Thursday, May 05, 2016

2 large Florida cities, 1 newspaper

The Tampa Tribune is the latest American newspaper to die. It was 121 years old.

The Tampa Bay Times, previously the St. Petersburg Times, borrowed $13.3 million for the Tuesday purchase of the Tribune from Revolution Capital Group.

Previously the Times took over printing the Tribune, just as the BJ printing presses left the building so that first the Canton Repository and now the Cleveland Plain Dealer prints the BJ.

The Times has news and advertising operations in downtown Tampa and Riverview and has produced a Tampa edition since 1987.

At least 100 of the 265 Tribune employees will get pink slips and 60 days of pay.

The Tampa Tribune started in 1893 when Wallace Stovall moved his paper from Bartow. It became a daily in 1895.

The Tribune was sold by Media General to California-based Revolution Capital in 2012 for $9.5 million. Revolution Capital last July sold the Tribune's headquarters in downtown Tampa for $17.75 million to South Florida developers who plan an apartment complex.

The Times will continue the Tribune’s Centro, the Spanish language weekly newspaper; Highlands Today, a daily newspaper serving Highlands County; and the Suncoast News, weekly newspapers serving west Pasco and North Pinellas counties.

The Times, one of the nation's few independent newspapers, is owned by the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit school for journalists. When I worked at the St. Pete Times in the 1960s, I was ushered into owner Nelson Poynter’s luxurious and spacious office, a far cry from John Knight's corner office at the BJ, for his monthly welcome of new employees.
It felt like an audience with the Pope.

The Times began 131 years ago as the West Hillsborough Times out of Dunedin. It changed its name to the Tampa Bay Times in 2012. The Times has won 12 Pulitzer Prizes.

The Times sold its downtown  St. Petersburg headquarters building at 490 First Ave. S to Convergent Capital Partners and Denholtz Associates for $19 million to help pay for the Tribune purchase.

This makes the Tampa Bay Times among the nation's 10 largest daily newspapers and five largest Sunday papers (484,663 combined circulation).

As usual, the culprit is the owners’ lack of foresight when the Internet was a baby. Instead of becoming a major player, newspaper baron shrugged it off as a harmless new toy.
Before they knew it, the Internet had sucked away advertising, particularly Classifieds which were up to 40% of the newspapers’ income.
That lead to the cavalcade of downsizing and other draconian measures.

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