With Super Bowl behind us, will layoffs begin for Tampa media?
Last night's historic Super Bowl was a fitting capper to a long week of coverage for area media outlets -- most of whom generated special print sections, special TV broadcasts, special Web sites and acres of additional coverage.
It was an all-hands-on-deck level event for most local news shops, already buffetted a bit by layoffs or buyouts last year. But now the question arises: with the year's biggest local news story behind us, will there be more layoffs in Tampa Bay area media?
Media General, the Richmond Va.-based owner of WFLA-Ch. 8 and the Tampa Tribune, faces the most persistent rumors. Whispers that the newspaper might significantly downsize after the Super Bowl grew to such a volume, that the company built an advertising campaign around assuring readers that the newspaper was here to stay.
But the company announced an $85.5-million loss in the fourth quarter, announcing plans to suspend its dividend and sell WCWJ-TV in Jacksonville (not surprisingly, the company will suspend the monthly revenue reports which have created a deluge of bad news about the company, spotlighting losses in Florida). Industry Web sites last week also listed job cuts at Media General Tv stations across the country.
And Media General is not alone. The St. Petersburg Times announced plans last week to sell Congressional Quarterly, Inc., citing a decision to direct resources toward the newspaper. Both CBS Radio and Clear Channel Radio have instituted layoffs locally, Tampa-based alternative newspaper chain Creative Loafing is in bankruptcy and Sarasota's 24-hour cable newschannel Six News Now shut down last week when plans unraveled to sell it to a group of investors which included its top manager.
With so much to do in Tampa for the Super Bowl, further cutbacks may have been difficult. Now that the event is over, questions naturally turn to the future.
This year increasingly looks to be just as tough financially as the year before, if not worse; with a big story in the rearview mirror, how many area media outlets will use the opportunity to cut costs further?