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Tampa Bay Times lays off writer, author Craig Pittman and others

Bill DeYoung

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Craig Pittman is the author of "Oh, Florida!" and four other books. Photo from Facebook.

Writer Craig Pittman, a 30-year veteran of the Tampa Bay Times, reported Wednesday via social media that he had been laid off by the newspaper.

“Well, my bosses finally found a way to make me clean my desk,” wrote the environmental reporter and humorist, author of the New York Times bestseller Oh, Florida!: How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country. “After 30 years at Florida’s largest and best paper, I was laid off today.

“It’s been a lot of fun. This is the greatest beat in American journalism and I hope I will be replaced.”

Pittman’s fifth book, Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther, was published in January by Hanover Square Press. Oh, Florida! was also a Florida Book Awards gold medal winner, in 2017.

Pittman’s ouster was in addition to five confirmed Times layoffs Tuesday and Wednesday, all verified via social media – sportswriters Bob Putnam and Rodney Page (both 24-year veterans), Deputy Sports Editor Mike Sherman, photographer Octavio Jones and digital producer Daniel Figueroa IV.

They are the latest in a series of employee purges made in recent months by the struggling media giant. According to documents obtained by Florida Politics, liens against the paper’s parent company now total more than $103 million.

A February memo sent to Times employees announced an across-the-board 10 percent pay cut that would last three months.

A story posted to the Times website Wednesday afternoon announced, without naming names, that 11 employees had been cut.

Executive editor Mark Katches said in the story that the layoffs were necessary because of coronavirus-related advertising losses.

“We all have seen how the financial challenges facing our industry have directly impacted us, our friends and our colleagues,” Katches was quoted as saying. “This has been yet another painful reminder, but we keep moving forward.”

 

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