Our state’s evolving life has been mirrored in the pages of our newspapers, even as the landscape of Florida journalism grew, flourished, contracted, changed, and continues to transform. This excerpt is from a chronology that is part of the University of South Florida library’s digital collection. You can also download it here.

By David Shedden

Treaty of Paris, by Benjamin West (1783), depicts the United States delegation at the Treaty of Paris (left to right): John Jay, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens, and William Temple Franklin. The British delegation refused to pose, and the painting was never completed.

1783 - 1900


  • The Treaty of Paris between Great Britain and the United States ends the Revolutionary War. The British return Florida back to Spain.
  • February 1 – Florida’s first newspaper, the loyalist East-Florida Gazette, publishes its first issue, in St. Augustine, during final days of British rule. Founded by William and John Wells, the newspaper’s last issue is published on March 22, 1784.


  • Florida’s second newspaper, the short-lived Spanish-language El Telegrafo de las Floridas, is published in Fernandina, supporting the government of Louis-Michel Aury.


  • Florida military territorial governor Andrew Jackson formally receives East and West Florida from the Spanish government on behalf of the United States.
  • Richard W. Edes founds the first territorial newspaper, the Florida Gazette, in St. Augustine, which shuts down in October after Edes dies of yellow fever.
  • Cary Nicholas and George Tunstal found The Pensacola Floridian and become the first official printers in the Florida territory.


  • East and West Florida are unified into one United States territory.
  • East Florida Herald, later, Florida Herald, St. Augustine, is founded.


  • Tallahassee is selected as the permanent capital of Florida.
  • Pensacola Gazette is founded in the former office of the Floridian.


  • Ambrose Crane and Adam Gordon start Tallahassee’s first newspaper, The Florida Intelligencer, and obtain government printing contract.


  • Edgar Macon starts Florida Advocate in Tallahassee.


  • Benjamin B. Strobel and L.M. Stone start the Key West Gazette.


  • A Florida constitution is adopted.
  • The Apalachicola Gazette becomes first daily Florida newspaper.


  • President John Tyler signs the act granting statehood to Florida.
  • The Florida Whig is published in Jacksonville.


  • Whit Smith and the Rev. C.S. Reynolds found Tampa’s first newspaper, the Tampa Herald. Sold in November, it is renamed The Florida Peninsular.
  • Senator David L. Yulee founds Fernandina News-Leader.


  • The ordinance of secession is passed and Florida secedes from the Union. Confederate forces attack Fort Sumter and the Civil War begins.
  • The Florida Peninsular of Tampa suspends publication when publisher William Spencer enlists in the Confederate Army. He later dies of typhoid. His brothers resume publication in 1866.
  • The Southern Confederacy in Jacksonville is established.


  • Florida Union, later, Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, is founded.


  • After the Civil War ends, a Florida legislative convention assembles to annul secession, accept emancipation, and write a new state constitution.
  • Madison Enterprise-Recorder is founded.


  • East Marion Banner, later,
  • Ocala Star-Banner, Ocala is founded.


  • Josiah T. Walls purchases the Gainesville New Era, making it Florida’s first African-American-owned newspaper.
  • The Reverend Cooley S. Reynolds establishes the Clearwater Times


  • Sumter County Advance, later,
  • Daily Commercial, Leesburg, is established.


  • The disputed presidential election between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden leads to end of Reconstruction era.
  • The Gainesville Times, later, The Gainesville Sun, Gainesville is established.
  • Orange County Reporter, later, Orlando Sentinel, Orlando is established.


  • Florida Telegraph, later, Bradford County Telegraph, is founded in Starke.
  • The Florida Press Association is formed.


  • West News, African-American newspaper, later, Florida News, Key West is established.


  • Henry B. Plant finishes railroad extension to Tampa.
  • Among the newspapers established:
  • Fort Myers Press, later, News-Press, Fort Myers / West Hillsborough Times, later,
    St. Petersburg Times / Tampa Bay Times, Dunedin (later: St. Petersburg)


  • Florida adopts a new state constitution.
  • Apalachicola Times is established.
  • The 1885 Ayer American Newspaper Annual reports that of Florida’s 94 newspapers that include advertising, six are dailies; four, semi-weeklies; 77, weeklies; one,
    bi-weekly; and six, monthlies.


