Sign up for our newsletters    

Sign up for our newsletters   

Baltimore City Paper home page.

Layoffs hit City Paper

February 27, 2014

Eight full-time employees of City Paper were laid off this week, including creative director Joe MacLeod, a 25-year veteran, circulation director Christine Grabowski, who has been with the paper for almost 30 years, Mike Grabowski, a 25-year-veteran of circulation maintenance, 19-year-veteran production director Athena Towery, 14-year-veteran business manager Susan Slike, digital director Andrew Vogel, classified line representative Andrew Aquino, and receptionist Veronica Eldridge.

The layoffs come as Baltimore Sun Media Group (BSMG) prepares to take ownership of the paper on March 5th. Several of those laid off have been offered contractual work with BSMG. City Paper will have more information about the layoffs and profiles of these much-loved members of the City Paper family in next week’s paper.

(This story was updated on Feb. 28th to include Mike Grabowski)


    My name isn’t spelled correctly :)

  • Kate Drabinski

    Oh, how sad! Much love to all.

  • Christine Frederick

    tears. the heart & soul of CP is being ripped out. I know change is hard, but to lose the foundation of what the CP has been for so many years is gut wrenching. to those fallen soldiers, I salute you with my small producer glass of red wine. Andrew, thanks for putting up with my 50 million questions. You helped me get to where I am today. Sue- look forward to snoopin with some G&J later.

  • Mrs. K

    As a frequent reader and someone who has advertised in the City Paper, permit me to thank the staff for many great years and wish you good fortune on finding other employment.

  • TomKiefaber

    Oh, the humanity..

  • Sean Tully

    The Sun should have taken them on. How much money are they really saving when losing that much experience?

  • Sean Scape

    Listen up, the Baltimore Sun knows newspapers, and the last thing a paper needs is to be created, produced, and circulated.

  • Adam Meister

    The Sun needs two receptionists? In any situation like this one there are going to be repetitive positions that can be eliminated for the sake of efficiency.

  • Emanuel Holley

    My name is Emanuel Holley, I am a talent scout here in Baltimore City looking for some sharp individual! Please feel free to give me a call to schedule and interview! 410.929.0472!

  • adamjk

    What is City Paper without Joe MacLeod even?

  • eeby

    Thilly wabbit, shareholders gotta eat. If receptionists do too, that’s their problem.

    To everyone ever at CP, from this reader’s barstool/sofa/library table, you led Mencken’s “life of kings” better than he did. You’re better listeners, for one thing. Your copyediting and factchecking would be the envy of any Sun person with an ounce of self-awareness. I will miss you all. Whenever and however you resurface in the news biz, you will be most welcome.

  • Jenna McLaughlin

    No! ):

  • James Hunt

    Several dozen f-bombs lighter. Looks like corporate “disappeared” Evan Serpick’s blog post “Missing Mr. Wrong” … however, chunks of MW’s final missive will live in infamy in Google cache …

  • Chickenbreast

    “Under pressure from advertisers, Baltimore City Paper spikes a review

    But which advertisers complained about the scathing Jason Aldean concert review, and who gave the order to cave?

    Fern Shen February 28, 2014 at 4:21 pm Story Link 1

    When Travis Kitchens got the assignment from City Paper to write about Jason Aldean’s February 1 performance at the Baltimore Arena, the country music writer and filmmaker was hoping he would be pleasantly surprised by the mainstream C&W superstar.

    “If I liked it, I thought, it would make my traditional folkie friends go crazy,” said Kitchens. But instead he found the evening a disaster, with musicians “who play like the American Idol house band” and Aldean making “a horrifyingly awful attempt at rapping.”

    “A lot like watching a two-hour beer commercial. . . a mindless dopamine rush as precise in its effects as methamphetamine,” Kitchens wrote. “He struts around the stage with his prop guitar like a rockstar android wiggling his ass in a manner so contrived it makes Madonna look like Miles Davis in comparison.”

    “Those observations come from Kitchens’ scathing review, published on February 4 on City Paper’s website, but taken down after a week – under pressure, CP editor-in-chief Evan Serpick and others say, from “two big advertisers.”

    “We were told they said they would never advertise again, unless we pulled it,” said Serpick, who did so reluctantly after two days of resistance and the threat of losing his job.

    “I’m not proud of it,” said Serpick, who disclosed the debacle to the editorial staff and – after a call from The Brew yesterday – included it at the end of a story on City Paper’s website about another incident. That would be the recent nixing by CP’s current owner Times-Shamrock Communications of Joe McLeod’s final (it turns out) “Mr. Wrong” column (which consisted essentially of the f-word, repeated over and over again).

