Daniel Ruth discusses decline of newspaper business listen02/04/09 Seán Kinane
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Long-time Tampa Tribune columnist Daniel Ruth was laid off by the financially troubled newspaper last November.
Ruth spoke this afternoon at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg.
Within a month, of being laid off by the Trib, Ruth was hired by the St. Petersburg Times to write a column every Friday. But that has not completely taken away the sting from when Ruth learned early on the morning of Nov. 10 that he was no longer employed.
“My mind was rolling the tape backwards.”
Looking back, Ruth recalled how great it had been to work as a columnist. But he also noted the decline of the newspaper business, speculating that there is a “50-50” chance that one year from now the Tribune will not be printed every day.
“For the past two years, they have been incredibly stressful, as wave after wave of layoffs began to sweep through the newsroom.”
From an early age, Ruth says he knew he wanted to write for newspapers.
“[My father] would eventually throw the [newspaper] on the ground and [say] ‘god damn communist!’ And I would sit there and watch that and I would think to myself, ‘I’d think I’d like to do that.’”
Ruth says the colorful characters and inept politicians of Hillsborough County and the rest of Florida are a constant source of material for his columns.
Replying to a question about Florida’s continuous revenue problems, which are even worse this year, Ruth brought up one solution with a slim chance of success.
“My personal opinion about this is we need a state income tax.”
Upcoming Suncoast Tiger Bay Club programs include Steve Seibert, executive director of Florida's Century Commission, on Feb. 20, and at least four other programs before May.