Longtime Baltimore Sun State House reporter Michael Dresser is among the first journalists at the city’s daily newspaper to go in the most recent round of buyouts from Tribune Publishing.
He announced his retirement in a Twitter post, and briefly acknowledged it at the end of a column sizing up his time covering Annapolis. A newsroom source confirmed Dresser accepted one of the company-wide buyouts being offered by the Chicago-based parent company.
To all my Annapolis friends: I expect tomorrow (Thursday) to be my last day at the State House Bureau of The Baltimore Sun. I'll clean out my office, handle any stray news briefs and adjourn to the Red Red Wine Bar at day's end. I hope a few of you can drop by about 5 or 6.
— Michael Dresser (@michaeltdresser) December 5, 2018
Dresser began covering Annapolis in 1997, with the only interruption coming from 2004 to 2011, when he took on the transportation beat–an assignment that still had him covering the workings of state government.
The column noted that in the state capital, “The more things change, the more they remain the same,” hitting on the looming presence of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, enduring clout of lobbyists Gerard Evans and Bruce Bereano, ever-present ego of whoever’s occupying the Governor’s Mansion and willingness of some lawmakers to betray their oath for “chump change.”
But, he wrote, it’s been rewarding to witness truly transformational changes, like the legalization of gay marriage and repeal of the death penalty, and most representatives “are honest, decent people trying to serve their communities as best as they know how — Republicans and Democrats.”
Dresser did not respond to a request for comment from Baltimore Fishbowl.
Attorney General Brian Frosh and professors Mileah Kromer and Todd Eberly were among several people from the political world to offer tributes, though as is typical on social media, not everyone was so kind.
Michael Dresser, literally the guy in the white hat, ends an extraordinary career with a survey of Maryland politics for the past 30 years. One last great article from a superb reporter. https://t.co/Ep5wDNmu6v
— Brian Frosh (@BrianFrosh) December 6, 2018
I’ll miss chatting with the man in white—and how he always pronounces my name w/a strong “MYE” in Mileah. https://t.co/fh3ykutvT2
— Mileah Kromer (@MileahKromer) December 5, 2018
Next semester will mark the first time that my Maryland Politics students won't have the benefit of @michaeltdresser's coverage of state politics. Many of those students will not know what they're missing. But I will. Your reporting will be missed. https://t.co/CI7awqqFp1
— Todd Eberly (@ToddEberly) December 5, 2018
It’s not yet clear how many other Baltimore Sun journalists will join Dresser in leaving. Tribune Publishing last month offered buyouts to the company’s newspapers–with the exception of the New York Daily News, which has already seen its newsroom cut in half–to union and non-union employees with at least 10 years of experience.
Several employees from the smaller community papers within the Baltimore Sun Media Group, whose newsrooms have banded together to unionize, have announced their intentions to take the offer, said Cody Boteler, a reporter covering Baltimore County for Baltimore Sun Media Group. And the flagship paper publicly bid farewell last week to Elaine Nichols, a newsroom administrator with 52 years of experience.
Tribune has said if the company does not meet its financial targets through the buyout offers, it “may need to explore further workforce reductions.”