The Tampa Bay Times, previously named the St. Petersburg Times through 2011, is an American newspaper published in St. Petersburg, Florida, United States. It has won twelve Pulitzer Prizes since 1964, and in 2009, won two in a single year for the first time in its history. It is published by the Times Publishing Company, which is owned by The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a nonprofit journalism school directly adjacent to the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus. Many issues are available through Google News Archive. A daily electronic version is also available for the Amazon Kindle and iPad.
|Tampa Bay Times|
The January 1, 2012, front page of the first edition of the Tampa Bay Times.
|Owner(s)||Times Publishing Company|
|Headquarters||490 First Avenue South|
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
The newspaper traces its origins to the West Hillsborough Times, a weekly newspaper established in Dunedin, Florida on the Pinellas peninsula in 1884. At the time, neither St. Petersburg nor Pinellas County existed; the peninsula was part of Hillsborough County. The paper was published weekly in the back of a pharmacy and had a circulation of 480. It subsequently changed ownership six times in seventeen years. In December 1884 it was bought by A. C. Turner, who moved it to Clear Water Harbor (modern Clearwater, Florida). In 1892 it moved to St. Petersburg, and by 1898 it was officially renamed the St. Petersburg Times.
The Times became bi-weekly in 1907, and began publication six days a week in 1912. Paul Poynter, a publisher originally from Indiana, bought the paper in September 1912 and converted to a seven-day paper, though it was rarely financially stable. Paul's son, Nelson Poynter, became editor in 1939 and took majority control of the paper in 1947, and set about improving the paper's finances and prestige. Nelson Poynter controlled the paper until his death in 1978, when he willed the majority of the stock to the non-profit Poynter Institute. In November 1986, the Evening Independent was merged into the Times. Poynter was succeeded by Eugene Patterson (1978–1988), Andrew Barnes (1988–2004), Paul Tash (2004–2010; chair and chief executive officer of the Poynter Institute and the Times Publishing Company since 2010) and Neil Brown (2010–2017).
On January 1, 2012, the St. Petersburg Times was renamed the Tampa Bay Times; this stemmed from a 2006 decision of a lawsuit with Media General, at the time the publishers of the Times' competing newspaper, The Tampa Tribune, which allowed that paper to keep its exclusive right to use the name of its defunct sister paper, The Tampa Times, for five years after the decision.
As the newly rechristened Tampa Bay Times, the paper's weekday tabloid tbt*, a free daily publication and which used "(* Tampa Bay Times)" as its subtitle, became just tbt when the name change took place. The St. Pete Times name lives on as the name for the Times' neighborhood news sections in southern Pinellas County (formerly Neighborhood Times), serving communities from Largo southward.
The Times has also done significant investigative reporting on the Church of Scientology, since the church's acquisition of the Fort Harrison Hotel in 1975 and other holdings in Clearwater. The Times has published special reports and series critical of the church and its current leader, David Miscavige.
In 2010, the Times published an investigative report questioning the validity of the United States Navy Veterans Association, leading to significant reaction and official investigations into the group nationwide.
On May 3, 2016, the Times acquired its longtime competitor The Tampa Tribune, with the latter publication immediately ceasing publishing and Tribune features and some writers expected to be merged into the Times. As reported by other local media outlets in the Tampa Bay area at the time of this acquisition, for many years the Tampa Tribune was considered to be the more conservative newspaper in the region, while the Tampa Bay Times was thought of as more liberal.
The Times' purchase of The Tribune also allowed its circulation area to be expanded into Polk County, placing it in competition with other newspapers such as The Lakeland Ledger and The Polk County Democrat, as well as into the south central region of the state known as the Florida Heartland. In the case of the latter, the Times published Highlands Today, which was a daily news supplement of The Tribune for readers in Highlands County. The Times sold the paper in 2016 to Sun Coast Media Group.
