Today marks a milestone for the Tampa Bay Times and this region we call home. The Times becomes the area's sole daily newspaper, with a reach and responsibility that transcends geography and county lines. This occasion has been decades in the making, reflecting the growth of Tampa Bay, the economic realities of the news business in the digital age and our unwavering commitment to remain a locally owned, independent news organization.
As an institution and as individuals, we long have been part of the entire Tampa Bay region. We live here, we work here and we raise our families here. We want the region to grow and prosper, along with all of our communities that each have their own character and charm. We are proud of the excellent work our journalists have been doing for years, which has been recognized by a dozen Pulitzer Prizes. It is a firm foundation we will build upon for future generations in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties.
Our name change from the St. Petersburg Times to the Tampa Bay Times four years ago signaled our deep affection for the region and better described our geographic footprint. Today is the inevitable step toward strengthening that bond, guided by optimism and a deep belief our future is brightest if we continue uniting as a region and working toward common goals.
Tampa Bay is strongest when it embraces regionalism. Tampa International Airport is world class and expanding. Port Tampa Bay is investing to benefit from the expanded Panama Canal and trade opportunities with Cuba that appear just around the corner. The University of South Florida is flourishing and a leading economic engine. The Buccaneers, Lightning and Rays are regionwide professional sports franchises whose fans cross the bridges in both directions. Similarly, this news organization is a regional asset with a national reputation and an unwavering determination to rank among the best. The Times now becomes the nation's eighth-largest newspaper daily and the fifth-largest on Sunday.
From television ratings to business climate studies, from the halls of government in Washington to Tallahassee, Tampa Bay is viewed as one diverse region with enormous untapped potential — sometimes diminished by unclear priorities and parochial reflexes. As a region, we must keep working together to face our biggest challenges. We desperately need a modern regional transit system to attract new businesses and younger residents. Our business recruitment efforts should focus on creating good jobs throughout the area, not moving them from one county to the other. We have successfully tackled regional issues such as managing our drinking water, and we can meet these challenges as well if we keep our focus, build consensus and work together toward common goals.
As Tampa Bay's largest news organization, we take seriously our role to help lead these public conversations and advocate for the region. We have added space and a broader range of views to the opinion pages. We also have added more local opinions, including a local editorial page in our new Tampa Tribune section in Hillsborough County.
Nelson Poynter, the last individual to own the Times, described responsibility for a news organization as a "sacred trust.'' He founded a school for journalists, and in an extraordinary act of public philanthropy, he left the newspaper to the school to ensure the Times would remain independent and locally owned. Today, we renew that promise for all of Tampa Bay.