Sun Hopes Readers Will Pay To Play

Posted on September 29, 2011


By Dave Hughes
DCRTV.com

The Baltimore Sun is going to start charging a fee for frequent users of its baltimoresun.com Web site, including its sports coverage of the Orioles and Ravens.

On Oct. 10, The Sun will begin offering digital subscriptions which will allow visitors to view an unlimited number of pages, including articles, blogs, photos and videos.

Those who do not subscribe will have free access to 15 pages each month. The Sun will offer an introductory rate of 99 cents for the first four weeks. After that, digital-only subscribers will have a cost of $2.49 per week or $49.99 for 26 weeks. Print subscribers will receive a reduced rate of 75 cents per week or $29.99 a year.

"We are confident (site visitors) will subscribe to maintain access to all of our unique, in-depth local news and information, and we will continue to innovate in ways that provide those readers with the news they want, the way they want it," according to a memo from publisher Tim Ryan.

"Many other media companies, including the New York Times, Dallas Morning News and Boston Globe, currently offer digital subscriptions," Ryan said. "We believe our expertise in creating and delivering high-quality news positions baltimoresun.com to better serve our customers in the Baltimore area."

***

The Baltimore Sun is reporting, based on recently released police records, that Orioles veteran and Mid-Atlantic Sports Network broadcaster Mike Flanagan's suicide did not come as a complete surprise to those closest to him.

In August, Flanagan's body was found near a barn on his property. He had suffered a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. His wife, Alex, was out of town at the time, The Sun reported.

In an interview with detectives, Alex described several occasions in which he grabbed a shotgun and walked outside their Sparks home. News reports paint Flanagan, 59, as a troubled man who was struggling with his career and finances.

Police records also indicate that Alex told detectives they both were distraught about his job and that he had been working without a contract for MASN for the past year and a half. Flanagan had told his wife he felt insignificant and threatened to shoot himself in June, prompting a visit by police.

But police denied, initial reports that "Flanagan was upset about fans blaming him for the current struggles of the Orioles."

Still, many said they were still puzzled by his suicide, noting that he seemed rejuvenated by his latest job as an announcer for MASN.

Orioles officials have disputed the characterization of Flanagan's employment.

"That is absolutely false," said Greg Bader, director of communications for the Orioles, told The Sun. "Mike had a contract with MASN and was being paid."

A number of MASN viewers have noted that another Orioles TV booth personality, Gary Thorne, has been largely missing from the sports channel's Orioles coverage the past few weeks.

A local sports source tells us that Thorne, who sits in the TV booth for about 100 Orioles games per season, was deeply shaken by Flanagan's death and had reduced his workload at the network.

***

Cesar Aldama is the new news director of Bethesda-based Comcast SportsNet-Mid Atlantic.

He comes from the news director gig at CBS-owned WFOR-TV in Miami, where he spent 18 months. Before that, he spent seven years as assistant news director at CBS-owned KYW-TV and WPSG-TV in Philadelphia.

***

Some more Comcast SportsNet personnel changes.

The Bethesda-based sports network named Brett Sullivan digital sales manager. He will direct sales strategy and establish new partnerships across the Bethesda-based sports network's online, social, and mobile assets, including CSNwashington.com and CSNbaltimore.com.

Sullivan comes from the National Hockey League, where he served as manager of digital media and analytics. He'd also worked with the Washington Capitals.

Also, CSN promotes Joanna Shapes to the position of programming coordinator. Shapes had been serving as newsroom coordinator for the past two years.

In addition, Allen Popels has been upped from associate producer to newsroom coordinator, and Michael Beal was named traffic coordinator.

Posted Sept. 29, 2011

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