The Washington-Baltimore News Guild and the NewsGuild-CWA are launching a campaign to support efforts to return The Baltimore Sun to local ownership under a non-profit model, reinvesting profit back into the paper that has been Maryland’s news source for nearly two centuries.
According to a release, the Save Our Sun campaign comes in the midst of a global pandemic, at a time when the public’s need for fact-based, accountability journalism has never been more relevant — and when the Sun’s survival is at risk.
“We cannot lose reporting capacity in this critical moment. When a community loses a newspaper, corruption goes up, partisanship goes up and your taxes go up,”said Jon Schleuss, the president of NewsGuild-CWA. “The Sun holds the powerful accountable and it does that for the people of Maryland.”
Last year, Alden Global Capital, a New York-based hedge fund that owns more than 100 newspapers, purchased 32% of Tribune Publishing stock, making them the largest shareholder of Tribune and giving them two seats on the Tribune company board. Tribune owns The Sun, The Chicago Tribune, The Hartford Courant and several other major newspapers. It is expected that Alden will work to obtain majority ownership of Tribune Publishing, and The Baltimore Sun, as early as this summer.
Ted Venetoulis, an advisor to the local effort, indicated “that in today’s newspaper environment, the community might be better served with a newspaper under local ownership and managed as a nonprofit institution.”
“We are proud to be a part of this effort to galvanize local support behind our local newspaper,”said Matthew D. Gallagher, President and CEO of the Goldseker Foundation.“The Baltimore Sun has served as a beacon for our city and this new ownership model will preserve the daily news source we’ve come to depend on.”
The Abell Foundation, created by the family that founded and sold The Sun, and its president Robert C. Embry Jr. led previous efforts to return The Sun to local ownership – along with Ted Venetoulis and other local citizens. Embry and Venetoulis continue to pursue local ownership. Venetoulis authored a report published by The Abell Foundation in 2015 about the efficacy of not-for-profit digital newsrooms.
“If a city loses its professional sports teams, it loses its spirit. If a city loses its newspapers, it loses its soul,” explained Venetoulis. “We fight to keep our ball clubs. It’s time to fight to keep our newspaper.”