    (UPDATE 4 p.m.: Serpick’s piece published yesterday has been taken down from the website, sources at City Paper said, and editorial staff have been locked out of the news blogs. “Even our webmaster can’t get in,” the source said. “None of us did this. We have no idea how it happened.” Times-Shamrock “now demanding CPTwitter and Facebook passwords,” tweeted City Paper staff writer Edward Ericson Jr. “Presumably so they can fuck with editorial postings there.”
    Here’s a transcript of a phone conversation CP staff had today with Times-Shamrock CEO Scott Lynett. Ande here’s CP’s short post about the eight full-timeemployees terminated today, including creative director Joe McLeod and circulation director Christine Grabowski, who jhas worked there for 30 years.)”

  • Chickenbreast

    Did Scranton-based Times-Shamrock tell Grim to pull the review? CEO Scott Lynett, reached by phone in Scranton, said no.

    “This is the first I heard of it,” he said. “I don’t meddle with the editorial side.”

    What about the spiking of McLeod’s f-word column? “I did get involved in that,” he said. Did he also order Serpick not to substitute a blank page to show that Mr. Wrong had been censored? Well, yes, he said, “That was just foolish.”

  • Chickenbreast

    Sources: City Paper Twitter, Facebook shut down by Scott Lynett of Times Shamrock. He is mad about CP staff telling about previous censorship.

  • A F James MacArthur

    Goodbye alternative voice. Hello homogenized, controlled, contrived, coopted, corporate media.

  • James Hunt

    D’oh! Google seems to have suspended its ‘don’t be evil’ policy and allowed the cache to be scrubbed.

    Mmmmmmmm … cache.

  • Mike Po pretty much tells it all, scumbags. This story went national this morning, too..

  • William_C_Diaz

    Another fine example of the danger that the corporate media poses to the constitutionally protected profession of journalism in the modern age. While there is no proof that this was a result of the current controversy that ‘City Paper’ finds itself embroiled in currently, it certainly doesnt pass the ‘Smell Test’ for a single news source to lose so many of its long term, well known and well regarded staff in one blow, unless the point of the exercise was to gut the publication and remove any hint of ‘non-interference’ and independence City Paper has enjoyed for much of it’s 30+ year run.

    It is just another sad day for Baltimore and a further sign of its decline as a proud city.

    Have a great day!

  • ronnatalie

    For one whose been around since the City Squeeze days, it’s a sad day in Charm City.

  • pshrg

    Layoffs *AND* corporate-driven censorship hit City Paper. Thought Baltimore had more guts.

  • JM Brodie

    And so it begins. Such a sad day…

  • Chickenbreast

    Reported from Baltimore Brew:
    Times-Shamrock CEO discusses decision to control City Paper social media

    (One more censored Baltimore City Paper post. A transcript of this phone interview conducted by senior editor Baynard Woods with Times-Shamrock CEO Scott was posted Feb. 28 and subsequently, taken down, presumably by Times-Shamrock. We reprint it here in full. -Fern Shen)

    We called Scott Lynett to ask about what happened. the entire conversation is transcribed below. Lynett hung up on me at the end of the conversation. I called back in case it was a bad connection. It was not. He would speak no longer on the record.

    CP: Hi Scott, this is Baynard Woods with the City Paper.

    Scott Lynett: Hi Baynard, how are you?

    CP: Not so well. I find that I’m unable to work, that our web access has been shuit down and thus our ability to write on news stories and this is a news story I’m trying to write on, so I’m trying to figure out what’s happening. And if you don’t mind if I record this.

    SL“We have found that Evan today posted an unauthorized blogpost revealing inside information and so we stopped access.”

    CP: Inside information, but we are a news organization that’s supposed to report on news, or am I mistaken about that?

    SL: I’m sorry, Baynard?

    CP: Since we’re a news organization and that’s something that happened. We need to maintain our credibility after the sale and part of doing that is making sure that we are transparent with our readers. Don’t you think that’s something we should be doing?

    SL: No, frankly Baynard, I don’t think it is.

    CP: So we shouldn’t have reported on . . .

    SL: Internal editorial discussions are not subject to reporting.

    CP: As far as I knew, no one said it was off the record. We have to maintain our credibility as a newspaper.

    SL: Baynard I disagree with you. Is there another question here or is this a speech?

    CP: No it’s not a speech at all. I’m wondering what your strategy behind cutting off our internet access and our ability to blog and actually do our jobs, why you think that’s warranted?

    At this point Scott Lynett hung up.

  • Cuddgomiwnydd

    Do you know what else has been laid-off? My weekly readership of the CP. I’m moving on. Thanks for the great years but you’re nothing but a corporate shill now. Bye!

