Today we mourn the loss of another daily newspaper. After Sunday, April 5, the Tampa Bay Times will cease printing the newspaper every day. Starting Monday, the paper will not print on Monday. Or Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The Tampa Bay Times will become a two-day newspaper, printing on Wednesday and Sunday.
It is ironic that the Tampa Bay Times is using the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic as the excuse for ceasing to be a daily newspaper. The Covid-19 pandemic is a historic event of Biblical proportions. Covid-19 is the biggest daily news story since World War II.
Previously, big-city newspapers prided themselves on continuing the public service of covering and printing the news every single day through even the most disastrous and dangerous times. Newspapers considered it an almost sacred duty.
As far as I know, London newspapers continued to print every day during the Battle of Britain, when the city was bombed every night. Newspapers did not stop printing every day during the flu pandemic of 1918, which happened to coincide with the final, decisive year of World War I.
(Yes, social media consumers, cities had two or more daily newspapers — sometimes many daily newspapers — in days of yore. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.)
For the record, the Tampa Bay Times is really the St. Petersburg Times. It began calling itself the Tampa Bay Times after the city of Tampa’s last daily died. The newspaper’s office is still in St. Petersburg. I suppose the name change protected Tampa from the humiliation of being the largest U.S. city without a daily newspaper. Well, no longer.
It used to be normal for big cities — even small cities — to have two or more competing daily newspapers. Cities had afternoon newspapers and morning newspapers, and sometimes newspapers that printed all day, edition after edition. You knew things were changing when big cities that previously had two newspapers became one-newspaper cities. In the case of St. Petersburg and Tampa, two of the biggest cities in Florida became two cities with one newspaper for an entire region. The newspaper was renamed for the bay which separates Tampa from St. Petersburg. The one remaining newspaper in recent years was little more than a shadow on many days.
It was unable to print such things as the daily box score of the region’s Major League baseball team. In the past year, the paper often reported discovery of forgotten grave sites as the most important news of the day. It was digging up information that was decades old, and neglecting to print much actual news.
The Tampa Bay Times has devoted full pages to predicting its own demise many times since the Covid-19 pandemic became serious. At a time when the public is in need of the latest news of a major continuing dangerous event affecting every citizen, the Tampa Bay Times is eager to excuse itself from the chore of printing the news. Its executives seem almost proud of their intention to downsize the newspaper, holding the paper up as a sad victim of the news, rather than a reporter of the news.
The former daily newspaper is now begging readers to subscribe to an “online” version. I wonder how long it will continue to print on Wednesdays? How many more employees will be laid off? And how long before it prints a final headline, “FAREWELL.”
Goodbye, Tampa Bay Times. Rest in peace.
— John Hayden
I read “The Great Influenza” by John Barry. It was a talking book that my sister and I listened to during a road trip across the Colorado Plateau. From what he said, the flu was the reason the war ended. So many soldiers were getting sick with it, there weren’t enough to keep fighting. When I read that, I thought, “That’s wild! A little flu stopped a war?”
Well, a little virus is presently stopping the world and destroying a global economy.
The big difference between now and WWII is the internet. That has been killing newspapers across the country for years. At one time, what was in print was all you knew. Now, you can go to many news sources and you don’t have to wait a day to find out about an earthquake on the other side of the world..
Just as most things in life, there are both positive and negative aspects of this. Throughout history, the culture with the best weaponry invaded other people’s lands. The digital culture has invaded the domain of traditional press and, as usual, the only reason the invaders won was the desire for assimilation by the majority of those invaded.
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Thank you for the information about the John Barry book. I knew that the 1918 flu swept through Army training camps in the U.S. as we were finally getting ready to send troops to Europe to end World War I. And it swept through the armies fighting in Europe. I think most historians believe that the sudden arrival of U.S. troops turned the tide and won the war. That’s the way President Woodrow Wilson’s biographer, A. Scott Berg, sees it.
