A HISTORY OF THE SAINT PETERSBURG TIMES
From 1884 to present
W.L. Straub, a crusader, owned the Times in the early 1900s.
This newspaper started as a country weekly on July 25, 1884, in Dunedin and was called the West Hillsborough
Times. The newspaper was bought by A.C. Turner in December of 1884 and moved to Clearwater. Pinellas County
had not been created yet, and St. Petersburg was a fishing village on the south end of the peninsula.
The Rev. R.J. Morgan bought the paper from Turner in 1892 for $1,200, moved it to St. Petersburg and renamed the
small weekly the St. Petersburg Times. Morgan sold the newspaper to Ira J. Gore, who operated it until his death in
1900. A year later Gore’s son, Ira Jr., sold the Times to a company headed by W.L. Straub.
During W.L. Straub’s ownership, this masthead served as his vision of St. Petersburg’s skyline.
The Times changed to a semiweekly in 1907, then in 1912 to a six-days-a-week newspaper, publishing every day
except Monday. Straub, who played a significant role in the creation of Pinellas County, calling the area “Peerless
Pinellas,” was a fiery crusader and a strong believer in personal journalism. The masthead of the Times had a
drawing of St. Petersburg’s skyline as he envisioned it might be, complete with a city pier, hotel towers and big
Paul Poynter, a publisher from Indiana, arrived in St. Petersburg in 1912. He was so impressed with the potential of
the Times that he bought the newspaper within 48 hours of his arrival. In September of that year, Times Publishing
Company was organized with Poynter as president and Straub as vice president and editor.
In 1924, the newspaper began publishing seven mornings a week. To accommodate its growth, in 1927 the Times
moved into a larger building at 440 First Ave. S.
Straub died in 1939. Nelson Poynter, son of Paul Poynter, became editor and continued the tradition established by
his father and Straub which was “merely to tell the truth.” This remains the Times policy today.
Paul Poynter died in 1950. Nelson Poynter became president and editor of the Times and its principal stockholder.
In 1969, Nelson Poynter became chairman of the board of the Times Publishing Company. Donald K. Baldwin was
named editor and president, and John B. Lake became executive vice president.
With the installation of 10 units of Goss Metro offset presses and two folders in 1969, Times readers received offset
printed newspaper for the first time.
The printing plant on 34th Street was completed in 1959. At that point there were 10 press units; today there are 63.
Jack Lake became publisher in 1971 and during his 15-year tenure oversaw tremendous growth in circulation and
advancements in technology.
Baldwin retired in February 1972, and Eugene C. Patterson was named editor and president.
In 1972, news bureaus were opened in Dade City, Brooksville and Inverness, in addition to the existing Port Richey
and Clearwater bureaus.
In 1975, Nelson Poynter established the Modern Media Institute (now known as the Poynter Institute for Media
Studies) as a non-profit educational institution to teach and research journalism, and to which he left his stock in the
Times Publishing Company.
Nelson Poynter died on June 15, 1978. Gene Patterson became chief executive officer and also continued to
perform the duties of editor and president.
In 1984, TIME magazine named the Times one of the 10 Best Newspapers in America.
Patterson retired in 1988 and was succeeded as Times CEO and Chairman by Andy Barnes, whom he had recruited
15 years earlier from The Washington Post.
In 1990, the hostile takeover attempt of Times Publishing Company by a group of investors led by Robert M. Bass
Paul Tash was named executive editor in 1992, assuming overall responsibility for the news operation.
In 1994, the Times sponsored the first in a series of major political debates: the 1994 Florida Gubernatorial debates.
These were followed by the 1996 Vice Presidential debate, and in 1998, by the Florida Gubernatorial and U.S.
The Times began its presence on the Internet in 1995 with the creation of our Web site: sptimes.com. In 1999 we
added the community/entertainment site tampabay.com.
Later, Tampa Bay Cars, Tampa Bay Jobs, Tampa Bay Homes and Tampa Bay Classified were created. All can be
reached through sptimes.com/marketplace/. During hurricane season and throughout the year, our www.
FloridaForecast.com is a popular Web site.
There are in-depth sports reports, multimedia packages, video, and many more interactive features offered by the
Times. You can find links to them on our home page, www.sptimes.com.
In 1997, TIME magazine again recognized the Times as one of America’s best newspapers, calling it “most
A new Land O’Lakes bureau opened in 1998 to better serve readers and advertisers in east and central Pasco
The Times celebrated a record-breaking $210 million in revenue in 1998 and secured its position as the largest daily
newspaper in Florida, surpassing the Miami Herald.
In 1999, the Columbia Journalism Review ranked the Times No. 9 on its list of the nation’s best newspapers for the
In February, 2000, Paul Tash was named Editor & President of the St. Petersburg Times; Andy Barnes retained the
titles of Chairman and CEO.
