This is the season for giving thanks and a time to reflect. Personally, I am grateful to our subscribers, and especially to the thousands of you who have donated to our funds that support our journalism.
As the news publishing business continues to change, support from readers has become increasingly important to all of us at the Tampa Bay Times. Grants and donations help us diversify our revenue with the goal to serve our community for generations to come.
In return, you deserve to know what dividends your investment in local journalism is paying. Here are just a few examples:
- Inside a Tampa factory that recycles batteries, Corey Johnson, Rebecca Woolington and Eli Murray found disturbing levels of lead and other harmful chemicals poisoning the workers. Regulators followed up with federal and county investigations and fines.
- At the Tampa police department, Christopher O’Donnell, Ian Hodgson and Nathaniel Lash showed how police urged landlords to evict entire families over tenants’ minor arrests. Within days, the city scaled back the program, and other cities halted similar practices altogether.
- At a Hillsborough County high school, Bethany Barnes revealed how students had initiated an investigation of a teacher who was making sexually suggestive overtures. Bethany’s story prompted other students to come forward.
- At a Pasco County nonprofit, Barbara Behrendt chronicled cases of sexual harassment by the boss. The organization cut the executive director loose and revamped its board of directors.
- In a pocket of north Pinellas, Tracey McManus exposed a developer’s plan to build homes on 44 pristine acres, despite the wishes of the woman who had owned the land until she died. The community raised millions in private donations to put the land in public hands.
- Inside the intensive care unit of Clearwater’s biggest hospital, Lane DeGregory and John Pendygraft took readers along on a 12-hour shift as doctors and nurses stood up to a wave of COVID cases. Most of the patients, all unvaccinated, would die. Readers said the story persuaded them to get the vaccine.
- Around Tampa Bay, Paul Guzzo found more lost burial grounds. Over the last two years, Paul’s reporting has led to the discovery of more than 1,500 graves of mostly Black men, women and children.
Those highlights stand out against a body of steady, strong, local reporting from throughout the Times’ newsroom. We’ve covered every aspect of the pandemic, from our neighbors’ physical health to the health of our economy. We’ve stayed on top of developments in our schools and at our cultural institutions.
We flagged the persistent failures of the state’s unemployment benefits system and the environmental catastrophe of an abandoned phosphate mine at Piney Point. And when everybody needed a lift, we chronicled and celebrated the triumphs of the Bucs, Lightning and Rays.
The work is demanding, and these are difficult times. But we see the difference our journalism can make.
In June, a Times investigation into the Pasco County sheriff’s department won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting. Reporters Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi exposed how deputies harassed local residents, including school kids. That series, Targeted, sparked multiple investigations, legal challenges and — ultimately — restrictions on the program.
It was the 13th Pulitzer for the Times. We’re the only news organization to receive journalism’s highest honor three times in the local reporting category. That says a lot about our focus and our commitment.
In an age of corporate media ownership, the Times remains locally owned and independent. This is our home, and we are determined to tell the story of Tampa Bay.
Your subscriptions, your contributions and words of encouragement have buoyed and inspired us throughout 2021. It means the world that our readers trust the Times.
You’ve been there for us. And it’s our honor to be here for you.
Mark Katches is the editor of the Tampa Bay Times. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at @markkatches