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Florida Voices Premiers Today

New-media website features prominent Florida columnists, daily round-up of state commentary, facilitated roundtable of diverse opinion leaders and a syndication service to state newspapers

TAMPA – (Dec. 12, 2011) A dynamic new-media website that will elevate the statewide conversation on politics and public life debuts today — and the entrepreneurial initiative of two veteran journalists promises to make Florida Voices a go-to opinion page. The new media project also boasts a hall-of-fame lineup of top journalists who will write columns about all matters facing Florida.

Florida Voices, the brainchild of respected news pros Rosemary Goudreau and Rosemary Curtiss, is a one-stop guide to what influential people are saying today, from Pensacola to the Florida Keys. The site curates opinion content — editorials, columns, letters and op-eds — from daily and weekly newspapers, providing readers the best and broadest access to the key issues and problems that Floridians are talking about today. It also facilitates an online roundtable that engages informed people on the key questions facing Florida. And it creates a new social-media platform for 19 million Floridians to learn about the key issues on the public agenda – and to participate in the important dialogue about them.

“Florida Voices is a new-fashioned version of the newspaper opinion page,” said co-founder Rosemary Goudreau, former editorial page editor of The Tampa Tribune. “We want to engage newsmakers on the issues, elevate the voices of informed people, and create a respected forum for discussing the challenges we face in Florida.”

Goudreau’s business partner is Rosemary Curtiss, former publisher of Suncoast News and the Tribune’s Pasco Edition. The editing staff includes Rich Bard, former Sunday Viewpoints editor of The Miami Herald; Judy Grimsley, former chief librarian of The Orlando Sentinel; and Frank Bentayou, a former editor of Tampa Magazine and Cleveland Magazine.

The site’s stable of columnists comes from across the state and across the political spectrum. They are:

Lloyd Brown, former editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.
Angel Castillo, Jr., a former reporter and editor for the New York Times and Miami Herald, and a former editor of El Nuevo Herald in Miami.
Mary Jo Melone, former metro columnist for the St. Petersburg Times.
Martin Merzer, formerly senior writer for The Miami Herald.
Tom O’Hara, former managing editor of The Palm Beach Post and Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Andrew Skerritt, former St. Petersburg Times columnist and assistant journalism professor at Florida A&M University.
Florence Beth Snyder, a Tallahassee business lawyer and former legal counsel to the Palm Beach Post.
Rick Outzen, publisher/editor of Pensacola’s Independent News.
Susan Clary, a former reporter for the St. Petersburg Times and Orlando Sentinel, and former aide to Cong. Alan Grayson.
Cary McMullen, former religion columnist for the Lakeland Ledger.
Paula Dockery, a term-limited Republican state senator from Lakeland who will chronicle her last year in the Florida Legislature.
Florida Voices is positioned to effectively serve readers by complementing their current digest of media with diverse content at the intersection of opinion journalism, public affairs and government.

“Online, we are an opinion magazine focused on Florida,” Goudreau says. “In print, we are a syndication service to Florida’s daily and weekly newspapers.”

Goudreau says an untold story in the earthquake that’s rocked newspapers is the toll it’s taken on newspaper editorial boards, which have a long tradition of calling out bad behavior, advocating solutions to significant problems or issues, championing reforms and standing up for their communities. Many newspaper editorial staffs today are merely a third of their size from just a few years ago. “Remaining editors still want to publish compelling pages,” she says. “We plan to help.”

Besides syndicating columns and point-of-view pieces, Florida Voices also plans to syndicate op-eds, or opinion essays, on behalf of public relations agencies, businesses, associations and citizen groups.

“Our customers are newspapers seeking informed commentary about Florida; public relations firms whose clients want to engage the debate; advertisers who want to reach a niche audience around public affairs; political and government leaders trying to communicate on an issue; people who do business around state government; and everyday citizens who want to better understand the issues and be heard, ” said Curtiss.