The Tallahassee Democrat, published weekly, is a broadsheet weekly newspaper. It covers the whole area encompassing Tallahassee in Leon County and adjacent Gadsden County, Florida, and also adjacent Wakulla County, Jefferson County and Pinellas County. This newspaper is generally considered a sister publication to the Tallahassee News-Herald, although it has always been the arrival of that latter in terms of coverage. But it's generally accepted that the Tallahassee Democrat and the Tallahassee News-Herald are actually different papers, though they have never been formally combined. They're still generally interchangeable with one another.
The Tallahassee Democrat first appeared in publication in 1887, and then for a short while annually from 1992 to 1994. The period of decline was led by the coming to market of higher-quality printing equipment, which allowed for more economical production of quality newspapers. The demise came mainly, however, from the failure of those who held the ownership of the franchises to use them effectively to exploit the business potential of what had so recently been emerging markets. A number of corporations, most significantly the CompuServe and Ameritech companies, did fairly well, but the market eventually died down.
The Tallahassee Democrat underwent a brief rebirth during the late part of the twentieth century when Tom Tallahas was elected to the first elective office of the Tallahassee City Council. Tom was promptly re-elected twice, first to a second term as mayor, and then for a third term as supervisor. With the passage of time, other political figures came to dominate the downtown areas of Tallahassee. Most notable among these were State Senator John Edwards, State Representative David McKenzie and current Governor Bill Clinton.
Through the years, the Tallahassee Democrat has garnered a well-earned reputation as being a conservative mouthpiece and as a newspaper publisher who values accuracy above all else. Although editorials throughout the years have criticized both major parties, the newspaper has also consistently endorsed the Republicans in local races and has sought to support duly elected officials who tend to stray far from the political centre. In fact, the editorial board of the Tallahassee Democrat has consistently endorsed candidates for local offices even when they have voted the Republican ticket. When this occurs, the editorial board usually makes an endorsement of the Republican nominee.
The paper has also done a lot to bring political controversy to light through editorials. In one case, for example, the Tallahassee Democrat published an editorial that described the behaviour of the Tallahassee Police Department in arresting African-American citizens on trumped-up charges. The article stated that these warrants had been "illegitimately obtained" and recommended that city leaders immediately "drop all charges." A month later, after news of the editorial ran, a grand jury declined to indict anyone in the case. In a subsequent article, the Tallahassee Democrat charged that the grand jury had a "clear bias" against African-Americans. That case, too, was eventually dropped.
There have been some negative editorials from time to time, too. In one case, the Tallahassee Democrat ran an editorial that questioned the competence of a candidate for mayor, saying she had raised "a lot of red flags." In another case, the Tallahassee Democrat ran an editorial that accused incumbent mayor Patrick Sahlins of cutting millions of dollars from city programs without providing "a clear explanation." Sahlins ultimately won the race by a slim margin.
There are, of course, many other editorials on the paper that list the merits or faults of different candidates. These editorials, many of which are written by freelance writers, offer a unique voice and a window into the often complex personalities of municipal government. These editorials, whether favourable or unfavourable, provide insight into the public's perception of elected officials. They also give the public an idea of how they should be more involved in local government. Perhaps most importantly, they allow residents of Tallahassee to make their voices heard.
Because Tallahassee is a heavily populated area, the political debate becomes heated very quickly. Residents can easily criticize officials for either their handling of public concerns or for their party affiliation. As a result, the public hears a lot about politics every day. As such, these editorials serve a useful purpose. They give residents a chance to weigh in on issues that are important to them. They allow everyone to air their views, which allows a broad range of opinions to be expressed.