Also this week, the Baltimore Sun's editor Timothy Franklin and the executive editor for The Washington Post Jim Brady both said they are leaving their posts at the embattled newspapers. Franklin's departure to teach journalism comes amid repeated layoffs and a declaration of bankruptcy by the Tribune Co.; Brady's departure is rumored to coincide with a merging of the Post's online and print operations.
The news comes after more than a decade of rapid growth in the suburban areas between Baltimore and the nation's capital, especially along major arterial highways including I-95, I-70, I-270 and the Beltway around Washington. Thousands of professionals who work in Washington and Baltimore have taken up residence in this interstitial area, commuting via the highways.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, from 1990 to 2007 the population of the greater Washington-Baltimore metro area increased 22%, from about 6.7 million to just over 8.2 million.
The deal is also part of a trend toward new content-sharing arrangements between newspapers struggling to maintain readership as they reduce editorial staff. In the last two years, the Baltimore Sun has cut 150 positions through buyouts and layoffs, shrinking the newsroom staff by 20% this summer alone. More layoffs were rumored to be on the way when Tribune Co. declared bankruptcy a few weeks ago.
In May, The Washington Post cut 100 newsroom positions--or about 12% of the total 800--through a combination of voluntary buyouts and attrition, meaning that no layoffs were required. An unspecified number of employees in other divisions also accepted the buyout offer. This followed two earlier rounds of buyouts in 2003 and 2006.
The Sun and Post are not alone in deciding to pool resources in the face of shrinking ad revenues.
Earlier this month, McClatchy Co. said it will share foreign news stories with The Christian Science Monitor. A month before, CNN pitched newspapers on CNN Wire, a low-cost alternative to the AP. In late October, the beleaguered Tribune Co. said it was dropping its AP membership, and E.W. Scripps is said to be considering the same. The Columbus Dispatch, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, and several other regional newspapers have already canceled their AP memberships. Eight Ohio newspapers also formed their own news-sharing service, and Pennsylvania papers are considering a similar move.