5 things I think I think about today’s Tampa Bay Times

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I’ve been meaning to say how reassuring it was to see reporter Drew Harwell write this piece about how investment fund Blackstone is buying up rental properties throughout Tampa Bay. It was Harwell, you might remember, who ‘made a billion dollar mistake’ in September when he reported that Blackstone intended to invest $1 billion in the local real estate market, buying up homes and holding them as rental properties. That story quickly fell apart after the South Florida Sun Sentinel would be buying up homes in many markets, but only spending a tiny piece of that billion dollars in Tampa Bay. 

Times readers were not privy to what, if any, discipline Harwell faced for that egg-on-your-face moment, but, from almost all accounts, he is a solid, enterprising reporter who did not deserve to remain in the doghouse for long. Good to see his editors stayed confident in him and redeployed him on this subject.

If you are a political junkie, there are three reads in the Times today you can’t pass up: first, is an op-ed from Senators Bob Graham and George LeMieux on the need to restore Florida’s runoff primary, there is John Romano’s smart column about the St. Pete City Council’s role in the debate over building a new Pier, and Michael Kruse’s familiarity with the Jim Greer saga (it was Kruse who wrote one of the definitive article on Greer’s rise to power) make his coverage of Greer’s sentencing so easy to read; as Kruse said on Twitter, being in the courthouse was like seeing an old friend again. 

My Google Reader — going away shortly, unfortunately; damn you Google! — is filling up more often with entries from the Bay Buzz blog. For four years, I’ve implored the editors of the this blog about local politics to do something with what could be valuable real estate. And for four years, the newspaper has done very little (thereby ceding some of the market for local online political news to SaintPetersBlog — so thanks, Heather Uriquedes).

However, this uptick in posts from the Bay Buzz confirms a rumor I heard that the Bay Buzz is about to get buzzing again. And why not? This is campaign season in the City of St. Petersburg. If there was any time to crank up the Bay Buzz again, now is it. Also, there are some solid reporters — Anna Phillips and Mark Puente, along with Anne Lindberg and Keyonna Summers — who could easily have the Bay Buzz hummin’.

Speaking of Google Reader, what’s up with the Times‘ RSS feed? It hasn’t been the same since the makeover of the Times website. What feeds is inconsistent: sometimes there is text with the entries, sometimes there is the full text of a story, sometimes there is none at all. Often, there is a broken link. 

Hopefully, one of the developers at the Times will read this and double-check the site’s RSS feed.

It’s not news unless the Times reports it, right?

The Buzz reported yesterday, March 27, that Senator Marco Rubio will be the keynote speaker for the Hillsborough County Republican Party’s 2013 Lincoln Day Dinner — and the Reagan Day Dinner in Pasco County.

That Rubio would be the keynote speaker was first reported here and on the Tampa Tribune’s site on February 8 — or forty seven days ago.

I asked editor Amy Hollyfield about this story already being reported. She kindly tweeted back to me, “very possibly, but we have not reported :(“

Well, then it wasn’t news.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.