Five things I think I think about today’s St. Petersburg Times and other media

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With Janet Zink leaving the St. Petersburg Times to be the spokesperson for Tampa International Airport, it got me thinking about which other prominent Florida journalists have left the industry for a communications position.  Abel Harding left his job at the Florida Times-Union to be Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown’s spokesman.  Lane Wright parted ways with the Sunshine State News to be press secretary for Governor Rick Scott.  Many years ago, Wayne Garcia moved from the newsroom of the Tampa Tribune for a career in political consulting.

There have to be more examples of this interesting career path; more cases of journalist-turned-operative.  If you know of one, leave it in the comments section.

This is just a minor issue which probably doesn’t matter much in the scope of things, but it reveals a shortcut journalists occasionally take.

William March wrote a blog post yesterday titled “Gingrich, Huntsman diss P5” about how the two presidential candidates have made comments recently disparaging the Republican Party of Florida’s upcoming straw poll.

But was Huntsman really talking about the RPOF?  That’s what you’re to assume when you read a headline like “Gingrich, Huntsman diss P5” and the paragraph:

In a New Hampshire town hall meeting Tuesday night, Huntsman told voters their primary was more important than “a hokey party straw poll … You have to earn the votes.”

The reader of that paragraph is left to believe that Huntsman was talking about Florida.  However, Huntsman was actually referring to the Iowa straw poll, according to his spokesman Tim Miller who emailed me a clarification.

March should have been more clear in his reporting.

Speaking of March, not to dog him too much more, but the Tampa Tribune‘s Fresh Squeezed Politics blog missed a golden opportunity on Monday when the presidential political circus came to Tampa for the CNN/Tea Party debate.  With all that was going on, March, Christian Wade and Co. posted just four stories to the blog about the debate.  Sure, sure, March’s print story about the debate was a decent read, but didn’t occur to anyone at the Trib to ‘flood the zone’ and cover the hell out of the debate with running updates, video posts, etc.?

Alright, one more dig at the Tampa Tribune.  Do the editors understand just how out-of-date and poorly designed their ‘Political’ page is?

Issue #1: One of the most prominent graphics is about a ‘word cloud’ about Rick Scott’s first 100 days, which was months ago:

Issue #2: I’m not sure what the point of this ‘Political Advertisments’ section is, but it features links for Alex Sink and Jim Piccillo, both of whose campaigns ended ten months ago.

Issue #3: The Trib’s political blog roll, which features at least two sites which have not existed in years (Interstate4Jamming was last updated in 2007):

This is simply one of the best Tweets I’ve read in a long time.  From the Miami Herald‘s Marc Caputo:

@MarcACaputo: Bad economy blowing coke out of South Florida noses bit.ly/pWCaHO

My feud with Bay News 9 analyst Chris Ingram (I’m not going to give him the credit of describing him as a political consultant since he hasn’t showed up on a campaign treasurer’s expenditure report in quite a while) is well-documented.  That said, I still read his blog on the rare occasion he actually posts something new.

His latest post is an invitation to Mark Sharpe’s campaign fundraiser.  Ingram is on the host committee for this event, which, to me, presents a couple of interesting issues besides making me question Sharpe’s common sense.

First, should the local political analyst for a television station really be on the host committee for an event for any candidate?  I understand Bay News 9 allows Ingram to still engage in partisan activities, while providing analysis for their political coverage, but that doesn’t make it right from a journalistic standpoint.  Certainly Bay News 9 knew it what it was getting into when it hired Ingram to be its Republican color commentator, so my issue here isn’t with Ingram, it’s with Bay News 9 for employing active partisan agent, regardless of whether its Chris Ingram.

But, as far it relates to Chris Ingram, here is my second point: what a nice guy Chris Ingram is to serve on the host committee of the candidate running against the daughter of his Bay News 9 colleague Betty Castor.

Ingram serving on Sharpe’s host committee, while Castor has an obvious interest in promoting her daughter has to make you wonder about what kind of coverage we’ll see from Bay News 9 about what could be one of the most competitive Congressional races in the country.

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.