Nov 21, 2023 - News

U.S. newspapers in critical danger. Where Tampa Bay's papers stand

Illustration of a skull and bones made out of newspaper

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Newspapers are dying out faster than expected.

What's happening: So many local papers shuttered this year that analysts now believe the U.S. will have lost one-third of the newspapers it had as of 2005 by the end of next year.

Why it matters: Most communities that lose a local newspaper usually do not get a replacement, even online.

By the numbers: There are roughly 6,000 newspapers left in the U.S., down from 8,891 in 2005, according to a new report from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

  • Over the past two years, they vanished at an average rate of more than two per week.
  • A majority of the surviving papers (4,790) publish weekly, not daily.

Zoom in: Tampa Bay has a relatively thriving newspaper scene, but print journalists are still on edge.

  • Several area papers are owned by large media companies that have been unstable. The Bradenton Herald is run by McClatchy, which also owns The Miami Herald. The Sarasota-Herald Tribune and the Ledger are owned by Gannett.

The Tampa Bay Times is owned by Poynter, a media nonprofit that also owns Politifact.

Creative Loafing, an alt-weekly, has changed ownership hands several times over the years. The Cleveland-based company that bought it in 2018 was purchased by a San Antonio-based company in August.

Other small papers include The Gabber, which claims to be Florida's oldest independent weekly newspaper; Watermark, a bi-weekly LGBTQ newspaper; La Gaceta, a tri-lingual weekly newspaper based in Ybor; and The Laker/Lutz News, two free weeklies delivered to homes in Pasco and Hillsborough counties.

Editor's note: This story was corrected to reflect that Paul Tash stepped down as chairman and CEO of the Tampa Bay Times last July, not last January.


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