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Tribune’s Centro newspaper entering Pinellas

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Published:   |   Updated: March 7, 2014 at 12:10 AM

Centro Tampa will expand its coverage to Pinellas County today, extending the area’s highest-circulated Hispanic publication into a county where the Latino population is expected to increase 21 percent, to 103,707, by 2019, the Tampa Media Group announced.

The free Spanish-language weekly newspaper, which provides hard news and investigative and feature stories, will be the third product that TMG — parent company of The Tampa Tribune — circulates in Pinellas County.

Tampa Media Group launched the The St. Petersburg Tribune, a daily newspaper with a Pinellas-based news staff, in January 2013. It acquired the weekly Clearwater Gazette, covering eight communities, in April.

“We are expanding Centro for the first time because the economy has improved and because of the Hispanic population increase in Pinellas County,” Centro Tampa general manager Orlando Nieves said.

The Hispanic population growth rate in Pinellas County of 71 percent since 2000 tops Florida’s Hispanic growth rate of 57 percent and the nation’s rate of about 43 percent. Some Pinellas cities reported triple-digit Hispanic/Latino population increases.

Centro, which debuted in 2005, has made a profit from advertising the past three years, a noteworthy feat in a challenging newspaper market where circulation and advertising sales are dwindling for many products, Nieves said.

The newspaper reported a weekly home delivery and news rack circulation of 51,584 in Hillsborough and Pasco counties, a December 2013 audit by the Alliance for Audited Media reported.

The launch of Centro Tampa into Pinellas County will add nearly 15,400 to weekly circulation, with 14,879 in home delivery and 500 in news racks, with Centro Tampa circulation reaching about 67,000, Nieves said.

Centro Tampa distribution will be concentrated in two key areas: Pinellas Park, which has a growing Puerto Rican community, and Clearwater, whose Mexican population is growing along with jobs in the hospitality industry.

Free home delivery will be provided to addresses from a list that Centro purchased from marketing providers that track families who identify themselves as Hispanic.

In the three-county area in which Centro Tampa will circulate, 70 percent of all Hispanic adults speak Spanish, including 17 percent who speak Spanish only, 32 percent who speak more Spanish than English, and 21 percent who speak more English than Spanish.

In its news pages, a key issue for Centro Tampa has been transportation, with heavy coverage of airport and airline business and a focus on Tampa International Airport’s case for increasing international traffic.

A recent cover story profiled actor Andy Garcia and reported in-depth about his beliefs about current political and business issues in Cuba.

“We don’t shy away from asking the hard questions,” Nieves said. “We are a serious publication.”

Centro Tampa recently ran a two-part series to uncover consumer complaints involving travel and vacation packages sold by a local travel agency.

tjackovics@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7817

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