– I guess it’s time to say goodbye…

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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 [email protected]

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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