The paper is joining other local papers across the country that have used a non-profit model to make local news a priority.
The Baltimore Sun and its affiliates may soon have a new, local owner. The news comes as the Sun’s current parent company, Tribune Publishing, announces a merger with Alden Global Capital. In addition to the merger, Tribune has agreed to sell The Baltimore Sun to a non-profit called Sunlight for All Institute, helmed by Stewart Bainum Jr., the Chairman of Choice Hotels International out of Rockville. The paper was purchased by Tribune in 2000 and has been operated under The Baltimore Sun Media Group name.
If the deal is approved, the sale could close in the second quarter. The sale includes The Baltimore Sun, The Capital in Annapolis, The Carroll County Times, The Aegis, The Towson Times, and online-only neighborhood issues like The Howard County Times. The Baltimore Sun was started in 1837 by the Abell family. In 1910, it merged with other local papers eventually forming the state’s first television station. It was sold in 1986 to the Times-Mirror Company, owner of the Los Angeles Times.
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels
As media companies continue to gobble up small newspapers around the country, communities have seen newsrooms reduced and a decline in coverage of issues important to those communities. The non-profit model was first adopted by The Texas Tribune in Austin, Texas. The experiment proved successful and 10 years later the paper is still thriving. The Texas Tribune inspired the creation of a nonprofit called the American Journalism Project, a fund that has provided $50 million to papers pursuing the same model.
The sale of the Sun and its entities are contingent upon the larger merger of Tribune and the private equity firm. Stewart Bainum Jr. is the chairman of Choice Hotels, a global hotel brand that includes more than 10 brands, including Cambria, Quality Inn, Clarion Hotels, and Econo Lodge.
Are you a current subscriber to the local newspaper? Let us know in the comments how you feel about your small town paper going nonprofit.