South Florida's best-known media brand is packing up for shinier digs elsewhere. Nope, not talking about the Miami Herald or the august New Times Broward Palm-Beach. The National Enqurier, the supermarket checkout rag that basically created the tabloid game 30 years ago, is leaving its longtime Boca Raton headquarters for New York.
The relocation -- scheduled for June -- means the paper will be leaving behind a long and weird legacy in Palm Beach County, largely thanks to the family behind the Enquirer, the Popes.
See also: Pope Family Battle: Like The Godfather
Generoso "Gene" Pope Jr. was the favored son of an immigrant Italian who became a New York city powerbroker thanks to a successful sand and gravel company. After originally running the family's Italian-language newspaper in New York, in 1952 Gene grabbed a floundering New York daily with a $20,000 loan from Mafia don Frank Costello. After re-naming the paper the National Enquirer, Pope personally steered the news coverage to a more lurid direction.
The paper moved to Boca Raton in 1971. In 1988, after Gene's death, the $412.5 million sale of the paper cut out Pope's only son, Paul. Since then, the remaining Pope son has continuously sued his mother Lois in Palm Beach County court. As we reported last year, the showdowns are fit for the family's paper: In one corner, an entitled party boy, in the other, a flashy socialite.
Just last May, the family traded legal filings that included charges of charity fraud and kidnapping. Paul Pope was even arrested for stalking his mother. (No charges were eventually filed).
The Enquirer is currently owned by American Media Inc., based in New York. Although the paper has scored some big scalps in the last decade (including turning up the first details on John Edwards' affair) the paper has struggled with an online presence. According to the Associated Press, the tabloid generates $100 in revenue annually but only pulls in 4.8 million page views by 723,000 visitors every month.
In order to realign the mothership tabloid for the future, AMI crowned a new editor recently, 32-year-old Dylan Howard, who currently runs RadarOnline. He'll manage both staffs as separate entities, but the Enquirer move to New York with facilitate "closer collaboration" between the two products.