First, and most remarkably, Executive Editor Janet Coats and Publisher Denise Palmer co-wrote (one wonders how much co-writing was really involved) a top of the page declaration that the paper would not cease to exist after the Super Bowl, as various rumors have suggested in recent weeks.
But it didn’t stop there. The piece went on to compare news hole and coverage with the Trib’s arch-rival, the St. Pete Times. The Trib’s piece concludes, with stats to back it up, that the Trib is providing more local coverage generally, and far more Tampa and Hillsborough coverage specifically, than the Times. It also sought to portray the Times as disguising the level of its own content and newsroom cuts.
I’ve never really seen anything like it in a major publication. On the other hand, I have long thought newspapers and other journalism institutions should engage each other – not just on business issues like this, but on coverage and public issues. I think that is the real strength of the blogosphere relative to traditional news.
And as a bonus, there’s a big interview with John Mica, R-CSX, the congressman from Orlando who is the driving force behind the rail deal. It’s a beaut. You need to go read it for yourself. This guy is a piece of work. These types of printed transcripts of interviews tend to obscure personality. Not in this case. Here’s one key excerpt:
Tribune: One of our concerns with the Orlando rail plan is how it might affect Tampa and Lakeland. CSX told us they are moving more freight trains to this side of the state and wouldn’t allow passenger trains on freight lines here. What are your thoughts on that?
Mica: That’s not true. What they have said is that their plans right now wouldn’t be to do anything. I don’t have a proposal from this area. That’s why I’m saying this area has to get in the mix. Most of existing rights of way are owned by CSX. If you pee on CSX’s parade in Central Florida, do you think they’re going to cooperate with other entities?
Uh, yes it is true, unless you pay CSX giant access extortion fees and put it in complete control of all rail policy in the state and build it whatever it wants. Trust me, pee or not pee, CSX is not going to “cooperate with other entities.” It is going to dictate.
Say this with me for the 8,000th time: John Mica doesn’t care a whit about commuter rail. Mica cares about using taxpayer money to construct a single, massive freight rail corridor through west Central Florida and otherwise putting in place CSX’s business plan for the state with no consideration for how it affects communities. The crappy Orlando system is a fig leaf.