  • The state’s agriculture industry is damaged by a freeze. A fire destroys a large portion of Key West. Vicente Martínez Ybor chooses Tampa for a cigar factory.
  • Florida Templar, African-American temperance newspaper, Jacksonville is founded.


  • Yellow fever spreads throughout Florida.
  • Matthew M. Lewey founds the African-American Gainesville Sentinel, later, Florida Sentinel, Pensacola. O.H. Jackson founds
    The Tampa Daily News.


  • Gus C. Henderson founds the Advocate, African-American newspaper, Winter Park, and later starts the Florida Christian Recorder, Orlando.
  • Eatonville Speaker, African-American newspaper and Daily News, later, Pensacola News Journal founded.


  • William Henderson and Colonel S.A. Jones merge two newspapers into The Tampa Daily Times.


  • Florida Sentinel moves from Gainesville to Pensacola.
  • Daily American, African-American newspaper, Jacksonville, is founded by James Weldon Johnson; and Daily Herald, later, The St. Augustine Record, founded in St. Augustine.


  • Freeze cripples Florida’s citrus industry.
  • The daily edition of The Tampa Tribune begins.
  • Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway begins service from Jacksonville to Miami.


  • Miami Metropolis, later, The Miami News, founded.
  • The Florida Evangelist, African-American newspaper, Jacksonville, founded.


  • The explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, Cuba, leads to the United States’ declaration of war on Spain.


  • Newspapers use stories from the Associated Press Service.
The explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, Cuba, leads to the United States’ declaration of war on Spain.

1901 - 1999


  • Jacksonville fire destroys more than 2,000 buildings and leaves some 10,000 people homeless.
  • Florida Labor Templar, African American newspaper, Jacksonville, and Gadsden County Times, Quincy, established.


  • Florida obtains title to the Everglades from the United States government.
  • What is believed to be the first photograph printed in the St. Petersburg Times appears on the front page.
  • The Miami Evening Record, later, The Miami Herald, Frank B. Stoneman and A.L. LaSalle establish city’s first daily newspaper.


  • The Buckman Act consolidates state subsidized learning institutions into the University of Florida, Gainesville; Florida State College for Women, Tallahassee, and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College, Tallahassee.
  • Printer John Collins founds the Weekly True Democrat, later, Tallahassee Democrat.


  • First issue of the University of Florida’s student newspaper is published as The University News, later The Florida Alligator, then The Independent Florida Alligator.
  • Photographs begin appearing in smaller Florida newspapers.


  • St. Petersburg Independent, later, Evening Independent, is established.
  • The Miami Morning News merges with The Miami Evening Record to create city’s first morning daily.
  • Miami Metropolis, later, The Miami News: Circulation grows when the Metropolis criticizes the powerful Henry Flagler.
  • The United Press service, which later became United Press International, is formed.
  • Santa Rosa Press Gazette, Milton, is established.


  • President Theodore Roosevelt establishes Ocala and Choctawhatchee
    National Forests.
  • The Palm Beach Post, West Palm Beach, is established as a weekly.


  • During a violent, nine-month long cigar factory strike, The Tampa Tribune’s building is set on fire.
  • The Miami Morning News-Record becomes The Miami Herald.
  • The establishment of the Weekly Herald and the Everglades Breeze newspaper mark beginning of the modern South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper.


  • Henry Flagler travels to Key West aboard the first passenger train, marking completion of his  East Coast Railroad from Jacksonville.


  • Clearwater Sun is founded.


  • The Palm Beach Post, West Palm Beach, becomes a daily.


  • The United States declares war on Germany and enters World War I.
    Military training camps are set up in Florida.


  • A deadly influenza pandemic continues to spread across Florida and the world.
  • William W. Andrews becomes new owner of the Florida Sentinel, Jacksonville.
  • The News-Sun, Sebring, is founded.


  • Disastrous hurricane strikes, during which the St. Petersburg Times continues to publish after losing electricity by using a motorcycle engine to power its linotype machine.
  • Union County Times, Lake Butler, is established.


