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.
WE ENJOY YOUR EMAILS GREATLY
THE TRIB HAS BEEN A SORE SUBJECT WITH ME FOR A WHILE & I WILL TAKE THIS OPORTUNITY TO SOUND OFF ABOUT IT !
I HOPE THE MERGER WILL MAKE IT BETTER !
THEY HAVE OUTSOURCED THEIR ADVERTISING BILLING & COLLECTIONS.
IF YOU HAVE A BILLING QUESTION & CALL, YOU ARE SPEAKING WITH SOMEONE IN INDIA.
I HAVE BEEN RUNNING THE SAME AD COPY FOR OVER 20 YEARS FOR MY AUCTIONS.
WHEN I CALLED TO PLACE MY AD LAST MONTH THEY TOLD ME OF A SURVEY THEY HAD TAKEN THAT SHOWED THAT NO ONE READ THEIR PAPER ON MONDAY OR TUESDAY, SO THEY WERE DROPING MOST OF THE CLASSIFIEDS THODE 2 DAYS, BUT MY AD COPY PRICE WAS STILL THE SAME.
IF THAT IS THEIR THEORY – WHY PRINT A PAPER MONDAY OR TUESDAY & JUST GIVE EMPLOYEES THE DAYS OFF ???
THANKS YOUR DEVOTED FANS
ROB & CAROL HENNESSEE
HAVE A GREAT AUCTION DAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for the feedback Rob. The newspaper industry is in trouble on all fronts and I don’t think they will get out of.
Journalism is alive and will see a renascence once it is freed completely from the trappings of paper and ink.
Jesus, if you cant even spell “renaissance” with spell check technology, please quit.
Scott, if the only flaw you are pointing out is a spelling error in a timely comment thanking a reader, I think I will continue writing and work on improving my edits. I appreciate your passive acceptance of my ideas.
As a graphic designer who still advertises for clients in the TRIB I appreciate learning some incidentals I was not aware of. I too have been watching (my friends lose jobs at the TRIB), and the St. Pete Times takeover. And also the selling of the media general papers, but not the Tampa Trib. Do you feel they will eventually discontinue printing the TRIB?
Dianna, Long term (which is relative considering how fast things are changing) I think that print for daily news will go away altogether. In the near-term and since publishing this post last year I have noticed that the Tribune is covering quite a bit more local news that the Times is not picking up for some reason. I think that stronger focus on local news increases the chances of them surviving longer then I would have predicted previously. They may even regain a strength locally as the Times continues to focus more regionally.
In general I believe the newspaper industry is giving up and circling the wagons instead of innovating to find a solution. As more adopt online subscription models they are abandoning their responsibility to journalism and leaving the free flow of information to the blogosphere which is maturing with each passing year. I wrote an Open Letter to the Poynter Institute and Tampa Bay Times in January where I highlight a number of reasons that I feel the Tampa Bay Times is in a unique position to really innovate.