Saturday, October 16, 2021

Reports: Digital News Outlet Being Planned For Baltimore

Stewart W Bainum Jr.
Stewart W. Bainum Jr., the hotel magnate who launched a failed bid to acquire The Baltimore Sun and the rest of the newspapers owned by Tribune Publishing, plans to open a new nonprofit, all-digital publication called The Baltimore Banner, according to Baltimore CBSLocal citing a new report in The Atlantic.

Bainum, chairman of Choice Hotels International, told the magazine the organization will start with an annual operating budget of $15 million and a staff of 50 journalists.

In preparation for the launch, Bainum met with local news start-ups around the country to learn best practices and came away thinking all of them needed more funding to bulk up operations.

If his plan to start a new outlet in Baltimore proves successful, he hopes it can be replicated in other markets where local newspapers have suffered years of staff cuts.

“There’s no industry that I can think of more integral to a working democracy than the local-news business,” he said.

Faced with the prospect of being acquired by Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund dubbed “the grim reaper of American newspapers” by Vanity Fair, a group of Baltimore Sun journalists in 2020 launched the Save Our Sun campaign and lobbied for local ownership to turn the newspaper into a nonprofit. Other Tribune papers soon followed suit.

Bainum came forward as an interested buyer of The Sun, and reportedly reached a deal to purchase the newspaper for $65 million once Alden Global Capital acquired Tribune Publishing.

But Alden added a licensing deal that would have added millions to the price, according to the Atlantic article, so Bainum tried to line up other backers to put in a bid for Tribune Publishing as a whole.

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