It’s not often we get to say simply, “I was right” but this morning I woke to some exciting news in an email blasted letter from Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. As I predicted in September here, the St Petersburg Times will in fact become the Tampa Bay Times.
The change was announced on the first day they are legally allowed to say it publicly and according to their webpage on the change they will complete the re-brand by January 1, 2012.
The change will be very obvious to the local community. However out-of-town visitors and new residents will find it hard to believe it was ever any other way.
Q. What about the St. Pete Times Forum?
A. The name of the St. Pete Times Forum also will change to reflect the new name.
Along with the Forum and the Times building on Ashley Drive it would be expected by most visitors that there is only one major newspaper serving Tampa Bay.
When will the Tampa Tribune figure that out?
Here’s the next part of story and in zeitgeist fashion pits Media General (MEG), a publicly traded Wall Street company verses an independently owned local business in one of the few instances were the Wall Street company will “lose” in a visible way to the Tampa Bay community.
I use lose in quotes because shareholders will be fine even if the employees and our market lose a newspaper.
Here is a lesson about Wall Street.
While it will be painful to many Tribune employees; our friends and neighbors who will certainly lose jobs; there is unfortunately no other choice that Media General can make.
- The Tribune in its current form (i.e. a newspaper) must cease to operate.
- By law the board of directors of Media General must act in the best interest of their shareholders.
Any board member of Media General understands that they will not rebuild a profitable newspaper in Tampa Bay.
So what happens next?
The most likely profitable and simple decision to the share holders of Media General will be to cease production of the actual printed daily newspaper to cut expenses. They can then roll whatever staff remains into WFLA thereby giving a WFLA a significant boost in journalism coverage and possibly other investments to grow revenues.
We lose a newspaper – shareholders will see a profit.
Save the Names
There are already Facebook pages dedicated to saving the name of the St. Petersburg Times. The Times only folly in this announcement is not knowing how to address the future use of the St. Petersburg Times name.
Q. What happens to the “St. Petersburg Times” name?
A. It will remain in use. We are exploring a number of possibilities, including using the name as part of our local news report.
The quick and possibly furious backlash to the expected loss of the name by St. Petersburg residents will prompt the Times to address this quickly.
As suggest by me in September:
How will St Petersburg residents feel about the changes? The short answer is unaffected and proud.
The Times in St Petersburg will not change anything and the residents there will be happy to know that their home town paper won the battle. Yeah the Tampa Bay Times will be what is delivered to subscribers in North Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties but that won’t matter anymore.
The residents of St Petersburg will relish in the fact the paper they read will be the only daily remaining in Tampa Bay to be named for the actual city it is written for, published in and delivered to.
In the end, the St. Petersburg Times will not let the old name go out of use and for that matter Media General will keep the Tampa Tribune name in some kind of active use. It’s the lack of active use of the Tampa Times name by the Tampa Tribune that lead to this final battle in the first place.
The owners of both won’t let that happen again.