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FAREWELL TAMPA BAY TIMES

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 10, 2018

BRYCE ON THE NEWS MEDIA

– I guess it’s time to say goodbye…

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

After 38 years, I am finally cancelling my subscription to the Tampa Bay Times, “Florida’s Best Newspaper.” I never actually subscribed to their claim as I found it fraught with problems, and evidently I was not alone in this regards. Years ago, it was common to see the newspaper delivered to all of the driveways in my neighborhood. Today, other than myself, I only see three.

I stopped it for several reasons; the price had gone up, the editorial slant has become far too liberal for my tastes, the sports and business sections are mere shadows of themselves, and community news slowly faded away. However, the biggest reason for dropping them was simply they had trouble delivering the paper on time. Over the last few months we have had to call the paper several times to complain about their failure to deliver the Sunday paper. Although they apologized and delivered a replacement hours later, they never seemed to be able to correct the problem. To make matters worse, I got the uneasy feeling they simply didn’t care about the printed version any longer.

I’m the type of guy who likes to read a printed paper with my breakfast in the morning. The only way this can happen now is if I get up early, throw on some clothes, and drive down to the local gas station for a newspaper. At least I know I will get a copy and I can start my day properly. I know other people have dropped the paper due to its slanted content, but it was a simple customer service problem that did them in for me.

The Times claims to have won twelve Pulitzer Prizes, something they are quite proud of. However, I find their political inclination such that when they print their election recommendations for candidates and issues, I take it with me to my precinct and vote 180 degrees in the other direction. This way I know I’ve made the right decision. As such, this is an invaluable service they provide.

For a long time, there were two major Tampa newspapers, the Times and the Tampa Tribune. For a while, I subscribed to both as I preferred the layout and content of the Tribune over the Times. However, in 2016 the Times bought out the Tribune and merged their customers in with their own. Since then, the number of pages in the Times seems to have slowly been diminishing, making me wonder how much time it has left. This was not the first time I’ve seen something like this occur.

Prior to the Tampa Bay area, I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for several years. Like Tampa Bay, Cincy had two newspapers, the Cincinnati Enquirer, representing the morning paper, and the Cincinnati Post representing evenings. In this analogy, the Enquirer was like the Tampa Bay Times, and the Post was like the Tampa Tribune. Both were older and well established papers; the Enquirer in 1841 and the Post in 1881. Back when I lived there, I subscribed to both papers as I enjoyed one in the morning, and something to read when I came home after work to relax. It was a friendly rivalry, as the two were delivered at different times, but a rivalry nonetheless.

In 2007, the Post was slowly nudged out of business by the Enquirer, like the Times nudging out the Tribune. As the Enquirer was the last major paper in Cincinnati, they flourished for a while longer. However in 2013, the Enquirer dropped their printing operations and contracted it out of town. Not long afterwards, they began printing in a much smaller “compact” format, including supplements from USA Today. The publication is so small and thin today, it was unrecognizable to me when I first saw it. What was at one time an impressive publication you liked to pour over in the morning, it now looks like something frivolous to line a bird cage.

The parallel between the Tampa Bay Times and the Cincinnati Enquirer is uncanny. The circulation of both publications have suffered over the last few years, forcing them to turn to Internet versions. The Times has always been proud of their printed version, but the economic reality is they may very well have to produce a “compact” version much like the Enquirer’s, which will likely not go over well with regular readers.

All of this is but another indication of our changing world. As I think of my cancellation of the Times, I see it more as a cancellation of the printed newspapers as it appears they can no longer sustain such a publication. What a pity. I would probably have stayed with them longer had they been able to deliver the paper on time, but enough is enough. Now I’ve got to figure what I can read while eating my morning cereal. And, No, it won’t be a computer.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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15 Responses to “FAREWELL TAMPA BAY TIMES”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    An L.W. of Seminole, Florida wrote…

    Plus last 2 Sundays – 3 ½ pages about diapers, and 2 days ago 3 ½ pages about Henry Lyons – both stink!

    Plus plus full pages and pages of ads (mostly hearing aids!), little newsprint.

    Yes, you are right, zero to none local government coverage, local elections, community events.

    I like reading print newspaper early every morning, but more and more it is old news I have gleaned the day before!

    Loved it when Paul Tash, the Publisher, asked the public, full page with his picture, to lobby against high tariffs on lumber/paper out of Canada. Like NO!

    TBT good at trashing-Trump , and watch out Governor Scott!

    And they love turn-coat David Jolly.

    Every time they mention adding conservative voice to Editorial Board, they don’t.

    A bunch of Dems that can’t even manager a business, have to get people like Vinek to bail them out.

    So Lightning must be getting good coverage.

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Palm Harbor, Florida wrote…

    Thanks for sharing, Tim! To your point, I cancelled the Tampa Bay Times newspaper several years ago for all the same reasons you just did. Only thing is, because like you, I like to read at the breakfast table, I have an online subscription that I read on my iPad. It is always there and I don’t have to be calling All the time to see where my paper is! It is also a lot cheaper!