The newspaper created PolitiFact.com, a project in which its reporters and editors "fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups…" They publish original statements and their evaluations on the PolitiFact.com website, and assign each a "Truth-O-Meter" rating, with ratings ranging from "True" for completely true statements to "Pants on Fire" (from the taunt "Liar, liar, pants on fire") for false and ridiculous statements. The site also includes an "Obameter", tracking U.S. President Barack Obama's performance with regard to his campaign promises. PolitiFact.com was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2009 for "its fact-checking initiative during the 2008 presidential campaign that used probing reporters and the power of the World Wide Web to examine more than 750 political claims, separating rhetoric from truth to enlighten voters. The Times sold PolitiFact.com to its parent company, the Poynter Institute, in 2018.
|2016||Pulitzer Prize||"For exposing a local school board's culpability in turning some county schools into failure factories, with tragic consequences for the community. (Moved by the Board from the Public Service category, where it was also entered.)"||Michael LaForgia, Cara Fitzpatrick and Lisa Gartner||Local Reporting||Won|
|2016||Pulitzer Prize||"For a stellar example of collaborative reporting by two news organizations that revealed escalating violence and neglect in Florida mental hospitals and laid the blame at the door of state officials."||Leonora LaPeter Anton and Anthony Cormier of the Tampa Bay Times and Michael Braga of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune||Investigative Reporting||Won|
|2014||Pulitzer Prize||"For relentlessly investigating the squalid conditions that marked housing for Hillsborough County's substantial homeless population, leading to swift reforms."||Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia||Local Reporting||Won|
|2013||Pulitzer Prize||"For helping reverse the decision to end fluoridation of water in Pinellas County."||Tim Nickens and Daniel Ruth||Editorial Writing||Won|
|2012||Pulitzer Prize||Tim Nickens, Joni James, John Hill and Robyn Blumner||Editorial Writing||Finalist|
|2010||National Headliner Awards||"Inside Scientology"||Thomas C. Tobin and Joe Childs||Investigative reporting||Finalist|
|Florida Society of News Editors||Gold Medal for Public Service||Won|
|Pulitzer Prize||"For Their Own Good"||Ben Montgomery, Waveney Ann Moore, and photographer Edmund D. Fountain||Local Reporting||Finalist|
|2009||Pulitzer Prize||PolitiFact.com||Times staff, represented by Bill Adair, Washington bureau chief||National Reporting||Won|
|"The Girl in the Window"||Lane DeGregory||Feature Writing||Won|
|"Winter's Tale"||John Barry||Feature Writing||Finalist|
|2007||Scripps Howard Foundation||Human Interest Writing||Lane DeGregory||Ernie Pyle Award||Won|
|"A Republican vs. Republican Cellular Division"||Wes Allison||Raymond Clapper Award||Won|
|Pulitzer Prize||"In His Own Defense"||Christopher Goffard||Feature Writing||Finalist|
|2003||Scripps Howard Foundation||Human Interest Writing||Kelley Benham||Ernie Pyle Award||Won|
|2002||Scripps Howard Foundation||"The Poison in Your Back Yard"||Julie Hauserman||Edward J. Meeman Award||Won|
|2000||Pulitzer Prize||"Una Vida Mejor"||Anne Hull||Feature Writing||Finalist|
|1999||Sigma Delta Chi||"Deadly Rampage"||Times staff||Excellence in deadline reporting||Won|
|Investigative report of U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown||Bill Adair and David Dahl||Washington correspondence||Won|
|1998||Pulitzer Prize||"Angels & Demons"||Thomas French||Feature Writing||Won|
|Investigative report of The Rev. Henry Lyons||Times staff||Investigative Reporting||Finalist|
|The "Tobacco" series||David Barstow||Explanatory Reporting||Finalist|
|1997||Pulitzer Prize||Coverage of the 1996 St. Petersburg riot||Times staff||Spot News Reporting||Finalist|
|1995||Pulitzer Prize||"Final Indignities"||Jeffrey Good||Editorial Writing||Won|
|"A Secret Life"||Anne Hull||Feature Writing||Finalist|
|1992||Pulitzer Prize||"Life From Death"||Sheryl James||Feature Writing||Finalist|
|1991||Pulitzer Prize||"A Gift Abandoned"||Sheryl James||Feature Writing||Won|
|1985||Pulitzer Prize||Corruption in Pasco County Sheriff's Office||Lucy Morgan and Jack Reed||Investigative Reporting||Won|
|1982||Pulitzer Prize||Coverage of drug smuggling in Dixie County, Florida||Lucy Morgan||Local General or Spot News Reporting||Finalist|
|1980||Pulitzer Prize||Investigation of Church of Scientology operations in Florida||Bette Swenson Orsini and Charles Stafford||National Reporting||Won|
|Times staff||Public Service||Finalist|
|1964||Pulitzer Prize||Investigation of Florida Turnpike Authority||Martin Waldron and Times staff||Meritorious Public Service||Won|
Inside Scientology – The St. Petersburg Times reporting on the Church of Scientology is in the finest traditions of American journalism. The reporting by Joseph Childs and Thomas Tobin stands out for the ways in which it held accountable the powerful.