The Baltimore Sun
Front page of The Baltimore Sun,
June 16, 2009
|Founded||May 17, 1837|
501 North Calvert Street|
Baltimore, Maryland 21278
The Baltimore Sun is the largest general-circulation daily newspaper based in the American state of Maryland and provides coverage of local and regional news, events, issues, people, and industries. Founded in 1837, it is owned by tronc, Inc. (formerly known as Tribune Publishing).
The Sun was founded on May 17, 1837, by printer/publisher Arunah Shepherdson Abell (1806–1888) and two associates, William Swain (1809–1868) and Azariah H. Simmons, recently from Philadelphia, where they had started and published the Philadelphia Public Ledger. Abell was born in Rhode Island, and began with the Providence Patriot and later with papers in New York City and Boston. The Abell family owned The Sun (later colloquially known in Baltimore as The Sunpapers), until 1910, when the local Black and Garrett families of financial means gained a controlling interest while still retaining the name A. S. Abell Company for the parent company. The paper was sold in 1986 to the Times-Mirror Company of the Los Angeles Times. The same week, the rival The News American, with publishing antecedents going back to 1773, the oldest paper in the city, now since the 1920s owned by the Hearst Corporation, announced it would fold. In 1997, The Sun acquired the Patuxent Publishing Company, a local suburban newspaper publisher that had a stable of weekly papers.
The Sun, like most legacy newspapers in the United States, has suffered a number of setbacks of late, including a decline in readership, a shrinking newsroom, and competition from a new free daily, The Baltimore Examiner, which has ceased publication. In 2000, the Times-Mirror company was purchased by the Tribune Company of Chicago, whose newspapers, including The Sun, were transferred to Tribune Publishing in 2014.
From 1947 to 1986, The Sun was the owner of Maryland's first television station, WMAR-TV.
On September 19, 2005, and again on August 24, 2008, The Baltimore Sun introduced new layout designs. Its circulation as of 2010 was 195,561 for the daily edition and 343,552 on Sundays. On April 29, 2009, the Tribune Company announced that it would lay off 61 of the 205 staff members in the Sun newsroom. On September 23, 2011, it was reported that the Baltimore Sun would be moving its web edition behind a paywall starting October 10, 2011.
The Baltimore Sun is the flagship of the Baltimore Sun Media Group, which also produces the b free daily newspaper and more than 30 other Baltimore metropolitan-area community newspapers, magazines and Web sites. BSMG content reaches more than one million Baltimore-area readers each week and is the region's most widely read source of news.
On February 20, 2014, The Baltimore Sun Media Group announced they are going to buy the alternative weekly City Paper. In April, the Sun acquired the Maryland publications of Landmark Media Enterprises.
Although there is now only a morning edition, for many years there were two distinct newspapers—The Sun in the morning and The Evening Sun in the afternoon—each with its own reporting and editorial staff. The Evening Sun was first published in 1910 under the leadership of Charles H. Grasty, former owner of the Evening News, and a firm believer in the evening circulation. As part of a trend in the 1980s–1990s that saw the demise of afternoon newspapers nationwide, The Evening Sun ceased publication on September 15, 1995.
After a period of roughly a year during which the paper's owners sometimes printed a two-section product, The Baltimore Sun now has three sections every weekday: News, Sports and, alternatingly, various business and features sections. On some days, comics and such features as the horoscope and TV listings are in the back of the Sports section. After dropping the standalone business section in 2009, The Sun brought back a business section on Tuesdays and Sundays in 2010, with business pages occupying part of the news section on other days. Features sections debuting in 2010 included a Saturday home section, a Thursday style section and a Monday section called "Sunrise." The sports article written by Peter Schmuck is only published on week-days.
The Sunday Sun for many years was noted for a locally produced rotogravure Maryland pictorial magazine section, featuring works by such acclaimed photographers as A. Aubrey Bodine. The Sunday Sun dropped the Sunday Sun Magazine in 1996 and now only carries Parade magazine on a weekly basis. A quarterly version of the Sun Magazine was resurrected in September 2010, with stories that included a comparison of young local doctors, an interview with actress Julie Bowen and a feature on the homes of a former Baltimore anchorwoman. Newsroom managers plan to add online content on a more frequent basis.
The company introduced the Web site in September 1996. A redesign of the site was unveiled in June 2009, capping a six-month period of record online traffic. Each month from January through June, an average of 3.5 million unique visitors combined to view 36.6 million Web pages. Sun reporters and editors produce more than three dozen blogs on such subjects as technology, weather, education, politics, Baltimore crime, real estate, gardening, pets and parenting. Among the most popular are Dining@Large, which covers local restaurants; The Schmuck Stops Here, a Baltimore-centric sports blog written by Peter Schmuck; Z on TV, by media critic David Zurawik; and Midnight Sun, a nightlife blog. A Baltimore Sun iPhone app was released September 14, 2010.
In 2008, the Baltimore Sun Media Group launched the daily paper b to target younger and more casual readers between 18 and 35. A tabloid, b employs large graphics, creative design, and humor in focusing on entertainment, news, and sports. Its companion website is bthesite.com.
