The future of The Tampa Tribune has been in doubt ever since the newspaper sold its downtown Tampa building to a Miami developer.
At the time of the sale, Tribune Publisher Brian Burns said the paper would explore other options for printing, including contracting with other press operations or acquiring newer presses for printing at a new location.
Of course, there were very few options for Burns and Co. to explore. So on Monday, the Tribune announced that the Barzini family would do business with the Corleones, err, the Tribune would contract with the Times Publishing Co. to produce its newspaper.
As part of a five-year contract with Tampa Media Group, the Times will begin this month printing the Tribune and its affiliate publications Centro, Highlands Today and The Suncoast News as well as its commercial printing partners, the New York Post and the MacDill Thunderbolt, which is printed weekly for MacDill Air Force Base.
Meanwhile, the Hatfields and the McCoys have taken to Facebook to announce how they plan to vacation together during Spring Break.
This arrangement between the Tribune and the Times says a lot about each company’s financial fortunes, which are now partially intertwined. And, frankly, it has to be viewed as a win-win for both newspapers.
• Inking this deal with the Times is the best indication yet that the Tribune isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The Trib may no longer have the synergistic ambitions it once did, but it’s probably not going the mostly-digital way of other major newspapers, like the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
• The brokering of this deal is the clearest signal seen in a while that the Times is no longer trying to drive the Tribune out of business. For the better part of the last decade (or longer), it’s been Times Publisher Paul Tash‘s not-so-secret goal to drive the competition into the Bay. But now, instead of being its rival, the Tribune is the Times’ paying customer.
• Having the Tribune as a customer is a shot in the arm for the Times’ bottom line. It’s been widely reported, especially on this website, that the Times is in hock for a high-interest loan it took out to stay afloat. To pay off that loan, the Times has been selling its real estate assets. However, the fat has been cut, and all that is left is muscle. The Times has yet to sell its downtown headquarters (one former Timesman tells us a deal to sell the building to a Miami-based developer fell through), so this cash infusion comes at the right time.
Of course, not everyone has had positive things to say about the Trib-Times mash-up.
As one Tribuner remarked, “This is gonna be a Pompeii death cast, like the two people hugging each other as the lava flowed over them.”