  • The Tampa Daily Times starts radio station, WDAE.


  • Six African Americans are killed when a mob burns the town of Rosewood to
    the ground.
  • Miami Times, African-American newspaper, is founded by H.E.S. Reeves.


  • Miami Metropolis changes name to Miami Daily News.
  • The state’s real estate boom fills Florida newspapers with advertisements.
  • East Coast Dispatch, African-American newspaper, later, Tropical Dispatch, Miami, and The Lakeland Evening Ledger, later,
    The Ledger, founded.


  • Sarasota Herald, later, Sarasota Herald-Tribune is founded.


  • John Ringling announces Sarasota as Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus’ new winter headquarters.


  • Florida’s Tamiami Trail linking Tampa to Miami officially opens.
  • Category 4 hurricane hits Palm Beach County, killing migrant farm workers when Lake Okeechobee’s dikes break.
  • The Jewish Floridian is established in Miami.


  • The Great Depression panic forces banks to close.


  • J. Lawrence Bowden and Lena Cowan Bowden establish the Orlando Mirror, later, Florida Sun Review, African-American newspaper.
  • Orlando Morning Sentinel purchases Orlando Reporter Star, later, Orlando Sentinel.


  • Franklin Roosevelt is elected United States’ president.


  • New Deal programs bring millions of federal dollars to Florida.
  • Jacksonville Tattler, African-American newspaper, is founded.


  • Labor Day hurricane kills more than 400, including World War I veterans working on the Florida Keys overwater highway.
  • Pensacola Courier, African-American newspaper, is founded.


  • Daytona Beach Evening News is founded.


  • John S. Knight purchases the Miami Herald; buys and closes Morning Tribune.
  • The Miami Daily News’ coverage of City Hall corruption helps lead to a recall election that replaces three city commissioners.
  • The Sarasota Herald merges with the Sarasota Tribune to become the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.


  • Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings is awarded a Pulitzer Prize for The Yearling. The Miami Daily News wins a Florida newspaper’s first Pulitzer.
  • World War II begins when Germany invades Poland.


  • Japanese air and naval forces launch a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The U.S. declares war on Japan and recognizes a state of war with Germany and Italy.


  • World War II helps reinvigorate Florida’s economy. German U-boats operate in waters off Florida’s coast. The U.S. Army Air Force takes over Drew Field during World War II and publishes the Drew Field Echoes newspaper.


  • Circuit judges cite the Miami Herald and associate editor John D. Pennekamp for contempt after the newspaper publishes two editorials and a cartoon criticizing the court.


  • President Roosevelt dies.
  • Harry S. Truman becomes president.
  • Allies accept Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender. World War II ends when Japan surrenders to the Allies.
  • Tampa’s Florida Sentinel Bulletin is started by C. Blythe Andrews, whose father owned an earlier version.


  • Jackie Robinson plays in the first integrated baseball spring training game, between the Montreal Royals and the Brooklyn Dodgers, in Daytona.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court rules in the Miami Herald case, Pennekamp v. Florida, that a newspaper can criticize a court without fear of being silenced by a judge’s use of contempt, overturning the Florida Supreme Court’s 1945 ruling and original circuit court conviction.


  • President Truman dedicates the Everglades National Park.
  • The University of Florida and Florida State University become co-educational.


  • Congress approves Cape Canaveral as site for a government missile launching
    test center.


  • African-American Virgil Darnell Hawkins is denied admission to the University of Florida law school.
  • Florida’s first television station, WTVJ, begins broadcasting in Miami.


  • The first missile is launched from Cape Canaveral.
  • The U.S. Senate Crime Investigating Committee holds hearings about Florida’s organized crime operations.
  • President Truman authorizes the use of U.S. forces in Korea.
  • The Orlando Morning Sentinel reports on the Groveland rape trial involving Lake County Sheriff Willis V. McCall and a group of young African-American men known as the “Groveland Four.”
  • Chiefland Citizen is founded.


  • Harry T. Moore, a statewide organizer for the NAACP,  and his wife, Harriette, are killed when their Mims house is bombed.


  • State Senate President Charley Johns becomes 32nd governor of Florida following death of Governor Dan McCarty.
  • The Spanish daily, La Gaceta, Tampa / Ybor City, becomes a weekly.


