Posted by Dale Buss on August 30, 2012 04:06 PM
The GOP convention in Tampa is an important platform for more than just Republican nominee Mitt Romney and his big speech tonight: It's show time for the Tampa Bay Times as well.
The newspaper long known as the St. Petersburg Times changed its name to the Tampa Bay Times nine months ago in a rebranding and remarketing effort of the sort that is increasingly rare in the struggling newspaper business. Where newspapers have been adjusting to new market realities, typically theyre' just hacking operations in an attempt to survive financially, such as the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which recently cut back to printing just three days a week from seven.
But the Times has always embraced an unusually sunny view of its role and importance in its market and its industry. A big reason for that has been its reputation as one of the best newspapers in America, especially for its size. Another factor is that it remains independently owned. The company also plays an important role in global journalism standards and training, having spawned the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, which actually now owns the newspaper.
About a quarter-century ago, the Times began taking seriously the idea of jumping Tampa Bay from its St. Petersburg base and attempting to dominate the entire Tampa Bay market, including much larger Tampa, where the Media General-owned Tampa Tribune was based.
With the name change, the Times' identity overhaul has reached its zenith. So GOP delegates were greeted at Tampa International Airport with the logo that the paper used for its relaunch in January, visually explaining the transition by putting the new name in the foreground and retaining a faint "St. Petersburg Times" in the background, according to Advertising Age. And the convention itself is taking place at the renamed Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"We're using the attention on the region to make sure that peope are aware of our success," Bruce Faulmann, vice president of sales and marketing at the Times, told the magazine.
The question remains for the Times, as part of the newspaper industry, whether this week will be a meaningful relaunch for the new brand -- or a sort of last hurrah for one of America's best newspapers as the very notion of that form of communication continues to struggle.