Paul Tash leaves the Tampa Bay Times after 47 years

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Paul Tash, the Tampa Bay Times' longest-serving CEO and chairman, is retiring.

What's happening: The paper's controversial leader is leaving after 47 years, it announced yesterday, but will continue to chair the board of trustees at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, the nonprofit owner of the newspaper.

  • Times Publishing Co. president Conan Gallaty will replace him as CEO and is expected to become chairman when Tash, 67, leaves its board of directors July 1.

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Why it matters: The Times made history under Tash's tenure, as he pushed for domination of the Tampa Bay market.

  • The Times won nine of its 13 Pulitzer Prizes after he became editor in 1992.

  • Two years after he became editor and president in 2000, the paper bought the naming rights to Tampa’s hockey arena, renaming it the St. Pete Times Forum.

  • The St. Petersburg Times became the Tampa Bay Times in 2012 in what the paper now calls "a change that reflected Tash's drive to be seen as the region's newspaper of record."

🗞 Yes, but: To buy and shutter the Tribune four years later, Tash and his wife, Karyn, joined a group of local business leaders in loaning the Times up to $15 million.

The other side: "What kind of legacy is that?" Creative Loafing editor Ray Roa tells Axios.

  • "You bought out a newspaper, immediately closed it and didn't even allow them to put out a final edition? This is a guy who was responsible for that. So many great journalists have gone through there and done a lot of great work… but that paper, like many, continues to struggle to navigate the changes."

  • Roa wants to know if a woman from the Times' editorial staff was considered to take Tash's place, and whether he'll remain on the editorial board.

What they're saying: "Politicians were elected, issues won and defeated, hundreds of thousands of lives impacted because of the decisions of Paul Tash. He took this power and responsibility seriously — and the region is better for it," Florida Politics editor Peter Schorsch tells Axios.

  • "Unfortunately, there is a flip side to the coin, that while Paul did much to improve Tampa Bay, his financial stewardship of the Times, etc. has not had the same record of success. Were the Times a public company, Paul Tash would have been pressured to resign many years ago."

Ben's thought bubble: Tash was a dignified and respectable leader who remembered everyone’s name, commanded respect and gave life to a wealth of change-prompting journalism.

  • Gallaty is the Times' first leader from outside the newsroom, and the first not cut from the same cloth as Nelson Poynter.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to state Tash’s pay was criticized (removing a reference that it had remained untouched).

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