  • In “Brown v. Board of Education,” the U.S. Supreme Court declares unconstitutional state laws establishing “separate but equal” schools for African-American and white students.
  • In a debate between Democratic gubernatorial runoff candidates Leroy Collins and Charley Johns, Collins exhibits an early edition of the next day’s Miami Herald, with an ad in which Johns claims victory for the debate, which has not yet taken place. The embarrassing episode contributes to Johns’ election loss.
  • The St. Petersburg Times becomes one of the South’s first major newspapers to come out against segregation.


  • LeRoy Collins is inaugurated as Florida’s 33rd governor.
  • Jonas Salk’s new polio vaccine is distributed to Florida schools.
  • Highway and turnpike system is approved by the Florida legislature.
  • The Florida Supreme Court rules that the University of Florida cannot deny admission to a person based solely on race.


  • The Tallahassee bus boycott begins.
  • Hillsborough County is announced as the site of the University of South Florida.
  • A seven-member Florida legislative investigation committee (later known as the Johns Committee) is formed.
  • Richmond Newspapers Inc. gains controlling interest in The Tampa Tribune Company.


  • The first U.S. satellite, Explorer I, is launched from Cape Canaveral.
  • The Tallahassee bus boycott ends.
  • Federal district judge orders desegregation of the University of Florida’s graduate schools.


  • Thousands of Cubans migrate to South Florida after Cuban President Batista flees the country and leaves Cuba in the hands of Fidel Castro.


  • Tallahassee college students start lunch-counter sit-ins at department stores, beginning months of civil rights demonstrations there.
  • Florida Governor LeRoy Collins delivers a statewide broadcast address declaring segregation morally wrong.
  • Hurricane Donna sweeps across South Florida.


  • CIA-sponsored invasion by Cuban exiles to overthrow Fidel Castro begins at the Bay of Pigs on Cuba’s south coast. Overpowered by the Cuban army, it ends within days.
  • The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) begins the Freedom Rides campaign to protest segregation on interstate buses and terminals.


  • President John Kennedy announces the discovery of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. After a tense 13-day standoff, known as the “Cuban Missile Crisis,” Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agrees to remove the missiles.
  • The Pepper family sells The Gainesville Sun to the Cowles company.
  • St. Petersburg Times purchases Evening Independent from the Thomson Newspaper company.


  • President John Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.


  • The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Martin Luther King Jr. lend support to demonstrating St. Augustine civil rights activists.
  • The U.S. Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Johnson power to use any action necessary to repel armed attacks on U.S. forces in Vietnam.


  • It is announced that Walt Disney World will be built in Florida.
  • President Lyndon Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.
  • Griscom family sells the Tallahassee Democrat to Knight Newspapers.
  • The Orlando Sentinel and the Orlando Evening Star to be sold to the Tribune Company.


  • Surveyor 1, an unmanned spacecraft launched from Cape Kennedy, makes the first U.S. soft landing on the moon.
  • Florida Today, Melbourne, is established.


  • Three astronauts are killed when a fire consumes the Apollo 1 capsule during a rehearsal countdown at Cape Kennedy.


  • First new state constitution since 1885 is ratified.
  • Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy is shot in Los Angeles after winning the California presidential primary and dies the following day.
  • The Miami Herald publishes “Computer Reveals Patterns of Dade Crime,” one of the first examples of computer-assisted journalism.


  • Apollo 11 lands on the lunar surface on July 20.
  • Cox Enterprises purchases the Palm Beach Post, and other newspapers, from Perry Publications.
  • Knight Newspapers becomes a publicly traded company.


  • A Greek oil tanker leaks some 10,000 gallons of oil near Tampa Bay.
  • Hurricane Celia strikes Florida with winds up to 146 miles per hour.


  • Walt Disney World opens
  • President Nixon signs executive order halting construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal.
  • The New York Times Company purchases the Ocala Star-Banner, The Gainesville Sun and The Ledger in Lakeland.


  • Vietnam War protests are held around the state.
  • Miami Beach hosts the Democratic Convention.


