It’s been two months since Creative Loafing Tampa Bay said goodbye to 60% of its staff, and walked into a new normal that threatened the lives of our neighbors, plus the livelihoods of our readers and advertisers.
Since then, two editorial staffers, a pair of interns and a small group of contributors have kept our website humming with the latest about the coronavirus and how it affects Tampa Bay. With the help of two designers at sibling papers in San Antonio and Orlando, CL hasn’t missed a single print issue; for the first six weeks, our book was 40 pages (the last two issues were cut to 32 to save costs). Each issue featured coverage of overlooked arts, the food scene and politics—plus irreverent, honest takes that you’re just not going to get anywhere else in Tampa Bay.
Our three remaining marketing staffers have even done everything they can to support remaining advertisers and the ones who’ve been crippled by the coronavirus fallout.
There’s nothing else anyone on this staff would rather do than continue to serve the community we love to live in.
Every single paper we put on stands, and each visit to cltampa.com, has come at no cost to readers. CL doesn’t even ask for a login to read content.
But things have changed—and our business model has to pivot, too.
Don’t worry: Creative Loafing, online and in print, will always be free. There are too many vulnerable people in this community for us to put up any kind of paywall. Everyone, no matter their income or social status, deserves independent journalism, timely information (and yes, they should have our snark, too). CL readers won’t ever have to jump through hoops to get any of that.
I’m just going to flat out say it: Creative Loafing needs your help. If advertising and events don’t come back in a significant way within the next few months, then I don’t know that we have a paper to put out a year from now. The newspaper business is rough in the best of times.
Right now, CL—like so many of our readers—is fighting for its life.
If you value CL’s voice, vitality and mission, we invite you to make a secure contribution, much in the way you do to your local PBS or NPR outlet.
To take that step, visit us online at cltampa.com/support-local-journalism.
I always thought some angry billionaire, politician would be the one to wipe us out, but it turns out that a pandemic that’s killing the economy and taken almost 300,000 lives across the globe is a formidable foe (and sorry, it’s not a hoax). We want to keep writing about the artists, chefs, musicians and movers and shakers that don't always get much needed shine from other pubs. We want to keep running progressive, informed takes on local, state and national politics, and we want to keep being unabashedly committed to telling the truth about our community regardless of who might get pissed off about it.
For 32 years, CL writers have relied on their community for tips and information. We’ve relied on you to make all that beautiful art, theater, music, drink and food that keeps us motivated to live another day. This paper has done everything it can to shine a light on the best and worst parts of life in Tampa Bay—and it continues to try and do more.
But now we need you.
So we’re starting the Creative Loafing Press Club today, and making a bet that we’re not the only ones who believe in this mission and the effort to rebuild.
Over the next six weeks, CL needs to raise $50,000 to help us claw our way out of this. When we get to the other side, we hope to emerge a better, and appropriately-staffed, paper that remains committed to writing stories you won’t read anywhere else.
Members’ donations to the Press Club will help us do that and preserve our independence. CL doesn’t have millionaire and billionaire investors—we only have you. And it’s you, the readers, who we answer to.
Maybe you read us because the music section has covered your band or a friends’ at some point. Maybe you came for the way our food section is on top of openings and closings. Maybe it was the out-of-the-box art stories. Maybe you came for the hot takes and batshit crazy headlines no other paper could get away with. No matter how you got here, we want you to stay, and we want you to help sustain CL for others.
Every donation—one-time and recurring—helps us get there. Many of the donations come with perks. Each one helps us keep serving you and your neighbors.
The first thing I do when I visit a new city is look for the alt-weekly. It always leads me to a great show, amazing plate or vaunted neighborhood bar. I can’t imagine what cities without alt-weeklies do. I don’t want to imagine Tampa Bay without the paper willing to go where so many others won’t. I can’t imagine waking up and not serving you. Please help us keep doing that for years to come.