Posted By Ester Venouziou,
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 1, 2011
| Comments (0)
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 sptimes.com to tampabay.com, 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
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
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
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?
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Ester Venouziou, founder of LocalShops1.com and co-founder
of Gulfport! Magazine, is available for freelance projects: writing,
editing, design or social media. She can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 727.637.5586.
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