Laid-off Baltimore Sun staffers tell their stories on new website

Press release

May 12, 2010

LAID-OFF BALTIMORE SUN WORKERS FIND A VOICE ON NEW WEBSITE CREATED BY FELLOWSHIP FROM WRITERS GUILD, EAST FOUNDATION

NEW YORK CITY – In the spring of 2009, more than 60 Baltimore Sun writers and staff were laid off in massive cuts that left them without a voice for creative expression. Now, their voices and stories can be heard again. Telling Our Stories: The Days of the Baltimore Sun website launched today and shares their stories and bittersweet memories.

Telling Our Stories is the culmination of a fellowship program funded by the Writers Guild of America, East Foundation and implemented with the collaboration of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. The Foundation’s mission is to perpetuate the art and craft of storytelling. The fellowship program gives the laid-off Sun employees an opportunity to process their difficult experiences through creative work, asking them simply “to tell a story arising out of their personal experiences during their time at The Baltimore Sun.” Some recall the pain of being fired; others recollect the challenges, joys, and spirit of newspaper work. Participating fellows include reporters, editors, critics, copy editors, photographers, designers, advertising salespeople and market researchers. In addition to the essays, poems, photos and videos featured on the site, former Sun employees also designed the website and edited the submissions.

“I think the important thing about this site is that it puts real people behind the numbers. It will let the readers of Baltimore know what they’ve lost,” said Steve Auerweck, a 24-year Sun employee who first worked as an editor on the business desk and then as a manager of newsroom technology. Auerweck contributed the piece on “Newsroom Humor” in addition to designing and building the site.

“The Baltimore Sun fellowship embodies the Foundation’s mission – to perpetuate the art and craft of storytelling. By publishing their personal stories on this site, the fellows’ voices can now be heard loud and clear by people not only in Baltimore but around the world. As writers, we understand the power of words. We’re happy this fellowship program and new website are helping these fellows harness the power of words to get through this difficult time,” said Tom Fontana, president of the Writers Guild of America, East Foundation.

The Baltimore Sun Fellowship was established in 2009 and funded by an anonymous grant to the Writers Guild of America, East Foundation. The Foundation partnered with the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild to establish the program and recruit the fellows. The collaboration included a mentoring session held in the late fall between the fellows and Foundation members, including Fontana, Barry Levinson, David Simon, WGAE President Michael Winship, Julie Martin, David Bianculli, and WGAE Foundation Executive Director Marsha Manns.

“Collectively, the fellows’ imaginative retelling of their days at The Baltimore Sun brings perspective to a difficult human experience and helps define and preserve a significant moment in American cultural history,” said Manns.

Fellows participating in the program include: Steve Auerweck, Paul Bendel-Simso, Chiquita Bolden-Heath, Danielle Bradley, Phyllis Brill, Tyeesha Dixon, Doug Donovan, Deborah Lakowicz-Dramby, Ray Frager, Patrick Gutierrez, Beth Hughes, Fe Fung Hung, Doug Kapustin, Chiaki Kawajiri, Jiho Kim, Fay Lande, Linda L. Linley, Monica Lopossay, Elizabeth Malby, John E. McIntyre, Sandra Nash, Rashod D. Ollison, Ebony Page-Harvey, Alan Perry, Gene Russell, Denise Sanders, Norine Schiller, Franz Schneiderman, Matt Tustison, Charles H. Weiss, Linda White, and Teresa Wilson.

The Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild (WBNG) is a local union representing employees at The Sun, Washington Post and two dozen other publications and labor and professional organizations. WBNG is part of The Newspaper Guild (www.newsguild.org ) and the Communications Workers of America (www.cwa-union.org). For more information on WBNG, visit www.wbng.org.

The Writers Guild of America, East Foundation is the charitable foundation of the Writers Guild of America, East, the labor union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media, and broadcast news. The WGAE Foundation’s mission is to perpetuate the art and craft of storytelling, either by professionals or amateurs, through education and practical experience, on local, national and global levels; to find the next generation of writers in fiction, non-fiction, television, radio, film, theatre, and new media; to encourage WGAE members and staff to contribute their expertise to Foundation activities, thereby expanding the base and breadth of knowledge, as well as increasing the solidarity and power of the writing community in the larger world; and to work with other like-minded organizations in order to facilitate and expand the needs and goals of writers everywhere.

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