  • JM Brodie

    Sickening. This is case in point for why we need an independent press. Our “news” is/has become nothing more than glorified press releases. That more people are not up in arms about this is even more sickening.

  • JM Brodie

    I wonder how long it will be before they shut down this section?

  • Samuel Kunz

    Good bye, hard left leaning almost comically biased voice.

  • A F James MacArthur

    You’re so right. Sadly, the minds of the masses have been so manipulated, they don’t even realize the junk that’s being passed off as journalism.

  • Sean Tully

    Hi Adam. Long time no hear about. (Your point is well taken, by the way.)

  • janklow

    wait, why are you describing the Sun?

  • Jim

    You never know who might one day sign your check.

  • BostonXplant

    Another corporate shellacking of the independent press. You can bet that there will be severely controlled investigative journalism. The Sun Media Group is owned by the Tribune company which is jointly controlled by its private corporate shareholders and the company’s three senior debt holders Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo, Gordon & Co. and JPMorgan Chase. That covers a lot of corporate interests in this country and around the world. Why would a small weekly paper in Baltimore ever be given free reign to publish any story that would not be in the interest of any of these financial supports of the Tribune Company?

  • TomKiefaber

    What a whining wake…a glory days pity party. The grownups won’t let Joe Macleod repeat the word fuck for column inches like a petulant child. So then they fire this notoriously bereft *creative director* for cause, and blow off his anticipated bonus? yet wait, we’re now all supposed to rend cloth, wail and sit shiva over such injustice?

    The kiddie pool just got emptied, it’s way overdue, and a decades long free ride on the 1 800 blow me revenue is over. In that light, please curb all this infantile pissing and moaning, grow some backbone, get all your crap out of the building and get real.

    Your next step is to put on some big girl panties for a change, and start looking for real jobs, ones that may actually make a difference.

  • Joe Macleod Sr

    Best writing I’ve read on this website in years. Well said.

  • Joe Corbe

    ANGRY!- Hope you have some meds nearby my friend. Funny that you mention “kiddie pool” in your rant. That’s where a lot of meltdowns occur, but they usually involve 4yr olds

  • TomKiefaber

    Yadda, yadda..

  • TomKiefaber

    Self-righteousness guarantees tunnel vision and myopia, hardly useful for
    finding meaning or insight. Goodbye CP, you never knew who you were.

  • William Bond

    Mr. Kiefaber,

    As final proof of your insanity and a real grenade to any supporters you may have retained, way to go in your attack upon honorable and beloved Joe MacLeod… Real easy to hit a man when he is down. Real indicator of character too…

    And it must be said, coming from a man who cried like an infant for years about his self-inflicted destruction of an easy inheritance, and blamed every and all persons for his own entitlement and megalomania, it really is despicable to see a self-made man so severely insulted by such an immature person, and with such vulgarity…

    I am sure I speak for all — no one who reads or works for City Paper would like to read any of your future comments or ever think of you again.


  • TomKiefaber

    Ah, Mr. Bond, agent zero upstairs, got a nasty hair up yo butt it seems. What would lead you to believe I’m seeking your “support” or anyone’s by expressing my sincere disdain for the absurd level of CP buyout histrionics posted here and there about these lame, sacred cows? Sorry Hon, but this one had bovine encephalopathy for a long, long time, and now it’s mercifully ground to an ignoble halt as B’more’s local mad cow alt-weekly. That’s all. Note the actual Glory Daze CP folks are not here at the wailing wall, they’re long gone. So will the past person please complete the process and switch off the low-brow CP bulb on the way out? :-)

  • Joe Corbe

    Are you on a “Watch List” of some sort?- I hope

  • TomKiefaber

    Get a Job Joe. You’re idle, & overreacting. ;-)

  • Knockout Ned

    The Baltimore Sun is quite literally a shell of what
    it used to be. Fish paper it still is. Goldfish that is.
    It gutted its own talent as well and now exist as a
    purely corporate entity where past greats
    are brought out like Christmas tinsel.

  • JH

    Schizophrenics quietly mourn (or rejoice…depending upon the phase of 13-mod research we’re in at the moment).
    -JH OUT!

  • Samuel Kunz

    As opposed to the comically left leaning biased, Obama worshiping and Hipster ass kissing rag it was as The City Paper? LOL

  • Cuddgomiwnydd

    OK, so you’ve made your narrow views public. I would dispute your cartoonish characterization but doubt if your mind is open enough or your self-confidence sufficient to allow you to admit error.

  • Chris Rukowicz

    i love you guys and i’m so sorry to hear this news. I wish all of you the best from the bottom of my heart.