In the past 24 years the magazine formerly known as “The Buccaneer” when it was first owned by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1980s, has grown into PewterReport.com, a leading news website covering the Bucs with nearly three quarters of a million unique visitors each year and over 20 million page views annually that employs over a dozen writers, photographers and support staffers.
Now entering its 25th year of covering Bucs football led by publisher Scott Reynolds, who has 17 years worth of experience covering the Bucs, and director of photographer Cliff Welch, who has worked for the organization for the past 21 years, the rise of PewterReport.com can be chronicled for the loyal fans and readers that have supported the publication and website during a quarter century of reporting. Not only has it delivered breaking news, hard-hitting analysis and inside scoop found nowhere else throughout the years, PewterReport.com has also changed the way Bucs news has been reported by other media outlets over the years as well.The first part of this two-part retrospective appeared on PewterReport.com on Monday.
In the conclusion of this two-part retrospective, key members of the organization will tell the story of Pewter Report, with Reynolds, owner and president Hugh MacArthur, vice president of business operations Kim Roper and former editors-in-chief Jim Flynn and Charlie Campbell offering up their commentary.The Growth of Pewter Report
Long-time Bucs fan, season ticket holder and Pewter Report subscriber Hugh MacArthur, a successful business investor, purchased the publication and website from Fox in 2006 after meeting with Reynolds and Flynn and mapping out a strategy to grow the business and make it even more successful. Pewter Report Incorporated was created and Reynolds was promoted to the role of publisher while Flynn was promoted to editor-in-chief duties in June 2006.
“I was grateful to Jeff for selling the magazine to Hugh MacArthur in 2006, because I know it wasn’t easy for him, but it allowed Jeff to focus more on the store and allowed the magazine and website to get the attention it needed,” Flynn said. “Like Scott and I, Hugh was a subscriber first. He reached out to Scott and I on the message boards back in 2005, and offered some insight into the state of the magazine and website from a business standpoint. His accuracy as to how our business was doing was amazing considering he had never talked to us before or seen anything other than the magazines or our stories on the website.
“As a business professional, Hugh had the expertise to take Pewter Report to the next level. Thankfully, Hugh decided to make Scott and I part of the deal in acquiring the magazine and website. We flew to Boston to brainstorm and put a plan together. We watched the Bucs get shutout by the Patriots in New England, but Hugh was still very excited about purchasing the magazine. Hugh took a chance by purchasing Pewter Report, and he gave it the best chance to survive and thrive when the team struggled and the economy went in the toilet.”
MacArthur’s direction has helped Pewter Report and PewterReport.com ascend to new heights as the readership has doubled since he took over the enterprise in 2006. A new office was set up on Dale Mabry Highway and the Pewter Report team positioned itself for opportunities to increase promotion and marketing.
“What we saw in 2006 was a substantial market opportunity,” MacArthur said. “Pewter Report had an incredibly loyal and devoted subscriber base, but both the website and the marketing efforts had tremendous untapped potential that required investment. As a subscriber, Pewter Report was the first media site I checked every morning. I wanted to work with management to continue to develop the kind of content I loved as a fan.
“I was surprised to find such a talented reporting and editorial team in such a small business, led by Scott Reynolds. The chance to invest in an NFL credentialed media outlet and help develop it for Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans everywhere was too attractive to pass up. From the first discussion I had with Scott, I could see that he had the kind of burning passion to excel and a love of football that is required to be successful. I have enjoyed working closely with him both as a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan and as an investor.”
For a span of three and a half years, Pewter Report’s magazine print run grew from 10,000 to 25,000 with MacArthur, Reynolds and Flynn running the enterprise.Pewter Report Drafts Roper
MacArthur’s role was largely behind the scenes as Reynolds and Flynn handled the editorial duties and the business side of the company, but more help was needed. Shortly after taking over Pewter Report and the creation of Pewter Report Incorporated, the company hired Kim Roper, a 2006 graduate of the University of South Florida to become the business manager and handle subscriptions.
