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Kevin Cowherd, Gene Sweeney taking Sun buyouts

July 10, 2013

kevincowherdSports columnist Kevin Cowherd (pictured) and staff photographer Gene Sweeney have both accepted buyout packages from management at the Baltimore Sun and will be leaving the paper.

Angela Kuhl, an advertising designer at the Sun and unit director for the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, confirmed the buyouts, adding that there was no threat of layoffs in this case. Kuhl says the buyout availability period was initiated “about a month ago” and ends this week. As of now, Cowherd and Sweeney are the only ones who have asked and been approved for buyouts, she says.

“I was planning to retire anyway,” says Sweeney, 60, who has worked at the Sun for more than 30 years. “This comes at a perfect time for me.”

Sweeney says Cowherd approached management to see if a buyout might be available and the Sun said they could make one available. Soon thereafter, Kuhl, who knew Sweeney was planning to retire, approached him and asked if he’d like to apply as well. Sweeney says he’s receiving a year’s insurance and a year’s pay, which he describes as “a great sendoff.”

The downside for the paper, as Sweeney notes, is that the buyouts are “position eliminations” and the  buyout takers cannot be replaced, further downsizing a staff that is already a fraction of its former size. “This is more of an imposition on the Sun staff than it is on me,” Sweeney acknowledges.

Kuhl says that there hasn’t been much consternation among the Sun staff over the latest buyouts.

“Sadly, it’s gotten routine,” she says. “Four years ago, there was a lot more agitation, but it helps that these were strictly voluntary.”

Kevin Cowherd was first a sports columnist for the Evening Sun from 1981 to 1987, and reported from the Baltimore Colts’ headquarters on March 29, 1984, when the Mayflower trucks rolled the team to Indianapolis. He then spent 22 years as a humor columnist and features writer for the Sun, until 2009, when he returned to writing a sports column.