the customers

Scott protest st luci lock
Gov.  Rick Scott’s SUV slid past hundreds of protesters, a gaggle of media, and zipped behind the protection of a high chain-link fence topped with barbed wire.

 Followed by a small entourage of staff and a few public officials, Scott, a safe distance from the protesters and media, wandered along the St. Lucie Lock in Martin County Tuesday to see the polluted water from Lake Okeechobee flowing into the St. Lucie River.

 Nearly 30 minutes later, Scott hopped back into his SUV, security running alongside, his driver taking him a short distance to a visitor center which he entered through a side door for a brief press conference.

 One of the first questions came from WPTV anchor Michael Williams.

 Williams: “You cannot help but hear the angry voices outside. They say it took months for you to show up here. Today the optics are really bad. You go behind a barbed wire fence, have not sat and listened the people out there and their voices. We’re in a cramped media room. Are you now going to go spend time to listen the voices of the people you represent?”

 Scott:  “Gosh. I’ve been governor now for a little over two years, two and a half years. I focused on water issues the entire time. I have great partners here that are focused on water issues in the state. What we did with the Everglades was historic. The funding we have for the Everglades is historic. The relationship we built by working with the Army Corps of Engineers, Justice,

Scott media st. lucie lock 2

(Environmental Protection Agency), Interior, the environmentalists and the agriculture community is historic. I’m going to continue to do that. I’ve been working on this project since the problem started and I’m going to continue to work on it.

I’ve worked very hard to ensure we get the right thing to happen. Today, we’re announcing that we’re going to make sure there’s another $40 million in this budget to deal with this issue as quickly as we can.”

 Shortly after, Scott climbed back into the SUV and took off.

 As Williams noted – the optics were really bad.

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Charlie Crist and the laser focused Rick Scott

While Gov. Rick Scott is still working on determining the "criteria" for his replacement lieutenant governor, his political team over at the Republican Party of Florida remains "laser focused" on Scott's likely opponent in 2014 - former Gov.  Charlie Crist.

In the latest of a long series of videos, the GOP folks dug up an interview Crist gave CNN where he applauded Scott, the then new governor, for being "laser focused" on adding jobs. The video then bounces around showing the unemployment rate when he took office and what the rate is now.

Of course, Republicans dream of convincing voters that the collapsing economy was all Crist's fault and only through the heroic efforts of Scott, has Florida seen employment grow.

There is no question that Scott is "laser focused." It has become a joke among some in the Tallahassee press corps that no matter the question Scott is asked, he will always answer with how hard he is working to bring jobs to Florida.

Of course we know one job he could add: how about that lieutenant governor? It has been vacate since March.

Here's the latest video hot out of the editing room.