Washington Post, Baltimore Sun will share content

December 23, 2008

The Washington Post and The Sun in nearby Baltimore will share some of their journalism, at least the stuff that they don’t try to kill each other to get first as they compete across the hedgerows and parkways of suburban Maryland. Here are some details from the release, sent out on Tuesday:

The Post and The Sun have agreed to share the newspapers’ day-to-day coverage of certain Maryland news and sports. In addition, The Post and The Sun may draw on each other’s national, international and feature stories that are distributed by the LAT-WP News Service, to which both contribute. The exchanges will allow each paper to take advantage of the other’s strengths and expertise in specific subjects around the region and the world.

As part of this accord, exclusive stories will not usually be shared, nor will coverage of such competitive subjects as Maryland state government and University of Maryland athletics.

I couldn’t find a piece in The Sun, which is owned by Tribune Co (which recently filed for bankruptcy), but figure it will be reasonably similar to the Post story, which includes this paragraph:

The deal comes as both newspapers, like the rest of the industry, struggle to retain readers and cut costs as the economics of the business shift.

Robert McCartney, the Post’s Metro editor, said that the move can help the paper save money, but declined to get into how that will happen. He did say that sharing some stories could help each paper assign reporters to areas in their home turf where they need more coverage, something that in theory could cut costs. He declined to offer other specifics on savings.

One way would be cutting the size of the local news and sports teams as a result of abandoning coverage areas — not that that would make anyone happy, though it is something that more people in our business have come to expect as a reality. Tribune has been doing this at its papers, while the Post earlier this year offered buyouts.

McCartney said the paper is always looking at staffing levels, but again, didn’t offer specifics.

Sun Editor Tim Franklin, who is retiring from the paper, wrote this in an e-mail: “We are not planning staff reductions as a result of this partnership. For The Sun, there will be cost savings in travel expenses, freelance and potentially other news syndicate fees.”

(Imagine the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens cooperating in football and you get an idea of how momentous this Washington Post/Baltimore Sun partnership is. Photo: Reuters)

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