By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – After just a year of publishing, The Miami Beach Times announced they have closed for business. Editor and Publisher Stone Korshak shares that although he still believes in the editorial mission, they closed for a combination of factors, from strong competition and slow reader growth, and also other opportunities arising.
“It’s a real shame to see the news company not take off and sustain itself faster, but in life we just have to adapt,” Korshak said. The news site started to come together in late 2018, but was not promoted until mid-year 2019. A small team of freelance reporters published daily with a mix of local Miami Beach news, and global sea level rise stories.
Readership growth was slower than expected, and so was the revenue opportunity. Korshak explained, “We did think we would gain a stronger local readership base, but there is so much good competition here, not to mention the industry trend of social media-feed consumption.”
In the end what convinced the publisher to close up shop was the test of their subscription service, or ‘paywall’ as the industry calls it. The system was launched just in time for 2019 Miami Art Week but did not pay off. “It was a small test, but the results were not encouraging,” Korshak said.
“The news business is tough, advertising revenue is no longer significant, if you can’t sell subscriptions I don’t know how you stay in business,” he explains. “Society is in a concerning cycle of self-censorship – by not wanting to pay for information – soon the only news available will be funded by special interests.”
Korshak also notes that the competition is strong in the area, with great climate change coverage from Miami Herald, and cultural coverage from Miami New Times, not to mention local Miami Beach real estate and politics from blogs like RE:MiamiBeach. “I’m a big fan of all of these guys and applaud their work.”
Perhaps the biggest factor was the editor and publisher not having the time needed to drive to growth. Other work commitments remained for him, and continued to demand the majority of his time. “Because of other projects, I was not able to do the things a publisher needs to do, I never had the time to met the mayor or commissioners, not even the chief resiliency officer.”
The Miami Beach Times was set up to cover local beach culture and sea level rising, as a streamlined daily digital publication, with plans to publish a periodic print edition. It is a model that had worked for Korshak in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he launched and operated The Rio Times for ten years.
“Honestly I would have loved to continue the Miami Beach Times because I feel like the city needs it,” Korshak admits. “But there are too many other opportunities, new projects to focus on, and life is short, so this chapter will end – for now.”