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5 things I think about today’s St. Petersburg Times

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by

A few quick hits before a screed I did not get to finish yesterday…

There are just great reads abound in today’s paper, albeit many of the stories are heartbreakingly tragic, especially, the report that three Florida panthers were killed by cars on three consecutive days last weekend and have pushed the total of road deaths for the state animal to the point where it is on pace to top last year’s record of 17.

I’m still peeved about Michael Van Sickler’s non-story hit piece on Jeff Copeland.  And that was published on Sunday.  Why am I peeved today?  Well, every time I talk about the story someone gives me their reason why they are upset about the article.  I was talking with a prominent community activist who works on several environment causes and she wondered why no reporter has ever asked her, as Van Sickler did Jeff Copeland, where she gets her money from, or as Van Sickler phrased it to Copeland, “How do you survive?”  What, the black dude can’t volunteer on a several political causes?  Man, if Van Sickler had asked me that question, I would have responded very politely and said, “I survive by telling people like you to go fuck yourself.”

Ran into Van Sickler having coffee with the effervescent, but loquacious former city lobbyist Laura Boehmer.  Wonder what story that conversation will lead to…

I have no segue to offer from Boehmer to Dale Chihuly, but I am beginning to wonder where the Times has been on covering the palatable excitement.  I’ve been walking around with my paint-splattered shoes for a while, but only now is Lennie Bennett writing about how the Morean Arts Center will customize your kicks to welcome Glass Master Dale. It’d be nice for the newspaper to highlight some of the other efforts being done in anticipation of the opening of the Chihuly Museum.

Finishing the Sunday edition of the New York Times is such a herculean task that, in addition to inspiring the hilarious YouTube spoof below, it saps all the enjoyment out of reading the local newspaper.  Often, my copy of the Sunday edition of the St. Petersburg Times does not get finished before The Tuodors and Treme come on late Sunday night.  And, by that time, I am pooped.

So I can’t say that my favorite day to read the St. Petersburg Times is on Sunday.  For me, Wednesday’s edition is the best.  Readers get both a Neighborhood Times section and a Taste section. Not bad for a weekday.

Yesterday’s Taste section was as enticing as always, splashing a little food porn right on the front page.  Pictured is a brat with cherries and bacon, joined by spinach salad with mahogany roasted mushrooms and onions.  Laura Reiley pens a charming review of an Australian pizza joint, which serves Tasmanian pepperberry kangaroo pizza, among other offerings.

Realizing that I’ve been pretty nice this morning in my daily critique of the Times, I now want to veer back to my normal critical self.  Reading the Taste section, which is as good a stand alone foodie section as you can find this side of Manhattan, I went to look for the online version of some of the articles from the section.  Unfortunately, they are hard to find, much to the Times‘ loss.

For a variety of reasons, the topics of food, dining and wine are rampantly discussed online.  You can’t use a search engine without running into some sort of blog, guide, ranking system or website devoted to food and wine.  These very tactile subjects just seem to lend themselves naturally to the virtual world. Yet, the St. Petersburg Times doesn’t seem to want to take advantage of this situation.

The newspaper has all the content it needs and then some to feed, literally, a comprehensive, maybe even stand-alone, site about the local food and wine scene.  Yet, it cedes this territory to Chowhound, Zagat’s, etc.  And the information it does have online is buried in the generically titled “Things to Do” section.  Great food.  Great wine.  These are not just things to do.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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