Paul Tash, the Tampa Bay Times’ longest-serving CEO, announced his retirement Thursday afternoon according to a report from the local paper. Times Publishing Co. President Conan Gallaty will succeed Tash as CEO.
Tash, who also serves as chairman of the Times’ board of directors, will officially leave the board on July 1. He will continue to serve as chairman on the board of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, which owns the newspaper.
“Without question, leading the Times is the honor of my life’s work,” Tash said in a letter to Times staff. “I look to its future with bright optimism, recognizing that the next chapter deserves fresh leadership.”
The 67-year-old Tash has worked at the Times for 47 years, starting as a summer intern, according to the paper. He was named CEO in 2004, becoming the longest-serving leader in the paper’s history.
Tash led the paper through significant milestones, from the transition of print to digital to navigating the pandemic. Since he took the role, the newspaper changed its name to become the Tampa Bay Times, acquired the Tampa Tribune and won seven Pulitzer Prizes.
In 2020, the paper reduced printing to two days a week — Sunday and Wednesday — because of the coronavirus pandemic. This move was brought on by a decrease in advertising revenue resulting from the pandemic in April.
The next year, the paper sold its St. Petersburg printing plant and began outsourcing print operations to a Lakeland facility. The sale enabled the company to repay a $15 million loan and steady its finances.
Then, in December, the federal government took control of the Times’ pension plan after finding its parent, Times Publishing, was unable to pay benefits — a sign of more financial peril.
Tash also was head of the paper when it faced a series of layoffs. In 2018, the Times laid off about 50 employees. In October 2019, the Times laid off seven more journalists, among others. In February 2020, Tash announced all employees would receive a 10% pay cut and executives would get a 15% cut. A month later, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 11 more journalists were laid off. Shortly after, furloughs were announced.
Gallaty, who will be the fourth person to lead the Times since 1978, will inherit the challenges facing the newspaper. Notably, Gallaty installed a new publishing system for TampaBay.com and has led the Times’ substantial growth in digital advertising and subscriptions. He was promoted to president of Times Publishing in 2020.
“I am both deeply appreciative and humbled to succeed Paul. His are big shoes to fill,” Gallaty said in a statement. “I am confident that our team will rise to the challenge and that some of our best journalism lies ahead.”
He began his career as a newspaper reporter at the Rome News-Tribune in his home state of Georgia. Since 2018, “he’s taken the Times to a new level as a digital company,” Editor and Vice President Mark Katches said, adding Gallaty has “a solid vision to keep us moving forward.”