NEW CASTLE — The Baltimore Sun has closed its longtime printing plant and moved printing of its newspaper and that of its smaller sister publications to the News Journal printing plant off Route 141.
Maryland’s largest official newspaper first announced the plan under consideration 1st Decemberfollowing an email sent to staff by its publisher and editor, Trif Alatzas.
Along with outsourcing the production of its publications, Baltimore Sun Media closed its printing plant in South Baltimore and laid off more than 100 newspaper and mail workers. Many Sun reporters watched the paper’s final print run in Baltimore on Jan. 30, according to social media posts. This marked the end of more than a century of uninterrupted Sun imprint on Baltimore.
A decline in the print newspaper’s circulation, compounded by the leasing of the unnecessarily large factory now owned by Under Armor founder Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Development company, led the newspaper’s management to make a difficult decision, it was reported. Alatzas to employees.
“This preliminary agreement would reduce expenses related to the printing operation and help continue investment in our digital growth,” he wrote in the December email.
Notably, the Sun’s parent company, Tribune Publishing, was acquired last year by hedge fund Alden Global Capital, which has a history of acquiring newspapers and shrinking its operations to make a profit. Local business leaders and Sun reporters tried unsuccessfully to transition the paper to a nonprofit ownership model to avoid the deal with Alden.
Several of the paper’s best-known reporters have since left to join a new non-profit news organization, the Baltimore Banner, backed by hotel magnate Stewart Bainum Jr. who launched the unsuccessful takeover bid. This outfit has yet to launch but has attracted Pulitzer Prize winners to its staff.
The Sun’s decision to cease its own printing is not the first for a major newspaper – the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News made the same move in 2020, moving its printing to a New Jersey plant also owned by the company. mother of the News Journal, Gannett. The cost of newsprint has risen rapidly amid production shortages and price fights in recent years, while newspaper circulation, especially of traditionally larger metropolitan newspapers, has fallen precipitously.
A major contract to print tens of thousands of copies of The Sun daily as well as a handful of local Maryland weeklies is a boon to the News Journal plant – the Sun’s average weekday circulation of 43,000 is more double that of the Delaware newspaper. The facility off West Basin Road near Interstate 95 survived Gannett’s wave of plant closings in 2020, as it closed 23 plants across the country to shore up its operations.
A spokesperson for Gannett declined to comment on the Sun’s printing move this week, saying the company was not discussing his contract work. Requests for comment to Alatzas and a Tribune representative were not returned.
Printing companies typically print outside work, often regional productions of national newspapers like The New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today seeking to reach large audiences or niche publications seeking hundreds or thousands of copies. The loss of such contracts and extended periods when presses are not running can result in net losses for a printer.
Introducing a large draw like the Sun to New Castle will also bring about inevitable logistical changes. The Sun’s print copy times will be shorter for reporters and editors to account for the additional one-hour commute between New Castle and Baltimore to ensure readers don’t notice a change in delivery service. .