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Wednesday, Sep 19, 2018
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Longtime competitors Tribune, Times ink five-year printing partnership

TAMPA – The Tampa Tribune, which will soon vacate its longtime headquarters and printing plant on the Hillsborough River, has formed a partnership with the Tampa Bay Times to print the Tribune and its related products.

Tampa Media Group, owner of the Tribune, announced in August that it had sold its building at 202 S. Parker St. and was seeking office space and a printing deal. The contract announced Tuesday is for five years, and the first Tribune is expected to roll off Times’ presses in St. Petersburg later this month.

“We are looking forward to a long-term partnership between the Tribune and the Times on the production side of our business,” said Tribune Publisher Brian Burns. “Given the financial pressures on the print industry, throughout the country newspapers have been combining various products and services, such as production and printing, to create mutual efficiencies and savings.”

The Times will print all daily editions and weekly sections of the Tribune, its affiliate publications – including Centro, Highlands Today and the Suncoast News – and its commercial printing partners, the New York Post and the MacDill Thunderbolt, a weekly newspaper devoted to news about the Air Force base.

The Times will package the Tribune’s advertising inserts at its plant at 1301 34th Street North and will truck Tribune products to distribution sites. The Tribune will maintain its own newspaper delivery service.

The Times has been expanding its commercial printing business over the past few years and recently added USA Today to its portfolio.

“We take great pride in all of our printing work and look forward to providing our high standard of quality and excellence to the Tribune,” said Joe DeLuca, the Times’ Tampa publisher and vice president.

As for the Tribune’s new headquarters location, Burns said negotiations are under way with real estate brokers. The Tribune will leave the Parker Street facility by May 1.

Partnerships among longtime print rivals are becoming more common in the publishing industry. There are production partnerships between competing papers in Pittsburgh, Chicago and Miami, among other cities.

Another trend is for newspapers to forsake often-iconic downtown headquarters and printing complexes for more efficient and technologically advanced work spaces in the era of digital communication and mobile news gathering. The Tampa Bay Times has its downtown St. Petersburg building on the market. The Sarasota Herald Tribune and Lakeland Ledger also are marketing their properties.

The Miami Herald left its One Herald Plaza complex on Biscayne Bay in 2013 for the suburbs.

The Tampa Tribune building was bought by Miami-based Related Group, which plans a 400-unit apartment complex on the river downtown.

The Tribune, which has been publishing daily since 1895, built its current headquarters on the site of a former Tampa Electric Co. generating plant in 1975. In 2000, the newspaper joined TBO.com and WFLA NewsChannel 8, another Media General property, in a converged News Center next door at 200 S. Parker St.

When Media General sold the newspaper to Tampa Media Group in 2012, Tribune and TBO.com employees moved back across the breezeway to the 202 S. Parker St. building. The News Center building is still home to WFLA, which will remain at the site.

“We’ve been here for over 120 years, and we look forward to being here for another 120 years as part of the Tampa community,” Burns said.

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