  • The U.S. agrees to a cease-fire and the end of the Vietnam War.
  • International oil crisis triggers U.S. economic downturn.
  • University of Florida’s student newspaper gains independence and is renamed The Independent Florida Alligator.


  • Richard Nixon resigns as President of the United States.
  • Tampa is awarded a National Football League franchise.
  • In Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Florida Supreme Court’s ruling that newspapers must print a political candidate’s reply to a paper’s criticism.
  • Knight Newspapers and Ridder Publications merge.


  • Eglin Air Force Base is named as one of three United States processing centers for Vietnamese refugees.
  • NASA announces that the end of the Apollo space program will result in the layoff of 1,500 employees at the Kennedy Space Center.
  • Nelson Poynter, chairman of the St. Petersburg Times and the Times Publishing Company, starts the Modern Media Institute. He dies in 1978, leaving the school controlling stock in the Times Publishing company. In 1984, the MMI becomes The Poynter Institute.
  • Newsrooms begin replacing typewriters with computer front-end systems that include video display terminals (VDTs) and cathode ray tubes (CRTs). Among the first: Cocoa Today, the Daytona Beach Journal, and the St. Petersburg Times.


  • The United States celebrates the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration  of Independence.
  • A three-year legal battle ends for the St. Petersburg Times with new rights for reporters when the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling, Morgan v. State, overturns Lucy Morgan’s conviction for refusing to reveal a confidential source.
  • The Gainesville Sun celebrates its 100th anniversary.
  • El Herald, later, El Nuevo Herald, Miami; Hialeah News, Hialeah; La Nacion, Miami, are established.
  • Dr. Calvin Collins is one of the four founders of The Orlando Times, an African-American newspaper.


  • Temperatures plummet and snow falls in Florida.
  • The Ronny Zamora murder trial, in a first, allows cameras in the courtroom.


  • Ted Bundy murders two female students at Florida State University.


  • Florida murderer John Spenkelink is the first American inmate executed since Gary Gilmore in 1977.


  • Thousands of boats bring 120,000 Cuban refugees to Florida in the “Mariel Boatlift.”
  • The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is rammed by a freighter and more than 30 people die when a 1,200-foot section of the bridge falls.
  • Fourteen people die after violence breaks out in Miami following the acquittal of four policemen in the death of an African-American insurance executive.
  • The Columbus Dispatch, the first newspaper to go online in the U.S., was part of a CompuServe and Associated Press experiment on the potential of online papers. As the Compuserve project faded away, a new electronic newspaper began. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram launched its “StarText” computer BBS (Bulletin Board System) on May 3, 1982.


  • The 52 American hostages in Iran are released.
  • There is an assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan.
  • The first Space Shuttle is launched from Cape Kennedy.


  • Seventy-eight people are killed when Air Florida flight 90 crashes into the Potomac River after take-off from Washington D.C.’s National Airport.
  • The Equal Rights Amendment is rejected by the Florida Senate.
  • The New York Times Company purchases the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
  • The Sarasota Journal prints its final issue.
  • The Tampa Times prints its final issue.


  • Thirty percent of Florida’s citrus crop is destroyed by a freeze.
  • The Knight-Ridder company begins Viewtron videotex online system in Miami with  approximately 2,500 subscribers. AT&T develops a special Viewtron console unit for  homes.


  • The Knight-Ridder Vu/Text database service begins with full-text editions of the Miami Herald.


  • Hurricane Elena forces thousands of Floridians to evacuate.
  • Rosemary Barkett becomes the first woman Florida Supreme Court justice.
  • The Jefferson Pilot Corporation sells the Clearwater Sun to the Hearst Corporation.


  • On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger explodes a minute after its launch is broadcast live, killing all seven astronauts aboard, including teacher Christa McAuliffe.
  • The St. Petersburg Evening Independent prints final issue.


  • Miami and Orlando are awarded National Basketball Association franchises.
  • The state lottery begins.
  • The Evening Times in West Palm Beach, ceases publication.
  • Miami New Times, Folio Weekly, Jacksonville, established.


  • The Miami News prints its final issue.
  • The Jacksonville Journal prints its final issue.


