Tribune takes on Times editorial on...postmarks?

There are various issues where the two pages conflict. But the Times' recent name change from St. Pete to Tampa Bay seems to have jolted the Trib. It's one thing to change your name and essentially announce you want to dance on the only daily in the region preventing you from total hegemony in Tampa Bay, but dammit, now you want everything to say "Tampa Bay"? the editorial virtually screams.

What led to the vitriol? The Times wrote on February 25:

The nostalgia for checking postmarks on envelopes is understandable. But they have about as much to do with a city's identity these days as train stations and telegram offices. The postmark in the era of e-mail, texting and tweeting is an anachronism, and there's no reason for St. Petersburg city officials to fret.

After all, the St. Petersburg postmark still will be available for those who ask for it at the counter of a city post office. And the answer for how to postmark mail processed at the Tampa distribution center should be obvious, even to postal officials: Tampa Bay.

In fact, there's no reason why mail from throughout the region shouldn't be postmarked in the same fashion. The area's three big-league sports franchises are named for Tampa Bay. The University of South Florida is incorporating Tampa Bay into its logo designs, and you're reading the Tampa Bay Times. Buy an airline ticket to fly from here on Southwest Airlines, and the departure city says Tampa Bay.

Here comes the Tribune today:

While a postmark doesn't define any city or community, it is important because it officially records where a letter or package is mailed, and on what date and time. Such proof is useful in time-sensitive mailings, such as for income tax returns or contests.

Having a city's name on a formal stamp also can be a source of pride. That's why people can get upset when they lose their postmark. And yes, it's cool to send or receive mail postmarked "Niceville, FL" or "Christmas, FL," whether in the moment or as a keepsake.

For the Tampa Bay Times to suggest editorially, as it did the other day, that mail processed at the U.S. Postal Service's Tampa distribution center be postmarked "Tampa Bay" in the future is absurd and self-serving.

The newspaper recently dumped its longtime name, "St. Petersburg," and now calls itself "Tampa Bay." So — boom! — it thinks everything should reflect "Tampa Bay" now?

The editorial concludes: "It is not a brand. A postmark should be geographically specific and definitive. "Tampa Bay" doesn't cut it in that regard."

Well, I guess issues like this are what animate the Trib's board. And I applaud them for taking on the Times for an editorial that irked them. I hope we see more of this in the future. The Trib's relevance is being questioned all the time due to the reductions in revenue that have led to so many layoffs over the past couple of years. But it's still doing a solid job of covering Tampa/Hillsborough County, and it's still showing some fighting spirit.

But arguing about the term "Tampa Bay"? Some things in this area never change, I guess.

On Sunday Tim Nickens, the editor of editorials for the Tampa Bay Times, wrote a blistering take-down of St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster.

The piece started out by mocking St.Pete's leaders, none bigger than the mayor, for celebrating the saving of the St. Petersburg postmark. But Nickens wrote that the whole battle showed that officials at City Hall are "often quick to feel slighted, slow to think big and wary of looking beyond the city limits."

The piece goes on to blast Foster for his leadership in dealing with the Tampa Bay Rays, the EMS situation, mass transit, public education and other issues.

But it's not that editorial, but one from a week before, that ignites the fires of the Tampa Tribune's editorial page this Monday. That's the editorial where the Times wrote that the St.Petersburg postmark wasn't that big of a deal, and that just postmarking it "Tampa Bay" was all good.

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