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Another nail in the coffin for the Times

in The Bay and the 'Burg by
The Poynter Institute, owner of the Times Publishing Company, publisher of the St. Petersburg Times is looking to sell what has become a Washington, DC institution – CQ or Congressional Quarterly. CQ is an inside the beltway publication that is heavily relied upon by Congressional offices, lobbyists and trade associations for update information on what is happening on the floor. As a boutique publication (actually, it is an umbrella for a number of subscription websites and publications) whose clientele are not likely to see their need for its services decrease, CQ should be relatively immune to the media downturn that is killing the newspapers and magazines. But, in the words of one CQ staffer, “there’s a realization that St. Pete is willing to cannibalize CQ to save [the St. Petersburg Times].” This a prestigious publication and it is obvious that the St. Petersburg Times is in more trouble than any of us thought. — From Campaign Manager.
More trouble than any of us thought? Actually, this is exactly the kind of trouble I knew the Times was in, especially after all the buyouts last year. You cannot sustain a business model in which you suffer double-digit loses of revenue year after year. And that’s what is happening to the newspaper business. Plus, the Times transition onto the web has been nothing but clumsy. Again, nothing but clumsy. Cobbling a collection of so-called blogs does not make it a news organization. For example, it’s redundant to go onto their website, then have to click on a blog titled “This Just In” to read the news. The news should be on the front page! And that’s just one of at least a hundred mistakes they are making with their online delivery system.
You know, I used to worry about what the Times “thinks” — which candidates it would portray in a more favorable light, how would it cover certain issues I care about, even what would they write about me. That’s when I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Blogs. I have a deep affection for the Times, so its difficult to see it go through such a trying period. But that newspaper has done it to itself (putting the entertainment section on the second page of the local section??? That is the stupidest layout decision in all of contemporary journalism. Look at every other major newspaper and none has such a glaring, gaping hole of a mistake as the Times decision to put articles about Britney Spears next to those about Howard Rosenthal.
I wager the Times has, what, five years left before it is an online-only news organization. But if it doesn’t start righting the ship soon, it may not last that long.

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.

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