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Wed Mar 3, 2021, 06:18 AM

The end of an era as Tampa Bay Times plant prints its final papers

ST. PETERSBURG — An old analog clock, hung crooked over the rolls of newsprint, let the night’s sparse crew know they had time yet until deadline. On a Saturday night, nearing 8 o’clock, it was still quiet in the reel room, beneath the dormant presses.

Ladda Peterson laid a pattern of red tape on the blank, white bales, setting them up for an unbroken scroll. The halls were hollow as staffers burned vacation time, but like everybody still here, she was used to making do with less. As always, the press crew was ready: “Bombs” of ink, thick and pungent as classroom paint, were hooked up. Ribbons of paper were strung along rollers. And the next day’s pages were beginning to arrive.

What starts in spiral notebooks has for six decades come here, to the Tampa Bay Times’ printing plant, to be stamped into something you can hold. Phone calls and tips turned into stories, the first drafts of the first draft of history — those get combed over and neatened on digital pages. In a dizzying overnight transformation, stories end up folded on front yards before early light.

About 9 p.m., in a room as bright as airport security, machines hissed and burned Sunday’s pages into perfect stamps. Headlines appeared ghostlike on anodized aluminum plates. Each is designed to snap onto cylinders, so ink can press onto rubber and rubber onto newsprint, just so.

Read more: https://www.tampabay.com/narratives/2021/03/03/the-end-of-an-era-as-tampa-bay-times-plant-prints-its-final-papers/

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Reply The end of an era as Tampa Bay Times plant prints its final papers (Original post)
TexasTowelie Mar 2021 OP
Flo Mingo Mar 2021 #1
Baitball Blogger Mar 2021 #3
Flo Mingo Mar 2021 #9
Baitball Blogger Mar 2021 #10
LymphocyteLover Mar 2021 #6
TexasTowelie Mar 2021 #12
Baitball Blogger Mar 2021 #2
Native Mar 2021 #4
Sancho Mar 2021 #5
Flo Mingo Mar 2021 #7
Flo Mingo Mar 2021 #8
lostnfound Mar 2021 #11
csziggy Mar 2021 #13

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Wed Mar 3, 2021, 08:45 AM

1. This brought a tear to my eye

I spent 24 years working for the St. Petersburg Times. (They became Tampa Bay Times after I left)

I started my career at the printing plant and finished at the downtown office. I was unceremoniously downsized in the end but I never lost my love and appreciation for the Company, its editorial philosophies and their commitment to staff.

Their mistake was to treat the electronic media explosion as a step child, instead of the runaway train it was and is. First it was Craig's list that decimated the classified section with free ads and much wider reach than the newspaper could provide. Then competition came at them from every direction like a pack of hyenas.

Reading this article made me sad and nostalgic for an era that has passed. I hope the News room will continue to produce the kind of Pulitzer Prize winning writing that made the paper so important to the folks in the Tampa Bay area and beyond. Lucy Morgan, Jack Reed, Howard Troxler, Clay Bennett, Jeff Klinkenberg and others made the paper a must read if you wanted to understand what was happening and why/how it should matter to you.

The smell of newsprint and ink and paper dust will be forever etched in my memory and I will remember fondly those insane Saturday nights trying to get a newspaper stuffed full of slick and slippery inserts stacked, wrapped and delivered onto trucks for delivery the next morning.

I hope the TBT will continue to do what is necessary to deliver quality news to those who still value in depth and independent reporting.


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Response to Flo Mingo (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 3, 2021, 08:55 AM

3. I should have read your post first!

I tip my hat off to you. You were probably working at the St. Pete Times at the time that it was offering me the only sane lifeline during the peak of the corruption that was occurring on my side of Florida.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #3)

Wed Mar 3, 2021, 09:31 AM

9. From '83 to 2007

From young pup to old lady in the blink of an eye!

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Response to Flo Mingo (Reply #9)

Wed Mar 3, 2021, 09:45 AM

10. You people were amazing.

The only sign in Florida that integrity and traditional, objective reporting was still alive.

I could tell you nightmares about what the Orlando Sentinel was doing at the same time.

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Response to Flo Mingo (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 3, 2021, 09:07 AM

6. thank you!

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Response to Flo Mingo (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 3, 2021, 07:56 PM

12. Wow, it is a small world.

I expected to receive a few replies from members who read the newspaper, but I didn't expect to hear from someone that worked there for as long as you did. I'm certain that you built a lot of good memories there so reflect on them and know that you made a difference.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Wed Mar 3, 2021, 08:53 AM

2. Was that once called the St. Pete Times?

One of the most honest newspapers in Florida. At least during the nineties. I spent a lot of time online researching the family background of a developer, who I think was a beard for an operation that involved the locals. Conspiracy, much? If the Orlando Sentinel had been as honest, instead of part of the problem, my world would be different today.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #2)

Wed Mar 3, 2021, 08:59 AM

4. Yes, the St. Pete Times became the Tampa Bay Times.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Wed Mar 3, 2021, 09:06 AM

5. For decades I got the St. Pete Times on my driveway...

...and I quit subscribing to the paper version about 8 years ago.

Newspapers are replaced now by Yelp, Ebay, Amazon, and even CNN. Why write a letter to the editor when you can tweet?!

The issue for me: Will the development of great writers and investigators will be missing in the next generation? Michael LaForgia, Tom French, Lucy Morgan, Bette Orsini...so many talented authors to even name.

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Response to Sancho (Reply #5)

Wed Mar 3, 2021, 09:23 AM

7. My bad. Forgot to mention

Peggy Peterman, Elijah Gosier & Bill Maxwell whose writings began to open my eyes to the separate and unequal nature of skin color.

I owe them all a debt of gratitude for awakening my awareness and understanding of black and white America.

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Response to Sancho (Reply #5)

Wed Mar 3, 2021, 09:29 AM

8. The belief in excellence

wasn't just confined to the newsroom, either. There was a expectation of excellence whether you were a delivery driver, production staff or selling advertising. It permeated the entire organization and we knew we were doing important work.

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Response to Sancho (Reply #5)

Wed Mar 3, 2021, 10:07 AM

11. Editors and structure, not only writers, to ensure credibility

The Times was real journalism, a great paper with solid news content and international reporting of its own.

Tragedy that our country has lost its robust Fourth Estate.
We are downtown to the Washington Post as the sole remaining example. The New York Times is not to be trusted in certain areas anymore.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Sun Mar 7, 2021, 12:18 AM

13. My parents had the Tampa Bay Tribune delivered every day

So I grew up reading it for the "big city" newspaper. Our local rag, the Polk County Democrat was only published twice a week back then and was mostly local gossip. The Lakeland Ledger was slightly more cosmopolitan, but did not have the scope of the Tribune.

When I spent a year in college in St. Petersburg, I subscribed to the St. Pete Times which delivered to the college campus and liked it better than the Tribune. Then when I was in college up here in Tallahassee, the Times delivered to the dorms so I got a subscription until I moved off campus.

The Tallahassee Democrat was (and still is) useless unless you wanted to follow college sports - they never even sent their own reporters to the state capitol to cover the state news, though they did have a reporter to cover city and county politics. Both my husband and I worked for the Democrat for short periods and we will never subscribe to it.

I still tend to read the Tampa Bay Times online - I guess I should subscribe to help support a good newspaper, even if I can't get it delivered.

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