A couple of months ago, a friend was waiting in the lobby at The Tampa Tribune. He was here on other business, but we exchanged hellos and a bit of small talk before he lowered his voice and asked, "You guys OK?"
"I heard you guys are going out of business, right after the Republican convention."
"Where did you hear that?"
"It's all over town."
Of course it was. Just like it was four years ago when our subscribers were told they should switch to a St. Petersburg newspaper because the Trib was folding right after Tampa hosted the Super Bowl.
We're still here.
That didn't stop the rumor from resurfacing every six months or so, usually from the same source, and always with a spike in anxiety for people busting their tails here to produce a great daily newspaper.
It didn't help when the Trib, like just about every newspaper in the country, had a succession of layoffs. Those weren't just numbers walking out the door. They were our friends, colleagues, and people we love and respect.
I was thinking about those friends today when it was announced the Trib had been sold to the Revolution Capital Group.
That we were sold was no surprise. This newspaper has been on the market for months. But imagine how it sounded here when my new boss, Robert Loring, the founder and managing partner of Revolution Capital, said, "We are here to stay."
I have invested 38 years with this newspaper, nearly two-thirds of my life, and I know what it means to our readers. Along with other colleagues, we tell the tale of where we live – good, bad, beauty and warts.
Some days you like us, some days not so much, but one thing can't be denied: The people at this newspaper know this town. We didn't just move in and act like we own the joint. This is home and has been for a long time. If it sounds like I'm taking this a little personal, well, I am.
We have been beaten up the last few years, and everyone knew about it. Unlike our competition, we are not relentless self-promoters. What everyone here does, every day, is our best to get the story right for the people who trust us. Today's announcement means we get to keep doing that.
We all know the world is changing. Our new owners promised an emphasis on delivering digital news as well as print, and I would have been disappointed if they hadn't said that. Business is business and everyone has had to adapt.
I'm not thinking about that just now, though. I'm thinking about the people over the years who told me they cut out a story I wrote and saved it in a scrapbook. I'm thinking about the people who run the Gasparilla races every year. They remain some of my favorite stories.
I'm thinking about this great big wonderful place – not Tampa Bay , not a body of water, but a place with distinct names and identities like Temple Terrace, Brandon, Plant City, West Tampa, Carrollwood and Riverview.
And I'm thinking about the stories we'll continue to share, no matter what someone else would like you to believe.