The flu killed many of the British, French, and German soldiers, but it didn’t end the stalemate. I have no trouble believing that the flu hastened the end of the war, and maybe it was the biggest reason for the end.
My grandmother had the flu in 1918. My great-grandmother believed she was still in weakened condition when she gave birth to my father in 1920. My father’s mother died four days after he was born.
I agree that the internet killed the newspaper industry. I have to wonder if the way we get our news now, via the internet and cable TV, is the reason for widespread fear and shutdown of normal activity. Hopefully countries around the world are doing the right thing in shutting down, and it will save many lives. I guess the historians will decide that.
I don’t believe that having the best weapons caused some peoples throughout history to invade other people’s country. I think it was mostly greed to acquire territory, power, and wealth. And mad (insane) leaders in at least some cases.
Those who were invaded, subdued, and sometimes wiped out by genocide, rarely wished to assimilate.
The American Indians did not lose the North American continent because they wanted to assimilate, that’s for sure. They were pursued and killed from the Atlantic to the Pacific and north to Canada for hundreds of years by white European invaders who had an insatiable hunger for land.
White Europeans believed they had a right to kill the Indians and steal their land. Hard to accept, but it’s true.
They chased and killed the Indians across an entire continent, and finally herded the few survivors into remote reservations on land that was mostly desert and unsuitable for farming or even grazing cattle. The Indians did not give up willingly and they did not want to assimilate with the white European invaders. They simply wanted to be left alone to live on their land, but the Europeans wanted it all.
We are so into “white trashing” that we fail to remember one truth: Humans have the same traits. Ghengis Khan wasn’t white. Mao Zedong wasn’t white. And it is possible — but not yet confirmed — that the people who were in North America when Europeans had arrived did the same thing to the indigenous people who were here before them that the Europeans did to them. There is a lot of debate over this theory, but given the nature of humanity I believe it’s worth researching.
During the heyday of the Greek and Roman Empires, there were countries that willingly assimilated. In my Jewish Cultural History class, the professor pointed out that Proverbs was written in an effort to get the young men of Judaism to stop trying to assimilate (they were going to gymnasiums and adopting a culture aberrant to their faith). He said that it was the closest that Judaism came to being a religion of the past.
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Thank you! You are so right in pointing out that I should not have repeatedly referred to “white Europeans.” I should have just said European invaders, and left it at that. Thank you for reminding us that the concept of race is now believed to be erroneous. We are all human beings.
And thank you for clarifying that sometimes, people whose homeland has been taken over by invaders do indeed seek to assimilate with the invaders. It is often the best way to survive. I guess it’s similar to ”hostage syndrome,” in which hostages gradually begin to identify or sympathize with their captors.
History is also full of situations in which victorious invaders sought to force captured populations to assimilate with the invaders, with varying degrees of success or failure. In some notable cases over the past 500 years, minorities pretended to assimilate in order to avoid persecution and even death.
In recent times, especially in European history, populations have seemed to strongly resist giving up their national and religious identities after their countries are taken over. And I suppose there is something of a backlash to globalization, with separatist movements in many parts of the world. It’s particularly apparent in the instability of the European Union, and even within the United Kingdom.
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I enjoy my Washington Post being delivered to my front yard every day .
An unknown driver delivers it by car in the early morning hours .
I think I’m the only subscriber on my block .
$60 per month for news that you can get for free online doesn’t seem to be a justifiable expense for most of my neighbors … especially the younger, tech savvy ones .
Supply and demand , I suppose .
The Washington Post is still a pretty good newspaper. But the longtime family owners could no longer keep it going and sold it to Jeff Bezos a few years ago. I have little doubt it’s his money that keeps it afloat. Since he’s an internet guy, I imagine he plans to make it an online product and cease printing one of these days. The Post is available online now, of course.
Remaining newspaper readers like us are just plain old-fashioned, I guess.