5 things I think I think about the Tampa Bay Times and other media

in Uncategorized by

The Tampa Bay Times coverage going in to Tuesday’s presidential primary was, as usual, stellar.  Alex Leary and Adam Smith were windows into the state for the rest of the country.  A day did not go by when Smith or Leary or PolitiFact or the Times‘ partners at the Miami Herald were not cited or interviewed or quoted dozens of times.  It was great, team effort by the reporters at the Times.

That said, the Times’ coverage on Election Day itself leaves something to be desired. On Tuesday, I counted only about twelve or fifteen items on the Buzz blog being posted, including easy-gets like press released statements from politicians.  A dozen or so posts from the state’s leading newspaper on the day of a presidential primary?  That’s not only light, that’s only a disservice to readers hungry for information, it’s almost another indication that the Times still has no clue what to do online.

If I were in charge of Adam Smith, I would have had him camped out in front of a TV camera doing national interviews, while writing thirty or forty blog items ala Ezra Klein or Andrew Sullivan.

I think another one of the challenges the editors at the Times face is what to do with the PolitiFact team on Election Day.  There seemed to be some sort of effort to inject them into the Election Day coverage, an effort which was very square-peg-into-round-hole.  Elections are their own facts.

By the way, there was all but nothing on the Bay Buzz on Tuesday about the five local elections on the ballot, but there being nothing on the Bay Buzz is hardly surprising. Again, if I were her editor, I would have had local beat reporter Anne Lindberg live-blogging news nuggets, photos, turnout figures, etc., throughout the day.

Actually, the best read from the Times on Election Day may have been — surprise — Eric Deggans’ piece about the world’s media turning its eyes to Tampa Bay.  Deggans offers a very interesting (and promising if you are, like me, in the media-buying business) nugget:

According to Media Life magazine, Tampa area TV stations are expecting $40-million in political ad spending over the course of 2012, just in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. A large portion of that haul, $23-million, is expected in the fourth quarter close to the general election.

NPR profiled the Times Pulitzer Prize winning political reporter Lucy Morgan here.

I am still trying to figure out if it was genius or a waste for Bay News 9 to station ace reporter Troy Kinsey in the Secretary of State Kurt Browning”s office in Tallahassee throughout Election Day.  Unfortunately for BN9, the elections proceeded so smoothly, there was little controversy coming out of Browning’s office.  Still, Kinsey made it fun, offering via his Twitter account, election results from even the most remote parts of the state.

My issues with Chris Ingram, Bay News 9’s political analyst, are well-documented.  That said, I don’t know how anyone stomachs watching him parse election results.  Ingram is so desperate to break through to the next media level that he’s given up doing the one thing for which he was once respected: going against the Republican grain.

Ingram’s annoying desire to move up, paired with Al Reuchel’s saccharined approach and Kathy Castor’s vapidness may make Bay News 9 hard to watch throughout the rest of this election cycle.

How hard would it have been for the Tampa Tribune to send a photographer, you know, down the street to capture a decent photo of Mitt Romney delivering his victory speech at the Tampa Convention Center? Instead, the Tribune relied on a photo from the Associated Press.

This is a really fun, interesting story from 10 News about which local athletes and sports teams contribute to political campaigns.

While former Tampa Bay stars like Warren Sapp, Dave Andrychuk, and Wade Boggs have all made contributions to local politicians, it has been members of the Bucs who have dominated the donating in recent years.

Despite the sponsor’s plea to move out of the “horse and buggy days,” a House panel Tuesday killed a bill that could have led to foreclosure notices disappearing from newspapers and going to Internet sites.

Siding with the newspaper industry and groups such as AARP, the NAACP and Associated Industries of Florida, the House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted 9-5 to reject HB 149.

Sponsor Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, argued that county clerks of court should be able to decide whether to continue the decades-old practice of publishing foreclosure notices in newspapers or placing them on non-newspaper websites. He described a state law requiring newspaper publication as “corporate welfare” for the industry and as an outdated monopoly.

“They’re up here protecting their interests,” Baxley said. “I’m trying to show you the future.”

But newspaper-industry officials said most papers already put notices online, along with publishing them in print. Also, opponents of the bill said many seniors, minorities and people in rural areas don’t have ready access to the Internet or don’t feel comfortable using it.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo predicted that 2012 will be “the Twitter election,” reports Tech Crunch.

Said Costello: “Candidates who don’t participate on Twitter while the debates are going on will be left behind because the next morning is too late to respond.”

Editor for interactivity and community Jon DeNunzio announces a new approach to comment moderation at washingtonpost.com, aimed at fostering “smarter, livelier and more civil conversations.” The Post will be more aggressive about banning low-quality commenters, deleting any name-calling and insults, and eliminating the trolls who try “to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations.” There is positive reinforcement coming as well: More badges for good commenters and more Post reporters posting comments. (Via Jeff Soderman)

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.