“Kim Roper is an essential asset to Pewter Report,” Flynn said. “A lot of people probably wouldn’t believe it, but we hired Kim as Pewter Report’s business manager at the age of 21. She had graduated from USF in just three years, which obviously was impressive, but what was even more impressive about Kim was that she taught herself so many things and computer programs. Kim wears more hats than anyone on the outside could ever appreciate. I could also trust that when we were at One Buc Place reporting on the Bucs, Kim was working hard at the office to take care of our subscribers and advertisers. One thing you had to love about Kim was her objectivity. Any ideas brought to Kim for our business were always met with skepticism, but that was a good thing. If the idea got through Kim, you knew it had some real potential.”
Roper, an avid football fan, brought an enthusiastic attitude to the workplace and fit right in at Pewter Report.
“I remember Hugh asking me if I was nervous during my interview – of course I was!” Roper said. “I was 21 and this would be my first real job with lots of responsibility but I was excited and knew that I could handle it. I’ve always been told I never give myself enough credit though, so thankfully Hugh, Scott and Jim saw enough in me to offer me the job.”
Roper handles many roles at Pewter Report and has received several promotions, the most of recent of which has her as the company’s vice president of business operations. While she oversees subscriptions, accounting and human resources at Pewter Report, Roper is not afraid of doing the grunt work when needed. She recalled one interesting promotional event that required some last-minute maneuvering on her part.
“I remember going up to Orlando for the Bucs training camp that first year in 2006, and our goal was to hand out thousands of magazines to fans that came to watch practice,” Roper said. “Even though Disney knew we were going to be doing this and approved it, we quickly got shut down from passing anything out at Bucs practice because the Tampa Tribune, which was a Pewter Partner of the Buccaneers, complained to the team. So I suddenly had to figure out how to get rid of the stacks and stacks of magazines we had just trucked over. So we quickly moved our distribution point and I think the rest of my day was spent in the Disney parking lot handing out 10,000 sample magazines to Bucs fans rather than watching practice.”
Reynolds has seen Roper’s business skills develop over the years and admits she is the most important spoke in Pewter Report’s ever-growing wheel.
“Kim has been an invaluable member of the PR team,” Reynolds said. “In many ways she is my right-hand lady and I have really enjoyed working with her over the years. I trust her implicitly and really value her input in the growth and direction of our enterprise. Pewter Report simply wouldn’t operate without Kim’s input and talents.”PewterReport.com Changes The Way The Bucs Are Covered
One of the biggest contributions PewterReport.com has made to the Tampa Bay fan base when it comes to coverage of the team over the years is the way Bucs news was reported. Up until a few years ago, the two major newspapers in the area, the Tampa Tribune and the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times) would embargo their Bucs stories on their respective websites until midnight so that they wouldn’t see which stories would appear in each other’s papers until the next day.
The newspaper beat writers would attend the same press conferences as the Pewter Reporters, but Reynolds and Flynn would put that news up right away and beat the newspapers’ coverage by hours. That practice made PewterReport.com the go-to place for Bucs fans and allowed the number of the website’s visitors to grow by leaps and bounds.
“In a way, Pewter Report created an animal locally,” Flynn said. “The papers held their news back until around midnight or 1:00 a.m., so their competitors wouldn’t have a chance to lift the story or follow up on it and write their own version. When we broke a story, we published it on PewterReport.com right away and would have it exclusively for half a day or so. Eventually, the papers responded by publishing their stories as soon as they had them, too.
“With the Tampa Tribune and St. Pete Times, we had two major competitors that had a lot more resources than we did. Their company names also carried more weight with agents that lived in other states around the country. We had to outwork them, meaning we had to break stories, we had to offer analysis that fans couldn’t read anywhere else. Neither Scott nor I ever felt we would win any awards as writers, but we knew we had to outwork the Tribune and the Times in order to be deemed a legitimate news source. We did that. Given the amount of name recognition and credibility the newspapers had, we always felt that they should be embarrassed if they ever got beat on a story by Pewter Report. It was kind of like the colonists’ victories against Britain in the Revolutionary War.”
The focus during the Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen years at One Buccaneer Place was on breaking news, and thanks to developing a multitude of sources within the organization during that period of time, Pewter Report’s credibility and name recognition grew even stronger.
“Pewter Report is probably best known for its analysis, but we became a reliable source for breaking Bucs news as well,” Flynn said. “Breaking news was important because it helped establish Pewter Report as a legitimate news source.
