5 things I think I think about today's Tampa Bay Times

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First and foremost, thank you to all of those at the Tampa Bay Times, including Eric Deggans, Amy Hollyfield, Anna Phillips, Mark Puente, John Romano, and Adam Smith, who have reached out personally — via email, Facebook, text or Twitter — with well-wishes about the birth of our daughter Ella Joyce.

Being named the TimesWinner of the Week in Florida politics for the birth of Ella — and for not live-tweeting her delivery — was also a nice touch both Michelle and I appreciated.

A day-early Happy Birthday wish to the best political reporter of them all, Lucy Morgan.

The sale of the Tampa Tribune to a California-based private equity firm for $9.5 million is still being discussed within local media circles.

My first thought is: Only $9.5 million?

I know what the revenue stream looks like for SaintPetersBlog.com, and while it’s nowhere near ten million dollars, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that this website is worth seven figures. Especially if you employ the math Time Warner did when it acquired the Huffington Post.

Yet, somehow, with all of those employees and decades of tradition and a building and a printing press and delivery trucks and ink by the barrell, the Tampa Tribune is worth just eight Taco Bell franchises?

The Trib’s website alone should be worth five million and yet the whole operation sold for just under ten mil.

I really, really don’t get that.

No one at the Times seems to dislike the Tampa Tribune more than editor Aaron Sharockman, who rarely misses an opportunity to tweak the Trib on Twitter, such as on Monday when he snarked:

@asharock: Trib columns on its sale are entertaining. My favorite: Henderson calling the Times “relentless self-promoters” in a self-promoting column

It’s almost as if the Tribune once passed over a teenage Sharockman for a paper route, he loathes the Trib that much.

Wait, wait, if there is one person at the Times who rrreeeaaalllyyy doesn’t care for the Tribune, it’s publisher Paul Tash.

When asked for comment about the sale of his competitors across the bay, Tash deigned to say, “The terms for the sale of the Tampa Tribune reflect the Times‘ dominance in the Tampa Bay marketplace.”


So what if hundreds of his fellow journalists just had their world turned upside-down! To Tash, it’s just another step in the Times‘ march to complete world dominance — or at least dominance of Lutz and Temple Terrace.

Imagine if Paul Tash was your neighbor and you just walked next door to tell him that the house down the block had just sold. “The terms of the sale of Frank’s house reflect my home’s dominance in this neighborhood,” is about what you’d get from good neighbor Tash.

Not ‘Sorry to see the Joneses move.’

Not ‘I wonder who the new neighbors will be.’

Just, ‘Good, now my property value just went up.’

Give the manifest destiny routine a break for a moment, Mr. Tash.

Speaking of which, notice how no other media outlet covered the sale of the Tribune more than the Times? Heck, the Times did a better job covering the Tribune than the Tribune did.

They’re not equivalent stories, but it would have been nice to see the Times, including media critic Eric Deggans, pay one-tenth the amount of attention it did to the Tribune‘s sale to the enormous mistakes the Times made in its coverage of equity firm Blackstone’s non-plans to purchase $1 billion in local real estate.

Earlier this year, the Tampa Bay Times shifted away from supporting St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster on most issues and began to openly attack him. In fact, I believe it was this March 3 op-ed that was the beginning of the end of the Times‘ honeymoon with Foster.

The Times has done such a good job of covering the Mayor recently and holding his feet to the fire on so many issues like the reimbursement for the RNC pre-party and the lack of leadership on the budget, that I am left in awe of how well the Times is doing its.

The coverage of City Hall by Mark Puente is the best this beat’s seen since 2009 when Aaron Sharockman worked it like a pup chasing a bumper.

My friends at the Bill Foster Watch counted no less than 12 articles exposing Bill Foster’s stumbles in the last month alone, with the last being this editorial published on Saturday entitled “Poor leadership at budget crunch time“. The Times places blame on both council and the Mayor, but other recent columns, including ones by Sandra Gadsden and John Romano make it clear the newspaper blames Foster much more than council.

I hope that the Times keeps this up through the election next year, because if they do, St. Petersburg might be Foster-free in 2013!

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.