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Mitch Perry Report for 5.4.16 – Trib out

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The news yesterday that the Tampa Bay Times and absorbed the assets of the crosstown rival Tampa Tribune marks the end of rumors which I can recount starting back in 2008.

That’s when stories surfaced that the paper would fold after the 2009 Super Bowl; That didn’t come to pass. Then the rumor was the Trib would fold after the 2012 Republican National Convention. That too proved to be false.

It’s no longer false, and our community is less for it.

I’m not sure how many cities/regions maintain two daily newspapers. When I moved here from San Francisco in April of 2000, one of the delights was the fact that there were two robust print organizations to keep everyone in check. The Tribune always reminded me of the old San Francisco Examiner, which my family subscribed to and I read daily in the 70s, 80s and up to the mid-90s. The Examiner didn’t espouse a conservative bent like Mother Trib has, and it was an afternoon paper, not competing directly against the San Francisco Chronicle in the morning. But everybody seemingly read the Chron, whereas the Examiner was the little guy trying to hang in there. That’s what I always thought of the Tribune.

The biggest story of course is, who remains, personnel wise? And how many reporters can the Times keep on? We’ll obviously find out soon enough, but with a rumored 100 people said to be getting the ax, we know that there will be far too many talented staffers who for the short term at least, will be without immediate work. Yes, a two-month severance eases the pain, but only momentarily.

I am bummed out. I’ve read the Tribune every day that I’ve lived in Tampa (as I’ve read the Times). You wouldn’t believe how many “elite” media people in this town haven’t for a while, though. They all had reverence for the Times — perhaps too much, sometimes.

So the Times now “owns” the Tampa Bay market, the 13th biggest in the nation, and the biggest in the Sunshine State.

Things have changed. It was less than two years ago that Paul Tash essentially told many reporters that with the economic conditions going on with the paper, that if they could find another gig, they should.

Out went folks like Peter Jamison, Michael Kruse, Will Hobson, Susan Thurston and many others.

More than ever, the remaining print/digital operations have to continue to step it up and refuse to concede to the Times’ hegemony. I’m talking about the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Creative Loafing, and yes, those of us who work at this website (SaintPetersBlog.com & FloridaPolitics.com).

In other news …

Eric Lynn finally drops out of the CD 13 race against Charlie Crist and promptly joins a competitive Democratic primary in HD 68 in Pinellas County.

Tampa attorney Barry Cohen is being sued by a man who said he consulted with him privately regarding a whistleblower suit, then faced a second whistleblower lawsuit from an attorney aligned with Cohen.

A digital ad goes after Pam Bondi and the other Republican Attorneys General who oppose President Obama‘s clean power plan on World Asthma Day.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign base in Florida will be in Tampa.

Tampa House Republicans predict Rick Scott will not get the Legislature’s $250 million blessing for Enterprise Florida that he was denied this year.

After the latest Go Hillsborough debacle, some folks are reviving talk of getting the Legislature to back a measure that would allow cities like Tampa to host their own tax referendums. But if Ed Narain’s comment was a trial balloon yesterday, it blew up.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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