  • The U.S. Supreme Court rules in B.J.F. v. Florida Star that only in rare instances can sanctions be applied to the press for publishing truthful information obtained legally about matters of public interest.
  • Todd C. Smith, a reporter for the Tampa Tribune, is killed in Peru while researching a story about drug trafficking.


  • Three University of Florida and two Santa Fe Community College students are murdered in their Gainesville apartments by Danny Rolling.
  • After serving as a test site for the Associated Press, the St. Petersburg Times, continues to incorporate digital photojournalism technology into its newsroom operation.
  • The Clearwater Sun prints its final issue.


  • A coalition of Allied forces led by the United States drives Iraq out of Kuwait.
  • Miami is awarded a National League baseball franchise.


  • Hurricane Andrew rips through South Florida.


  • A new state constitutional amendment opens old legislative records that were
    previously sealed.
  • Jacksonville is awarded a National Football League franchise.
  • Florida newspapers begin experimenting with online BBS or dial-up services, such as Prodigy, CompuServe, and America Online. Florida Today begins posting some content on the CompuServe online computer dial-up service, becoming one of Florida’s first online newspapers.


  • The Florida legislature passes a bill compensating 56 survivors and descendants of the 1923 Rosewood massacre.
  • The Florida Supreme Court rules unconstitutional the state law making it a crime to publish or broadcast the identity of a rape victim.


  • The Tampa Tribune launches Tampa Bay Online, the second newspaper to team up with the Prodigy online service to start an electronic version of its newspaper.


  • The state files suit against the tobacco industry.
  • Florida celebrates 150 years of statehood.
  • Major league baseball owners award new franchise (Tampa Bay Devil Rays) to St. Petersburg / Tampa Bay.
  • The Gainesville Sun and the University of Florida journalism department begin the Sun.One online BBS service.
  • An online version of the Orlando Sentinel begins on America Online.
  • St. Petersburg Times launches its first online Web project, a tour of the “Treasures of Czars” museum exhibit.
  • The Sarasota Herald-Tribune launches a 24-hour cable television news operation called “Sarasota News Now.” (SNN is later renamed “Six News Now.”)


  • ValuJet 592 crashes into the Everglades killing all 110 on board.
  • Republicans win control of the Florida House of Representatives for the first time in 120 years.
  • Florida Times-Union launches its first Internet service.


  • The state’s tobacco lawsuit ends with an $11 billion settlement.
  • The Florida Supreme Court rules the use of the state’s electric chair is legal.
  • Hernando Today, Brooksville, begins offering Internet access to Hernando County residents.
  • The Orlando Sentinel and Time Warner Communications create a local 24-hour cable news operation.
  • The Sarasota Herald-Tribune and its television operation, SNN, launch newscoast.com.


  • Wildfires in northern and central Florida burn 500,000 acres.
  • Astronaut John Glenn returns to space at age 77.
  • Governor Lawton Chiles dies; Lieutenant Governor Buddy MacKay finishes out Chiles’ term.
  • The Miami Herald’s Tropic Sunday magazine, which began in 1967, ceases publication. The newspaper spins off El Nuevo Herald, its Spanish-language section, as a stand-alone daily.
  • The Ledger, Lakeland, launches website.


  • Hurricane Floyd forces statewide evacuations.
  • Floridians worry about potential Y2K computer problems.
  • The Miami Herald, like many newspapers, announces its printing plant is converting to a 50-inch web width to save on newsprint.
  • The Orlando Sentinel and Puerto Rico’s
  • El Nuevo Dia newspaper announce a news-sharing agreement.
  • The Ledger celebrates its 75th anniversary.
  • Florida newspapers report celebrations marking end of 20th century and beginning of the new millennium.

2000 - 2021


  • January 1 – The first day of the 21st century.
  • Armed federal agents seize 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez from his relatives’ Miami home. AP photographer Al Diaz captures an image seen around the world. Gonzalez is returned to his father and eventually back to Cuba.
  • The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel adds “South Florida” to its nameplate.
  • The Thomson Corporation sells the Key West Citizen and the Jackson County Floridan.
  • The New York Times Company sells the Fernandina News-Leader, Palatka Daily News, the Lake City Reporter, the Marco Island Eagle, and the News-Sun in Sebring.
  • The Sarasota Herald-Tribune celebrates its 75th anniversary.
  • Newspapers struggle under presidential election night deadlines to find accurate front page headlines. Among the banner headlines: “Photo Finish,” “Florida Finish,” “Oh, So Close,” “Bush Wins,” “Is It Bush?” “Recount.” The 2000 presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush ends with a controversial Florida vote recount. The winner is not officially decided until December.


