Bad Times: The Tampa Bay Times cuts down to Wednesday-Sunday twice a week print editions.


One of the saddest and most depressing stories that came out today had to do with The Tampa Bay Times, the largest newspaper in Florida is making news by reducing their print copies to only twice a week. Yes, they will be printing papers on Wednesday and Sunday at least for the time being due to the coronavirus.

FROM THE PBS NEWSHOUR

So, in the 11th largest media market in the country, there is no longer a daily print newspaper for now. As a kid growing up in Tampa there was the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times as the daily morning papers, plus the Tampa Afternoon Times, The St. Petersburg Evening Independent along with the afternoon edition of The Clearwater Sun.

That is five newspapers and now there is none. So many good writers, so many wonderful columnists, and talented photographers all gone, not to mention the loss of a training ground for talented young journalists.

TampaBay.com the newspaper’s digital website will remain up and running but one must wonder how robust the content will be without a depleted staff.

The website will also offer an online replica of the daily paper for each day despite the lack of a print edition. The goal is to give readers the feel of the daily paper in a virtual world.

According to Pointer who owns the newspaper, some staff is furloughing while print days are suspended. In a memo to staff, Times chairman and CEO Paul Tash outlined the advertising losses. 

These extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures,” said Tash, “What doesn’t change is our commitment to our readers and our community.”

“For the time being, we have to change how we deliver the news, but readers can still get every bit of coverage online at tampabay.com and in our electronic edition. Readers can count on us for honest, thorough and up-to-date coverage of the pandemic and the crisis it is creating.”

At the Times, the pandemic sent advertising sales into a plunge. In just the last two weeks, cancellations have cost us more than $1 million, and there is no sign of quick recovery on the horizon. We must act now.

He closed with a bit of hope saying that –  “ The company hopes to restore normal operations as the crisis ends and revenue starts to rise, Tash said. “Everybody at the Times looks forward to the day when our country and community have weathered this storm.”

For those of us who love local newspapers, I hope they come back to a full seven day a week print paper. But that could be a problem in these times when print papers are dropping off the earth by the hundreds.

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Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.