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    An M.B. of Clearwater, Florida wrote…

    Tim. I agree. Now down to Thursday to Sunday.
    Get it for crosswords (wife) and Bridge hands (me). Get nothing out of the paper. Opposite views and old news. Now reading more on I phone that is current. Don’t read the crime news sports ugh. Weather is wrong like the editorials. The price has gotten out of reason
    Etc etc

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    A T.K. of Zephyrhills, Florida wrote…

    Good morning Tim. I enjoyed reading your article and frequently quoting as the paper is soo small. I could write many lines on my newspaper work but not now. I did work in Columbus, Ohio for 3 papers between 1952 and 2005. Schript Howard 1952 to 1985 and the Dispatch from 1960 to 2005. The Cinci paper is printed in Columbus and trucked each evening to Cinci. The Dispatch printed the SH paper from 1960-1985.

    I am thinking of getting a paper from Orlando or maybe Sarasota.

    Like

  5. Tim Bryce said

    A P.E. of Tampa, Florida wrote…

    My wife had been a long and faithful reader of the Times, but we soon got disgusted with the St. Pete Pravda. Funny you mentioned them as a voters guide: I did exactly the same thing!

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    An S.H. in Rochester, New York wrote…

    You sure hit the nail on the head. I too discontinued my subscription to the TBT last year because of delivery problems. Even a letter to the CEO didn’t improve things. Always an excuse and as with you, Customer Service didn’t seem to care much. I agree with your assessment of the paper too but reading opposing views is something I look forward to.

    In Rochester NY where I’m from, they did the same thing as was done in Cincy. Disgraceful if you ask me. Cincy papers are probably owned by Gannett as is the Rochester paper.

    All told, a disgrace to journalism. Love your articles.

    Like

  7. Tim Bryce said

    An R.O. of Palm Harbor, Florida wrote…

    Enjoyed your piece. Farewell to a poor newspaper. Yes, printing and delivery—never easy—is becoming obsolete. Hell, reading is become obsolete. Paul Tash set the stage on which he will eventually announce that the Times will drop the print version when he complained on the front page a couple weeks ago about Trump’s tariffs, which will affect his purchases of foreign newsprint. Boo Hoo! Day is coming. It is a terrible shame in the largest perspective because the US culture is losing he ability to read and analyze anything complicated, and this is a symptom of it. So, even though the Times has been a Dem sheet ever since Nelson Poynter, an avowed communist, took it over in 1939, I am sorry to see the print version go, as it eventually must and will.

    Like

  8. Tim Bryce said

    A K.S. of Wesley Chapel, Florida wrote…

    I wish I could say I was canceling the paper for non receipt but I can’t. I have canceled them numerous times only to miss reading, an actual newspaper. Today’s article bashing Fox News has done it for me. I can no longer support the extreme left positions the paper has taken. Please, someone come out with a conservative newspaper that I’m pretty sure 1/2 the country would read.

    Like

  9. Tim Bryce said

    An H.W. of Palm Harbor, Florida wrote…

    I have been getting my news off my tablet for a couple of years now. (Since the merger) times was too liberal, too expensive and a day late usually. You’ll get used to it.

    Like

  10. Francis Dryden said

    Interesting thing about big city newspapers! A couple of things I have noticed… the oldest paper naturally has the largest circulation. Bigger than that though, they always have the largest numbers in the obituaries! Most people don’t pay money to advertise the passing of a loved one in both papers in a town. It is NOT the revenue from the obits it’s the numbers of people that read the obits.

    I once tried to make a deal in my home city in Canada to increase the second (and newer paper with half the circulation) one a route to increase their circulation but they wouldn’t pay the money (just $25,000 too)! For that fee I was going to tell them that as they had virtually zero revenue from obits anyway… why not put them in for free… more obits… more readers.

    I even kept “score” with the obits… going through every morning to see how many died older and younger than myself… I wonder how many play that little game.

    Hate to inform the egotistical journalists but it’s the obituary clerk that sells your bloody newspapers… not you politically twisted people and all those pages of stock quotes… don’t even make good toilet paper!

    Oh by the way, same thing applies to the on-line version.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Tim Bryce said

    A D.N. of Belleair, Florida wrote…

    I understand how you feel, I am contemplating stopping the paper too. Bay news 9 is informative for local news..

    Like

  12. Tim Bryce said

    A W.H. of Boulder, Colorado wrote…

    I will tell you that when I was growing up in Tulsa, we had TWO newspapers. Tulsa World was the morning newspaper, Tulsa Tribune was the afternoon paper. My dad took the World. I suspect he didn’t take the afternoon paper because when he came home, he took a power nap before dinner, ate dinner, then went out to his workshop in the garage and worked until 10pm when it was time for the news, then bedtime at 10:30pm. He was always up at 0500, and left the house around 0800 to ride the bus to work, so the morning paper was available and what he preferred. It was always on the doorstep by 0530. This is in the 50’s and 60’s.

