The move is the first indication that the Tampa Media Company, the recently formed company created by the Los Angeles-based Revolution Capital Group which purchased the Tribune from Media General last October, is serious about putting more resources into the paper, which has been riven with financial losses over the past five years.
At the time of that purchase, Robert Loring, the founder and managing partner of Revolution Capital Group, told the Tribune that "We are definitely in this for the long haul," adding that "We don't flip businesses."
The Tribune has laid off hundreds of staffers in recent years. One of those let go after decades at the paper, former movie critic Bob Ross, bitterly questioned the move, writing on his Facebook page, "Are they going to hire any real journalists, perhaps some of the hundreds laid off since 2007? I'm guessing the bright new owners will opt instead for a massive 'internship' program. That means no paycheck, kids."
In fact, the Tribune has hired some real journalists, including former CL contributor and WMNF reporter Kate Bradshaw.
Other reporters in Sunday's edition of the St. Petersburg Tribune include Josh Boatwright, who previously worked at the Asheville Citizen-Times in North Carolina, and Christopher O'Donnell, who worked at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
In a story published in both editions of the paper today, Tribune business reporter Richard Mullins quotes the Tribune publisher and editor about the new edition:
"This more clearly demonstrates our belief that every town and local community deserves to have its own focused news coverage and voice," said Tribune Publisher William Barker.
The move marks a return to Pinellas County by the Tribune organization and puts the Tribune in even more direct competition with the rival Tampa Bay Times for regional readers and advertising dollars.
"For several years, Pinellas County readers have asked us to provide them with a community-focused, unbiased source for local news," Tribune Managing Editor Ken Koehn said.
The paper's changes are obvious to anybody picking up the paper on Sunday, where the lead story by Jerome R. Stockfisch is about the latest developments with the Lens, the controversial new proposal to replace the St. Pete Pier. Veteran columnist Steve Otto weighs in with his own thoughts about the Pier as well.
The Tampa Bay Times has dominated the daily newspaper market in Tampa Bay for years. In October it was reported that the Times daily circulation was at 313,003, the Tribune at 173,302.