On this day for new beginnings, we greet the new year with particular enthusiasm. This morning, this newspaper raises a new banner as the Tampa Bay Times. The change has been a long time coming, and it reflects our own growth and ambition for the region we proudly call home.
While our name is new, we carry forward the core values and journalistic standards established over more than a century as the St. Petersburg Times. Nelson Poynter, the last individual to own the Times, regarded responsibility for a news organization as a "sacred trust." He founded a school for journalists now named for him, and in a singular act of public philanthropy he left the newspaper to the school to ensure the Times would remain independent and locally owned.
Thirty-three years after his death, we are still guided by Mr. Poynter's faith in democracy and his deep affection for this place called Tampa Bay. We put the interests of our readers first, and we trust their ultimate judgment about the future of our community and the direction of our government. A fine newspaper has many dimensions, and we mean to both inform and entertain. But our first obligation is to give citizens the news and analysis they need to govern themselves, and to hold powerful institutions accountable.
On the opinion pages, our editorial voice remains strong in support of investments in the future — particularly in the areas of public education, environmental protection and health care. To support those investments, we have long advocated for fair state and federal tax systems. Our support for open government, civil rights and other individual liberties remains unwavering. We recognize the importance of both equal opportunity and personal responsibility. Everyone deserves a chance to succeed, but success is ultimately determined by individual choices.
Especially as we take this new name, we encourage leaders and citizens throughout Tampa Bay to cooperate across political boundaries to improve our collective quality of life. The vibrancy and personalities of our cities and neighborhoods, from the Sunshine Skyway to Weeki Wachee, from Ybor City to the Sponge Docks of Tarpon Springs, enrich our region and deserve celebration.
But our biggest ambitions and accomplishments — modern mass transit, world-class museums and sports teams, great universities, thriving enterprises — can be realized only by drawing upon the talents and resources of the entire region.
In creating a structure to keep the Times independent, Mr. Poynter used to say that every community deserves a newspaper that loves it best. Our home is Tampa Bay, and today our name reflects that deep affection.
Happy New Year.