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May 06, 2009
by Ryan Hudson
On Wednesday, April 29th, David Steele, a sports columnist for The Baltimore Sun for five years, was laid off. With newspapers struggling, this may not come as a surprise. But the matter in which it was handled was shocking: Steele (along with fellow columnist Rick Maese) was notified of the paper's decision over the phone ... while sitting in the Baltimore Orioles press box ... in the 8th inning of a game The Sun assigned him to cover.
Our own Jeff Briggs said it best when he wrote, "All of these people deserved the courtesy of being told in person that they were being let go, not over the phone, not in the press box, and certainly not while on assignment for the paper. Steele has been at the Sun since September 2004, and Maese since at least December 2005... Both deserved better."
In his first column since the firing, Steele explains how, and why, it all went down, in all of its
grizzly grisly, of course, detail.
At 2:34 p.m. (that time-stamp is kind of stuck in my head for the time being), the office called back. I went into a hallway behind the press box and answered it with something like, “Hey, what’s up?’’ Or “What’s going on?’’ Along those lines.
The Baltimore Sun is a Classless Institution
My editor greeted me, paused, took a deep breath. “David, I’m sorry you have to be told this way …"
I actually doubled over. It wasn’t a sharp pain, and it wasn’t like I was about to get sick. It was more like a knot in my stomach. I know I said, “Aw, s***,’’ but I don’t know how loud I said it, apparently not loudly enough for my editor to take note of it. The rest is a little fuzzy, something about just now getting the list and the union and not wanting me to hear it from someone else and getting paid through the end of May and severance and human resources and return your possessions to us and thank you for your hard work and professionalism and blah blah blah.
- RCSPress Box Layoff: How the Baltimore Sun Fired Me
- David Steele, RCS