David D. Smith, executive chairman of Hunt Valley-based media company Sinclair, has personally acquired The Baltimore Sun Media Group from Alden Global Capital. The purchase returns Maryland’s longest-running newspaper, founded in 1837, to local ownership for the first time in over three decades.
The Baltimore Sun Media Group includes the iconic Baltimore Sun as well as affiliated local papers such as The Capital, Maryland Gazette, Carroll County Times, Howard County Times and Towson Times.
Smith said he intends to revitalize the flagship Sun paper by increasing coverage of local communities and investing in investigative journalism. The purchase signals a new chapter for an institution that has been documenting Maryland for over a century.
It also drew sharp criticism from those skeptical about Sinclair, a publicly traded American telecommunications conglomerate known for its conservative approach and political connections. The company owns, operates and/or provides services to 185 television stations in 86 markets affiliated with all the major broadcast networks.
“I don’t know what the future holds for The Capital or The Sun with new ownership,” Capital photographer Paul Gillespie posted on Facebook. “I do know there’s a lot of hard working local journalists, like myself, telling your local stories. So before you start canceling subscriptions, see how it goes. I’m still doing my best work for you.”
While the newspaper’s ownership has changed, nothing will change for its customers, according to a story in The Sun. Local news will be gathered, ads can be placed and papers will be delivered. Over time, customers can expect more content focused on their communities, the article stated.
According to The Sun story, Smith believes he can grow subscriptions and advertising for The Sun and its other publications by focusing more heavily on local and community news and investigations, boosting the use of video and social media, and integrating technology in ways other print media companies have been unable to do.
In the article, Smith criticized “mainstream media” in general for focusing on issues he said affect only a few people as opposed to those affecting greater numbers, adding that he finds it “curious that the mainstream media in this town often chooses not to cover things that affect everybody,” in particular concerning problems and corruption in government.