“I remember calling an agent in California and telling the receptionist who I was with. The agent’s receptionist replied, “Okay, Jim. You’re with computer what?” But the more news we broke and the more agents we spoke to, the better known Pewter Report became, to the point where some agents would drop what they were doing to take our calls, or would spend a considerable amount of time on the phone talking with us.”
Charlie Campbell, who was hired as a Bucs beat writer in April 2008 to team up with Reynolds and Flynn, was quickly indoctrinated into the Pewter Report work ethic. Campbell had been in the Marine Corps and his hard-working mentality was one of the reasons why he was hired.
“The PR writers had to go above and beyond the other media for a variety of reasons,” Campbell said. There was no choice to be made. It was just a requirement for Pewter Report to survive. First of all, the PR reporters had to work harder covering the team in order to standout from the papers and build a name for PR. The readers of PR are the die-hards, so as reporters they had to push for more details about football from an X’s and O’s perspective along with getting inside information on the team. It was demanded and required for PR by the customers, but the papers could do more general news and leave it at that.
"PR is a small company so the PR staff always had other tasks along with reporting. Ad sales, business management, golf tournaments, board moderation, and all kinds of other things were tasks of PR writers that aren't traditional tasks of other reporters. There is little doubt that PR reporters had less time off and more on their plate in just about every way imaginable."
Pewter Report’s impact on the local media and the way the Buccaneers are covered has not gone unnoticed. Former Tampa Tribune Bucs beat writer Pat Yasinskas, who now covers the Bucs and the other NFC South teams for ESPN.com, has been a loyal reader of PewterReport.com through the years as well as Reynolds’ mentor in the media.
“Through all the growth, the constant I’ve seen is that Pewter Report continues to put out news and analysis and always does it with journalistic integrity. That’s why Pewter Report has grown and thrived,” Yasinskas said. “More importantly, Pewter Report was ahead of the game. It's no secret that the world is transitioning from the printed product to digital formats. Pewter Report recognized that early on and was ahead of the game. The product has evolved quite nicely with talented writers like Jim Flynn and Charlie Campbell – and now Mark Cook – working with Scott Reynolds.
“I often hear from people in other cities, asking for advice on how to start up a website to cover an NFL team. I always point to PewterReport.com because I view that as the perfect model.”PewterReport.com Killed Pewter Report Magazine
The reach and power of the Internet is causing many companies to cease printing newspapers and magazines. The alarming rate of growth PewterReport.com was undergoing, combined with ever-rising printing and mailing costs and terrible delivery issues with the post office led the company to discontinue publishing Pewter Report magazine after the Season Kickoff Issue in 2009.
“I contributed heavily to the magazine, but we all knew that the Web was the future of the industry,” Campbell said. “We all were sad to see the paper magazine go, but the NFL, along with the rest of the news media has become too fast paced for print copy. When we went to the digital magazine it was really no different than writing a story for the web. TV and the Internet are dominating news. Newspapers and magazines are going the route of the dinosaur, so PR had to adapt to the environment.”
Roper, who deals with subscribers only a daily basis, acknowledged that ceasing the publication was a shock to Pewter Report’s readers.
“The switch from print to an all-digital format was a difficult one,” Roper said. “We are blessed to have many subscribers who have been around since the beginning, but unfortunately, change is inevitable. Although so many – us included – loved the printed magazine in terms of photos and its collectability, we just couldn’t deliver the news in a timely fashion. The mail process took some of our subscribers weeks to receive the magazine, and by that time, much of the information was outdated.”
The decision to go to a strictly online format with PewterReport.com and no longer produce a printed magazine was made easy in the final issue. During the time the Pewter Report 2009 Season Kickoff Issue was on the presses, the Bucs fired offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski and replaced him with Greg Olson, traded quarterback Luke McCown, who was written about in the magazine as a the potential starter, and also placed rookie offensive tackle Xavier Fulton, who was also featured in the issue, on injured reserve.
“Our first goal as a member of the media is to deliver news in a timely fashion,” Reynolds said. “The amount of inaccurate information that was in that issue was unacceptable and we were no longer able to do our jobs and get news to our readers with a printed publication. I miss producing the magazine and getting the feedback from our subscribers about each issue, but we are in a dot com world now where we can get news to our readers in an instantaneous fashion now.”
