Monday, July 18, 2011

Outdoors Section Be Gone? Then Here's My Letter to the Editors at The Baltimore Sun

If you read my weekend post about The Baltimore Sun and their outlandish decision to annihilate the Outdoor Section, then you'll know a lot of Maryland right now is pretty darn fired up over the loss of Outdoors Girl Candus Thomson.

 Below is the letter I just sent to the "Powers of the Baltimore Sun"
(aka, the 4 significant publishers/editors) ~ Feel free to send one of your own, or check out the "Save the Outdoor Sun" Facebook page.

Sun Publisher, Tim Ryan:
Content Manager, Mary Corey:
Head of Digital Media, Trif Alatzas:
Sports Editor, Ron Fritz:
I feel that you are making a grave error with your decision to cut The Outdoors Section from The Baltimore Sun. In an outdoor state such as Maryland, letting go of a community and statewide resource such as Candus Thomson is akin to obliterating a national treasure such as the Liberty Bell or vandalizing... the Washington Monument. Those two national icons are symbols of our country. For Maryland, a state rich with its outdoor opportunities, the knowledge that Candus Thomson holds and shares daily with outdoor enthusiasts in the state is equally to be treasured.

As an elementary teacher, I have seen far too many times the effects of “Nature Deficit Disorder” on children (and adults alike), where they are too “plugged in” to get out and enjoy the bounty that surrounds them outside. This is evident with our nation of growing waistlines as well. We need an enthusiastic voice, ONE voice, to invite us outdoors, and show us the amazing natural resources that we have around us. Candus Thomson, and her years of experience do this.

I question the motivation of The Sun to eliminate the Outdoors Section at a time when our state has been the first to make it mandatory for high school students to graduate with an environmental literacy requirement. Why would the newspaper do this, when our state has taken pride in its nearly 400 Maryland “Green” Schools? Why demote someone with Candus Thomson’s expertise about the Chesapeake Bay (which is a beautiful, yet environmentally-troubled part of our surroundings that needs a protector) to traffic reports and the Howard County Metro section? You are losing someone who can enlighten us all with her knowledge of environmental, regulatory, outdoor, and recreational issues. Candus has been achieving that mission quite well during this millennium.

I question also if you are basing your decisions to go this route off of Internet hits to The Sun’s webpage. I hope you are realizing you are countering our state’s environmental strides, and are instead favoring an attitude of “obesity in America.” I find this very disturbing that as a leading paper in the state, you would opt to go this route, when newspapers traditionally have been known for their power in educating, informing, and enlightening the public. Anyone can click a mouse at a computer…but is that the type of state that we want for Maryland? Is that what is at the heart of Maryland? I think not. Your computer clickers are probably out enjoying our amazing state parks, seasides, and mountains, doing what Marylanders have done for years.

I have written a post on this subject on my environmental education blog, Green Team Gazette.
I have also posted it on The Baltimore Sun Facebook page, my Green Team Gazette Facebook page, the “Save the Outdoor Sun” Facebook page, the Baltimore Sun Facebook page, and on Twitter.

Again, I hope you will reconsider and reinstate the Outdoor Section. At the very, very least, The Baltimore Sun should maintain a Sunday’s Outdoors column (which still feels substandard as you are doing your readers a disservice the other 6 days; yet this option is far better than nothing at all). If this is your plan, do know that wire feeds alone will not be enough to satisfy your readers and their quest for knowledge of Maryland’s environmental/recreational issues. If that is the route you are planning to take, even in that minimalistic-capacity, what Maryland needs would be again, Candus Thomson. We need her as the common thread, one voice, speaking for the Chesapeake Bay, and to us all.

Bottom line: We need an Outdoors column. Daily. The people of Maryland, the kids of Maryland, need this. Ultimately, for the sake of your readership, The Baltimore Sun needs this!

Vicki Dabrowka
3rd grade Teacher at Eagle Cove School, a Maryland “Green” School since 2006
Co-“Green Team” Lead Teacher at Eagle Cove School
Environmental Educator/Author/Creator of "Green Team Gazette"
Member of MAEOE (Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Educators)

Member of ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education

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