In September of 2000, Marty Petty joined the Times as Executive Vice President. She came from the Hartford
Courant, where she had been publisher.
In early 2002, a new weekly regional was successfully launched in south Tampa, called City Times, and a year later
the Brandon Times was added to the mix of regional weeklies. Also in 2002, a new bureau opened in Crystal River.
In May 2003, a new bureau opened in Brooksville serving all of Hernando County and combining the former
Brooksville and Spring Hill bureaus.
On May 15, 2004, Andy Barnes retired as Chairman and CEO. He remains Chairman of the Poynter Institute and is
chairman of the Pulitzer Prize board. Paul Tash became editor, CEO and chairman upon Andy's retirement.
The Times won its first Pulitzer Prize in 1964. The prize for Meritorious Public Service was awarded to the Times and
writer Martin Waldron for his coverage of the Florida Turnpike Authority and its reckless expenditure of public money.
In 1980, Bette Orsini and Charles Stafford won the Times a second Pulitzer Prize. They won it for Meritorious Public
Lucy Morgan & Jack Reed
In 1985, Lucy Morgan and Jack Reed picked up another Pulitzer for the newspaper, this time for Investigative
The Times’ fourth Pulitzer was awarded in 1991 when Sheryl James won the prize for Feature Writing for her four-
part series, “A Gift Abandoned,” about a young woman who abandoned her newborn baby in a box by a dumpster.
In 1995, the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing was awarded to Jeffrey Good for “Final Indignities,” an editorial series
exposing flaws in Florida’s estate system.
In 1998, the Times won its sixth Pulitzer Prize. Thomas French won the prize for Feature Writing for “Angels and
Demons.” Also in 1998, Times reporters were Pulitzer finalists in Explanatory Journalism and Investigative Reporting.
In addition to the Pulitzer prizes above, the paper and individual staffers have received many significant awards over
the years. Those that follow are in addition to scores of local, state, regional and national awards in the areas of
writing, design, photography, printing, promotion and public relations.
1979 “Best of Show” winner in the Kodak International Color Contest. The Times also received the “Best of World”
award from Kodak that same year.
1986 The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) awarded staff writer David Finkel a “Distinguished Writing
1988 The Society of Newspaper Designers named the Weekend section one of the best-designed regularly
appearing sections in the country.
1989 The National Association of Black Journalists awarded Times columnist Peggy Peterman a “Lifetime
Achievement Award.” And in 1999, the International Women’s Media Foundation also gave Peggy its Lifetime
1992-1995 & 1997 Working Mother magazine named the Times one of the best 100 companies in the country for
1994 The National Association of Real Estate Editors awarded Times business reporter Robert Keefe first place in
real estate reporting among newspapers. He won the award again in 1996.
1996 The Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) named Gary Shelton “Best Sports Columnist” in the nation.
1996 The National Association of Black Journalists recognized Times sports writer Ernest Hooper with a national
award for his story titled, “If you have talent, they will come.”
1996 The Times’ Travel section was named Best Newspaper Travel Section in the circulation category of 350,000-
499,999 in an annual competition by the Society of American Travel Writers.
1998 The APSE once again named the Times Sports section one of the nation’s best in three categories: Daily,
Sunday and Special sections. It also named the Times sports writers among the nation’s top 10 in investigative
reporting, enterprise reporting and game stories.
1999 Bill Adair and David Dahl won Sigma Delta Chi awards for national reporting; Kent Fischer won a national
education writing award; and Mike Wilson won an award from the American Association of Sunday & Feature Editors.
2000 The ASNE awarded the Times staff first place in the deadline reporting category. Jamie Francis won
Photographer of the Year in the Region Six National Press Photographers Association competition.
2000 The Times won Best In Show for Color and Black & White in the Inland Press Association’s Print Quality
2001 The Times Sports section once again earned top 10 honors from the ASNE for Daily section, Special section
(Final Four) and single news story. Plus top 20 honors for our Sunday Section.
2003 Jamie Francis received Cliff Edom’s New America Award from the National Press Photographers Association.
2003 Top 10 honors from the Associated Press Sports Editors were awarded to Gary Shelton, sports column writing;
Ric Stroud, news reporting; Antonya English and John Barry, sports projects. The Times also received top 20 honors
for the Sunday sports section.
2003 The Scripps Howard Foundation awarded Kelley Benham the Ernie Pyle award for human interest writing, and
Julie Hauserman the Edward J. Meeman National Journalism Award for environmental reporting.
2004 Craig Pittman won the Waldo Proffitt Award in Environmental Journalism from the Florida Society of Newspaper
Editors. The award is presented each year to recognize distinguished examples of reporting and commentary about
environmental issues in the state.