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What I Think of the Times Changing Its Name

Posted By Ester Venouziou, Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 01, 2011
My former employer, the St. Petersburg Times, announced today that on Jan. 1, 2012, it will change its name to Tampa Bay Times.

The newspaper, like the cities and communities it covers, will "have a stronger future as part of a dynamic Tampa Bay region,” Times CEO/Chairman Paul Tash said.

The news didn't come as a huge surprise to me. The Times had already split its identity years ago when it switched its website from to, and even before that when it started its weekly tab edition called tbt* (aka tampa bay times).  And in the past few weeks, I'd heard buzz around town that a name change was pending.

I agree the new name much better reflects the newspaper's coverage area and focus. If I were starting a newspaper to cover the Tampa Bay region, I'd call it the Tampa Bay Times, not the St. Petersburg Times.
Seventy-five percent of the paper's readers live outside St. Petersburg, according to Tash.

But ... they're not starting a new newspaper. They're messing with tradition. They have a name that's well-established and well-branded. Everyone knows the St. Pete Times!

Reaction in the community seems to be split, as is generally the case whenever a big change is announced.  Many longtime St. Pete residents feel this is a slap in the face; they say their hometown paper is abandoning its roots. But many others (in and outside of St. Pete) say they understand, and that what matters is the content, not so much the name.

I understand both sides.

And I think changing the name is a bad idea. Partly for nostalgic reasons, but mostly for economic ones.

Will the name change bring more advertisers? I doubt it. As a businesses owner, I don't care what the paper is called. I don't even care much what's in the paper, as long as the advertising works and it brings me new customers.

Will the name change bring more readers? It will gain some, and it will lose some. (See LocalShops1 poll.) Readers care about content, and as long as the Times offers what they want (quality journalism, plus comics and coupons), the readers will be there.

Rebranding is very expensive. Think of all the new banners, paper racks, promotional swag, billboards, huge signs all over all the sports arenas. They'll need to redo all their television commercials, all their radio ads, everything.

Is this the right time to be spending all this money? Isn't the Times, like many other newspapers, struggling for life? Didn't the Times just finish slashing its staff, saying it had to put a stop to the financial bleeding?

Did the Times get rid of us so it could buy new banners?

Are you starting over after a layoff? We want to hear your story! Please email us at, and include your story and contact info. We will try to include as many stories as possible in future blogs.

Ester Venouziou, founder of and co-founder of Gulfport! Magazine, is available for freelance projects: writing, editing, design or social media. She can be reached at or 727.637.5586.

Tags:  paul tash  st. petersburg times  st. petersburg times layoffs  tampa bay times  times to change its name 

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