Sinclair Chairman David Smith Buys The Baltimore Sun in Private Deal

"I think the paper can be hugely profitable and successful and serve a greater public interest over time."

The Baltimore Sun building is seen in Baltimore, Maryland on March 11, 2021. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

David D. Smith, the executive chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group, has bought Baltimore Sun Media, the parent company of The Baltimore Sun and a few other Maryland-based news publications, vowing to turn the 187-year-old newspaper into a “hugely profitable and successful” business.

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In a private deal, first reported by the Baltimore Sun yesterday (Jan. 15), Smith acquired Baltimore Sun Media from Alden Global Capital, a New York investment firm that owns hundreds of newspapers. It’s unclear how much Smith paid for the acquisition.

In addition to the Sun, Baltimore Sun Media also owns The Capital Gazette, an Annapolis-based paper that received a special Pulitzer citation in 2019 for its coverage of a newsroom shooting that killed five of its employees in June 2018.

The Baltimore Sun is largest daily newspaper in Maryland that dates back to 1839. For much of the past four decades, the Sun was owned by out-of-state media groups, including the Los Angeles-based Times-Mirror Company (which owned the Los Angeles Times) and the Chicago-based Tribune Publishing. Tribune sold the paper to Alden in May 2021.

Smith, who is from Baltimore, is the Sun’s first local owner in decades. “I’m in the news business because I believe…We have an absolute responsibility to serve the public interest,” he said in an interview with the Sun. “I think the paper can be hugely profitable and successful and serve a greater public interest over time.”

The Sun will remain independent from Sinclair, but Smith said he envisions opportunities for partnerships between the two organizations. Sinclair owns about 200 television stations across the U.S.

Baltimore Sun Media has more than 150 employees across its publications with more than 230,000 paid subscribers across the Sun and its sister news organizations, according to the Sun.

The Sun joins a growing slate of news organizations owned by wealthy financiers. In 2018, pharmaceutical billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong bought The Los Angeles Times from Tronc for $500 million. The same year, Salesforce’s Marc Benioff bought Time magazine from Meredith Corp for $190 million, and Thai business mogul Chatchaval Jiaravanon acquired Fortune magazine for $150 million. In 2013, Amazon cofounder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million.

 

Correction: A previous version of this article inaccurately characterized Alden Global Capital as a hedge fund.

Sinclair Chairman David Smith Buys The Baltimore Sun in Private Deal