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As it continues a descent into liberalism, the Florida Times-Union reached a new low last week by publishing an editorial pleading for the federal government to bail out the newspaper industry.

Having worked there for a long time, I have tried to avoid commenting on the paper’s plight, but that editorial was just a tad too much.

The basis for demanding government assistance, while claiming it was not demanding government assistance, was the assertion that the newspaper provided information about the Chinese virus. Such information is readily available on the internet, including the city of Jacksonville’s web site, as everyone knows.

From 1864 to 2004, the Times-Union was a conservative newspaper, with news stories that were reasonably objective for most of that period.

As the 21st century dawned, the news stories began to become less objective. In 2005, the paper’s editorial position did a whiplash-inducing switch to all-out liberal.

In one case, it went too fast. The owner at that time was still conservative, even as he was in the process of handing over control to his more liberal offspring. But when the Times-Union endorsed Barack Obama for president, it had to ignominiously reverse the endorsement the next day, having failed to consult with the owner, according to a former employee. Some say the online version of the “wrong endorsement” disappeared.

In the interim, the former owner sold the paper he once coveted. It now is owned by one of the newspaper chains.

Further evidence of decline came when it put the opinion pages under the direction of the ultra-liberal newsroom editor.  Few, if any, newspapers do this, in the belief that it taints both sides of the operation, which are supposed to be separate.

But Times-Union news stories already had begun reading like editorials in too many instances.

Then the newsroom staff, having become sufficiently socialistic, voted to unionize.

Today the Times-Union is virtually indistinguishable from other Florida newspapers in major cities.

It also is shrinking rapidly. About 40 people now produce the paper. At its heyday, about 1,000 employees were on the payroll.

Another paper that insults the majority of the residents in its circulation area by writing editorials contrary to their beliefs is the Tampa Bay Times. The Times also is not aging well. Today it publishes a print edition only twice a week.

All “newspapers” someday may exist only in the ether of the Internet. But they hasten their own end in some cases.

Begging for a handout from the government is a case in point. Better, perhaps, to die with dignity.

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Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

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