Baltimore Sun sold to Sinclair Television Chairman

The Baltimore Sun, Maryland’s largest newspaper, has been sold to David D. Smith, executive chairman of the national Sinclair network of television and other media outlets.

Mr. Smith, who grew up in Baltimore, bought Baltimore Sun Media, which includes The Sun, in a private deal with Alden Global Capital, an investment firm that became the nation’s second-largest newspaper operator. Sun Media also includes The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, and several other Baltimore area publications.

It is not clear how much Mr. Smith paid for Baltimore Sun Media.

Triffon G. Alatzas, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Sun, said in an email to the newsroom on Monday that Mr. Smith purchased The Sun “to support his hometown newspaper.” Mr Alatzas said Mr Smith would meet with Sun staff on Tuesday.

In a interview with the newspaperMr Smith said: “We have an absolute responsibility to serve the public interest,” adding: “I believe the newspaper can be extremely profitable and successful and serve a greater public interest over time. »

Like many municipal newspapers, The Sun has seen its circulation and advertising revenues are eroding as readers moved online to get their news. Alden, which acquired The Sun in 2021 during the takeover Chicago-based Tribune Publishing newspaper chain, has aggressively cut costs.

The Sun, which dates from 1837, also competes with The Baltimore Banner, a nonprofit subscription website that began publishing in 2022 after hiring some of the Sun’s top journalists. The Banner was started by Stewart Bainum Jr., a hotel magnate and former politician who unsuccessfully tried to buy The Sun.

The Sun will now have a local owner for the first time in nearly four decades. It was owned by Times Mirror, a Los Angeles-based media company that included the Los Angeles Times, before being sold to the Tribune Company.

Baltimore Sun Media has more than 150 employees across its publications, with more than 230,000 paying subscribers for its print and digital editions.

The Sun will remain separate from Sinclair, based in Maryland and owner of about 200 television stations, including the Fox affiliate in Baltimore. In 2018, Sinclair sparked a backlash when anchors on its stations were ordered to read an editorial about media bias. Mr. Smith fiercely disagreed with the criticisms leveled at the scripts.

Mr. Smith is the latest wealthy investor to try to revive a news organization in recent years. Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong purchased the Los Angeles Times in 2018and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, bought the Washington Post in 2013.

Baltimore Sun Media has won 16 Pulitzer Prizes. The Capital Gazette won a special Pulitzer citation for its coverage of a shooting that killed five employees in its offices in June 2018.