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In some form, Pasco County News may reappear

The weekly paper in Dade City folded late last year, but entrepreneurs consider reviving it.

By CHUIN-WEI YAP
Published March 27, 2007


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DADE CITY - Nearly four months after the 102-year-old Pasco County News weekly folded, the idea of reviving a Dade City newspaper has resurfaced.

A group of entrepreneurs led by egg farmer and businessman Wilton Simpson is mulling the proposal, but Simpson stressed Monday that the idea is far from concrete.

Still, the proposal is afoot.

"It's not out of the question," Simpson said, laughing. "Nothing's out of the question."

Simpson confirmed that the idea was to revive the Pasco County News, but no decision has been made whether it would be a daily, weekly, monthly, or take some other form.

Simpson said that Gary Hatrick, the recently fired editor of the Zephyrhills News, had discussed the idea with him.

"I told him I might be so busy that I might not be a good participant," Simpson said.

It was unclear whether Hatrick had sought a position in a revived Pasco County News. Hatrick could not be reached Monday.

On Nov. 30, Independent Publications of Pennsylvania shuttered the News. The newspaper's local publisher at the time described it as a reshuffling of corporate assets, because readership had dwindled.

But it is a good time for weeklies.

The Laker, a free tabloid based in Lutz, has grown swiftly in Dade City and Zephyrhills since 2002. Its circulation reached 53,000 and continues to grow at 1,000 a month, publisher Mark Mathes said.

A revived Dade City weekly could directly compete with the Laker.

Mathes said he had not heard the proposed revival of a Dade City weekly but pointed out his competition is industrywide.

"Starting up is easy, but to keep it up and running is laden with thousands of operational details," he said. "I wish them well if they want to join the publishing industry. ... We compete with dailies, weeklies and monthlies."

Still, for those who doubt that weeklies are a viable business proposition, consider this: Rupert Murdoch might disagree with you.

Murdoch's News Corp. recently bought 28 mostly free weekly community newspapers in Brooklyn and Queens, reportedly on the strong performance of weeklies across the board.

Chuin-Wei Yap can be reached at 813 909-4613 or cyap@sptimes.com.

[Last modified March 26, 2007, 23:50:34]


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