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Member Spotlight: Baltimore Sun

Member Spotlight: Baltimore Sun

Location/Website: Baltimore, Md; www.baltimoresun.com/

Twitter/Facebook: @baltimoresun; Facebook.com/BaltimoreSun

Publication Schedule: Daily, seven days a week.

Focus & History: The Baltimore Sun is Maryland’s flagship newspaper and recently celebrated its 175th anniversary. The first edition of the Sun rolled off the presses of Arunah Shepherdson Abell on May 17, 1837 at 21 Light Street, the paper’s first home. Sun reporters have covered the stories and conflicts arising within government and the city ever since.

Abell was able to convince partners to back him when he proposed starting a penny paper in Baltimore, whose population at the time was 90,000. This was just a year after Abell formed a partnership in New York City with Azariah H. Simmons and William M. Swain and founded the Public Ledger in Philadelphia in 1836.

The first edition of The Sun was four tabloid-sized pages. The 15,000 copies from Abell's initial press run went to every corner of the city. The paper’s first Washington, D.C. correspondent was a postal clerk who doubled as a reporter. Abell used 500 carrier pigeons for newsgathering and carrying news from the northern cities to the southern locales and vice versa.

In 1851, the Sun moved to the Sun Iron Building at Baltimore and South streets until it burned down in the city fire of 1904. The Sun erected a new building on the southwestern corner of Baltimore and Charles streets, where it remained until moving to its current home at 501 N. Calvert St. in 1950.

Another Banner Year for Baltimore Sun: For a seventh time in eight years, the Sun was named the MDDC’s Newspaper of the Year in Division A, the classification for daily newspapers with 75,000 or more in circulation. The lone exception was 2008, when The Washington Post took the honor.

The Sun also took home MDDC’s James S. Keat Freedom of Information award, named for the former Sun editor, for the calendar year of 2012. Specifically, the paper’s dedication to pursuing public records pertaining to property taxes, speed cameras, public school spending, football stadium skyboxes, Inner Harbor violence and the city’s persistent monitoring of protesters at McKeldin Square were all contributing factors in the Sun’s honor.

The Sun garnered 49 first or second-place awards in the contest. When combined with the other community newspapers which operate under the umbrella of the Baltimore Sun Media Group, Sun papers took in over 80 awards. Additionally, two other Sun Media Group members – the Aegis and the Howard County Times – earned Newspaper of the Year designations in their respective divisions.

Apropos, huh? Every edition of the Sun has included the paper’s iconic “Light for All” slogan. Abell is credited on the paper’s website with promoting the phrase as a metaphor for his paper’s readership. Abell believed that all readers, not just those buoyed by financial or legal standing, deserved access to reliable, accurate news.

What About All the Other Titles? Baltimore has been home to many other newspapers. How did the Sun manage to outlast all the rest?

The Sun has expanded a few times in a little more than 100 years. The Sunday Sun, which first debuted on Oct. 6, 1901, was followed by the Evening Sun on April 18, 1910. The Sunday Sun Magazine, which grew out of a sepia-colored Sunday section commonly known as the Brown Section, was created in 1946 and continued publishing until 1996. After a 14-year absence, it resumed as a magazine in 2010.

The Baltimore News-American was a formidable foe, a title part of a merger of the Baltimore News-Post and The Baltimore American in 1964. It was the merger of two powerhouse brands which were also born of mergers.

The News-Post was part of a merger of The News (1873) and Baltimore Post (1922). The Baltimore American traced its history all the way back to 1796. However, the News-American lasted just 22 years until it shuttered May 26, 1986. The paper’s archives were relocated to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC).

On Sept. 15, 1995, the Evening Sun published its final edition under the headline: “GOOD NIGHT, HON. Thanks for a great 85 years; will you love us in the morning?”

Nearly 20 years later, the Sun remains as Baltimore’s signature masthead for print journalism.

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