MediaFile

Baltimore Sun fires reporters during baseball game

The headline says it all, and adds a nasty twist to this week’s purge at The Sun in Baltimore. Here’s part of The Guardian’s report on how the Tribune-owned Sun did the deed:

The group, consisting of three writers and a photographer, were told the news as they reported back from a game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Los Angeles Angels in a move that was documented by a fellow reporter online.

“Tough times in the newspaper biz,” wrote the OC Register’s Bill Plunkett as an aside during his inning-by-inning update from the game. “Two writers for the Baltimore Sun in the press box here got the news – by phone, during the game – that they had been laid off in the latest round of cost-cutting. Stay classy, Baltimore Sun management.”

Plunkett subsequently updated his comments, adding that another reporter and a photographer had also been axed in the same way.

Here’s the original blog post that Plunkett wrote.

Meanwhile, I’ll ask one indelicate question:

I’ve never been a sportwriter (with two or three notably poor exceptions in my 15 years in journalism), but… how many reporters does a newspaper need at a minimum to cover a baseball game? (The Wall Street Journal discovered last month: not as many as we have) It’s the same question I had when I discovered that The Boston Globe — which could learn whether it will live or die by tonight — has five science reporters. I like it when the job market I work in has lots of places for me to do what I do, but… five science reporters?

Tribune Co papers hit where it hurts, Baltimore Sun slashed

Tribune Co keeps the layoffs coming at its newspapers as the media company moves through the bankruptcy court process.

The Sun: Over in Baltimore, we heard from a source that 21 editors — including most of the metro editing staff and two top editorial editors — were herded into offices and told they had to exit the building immediately. Editor & Publisher confirms this report and says more cuts might be coming as soon as today. Perhaps there’s a strategy in there, but it’s hard to tell what it is when most big-city dailies have abandoned their ambitious overseas reporting goals, saying their real value to the community is their local reporting franchise. UPDATE: Looks like at least 40 more people are getting laid off as we speak, according to two sources I just spoke to at 3pm eastern.

And another UPDATE: A Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild memo says a whopping 27 percent of the Sun’s staff is getting laid off.

Baltimore Sun feels Tribune cost cuts

Suburban bureau reporters at The Sun in Baltimore, Maryland, are about to learn the true meaning of the word “mobile.” The Tribune Co-owned paper is shutting down the last of its three suburban bureaus and bringing their reporters back to the main newsroom in Baltimore proper, sources told MediaFile on Tuesday.

The paper will outfit them with laptops and Blackberries and will send them back into the field to do their job by car or however else they can get to the story. It is part of wider changes going on at Tribune Co, which is in bankruptcy proceedings because of some $13 billion in debt that it has been unable to deal with because of the increasingly grim advertising sales plaguing newspapers.

Tribune’s chief executive, real estate magnate Sam Zell, was unhappy with the amount of empty space that The Sun has in downtown Baltimore, especially when considering all the space that the paper was renting in the suburbs, one of our sources says. The three bureaus that The Sun will shut down are in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties. The Sun’s bureaus in Carroll and Harford counties already closed in the past year. It’s not clear if the two are related, but the three bureaus shutting down now are traditional turf war zones with The Washington Post, which recently said it will begin cooperating with The Sun on some coverage in the counties.

Washington Post, Baltimore Sun will share content

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.