Is the current goal of the Tampa Bay Times to simply one-up Creative Loafing and not to actually be a news organization that reports on the Tampa Bay metro area the state of Florida, and the United States? Maybe the print version is more news-traditiona., but the online site and its top-story headlines (on TampaBay.com or TBO.com) are anything but.
Wednesday, July 18th screenshots of the two news portals give you a glance at just what is taking priority:
Call me biased, call me small-minded perhaps, but with so much happening in the world, so many items of substance that affect people, so many events of negative and positive in the day to day life within the Tampa Bay metro region, how the living hell is a sales item at Publix a priority for reporting?? Since when is an amateur food tour relevant on a mid-week day in the region?
I hate to bring him up, but the President’s oft-used descriptive phrase is most fitting here: Fake news. What is being prioritized hee is closer to a distractive measure than actual relevant information.
While I cited Creative Loafing earlier in this piece, I’m not trying to fault the organization that offers a free weekly print paper. It’s casual, it’s leisurely. That’s what it has always been there for and built up its reputation through. The Tampa Bay Times originally sought to counter it with tbt*. To do it with the main page headlines and top stories on two news portals though? To brush off informing local citizens about events, incidents and politics in the region, state and the world around them? Instead to put priority on day-to-day personal life and casual antics? That’s a huge, huge step down from the respectable news organization the Times used to be.
In 2005, I penned a blog post that was inspired by the then-St. Petersburg Times had written an epic feature regarding the days of Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, had spent living in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. Being a Morrison fan and living only a handful of miles away from locations mentioned in the piece, I was blown away. I had known about Morrison having been born in south Florida but I didn’t know about this.
Part of what inspired the blog post was the fact social media wasn’t then what it is today. Not that writing a blog post was going to necessarily draw eyeballs. Yet to this day, Missing piece of history – Jim Morrison in Clearwater still draws web traffic because of Morrison’s romantic interest (and song inspiration) Mary Werbelow.
At any rate, to get to the point, the now- Tampa Bay Times has basically failed with how they treat their archives online, which now hides the articles on a for-profit site (…unless the Times plans to fix their “Page Not Found” issues on archival articles). Between this and my old blog post failure in being more direct and obvious on the link to the feature section from September 25, 2005, finding the feature reading is next to impossible.
In March I ran an article aimed at the Tampa Bay Times in an attempt to reach out to them in a pro business /funding kind of way. I cited the archives of their original web presence at sptimes.com which had existed since 1998 or thereabouts. Those archives lack any sort of generic advertising and only contained ambiguous links not within the articles (…which is another shortcoming that continues to this day; no linkage in articles).
Now, I don’t know how the Times operates its archives as this happened last year, I don’t know if the Times will be repairing the issue or took one of my suggested “save a dime” strategies and pulled down every archived article and feature, but as of this writing what all published pieces from sptimes.com (be they features, general news, columns or editorial content) are now unavailable and listed as “Not Found”.
There is an oddity here though: The base domain URL, www.sptimes.com is working and not as a redirect to the newspaper’s current web presence. It is standing as it had once stood but not exactly working nor posted as the front page of the newspaper from days gone by. The footer of the page reads the copyright date as 2009.
Because one page is “working” as a shell of itself, I’m guessing that this is an IT foul-up that stopped functionality and not an upgrade attempt, closure of the site archives, or an import-to-tampabay.com attempt. Simply, it’s a foul up that the paper may just dismiss as not important to fix. After all, they’re not making money off the archives, they’re not even trying.
This is 2018 and the Tampa Bay Times has had a web presence for something around 20 years. I’ve already posted about their archives and a lack of generic advertising to go along with the content that continues to draw in web traffic. There’s another issue that I’d like to point at the Tampa Bay Times content that is #FAIL on the most basic level for content presented online. This isn’t aimed at archived content but all Times articles online and an exclusion habit by the publication that works against itself: web links.
To be fair to begin and give context, this piece is inspired by a ranking that was done in The Sacremento Bee, so it’s a reaction column inspired by an opinion piece. By way of opinionated reactions to the opinionated ranking, let me give you my own opinion:
If there had been a 33rd uniform ranking, Bucco Bruce would rank below it. Bad uniforms and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a history that goes hand-in-hand with the mediocrity of the club and its lackluster competitive prowess in this day and age.
The Tampa Bay Times has tens of thousands of articles, some mundane news and some as feature reading, on its former site domain. SPTimes.com represented the newspaper under its old brand name, the St. Petersburg Times. The publication moved operations to the regional domain name TampaBay.com before adopting the more regional brand name of publication, the Tampa Bay Times.
And the Times is bleeding money by way of not synchronizing reading assets from the old site with the current one.
The site known as Tampa Bay Online – www.tbo.com – has been around for decades. TBO was once tied to both Tampa Bay NBC affiliate WFLA News Channel 8 and former print publication The Tampa Tribune (both media entities were owned by Media General). Let me stress that with the decades aspect of Tampa Bay Online as TBO started out in the early 1990’s in a form that was accessible through the Prodigy dial-up network and America Online. It’s sort of hard to explain things before the internet as you know it now – some people were exposed to it well before the general public. I was introduced to the Net through Prodigy and later AOL.
Back to the topic, TBO has been around a while as a media hub (to say the least). With the Tribune leading the charge so often, the flavor of news and writing from the Trib (with its right-leaning slant) was always on display but its general news coverage was complimented by video coverage of news stories that News Channel 8 reported on.
Yet a downfall has been rampant for a while: Media General sold the Tribune in 2012, and while the new ownership vowed they were here to stay, it didn’t play out like that. I’m not sure if there was an official end-partnership between the Trib and WFLA but things scaled back and ceased after the Tribune moved away to its own property. In the spring of 2016 the Tampa Tribune was acquired by print news rival, the Tampa Bay Times. The Tribune ceased to be while certain columnists, reporters and employees were imported to Times staff while others were dismissed. TBO.com has continued operations since then but has become a quizzical online destination for news information in the area. Continue reading