At its peak, Pewter Report magazine had a circulation of 25,000 per month. In peak months, PewterReport.com now has 70,000 visitors, which is nearly three times as many viewers.Pewter Report’s Roster Changes
Although Reynolds has been the editorial mainstay at Pewter Report for 17 years, Flynn was with the enterprise for 10 years before shocking readers and the PR staff with his sudden departure in April 2010. Wanting a break from the demanding, year-round rigors of being an NFL reporter to start a family, Flynn left the media and began work as the marketing director for L.R.E. Ground Services.
“The job of a reporter seems very glamorous on the outside, but believe me when I say there are a lot of not-so-fun hours involved with covering an NFL team,” Flynn said. “But I set out to cover a professional sports team for a living, and I was very blessed and fortunate to have had that opportunity for 10 years of my life.”
Reynolds was sad to see his teammate for 10 years leave given all that they had accomplished together, but was excited for the new opportunity that his friend was going to undertake.
“I was extremely fortunate to work with Jim for 10 great years and we are still good friends to this day,” Reynolds said. “His Flynn’s Focus columns were always top notch and he had an uncanny instinct as a reporter to sniff out a story and an interesting way to develop an entire article around one interesting fact that he would dig up.
“Jim’s hard work, dedication and sweat equity played a huge role in helping make Pewter Report what it is today. He definitely still has his fans out there and his name still pops up from time to time on PewterReport.com’s message boards. He is definitely missed.”
Easing the blow of Flynn’s departure was the promotion of Campbell to editor-in-chief shortly before the draft in 2010. Campbell’s specialty was draft coverage and he and Reynolds would team up to accurately forecast the team’s selection of several draft picks, most recently safety Ahmad Black in 2011.
“Charlie Campbell was practically tortured before he was offered a full-time position with Pewter Report,” Flynn said. “It was no fault of his own. We had been approached by so many different people that said, ‘I want your job. I want to cover the Bucs and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to do that.’ We’d give them a chance, and more often than not, they flamed out within months, or weeks. After a few of those experiences, we refused to be burnt again if we could avoid it.
“I put Charlie through a lot during the interview process to feel him out and make sure he was serious about wanting to do the job, and do it right. One of his assignments was to stay up the night free agency started and keep his phone by his side, because I was going to call him with the first story we broke that night/morning and tell him to write it. Not only did Charlie stay up late, he delivered the story, and it was a good one. In fairness to Charlie, we wanted him to have realistic expectations for what this job was going to be like sometimes. What people don’t realize is that Charlie was a long shot to land the job because he lived in the Chicago area, but we learned that he had ties to Florida and was willing and able to move, which he did.”
Campbell recalled the tough interview process and how that helped him make an instant impact as Pewter Report’s Bucs beat writer.
“In February of 2008 I had just gotten home from being injured in Officer Candidate School for the United States Marine Corps when I saw the posting on the PR boards,” Campbell said. “My plan was to go back to OCS once I was healthy, but I figured I would apply to PR and see what happens. Jim put me through a tough hiring process, but it was fun and well worth it. Working at PR and covering a NFL team was too rare an opportunity to pass up.
“My first week on the job was OTAs in April coming off the 2007 division championship. If I remember correctly I wrote four or five stories from the OTA, so there was no easing into it. From the very first day, Jim and Scott were a lot of fun to work with and I thought the three of us made a great team covering the Bucs.
After serving as Pewter Report’s editor-in-chief for nearly two years, Campbell left for a senior writer position at WalterFootball.com and was replaced by Mark Cook, who was hired in July 2011.
“Charlie did a great job as editor-in-chief and was able to ease the departure of Jim Flynn,” Reynolds said. “His PI Quick Hits column was a hit with readers and he was able to quickly develop contacts within the Bucs organization to deliver inside scoop. While I was sad to see Charlie depart, I know that covering the NFL Draft is his passion and I’m glad to see him get such a great opportunity at WalterFootball.com to pursue his dreams.”A Look Ahead To The Future of Pewter Report
With Reynolds, Cook and new Bucs beat writer Dory LeBlanc assembled for the upcoming 2012 season, the future for Pewter Report and PewterReport.com remains bright, according to Roper.
