Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Opportunity Lost in Baltimore

Riding the Metro this afternoon, I bumped into an old newspaper colleague, Paul West, the chief (and last remaining employee) of The Baltimore Sun's D.C. bureau, who told me that the Sun had just laid off 60+ newsroom employees.

Bad as that news is, I learned later that the big layoff apparently also signals the end of a plan to return the Sun to local ownership and operate as a nonprofit. According to a report this evening on Poynter Online, Baltimore County businessman Ted Venetoulis thinks his plan to operate the Sun as a nonprofit is DOA. From Rick Edmonds' report:

Venetoulis and other local backers have been working on a deal to acquire the paper for years and thought they were close as recently as a few weeks ago. But complications involving Tribune Co.'s bankruptcy proceedings had pushed the schedule back several months, Venetoulis said in a phone interview.

And by ditching so many experienced print editors, Tribune Co. could be signalling that it plans to continue running the operation itself rather than selling it.

"One assumes that the publishers have balanced the need to respond to economic conditions," Venetoulis said, "with a need to provide a quality editorial product." But he sounded doubtful.

Not surprisingly, Venetoulis supports a bill written by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., to allow newspapers run as tax-exempt nonprofits. Venetoulis, a former county executive, gave $1,000 to Cardin's Senate campaign in 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

1 comment:

  1. Jim -
    This blog is a great idea and I'm glad you're doing it. I'm forwarding the link to my brother, Joel, a J-school professor at Stanford. He has a pgm there called "The future of newspaper journalism" or something like that.

    John Brinkley