Update: From Saturday’s Tampa Tribune:
Times officials declined to answer questions about the newspaper’s finances, but a review of their financial records show a company in declining financial health.
A SportsJournalists.com commenter says he’s been told that the Tampa Bay Times newsroom will shrink by 10%, and that the copy desk will be hit the hardest. “In addition, the regional sections will be published only once a week,” the commenter reports, and adds:
[Times staffers] also learned that the paper has hired a consulting firm to help it get through the current financial storm. The consultants reported — almost certainly with executive direction — that the Times’ copy desk is far bigger than those at comparably sized newspapers. …
There’s unconfirmed word that the consulting firm mentioned previously was mandated by the company that gave the Times a $28 million loan in December. Boston’s Crystal Financial LLC — a company that specializes in “making loans to companies who require more debt capital than is currently made available from traditional lenders,” according to its investment profile — provided the loan, which matures in 2016.
The SportsJournalists.com post matches what I was told in an email yesterday afternoon. (Same person? I don’t know.) Here’s what my tipster reported: “10% of staff being laid off between now and September, and more beyond that if it doesn’t do the trick. Regional editions being scaled back to once a week, from twice. Layoffs begin on copy desk and move through newsroom. Deep financial troubles after stupidly gambling Tampa Trib would go out of business and spending millions to try to make that happen.”
Tampa Bay Times is owned by the Poynter Institute, which is also struggling.
I asked Times editor Neil Brown about the SportsJournalists.com commenter’s report, but haven’t received a reply. (I emailed him at 7:54 a.m. today.) I also called Crystal Financial yesterday and didn’t get a return call. If you know anything about the Times situation, please drop me a line.