“Jim and Charlie leaving were difficult transitions, both for myself and the business,” Roper said. “They left for incredible opportunities and I still remain close friends with both of them. I know our subscribers were devastated to see them go, but luckily we have been in good hands through both transitions. Charlie was able to step up and really be a leader in Jim’s absence. And thankfully, we had Mark when Charlie left. I think now with the changes that we are bringing to how content is delivered the analysis we will be bringing to Bucs fans, we have a great line up for this season.”
With a new offense and a new defense in Tampa Bay under rookie head coach Greg Schiano, Pewter Report will be focused even more on analysis this season with game film reviews and more X’s and O’s reporting.
“Scott and I both love the analytical side of the game and that will be more of a focus starting this year,” MacArthur said. “Many fans hunger to know not just what happened, but why something happened. Pewter Report looks forward to continuing to be the place that Bucs fans go to for the kind of insight you can’t find anywhere else.”
That should be welcome news to most Pewter Insider subscribers, who will see more premium content than ever before in 2012, and an earlier emphasis on 2013 draft coverage led by Reynolds, LeBlanc and Pewter Report’s contributing writer Eric Dellaratta.
“Pewter Insider subscriptions will remain at $10 per year, which is a tremendous value given the content we have provided in the past and will provide in the coming months,” Reynolds said. “If you aren’t a Pewter Insider subscriber, you will be missing out on some unique premium content found nowhere else.”Thank You, Bucs Fans
As important as Reynolds, Roper and MacArthur have been to the past success of Pewter Report, in addition to major contributions from Flynn, Campbell and Cook, the PR enterprise and PewterReport.com wouldn’t be successful without the thousands of loyal Bucs fans that visit the site, read the stories and take part in the message boards. The PewterReport.com message boards are the largest Bucs fans message boards on the Internet and play a unique role in the popularity of Pewter Report.
“I have always thought the posters on PewterReport.com’s message boards are the most educated, passionate and insightful Bucs fans around,” Reynolds said. “I have had the good fortune to meet many of the long-time message board participants and appreciate their contributions to PewterReport.com. There is something special about Pewter Report readers because they not only want to know what happened, but why – and they turn to us for those answers.”
Before his 10-year career with PR, Flynn was a regular poster on the PewterReport.com message boards when he followed the team as a fan.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to be a true “fan” again because I was so trained to watch NFL games, particularly the Bucs, in a certain way. I still find it odd watching their games without a laptop in front of me,” Flynn said.
But Flynn fondly remembers the days of Pewter Report get-togethers in Orlando and Tampa where he would interact with Bucs fans and answer questions. One such event stood out.
“Shortly after Charlie was hired, we had a training camp get-together in Orlando,” Flynn said. “There were a lot of Bucs fans there, but Charlie was under the weather that whole week. He was running a fever, but didn’t want to take his foot off the pedal. During the get-together, I remember standing next to Charlie in the front of the room when Scott was answering someone’s question. I heard chattering and looked over and saw that it was Charlie, who was still running a fever and looking pretty bad at that point. Talk about someone being a trooper.”
Campbell has a similar appreciation for the Pewter Report visitors he has met and interacted with over the years.
“I think PR fans are great,” Campbell said. “I’ve been truly blessed to have amazing readers at PR and at WalterFootball.com. They both are very knowledgeable and fun to interact with on the boards and via e-mail. They are loyal and always interested in learning more about football. I’ve come to be personal friends with readers from PR and Walter Football, so I’m really lucky to have been introduced to lot of good people from writing in the media.”
With the advent of Twitter and dozens of other national and local websites that now cover the Buccaneers, it is nearly impossible to have a monopoly on breaking news. In fact, as the Pewter Reporters are busy typing up breaking news reports, some posters are busy typing up or linking the same news on the PewterReport.com message boards and helping break news to other fans.
“I look at our message boards as a collection of citizen journalists who are Bucs fans,” Reynolds said. “Not only are PewterReport.com’s message boards the place to go for fans’ opinions on the team, they are also a destination spot for breaking news from other sources as well. That’s another reason why our boards remain so special.”
The entire Pewter Report staff thanks the Buccaneers fan community for their gracious and tremendous support for the past 25 years and are ready to embark on the next 25 years of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.