The Poynter-owned Tampa Bay Times laid off seven journalists on Thursday — five full-timers and two part-timers. Two other openings are not being filled.
In addition, the Times will combine the A (national) and B (local) sections in print on Monday through Saturday in an effort to save costs. Times Executive Editor Mark Katches informed his staff of the news in a meeting Thursday afternoon at the paper’s St. Petersburg, Florida, headquarters.
Among those laid off is award-winning sports columnist Martin Fennelly, who joined the Times from the Tampa Tribune in 2016 when the Times purchased and then shuttered the Tribune.
The latest financial crunch for the Times was made worse because of the loss of a major auto dealership advertiser over the summer, as well as digital revenue not meeting projections.
In an email statement to Poynter, Katches said, “It’s never easy to say goodbye to great colleagues. No one wins when local journalism jobs are lost. Like every regional metro in America, the revenue picture presents significant challenges for us. But we’re buttressed by the fact that we have one of the most enormously talented newsrooms on the planet. That was true yesterday and it remains true today.”
This news comes less than two months after a partnership of Tampa Bay business leaders increased its loan to the Times Publishing Company by $3 million. That brought the total loan to about $15 million. The Times said at the time that the latest loan will be used to contribute to its pension plan. Those business leaders include Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik and Paul Tash, chairman and CEO of the Tampa Bay Times.
In April of 2018, the Times laid off approximately 50 employees company wide.
The Times’ layoffs are the latest in a series of newsroom cuts at papers across the country. Just last week, the McClatchy chain laid off 1% of its newsroom, or about 30 journalists.
Senior media writer Tom Jones can be reached at email@example.com.