  • On the morning of September 11, moments after planes hit Manhattan’s World Trade Center towers, journalists post stories on newspaper websites about a terrorist attack against the United States. Within hours, newspapers print special editions. Many viewers saw the attack on television.
  • In many ways, September 11th is the beginning of a new era for Florida newspapers in the online 21st century.
  • On September 12, Steve Outing writes on Poynter Online: “The horrific events of September 11, 2001, represented the first opportunity for online media – still relatively new – to cover a huge story …. the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington represent the greatest test yet of the newest news medium: the Internet.”
  • The collaboratively written Wikipedia online encyclopedia begins.
  • By 2001, according to the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), “more than 1,300 North American daily newspapers have launched online services,” compared to 1995, when there were approximately 60 newspapers with sites on the Internet or dial-up services.


  • President Bush signs the Homeland Security Act into law to help fight terrorism.
  • The BlackBerry smartphone is released.
  • According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, online users remain reluctant to pay for content on the Internet.
  • Readership of newspaper classified ads in 67 metro markets surveyed by The Media Audit declined more than 11 percent in three years.


  • The Columbia Space Shuttle disintegrates during reentry.
  • The United States invades Iraq.
  • According to the UCLA Internet Report, the top five online activities are e-mail and instant messaging, Web browsing, reading news, shopping
    and buying online, and accessing entertainment information.


  • Four hurricanes impact Florida during 2004: Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne.
  • Mark Zuckerberg launches Facebook as a Harvard-only social network.
  • Google introduces Gmail, a free, advertising-supported webmail service.


  • Terri Schiavo right-to-die case gains international attention when her feeding tube is removed.
  • Hurricane Katrina strikes New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
  • Home broadband connections allow more Floridians to get their news online.
  • YouTube is founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim.


  • Coretta Scott King dies at the age of 78.
  • The McClatchy Company purchases Knight Ridder, keeping the Miami Herald but selling many of its other dailies.
  • The Weekly News, one of South Florida’s first gay community newspapers, ends publication.
  • Twitter is launched by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone.
  • According to the Bivings Group, of America’s top 100 newspapers, 80 percent offer reporter blogs. 76 percent  offer RSS feeds. Video is offered by 61 percent.


  • Thirty two people were killed and 17 others were wounded in a spree shooting at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg. The shooter was undergraduate student Seung-Hui Cho.
  • Apple’s Steve Jobs introduces the iPhone.
  • More Florida newspapers offer digital PDF replicas of their printed papers, linked from the newspaper’s website.


  • The U.S. subprime mortgage crisis and deregulation of finance industry lead to the Great Recession.
  • Barack Obama is elected president of the United States.
  • The St. Petersburg Times announces a partnership with the Miami Herald to merge their Tallahassee-based staffs into a single statehouse bureau.
  • Newspapers across the state announce layoffs and buyouts as newspaper circulation continues to decline.
  • Florida journalists use social networking services for all types of reporting.


  • Gulf oil spill begins with explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform.
  • President Obama and Congress pass healthcare reform.
  • The Halifax Media Group begins when investors purchase The Daytona Beach News-Journal from the Davidson family.
  • Steve Jobs introduces the Apple iPad.


  • The United States kills al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
  • NASA’s Shuttle program ends with launch and mission of the Shuttle Atlantis.
  • The Daytona Beach-based Halifax Media Group announces it will acquire the New York Times Regional Media Group’s Florida newspapers.
  • The St. Petersburg Times announces it will be changing its name to the Tampa Bay Times as of January 1, 2012.
  • Amazon introduces the Amazon Kindle Fire.


  • Trayvon Martin, a Black teenager, is fatally shot by George Zimmerman in Sanford.
  • Tampa hosts Republican National Convention.
  • Revolution Capital Group acquires The Tampa Tribune from Media General.


