Make us your home page

Embracing the Tampa Bay Times and letting go of the St. Pete Times

Tim White helps guide the new Tampa Bay Times sign into place at the Hernando Times building. The new name takes effect Sunday.


Tim White helps guide the new Tampa Bay Times sign into place at the Hernando Times building. The new name takes effect Sunday.

It was our tie to the urban south, to the journalistic big-time.

We in Hernando County weren't just reporters — and editors, columnists and photographers — for a medium-size newspaper in a medium-size community. We worked for a real metro daily. One of the best, we always believed: the St. Petersburg Times.

It's how we answered our phones, with the proud, snappy abbreviation: "St. Pete Times."

It's how we thought of ourselves.

More than a decade ago, when a reporter from a national magazine came to town to write about the media coverage of Hank Earl Carr's murderous rampage, she asked if the story should identify me as a reporter for the Hernando Times.

"That would be my worst nightmare," I told her.

As you know by now, the St. Petersburg Times — the name, not the newspaper (I hope) — is on its way to becoming a relic. The day after tomorrow, when you grab a copy from the familiar spot on the driveway or one of those familiar-looking green boxes and feel the familiar Sunday-paper heft, it will bear an unfamiliar name: Tampa Bay Times.

I think I speak for most rank-and-file employees when I say that, initially, I didn't care for it.

I flashed back to a few years ago, when I first saw our website, What sign was there on the site, at least that you could see without the help of a magnifying glass, to tell readers they were looking at the online version of the St. Petersburg Times? Why not at least pay homage to the mother publication with a little of its nameplate's characteristic archaic type?

Why turn our back on maybe the best, most-trusted brand name in Florida?

And now it's not just the website; it's the entire paper.

Imagine how you would feel if you found that the name of your hometown had been ash-canned on the advice of a marketing expert.

Well, I've worked here 22 years and have much more loyalty to this paper than I ever did to Glendale, Ohio. And I always found the name far less insipid. I like it a lot, as a matter of fact, especially when people called it, as they tended to, "St. Pete's Times," which implied a moral authority beyond even the winning of several Pulitzer Prizes.

I didn't mind that there is an identically named paper in Russia. The lead stories in the edition I have pinned to the inner wall of my cubicle say, basically, that Rasputin was framed and that Chernobyl was not all that bad. So, journalistically speaking, it's no threat. And all the cracks about our supposed communist sympathies that the name inspired from historically confused readers? (It's not as though we're the Leningrad Times, after all.) That was always funny to me.

So what did it feel like Wednesday, when we were issued new business cards identifying us as staffers of the Tampa Bay Times, when a cherry picker appeared in the parking lot to pull down the old sign?

Even with a couple of months to get used to the idea, it kind of stung.

We understand, of course. The paper is using the name "Tampa Bay" for the same reason as the Lightning and the Rays. We appeal to a metro-wide audience. We draw readers from the entire area and plan, eventually, to draw a lot more.

Hernando County is included in just about every definition of the Tampa Bay area, including, thankfully, this paper's.

Every year, it seems, we run more Hernando stories in the main news sections, a trend that will probably continue. I get the feeling that young reporters in this office think of themselves as writing for readers in Tampa Bay, not just Hernando or St. Petersburg.

In name and practice, in other words, we are becoming even more of a metro daily.

And the more I think about it, the more I find my own feelings match the feelings of readers. Most of the people who have called to complain are from St. Petersburg or Pinellas County. It's a little like this is a name change for their hometown.

The farther away people are, the less they seem to care.

I visit our main office in St. Petersburg about once a year and first have to drive around for a good long while, looking for the vaguely recognizable silhouette of the building, trying to remember whether it's on First Street or First Avenue.

As a reporter and columnist over the years, most of what I've written has appeared in the Hernando Times, which will continue to operate as is — same staff, same office, same name.

My sources are in Hernando, as are the people who read my columns — as are my family, my home and most of my friends.

So, really, who was I kidding? I've always worked for the Hernando Times.

Embracing the Tampa Bay Times and letting go of the St. Pete Times 12/29/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 29, 2011 10:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  2. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  3. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  4. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county


    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.
  5. Honda denies covering up dangers of Takata air bags


    With just a third of the defective Takata air bag inflators replaced nationwide, the corporate blame game of who will take responsibility — and pay — for the issue has shifted into another gear.

    Honda is denying covering up dangers of Takata air bags. | [Scott McIntyre, New York Times]