Kevin Brown, an editorial assistant with The Sun's feature section, was suspended indefinitely from his job today as he announced his candidacy for the Baltimore City Council in front of the newspaper's building in the 500 block of N. Calvert St.
Brown, 31, charged that the paper's management prevented him from being politically active. He declared his candidacy for a seat in the city's 2nd District as a "Man who knows Baltimore."
John S. Carroll, editor of The Baltimore Sun, said in a statement, "We have a long-standing policy at The Sun that politics and journalism don't mix. With regret, I have decided to suspend him without pay while we consider his status at greater length."
"I was an editorial assistant for the Sunday paper," Brown said. "I had no power over selecting which pictures went where, how stories were assigned and where they were placed. I wrote [photo] cutlines, some short stuff and a Q and A feature. That's it."
He said he felt his position with the newspaper would not have created a conflict of interest with his political aspirations. For instance, Brown said, he felt he could have solicited campaign funds without having compromised his position at the newspaper.
Brown said he had asked for a leave of absence while he campaigned but that it was denied by his supervisor. Brown added that he would like to get his job back.
In his statement, Carroll said: "If we want to maintain our credibility, we cannot employ politicians as news gatherers. Kevin Brown has every right to run for office, but his candidacy undercuts his credibility as a journalist.
"Part of the newspaper's policy regarding political activity says: 'Although there is no desire or intent to interfere with any employee's rights as a citizen, members of the staffs
should not take part in politics or public demonstrations which might appear to conflict with their professional duties.' "
A representative of Local 35 of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild responded to the paper's action by filing a formal grievance with Brown's supervisor, Gilbert L. Watson 3rd.