The Baltimore Sun has been home to some of the best American writers, including reporter, essayist, and language scholar H.L. Mencken, who enjoyed a forty-plus year association with the paper. Other notable journalists, editors and cartoonists on the staff of Sun papers include Rafael Alvarez, Richard Ben Cramer, Russell Baker, A. Aubrey Bodine, John Carroll, James Grant, Turner Catledge, Edmund Duffy, Thomas Edsall, John Filo, Jon Franklin, Jack Germond, Mauritz A. Hallgren, David Hobby, Brit Hume, Gwen Ifill, Gerald W. Johnson, Kevin P. Kallaugher (KAL), Murray Kempton, Frank Kent, Tim Kurkjian, Laura Lippman, William Manchester, sportscaster Jim McKay, Kay Mills, Reg Murphy, Thomas O'Neill, Drew Pearson, Ken Rosenthal, Louis Rukeyser, Dan Shaughnessy, David Simon, Michael Sragow, John Steadman, and Jules Witcover. The paper has won 15 Pulitzer Prizes.
The first issue of The Sun, a four-page tabloid, was printed at 21 Light Street in downtown Baltimore in the mid-1830s. A five-story structure, at the corner of Baltimore and South streets, was built in 1851. The "Iron Building", as it was called, was destroyed in the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.
In 1906, operations were moved to Charles and Baltimore streets, where The Sun was written, published and distributed for nearly 50 years. In 1950, the operation was moved to a larger, modern plant at Calvert and Centre streets. In 1979, ground was broken for a new addition to the Calvert Street plant to house modern pressroom facilities. The new facility commenced operations in 1981.
In April 1988, at a cost of $180 million, the company purchased 60 acres (24 ha) of land at Port Covington and built "Sun Park". The new building houses a satellite printing and packaging facility, as well as the distribution operation. The Sun's printing facility at Sun Park has highly sophisticated computerized presses and automated insertion equipment in the packaging area. To keep pace with the speed of the presses and Automated Guided Vehicles; "intelligent" electronic forklifts deliver the newsprint to the presses.
- The paper became embroiled in a controversy involving the former governor of Maryland, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). Ehrlich had issued an executive order on November 18, 2004, banning state executive branch employees from talking to Sun columnist Michael Olesker and reporter David Nitkin, claiming that their coverage had been unfair to the administration. This led The Sun to file a First Amendment lawsuit against the Ehrlich administration. The case was dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge, and The Sun appealed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the dismissal.
- The same Olesker was forced to resign on January 4, 2006, after being accused of plagiarism. The Baltimore City Paper reported that several of his columns contained sentences or paragraphs that were extremely similar (although not identical) to material previously published in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Sun. Several of his colleagues both in and out of the paper were highly critical of the forced resignation, taking the view that the use of previously published boilerplate material was common newsroom practice, and Olesker's alleged plagiarism was in line with that practice.
- Between 2006 and 2007, Thomas Andrews Drake, a former National Security Agency executive, allegedly leaked classified information to Siobhan Gorman, then a national security reporter for The Sun. Drake was charged in April 2010 with 10 felony counts in relation to the leaks. In June 2011, all 10 original charges were dropped, in what was widely viewed as an acknowledgement that the government had no valid case against the whistleblower, who eventually pleaded to one misdemeanor count for exceeding authorized use of a computer. Drake was the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling.
Like all of the institutions featured in The Wire, The Sun is portrayed as having many deeply dysfunctional qualities while also having very dedicated people on its staff. The season focuses on the role of the media in affecting political decisions in City Hall and the priorities of the Baltimore Police Department. Additionally, the show explores the business pressures of modern media through layoffs and buyouts occurring at the Sun, on the orders of the Tribune Company, the corporate owner of The Sun.
One storyline involves a troubled Sun reporter named Scott Templeton with an escalating tendency of sensationalizing and falsifying stories. The Wire portrays the managing editors of The Sun as turning a blind eye to the protests of a concerned line editor in the search for a Pulitzer Prize. The show insinuates that the motivation for this institutional dysfunction is the business pressures of modern media, and working for a flagship newspaper in a major media market like The New York Times or The Washington Post is seen as the only way to avoid the cutbacks occurring at The Sun.
Season 5 was The Wire's last. The last episode, "-30-", features a montage at the end portraying the ultimate fate of the major characters. It shows Templeton at Columbia University with the senior editors of the fictional Sun accepting the Pulitzer Prize, with no mention being made as to the aftermath of Templeton's career.
Since September 2008, The Baltimore Sun became the newspaper partner of station WJZ-TV, owned and operated by CBS; involving sharing content, story leads, and teaming up on stories. WJZ promotes Baltimore Sun stories in its news broadcasts. The Sun promotes WJZ's stories and weather team on its pages.
- The Baltimore Sun people
- List of newspapers in Maryland
- List of newspapers in the United States by circulation
- Media in Baltimore
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- Merrill, John C. and Harold A. Fisher. The world's great dailies: profiles of fifty newspapers (1980) pp 73–80
- Baltimore Sun Archives at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County
- Baltimore Sun online archives (1837 to present)
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- Telling Our Stories (memories of former employees)
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- The Baltimore Sun at the Wayback Machine (archived August 15, 2000)
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