UPDATED 10/25/19 3:08 p.m.
On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Times laid off seven journalists, including sports columnist Martin Fennelly, who joined the Times from the Tampa Tribune when the Trib’ was purchased in 2016.
Fennelly’s last story for tampabay.com is about the“Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Titans’ Marcus Mariota crashing at same time,” and was published on October 22. He has not posted on Twitter since November 2018. CL emailed a Times spokesperson to see who else was laid off.
According to the nonprofit Poynter Institute, the latest Times layoffs included five full-timers and two part-timers. To save costs, the paper is also combining the national (A) and local (B) sections from Monday-Saturday.
“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,” Poynter wrote.
The layoffs and changes in the paper’s print edition come nearly a year after the Times cut 16 newsroom jobs and 18 months after the paper laid off 50 employees company wide. In December the Times Publishing Co. was named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Virginia December 6. when a trust controlled by Marion K. Poynter — the widow of late Poynter Institute founder Nelson Poynter — sued for $7.8 million, plus interest, claiming that the publishing company owed the trust nearly $7.8 million after defaulting on a promissory note.
The lawsuit was withdrawn a month later.
Poynter added that the layoffs also come less than two months after a collective of Tampa Bay business leaders — including Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Ybor City property developer Darryl Shaw — increased its loan to the Times Publishing Company by $3 million.
“That brought the total loan to about $15 million,” the nonprofit wrote. “The Times said at the time that the latest loan will be used to contribute to its pension plan.”
In August, according to the FlaPol, The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. filed a lien against the paper on June 20 for $32.2 million; at the time, liens against the Tampa Bay Times’ parent company totaled more than $103 million. In a statement over the summer, Times spokesperson Sherri Day told FlaPol that the the lien would not affect pension benefits.
“Like many employers, there is a gap between the assets and the calculation of what the payments might ultimately be," Day said. "These liens are how the government protects its position. That said, we are making regular contributions to our pension plan, and it keeps paying every dollar due to our retirees."
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