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Times pre-publishing online makes website look dated

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

This could be nothing or it could be a reason to not to subscribe to actual newspapers. Sure, the Tampa Bay Times now charges readers to look at online content on a regular basis, but even that system can be easily beat as long as you understand the concept of private browsing.

The Tampa Bay Times’ opinion section on its website appears to be pretty out of date for it being one of two major newspapers in the region. The most recent editorials are dated June 5. That’s Friday. Three days ago.

So, what? The Times’ editorial board is all on vacation? They ran out of opinions? No. That’s not it.

The Sunday paper was full of the usual array of editorials, columns and political cartoons as usual. They, it seems, were just written before Sunday.

For many, this is probably not news. But for those who religiously take in their news with a paper sprawled in front of them, coffee in hand, it may be a little frustrating to learn the “news” you’re taking in is a couple of days old. After all, this is 2015 when what happens in, say, Nepal is blasted over social media websites at hyper speed and reported within minutes.

Printing yesterday’s news is not unheard of. In fact, it’s pretty normal considering it takes time to, you know, actually print and deliver a truck load of papers to subscribers. But it does make the website look dated.

For example, the Tampa Tribune’s online opinion section lists an editorial from Monday about Tampa Stormwater fees. There’s one from Sunday arguing Congress has made the country less safe. The date on the online version matches the date in which it was published.

Over at the Times there are six editorials listed on the opinion page of the paper’s website dated Friday. Most of those were in print on Sunday.

An editorial published online Friday about Hillsborough County transit went to print in Sunday’s paper. A column borrowed (or more likely purchased) from The New York Times about Auschwitz was reprinted from April, based on a basic Google search.

The point is, what incentive is there to continue subscribing to a paper – one that physically shows up on your doorstep – instead of just reading the news online where it is typically available much sooner?

For starters, there’s that whole online subscription thing. But again, there’s an easy fix for that and subscribing to the website is cheaper than the paper, in most cases.

There are also some interesting features that appear in the Times print edition that are harder to find on the website. For example, a column previously appearing in The New York Times about dinosaurs (cool, right?) was reprinted in the Sunday Times. It’s available on the Times’ website and was two days before it was printed, but it’s slightly harder to find. You have to actually scroll to the bottom of the page to find it. That amount of scrolling in this day and age can be burdensome (queue sarcasm).

And of course, there is the simple feel of sitting on a patio Sunday morning with a cup of coffee, a bagel and a crisp smelling periodical. Those who appreciate that feeling will cling to their old-fashioned newspapers even if they already read the content two days prior.

Nevertheless, it may be yet another sign of the dwindling newspaper mentality that continues to shift toward online consumption.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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