Paul Tash is one cold-hearted dude and other thoughts on the New York Times story about the Tampa Trib sale

tash, paul

Paul Tash, the chairman and CEO of The Tampa Bay Times, comes away as just another cold-hearted executive in a New York Times story about the sale and shuttering of the Tampa Tribune.

“Bad things have to happen for good things to happen,” Tash says in response to criticism that the Poynter Institute-owned newspaper was “avaricious” regarding its dealing with the Trib.

It’s sad that Tash holds such a Rumsfeldian worldview. Where is it written that bad things have to happen for good things to happen? Good things can follow good things, too. Maybe not in Tash’s world of legacy journalism, but for the rest of us, bad things happening tends to lead to more bad things happening. And from good usually springs more good.

Tash’s cynicism aside, it’s also clear from reading this New York Times piece that the Tampa Bay Times has been lying about how many Tribune employees it would absorb.

Tash told his reporters he expected there to be at least 100 layoffs as a result of the Tribune purchase. Yet, a week after the sale, Tampa Media Group, the former owners of the Trib filed a notice with the state of Florida announcing it would lay off 300 employees. In the NYT story, Tash admits to offering jobs to just “10 writers, a dozen or so of its advertising sales representatives, and others in finance, technology and The Tribune’s three affiliated publications.”

According to the New York Times, “the deal for the purchase of The Tribune from the Revolution Capital Group was struck almost five months ago, but was not revealed until this month.”

Talk about a lack of transparency.

(By the way, that five-month timeline makes former Tribune managing partner Robert Loring Jr. look absolutely clueless or just a liar. He twice told 10 News Noah Pransky in April that rumors of the Trib’s demise were “bs.” For the record, Tash is quoted by Pransky in that same story saying about a Trib sale to the Times is “speculation (that) arises periodically. We never indulge it or contribute to it.”)

What you won’t find in the New York Times story, nor anywhere in the Tampa Bay Times, is that Tash’s business blunder is what is responsible for the financial problems at his newspaper — problems he believes will be best solved by shuttering the Tribune.

It was Tash’s decision in 2002 to acquire the naming rights for Tampa’s Ice Palace. Originally, that deal was to cost the Times $33 million over 12 years. But the Times was forced to relinquish the naming rights four years early because of its precarious financial situation. Still, the money the Times paid to the hockey team it covered so that it could plant a flag in the Tribune’s backyard is about the same amount of money it had to borrow from Crystal Financial, a Boston-based firm that lent the Times $28 million last year.

So when Tash makes monopolistic statements like “the continued competition between the newspapers was threatening to both,” remember that it was Tash himself who raised the level of competition to its highest level.

“This naming rights deal can be seen as a bold business move by one of the country’s most respected, independently owned newspapers,” wrote Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute in 2002. “This investment, if managed wisely, demonstrates aggressive and creative strategic marketing and daring, competitive chutzpah. The Times unloaded a big-time slap shot into the belly of The Tampa Tribune.”

Fourteen years later, the impact of that slap shot is still being felt. No longer by the now defunct Tribune, but by the man who fired it off: the cold-hearted, transparency-averse chairman and CEO of the Tampa Bay Times.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


  • John Tischner

    May 23, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Corporate Greed
    The demise of The Tampa Tribune is just another nail in the coffin of journalism and the free press, hammered in by typical corporate greed.
    In October 2012, Virginia-based Media General Inc., owner of The Tampa Tribune, sold its ownership to investors Los Angeles-based Revolution Capital Group. The purchase price was $9.5 million.
    At that time, Tribune Publisher William Barker said, “This deal gives us the opportunity to do what makes sense for this local market. It gives us the ability to be outwardly focused and not worry about how some larger corporation leverages us.”
    Renamed Tampa Media Group to reflect the area, Revolution Capital’s founder and managing partner Robert Loring said some investment funds might look at buying a newspaper as “contrarian,” but the Tribune “checked many of the boxes we were looking for in terms of our criteria.” That includes long-running operations, established customers and the potential to add value with investment in new technology, he noted. Asked if the plan was to buy, cut costs and resell the Tribune, Loring said it was not. “We are definitely in this for the long haul,” he said. “We don’t flip businesses.”
    Fast forward to July 2015. Tampa Bay Media Group sells the Tribune property in downtown Tampa to a developer for $17.75 million, a healthy $8 million profit, leaving Tribune staffers without a home and a place to print its paper. So much for “We definitely are in this for the long haul; we don’t flip businesses.”
    Subsequently, the Tampa Bay Times, formerly the St. Petersburg Times, the area’s only other daily newspaper, stepped in and announced it would print the Tribune at its printing facility on 34th Street North.
    This week, the Tampa Bay Times, announced it has purchased The Tampa Tribune, combined its operations, closed the Tribune and cut 100 jobs.
    The livelihoods of so many dedicated workers were destroyed. Too bad the Tampa Bay Times couldn’t have followed the lead of Charleston, West Virginia’s two daily newspapers, the liberal Gazette and conservative Daily Mail that combined operations under a Joint Operating Agreement with separate editorial departments to become the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Many jobs and faces would have been saved and two opposing voices could be heard.
    God forbid we lose the public press.
    Editing, Proofreading, Writing
    John Tischner, Dunedin, Florida
    Former Media General Editor
    [email protected]
    Repetitio est mater studiorum

  • Kay Haering

    May 23, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Sad! I have read and shared copies of the many articles they have published. The Florida Black Bear always seemed to have a Friend at the Tribune, The Corrupt Florida Government has been exposed by their paper.

  • Tom Brew

    May 23, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    You’re way off base in going after Paul Tash. He didn’t fire all the salvos in this 30-year war, he simply fired the last one. The Tribune has been dying for years, even in its own back yard. There was never a chance that both papers could survive and in the end the Times won out. It is a reality in 2016 that the media landscape has changed dramatically. Tash and the Times aren’t being greedy. They are simply trying to survive themselves.

Comments are closed.


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