    And, the delivery boy was typically a junior high/senior high student on a bike who had to get up at 0400 to get his papers, fold them, then deliver them to the customers. I don’t recall my dad ever having to call the paper for non-delivery.

    Fast forward to today: Tulsa has ONE paper – the World. I suspect because MOST people want to have their news in the mornings, and watch the news on TV in the evenings. And, given that kids today probably shouldn’t be out in the dark on a bike delivering papers – because they probably don’t have lights and reflectors for safety, and you probably want to be careful in SOME neighborhoods anyway.

    When I moved to Colorado in 89, there were two Denver papers – The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. Rocky Mountain eventually folded and was merged into the Post. Lately, we’ve been hearing about layoffs and downsizing at the Post because readership is markedly down. I live in Boulder County … so the Boulder paper – the Boulder Daily Camera (also termed the “Boulder Daily Commie”) is a completely left-leaning rag, even the comics are non-standard. And if there was a way to politicize the sports page, I’m sure they’d figure a way to make that happen. Anyway, the same paper delivery agent (now an adult in a pickup) would deliver your preference(s) of Boulder Camera, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain news, and Wall Street Journal. Today, take away the Rocky. But, I can tell you for a FACT that those papers aren’t delivered in my neighborhood until 0730 and sometimes later. When I worked, I left the house no later than 0600, but for the last 7-8 years of my career I would leave around 0500 or earlier if it was necessary – mostly to avoid traffic and the sun coming up in your face going east. That meant that a paper that came to my home at 0730 was not picked up by me until 1700 or later when I finally got home – and the news was pretty “stale” by that time. It was truly a waste of money to take the paper.

    So, MANY years ago, I stopped taking the Camera (never took the Post or Rocky) because basically it was just being accumulated as waste to be recycled. When I go on a trip, I usually stay at a hotel that will provide the USA Today or Wall Street Journal to guests – and I’ll read those – do the crosswords, sudoko, cryptograms, read the sports and comics and general world news. But, I’m not interested in USA today at my home … probably because it would be delivered by US mail, and that’s never delivered before 1500 in the afternoon out here in the unincorporated county.

    Enter the new age of electronic media. Whenever I get up, I can turn on my computer, pull up my favorite news, weather, sports, comics – whatever – site and read the news. But, typically I don’t. I have other sources for items I think are of significance and they rarely include the more traditional media outlets. Sometimes, I just shake my head in wonder that people actually feed on this garbage that is being passed off as “news.”

    We have ONE local TV station that has started to have a half-hour news program at 6pm that really doesn’t focus on partisan politics, but on issues that the public thinks are LOCAL matters – like, “is the A-train running today?” or “did you know about this or that development project that’s coming (another IKEA store up in the north part of town to balance out the one way down south), or the status of Denver’s bid for the new Amazon headquarters project. And, they take the trouble to do a lot of what I’ll call “feel good” pieces – so I don’t get so depressed by the gloom-and-doomer news correspondents that are trying to whip people up in a frenzy about their cause du jour.

    Sorry it’s come to that, but the numbers are what drives news – whether the numbers are conservatives, liberals, democrats, republicans, old people, young people, people of color, whites, religious sects, LBGT, or whatever. If the numbers aren’t there, then the profits aren’t there, and the business goes under – that’s business in today’s world. Part of that I attribute to the lack of willingness of too many people to LISTEN to (I didn’t say agree with) the other side’s arguments. It’s all becoming a politicized blur – and most of it is nothing but pure blather and not worth my time to listen to it even if it’s only noise in the background.

    So, I see your papers down in Tampa (I lived in Tampa in 4th grade for about 8 months) are struggling just like Denver – and I suspect the result will be essentially the same – migration to electronic delivery – you’re only inconveniencing a few electrons, not using up paper (natural) resources and having to hire delivery personnel (which only raises prices and results in more ads to subsidize the operation). Sad, but sadly true.

    Like

  13. Tim Bryce said

    An M.W. of Moneta, Virginia wrote…

    We get two newspapers for the reason you mention- we like to sit down and read the paper with our morning coffee. The Roanoke Times is crap. We get it for the local news more than anything. They don’t even bother pretending to be an unbiased source of the news. Often I feel as if I’m reading something written by a high schooler. The Wall Street Journal is a pretty good source of the news and most of their editorial writers are top notch- Kimberly Strassel, Daniel Henniger and Jason Riley to name a few. You might want to consider getting the WSJ on a trial basis. The trial is pretty reasonable.

    Like

  14. Tim Bryce said

    A B.B. of Clearwater, Florida wrote…

    Great article! Never saw such biased news! Few good items left are puzzles.

    Like

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