This week we're going to do something revolutionary.
We're going to call the Weekly Planet ... the Weekly Planet.
This achievement might not seem all that remarkable. But in case you didn't notice, in last week's issue we didn't manage to pull it off.
As I reported in the Planet's blog, Blurbex (www.blurbex.com), and as the St. Pete Times noted subsequently, the issue of May 24-30 ran under the name Creative Loafing instead of Weekly Planet.
Longtime readers already know the name Creative Loafing. That's what the paper was called when it was launched in 1988, a Tampa Bay incarnation of an alt-weekly founded in Atlanta in 1972. The Eason family, the owners of the Creative Loafing chain, subsequently experienced some, uh, creative differences, which led to son Ben Eason purchasing the Tampa edition in 1994 and changing its name to the Weekly Planet; in 2000, with a group of investors (including family members), he bought the entire chain, which now includes papers in Charlotte, N.C., and Sarasota, as well as Atlanta and Tampa (where the Creative Loafing, Inc. corporate headquarters are located). The papers in Atlanta and Charlotte remained Creative Loafing, while Tampa and Sarasota kept the name Weekly Planet.
Until last week.
As I explained on Blurbex, the error was due in part to the fact that, while editorial content for all four papers is handled locally in each city, design and production is centralized in Atlanta. It's an arrangement that works very well unless, as happened last week, we all suffer what I described on the blog as a "universal brain fart" -- or as the Times put it much more elegantly, "a massive cerebral passing of gas." Everybody who proofed the page from Tampa to Atlanta -- designers, editors, printers -- saw that the flag said Creative Loafing, or rather didn't see that the flag said Creative Loafing, and let it go to print.
There's a bit of an excuse: Atlanta, Tampa and Sarasota were running the same cover story, a Southeast regional report by John Sugg on schisms in the religious right, so the covers were all supposed to look alike -- except for one important detail. Someone (including myself) shoulda noticed the elephant in the newsroom: This paper ain't called Creative Loafing!
At least not yet.
And there's the rub. Maybe the error didn't register fully with us because inside the company, we have known for some time that come September the Planet will be calling itself Creative Loafing again.
We just didn't mean to take the leap quite so soon.
This week we're back as the Planet. But now that we've let the Loaf out of the bag, as it were, this seems as good a time as any to let you know why we're making the change.
First, of course, there's the matter of the Clark Kent jokes. We. Just. Can't. Take. Them. Anymore. How many times can you say, with a rueful smile, "No, we're the Weekly Planet, not the Daily Planet, and ha-ha no, we never see [Clark/ Superman/ Lois Lane/ Jimmy Olson]."
Second, it's just more efficient to use the Creative Loafing nickname, the Loaf. As various publications reported breathlessly last week, Americans are now in a big hurry, so we know our readers will appreciate a shorter, less time-consuming moniker.
Finally, Creative Loafing is just a lot more descriptive of what we like to do all day. And what our readers like to do all day. And hey, it's working for Atlanta and Charlotte, it's the name that's all over our website anyway, and it's already a national brand for cripe's sake. (Example: I'm traveling in, say, Denver, and I mention I work for Creative Loafing, and the response is, "Oh, yeah, that's that paper in ... um ... Charlotte?" But at least they've heard of it. When I tell them I work for the Weekly Planet, all I hear is, "Hey, do you ever see Clark, etc., etc.?" Not good.)
In all seriousness, though, we do know there's abiding affection for the name Weekly Planet around here. And I do mean around here -- inside the Planet as well around Tampa Bay -- because the name has meant a great deal to a lot of people. The Planet brought a new attitude to town, covering politics and the arts and the best and the worst of Tampa Bay with candor, grit and a sense of humor.
But don't worry: None of that is going to change. We'll still be bringing you the same great local coverage, the same great critics and columnists, and more new stuff we can't even predict yet. It'll just be under a different, if strangely familiar, name.
Over the next few months, I invite you to e-mail me or log on to blurbex.com and share your thoughts on our past and future name change, and anything else you'd like to alter -- or protect -- in our paper and on our website. It's still your Planet -- and we hope you'll welcome back the Loaf.
I'm a little worried, though: Are we leaving behind the Superman jokes only to be plagued by puns about ... baking?
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