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.