  • Bombs explode near the finish line of the Boston Marathon wounding more than 200 people and killing three.
  • Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first Black president, dies at 95.
  • According to a Pew Research Center report, “Facebook and Instagram exhibit especially high levels of user engagement: A majority of users on these sites check in to them on a daily basis.”
  • Newspapers continue to increase their use of social media services.


  • The United States announces it will restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.
  • Black teenager Michael Brown is fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
  • Florida becomes the third most populous state.
  • According to a Pew Research Center report, “a majority of Americans now say they get news through a digital platform: 82 percent reported using a desktop or laptop, while 54 percent got news through mobile devices.


  • The Florida Supreme Court approves redrawn version of the state’s 27 congressional districts after the League of Women Voters and others sued over questions of gerrymandering.
  • GateHouse Media, owned by the News Media Investment Group, purchases the Halifax Media Group.
  • According to a Pew Research Center report, “the rise in the share of social media users getting news on Facebook or Twitter cuts across nearly every demographic group.”


  • The Orlando gay community is targeted when a gunman attacks and kills 49 people at the Pulse nightclub.
  • Hurricane Hermine makes landfall along the Apalachee Bay coast.
  • Gannett buys Scripps Howard Treasure Coast newspapers.
  • The Tampa Bay Times purchases and closes the 121-year-old Tampa Tribune.
  • “As of early 2016, just two-in-10 U.S. adults often get news from print newspapers. Only 5 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds often get news from a print newspaper, whereas about half (48 percent) of those 65 and older do.” – Pew Research Center.


  • Category 4 Hurricane Irma hits Florida.
  • Morris Communications sells Florida Times-Union and the St. Augustine Record to GateHouse Media.
  • Misleading information, often presented online, is increasingly described by the term “fake news.”


  • The media reports on the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
  • Hurricane Michael strikes the Panhandle as a Category 5 storm.
  • Voters in Florida approve Amendment 4 to restore voting rights to convicted felons who have completed their sentences.
  • GateHouse Media acquires the Palm Beach Post and the Palm Beach Daily News from Cox Media Group.
  • The Adams Publishing Group purchases Cooke Communications, the owner of the Key West Citizen.
  • According to a Pew Research Center report, asked what they like about the news experience on social media, more Americans mention ease of use than content.


  • Hurricane Dorian strikes the Bahamas.
  • Gatehouse Media merges with Gannett. It’s now the largest U.S. newspaper chain, with at least 18 Florida papers.
  • A Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism survey notes, with the popularity of podcasts, 75 percent of publishers surveyed believe audio will become a more important part of their strategy.


  • The world searches for a way to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual meetings replace face-to-face interactions.
  • The killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer ignites Black Lives Matter protests.
  • A SpaceX rocket, with the mission to take astronauts to the International Space Station, lifts off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.
  • Chatham Asset Management hedge fund to acquire McClatchy company.
  • Newspapers reduce the frequency of print issues. The Tampa Bay Times prints on Sundays and Wednesdays, continuing e-newspaper editions daily.
  • According to a Pew Research Center report, “many Americans get news on YouTube, where news organizations and independent producers thrive side by side.”


  • After a year of COVID-19 deaths and restrictions, spikes caused by unvaccinated and hovering variants add difficulty to a return to normal. 
  • Florida’s newspapers report on the collapse of a high-rise condo building in Surfside.
  • Tribune Publishing shareholders vote to approve company’s sale to Alden Global Capital hedge fund.
  • The Tampa Bay Times’ printing plant closes, with printing outsourced to a Lakeland Gannett facility. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune also prints its last issue from a locally owned printing plant.
David Shedden is the special collections librarian at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus library. He also served as the archivist and research librarian at the Poynter Institute for 28 years. Florida newspaper reporters were still using typewriters when he started working there.

David Shedden is the special collections librarian at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus library. He also served as the archivist and research librarian at the Poynter Institute for 28 years. Florida newspaper reporters were still using typewriters when he started working there.

Fall 2021 FORUM Magazine Chronicling Florida

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2021 Issue of FORUM Magazine. Visit our collection at the USFSP Digital Archive by clicking here.