Tuesday, December 16, 2008

'Tampa Tribune' Accuses 'St. Pete Times' Of Spreading Rumor It's Ceasing Print Publication

CHICAGO; Tampa Tribune's top executives took to the newspaper Sunday to vigorously rebut rumors that it was moving to online-only publication -- whispers spread by the rival St. Petersburg Times."

In the past few weeks, rumors have swirled around this community and the journalism industry about the future of The Tampa Tribune," wrote Executive Editor Janet Coats and President and Publisher Denise Palmer. Some spreading the reports confused the Tampa Tribune, published by Richmond-based Media General Inc., for a Tribune Co.-owned paper, they said. Chicago-based Tribune last week sought bankruptcy protection. "

While that confusion is understandable, even more disturbing has been the persistent rumor that we're going to close the Tribune after the Super Bowl, relying on our Web site, TBO.com, as the conduit for our journalism and advertising," they continued. "The Tallahassee Democrat reported that rumor as fact, and we demanded a correction.

Subscription solicitation crews, working for the St. Petersburg Times, spread rumors that the Tribune is closing in January. We have asked the Times to stop the solicitors from spreading this lie."The Times responded that the rumor had been repeated by employees for an independent contractor who solicits for subscriptions. The contractor has replaced those employees, the paper said.

Coats and Palmer wrote that they were particularly irritated by the rumor because it is the Times, run by a foundation, that has actually cut deeper into its product."It makes sense that one of those (Tampa-area) newspapers would face a greater struggle, and be forced to cut a larger number of pages and reduce local news coverage more than its competitor," they wrote.

"That's what has happened in Tampa. But the newspaper doing all the cutting is not the one you may think. It's time to set the record straight."Coats and Palmer asserted that in the first 10 days of December, the Tribune published 420 pages of news, while the Times published 404.The Tribune executives said their paper gets more attention because it is owned by a publicly traded company that makes information available -- and because the Tampa paper "has been more forthcoming about the reductions in staff and pages that we have made because we believe that newspapers, like the government institutions we cover, have an obligation to act in the sunshine and be accountable to our communities.

"Other media companies in this market have made a different choice," they said.Tampa has been an especially difficult market in a state that has been harsher on newspapers than any other, with the possible exception of California. The Florida housing collapse has cut deeply into all advertising categories newspapers depend upon.

Nationwide newspaper problems, in its filing Monday 12/08/08 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, the Tribune listed assets of $7.6 billion and liabilities of nearly $13 billion owed to more than 1,000 creditors, including lender JP Morgan Chase Bank, which is the administrator for $8.5 billion in debt. Other unsecured creditors include Merrill Lynch Capital Corp., Warner Bros. Television and Paramount Pictures Corp.


Bill Warner
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WBI Inc Private Detective Agency
Phone 941-926-1926