Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Day at the Races

I offer you my most sincere apologies. I overslept and my brain doesn’t appear to be on straight yet. I’m working on a piece about my visit to the Howard County Innovation Center yesterday, but that will need a bit more time to firm up.

In the meantime, I offer you my favorite tweet from this year’s Howard County Fair:

During my early writing days, the newspaper I worked for in Howard County sponsored the fair. We had to volunteer, so I did the announcements. I announced the pig races in the most dead panned way possible.

I was curious.

Did you work for Patuxent Publishing? That’s a great story!

 He responded:

I did. Sports writer for the Howard County Times/Columbia Flier from 01-06!

The writer in question, Matt Palmer, is now a media relations director. I have no knowledge of why he isn’t working as a journalist anymore but it’s not hard to guess. Today Patuxent Publishing is but a memory, having been devoured by a series of bigger fishes. Our local paper has a staff so tiny that one can’t even imagine them being able to volunteer at the Howard County Fair.

Pay is so appallingly low and the work environment so generally demoralizing that local news writers  have unionized in order to use collective bargaining to improve their lot. Right now Baltimore Sun writer Cody Boteler is in Chicago as a representative of the Baltimore Sun Guild. The opening offer by Tribune Publishing is both insulting and unlivable. Among other things, they propose to charge union members for parking at their own workplace, while non union employees won’t have to pay.

Local reporter Erin Logan shares:

$29k. Starting salary at our company is $29k. A few months ago, Tribune paid $56 million special cash dividends to shareholders. 

It’s not just salary issues at stake here. It’s also working conditions, how employees with greater years of service will be treated, how many days and hours you can be required to work. All those extra hours add up if you’re also balancing a second job just to get by and need to get to a local food bank so your family can eat.

If you want to learn more, follow Baltimore Sun Guild on Twitter. (And don’t forget Chesapeake News Guild.) If you want to help, well:


1. Follow & share the @BaltSunGuild Facebook page and Twitter handle, and help spread our message.
2. Tell other media entities to cover our bargaining journey.
3. Send letters of support for us to:
c/o Trif Alatzas
300 E Cromwell St. 
Baltimore, MD 21230

What big corporations are doing to local journalism ought to be against the law. The experience for journalists is not unlike running in one of those Howard Fair pig races. Even the winners will probably end up as somebody else’s bacon.

We rely on local journalists to tell our stories. They need our help to be able to do that. 

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