Baltimore Sun journalists laid off while covering baseball game
Reporters phoned in middle of game to be told they were joining more than 60 to lose their jobs in Baltimore Sun's newsroom
Bobbie Johnson in San Francisco guardian.co.uk, Thursday 30 April 2009 10.12 BST
Four journalists from US newspaper the Baltimore Sun discovered they were being laid off last night – in the middle of covering a baseball game.
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.
The cuts came as Baltimore Sun executives slashed 61 newsroom jobs – 27% of the paper's staff – as its parent organisation, the Tribune Company, tries to find its way out of $13bn of debt and Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
Other departures included the opinion page editor, copy desk chief, and the title's three remaining bureau chiefs – but a spokeswoman for the company said that the cuts were an important part of the newspaper's "plan for success, not just survival".
"We are going to become a 24-hour local newsgathering operation that more effectively gathers news and distributes it among our many platforms," Renee Mutchnik, the Baltimore Sun Media Group's director of marketing and communications, told the Poynter Institute. "We are really committed to having the same number of feet on the street as we have in the past."
Union leaders reacted angrily to the decision, however, calling them "the worst job cuts in decades".
Earlier this year David Simon, the creator of TV show The Wire who worked as a reporter at the Sun for 12 years, told the Guardian that the newspaper's decline was part of a general failure to report what was really happening in the city.
"If I want to find out what's going on in this city, I've got to go to a f***ing bar and talk to a police lieutenant and take notes on a cocktail napkin," he said. "That's what passes for high-end journalism in Baltimore these days."