The new owner of The Baltimore Sun, conservative businessman David D. Smith, introduced himself to the newsroom on Tuesday afternoon in a three-hour staff meeting in which he reportedly insulted the journalistic quality of the newspaper, according to multiple media reports.
Smith’s acquisition from investment firm Alden Global Capital was announced on Monday. He told staff it cost him around “nine figures,” the Baltimore Banner reported, though the terms of the deal remain private.
While Smith grew up in Baltimore and is committing significant investment to the area’s local journalism institutions, he admitted to only having read The Sun four times in the last few months.
The Baltimore Sun's new owner, David D. Smith, met with staffers today for more than two hours. Many left on edge.
He claimed he had read the paper just four times. He grew up here; his family's local TV empire – Sinclair – is based in Baltimore Co.
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) January 16, 2024
The Sun’s new owner is also the executive chairman of Sinclair Inc., which owns and operates Baltimore’s Fox 45 News and more than 200 TV stations across the country. However, Sinclair and The Sun both distanced themselves from each other.
“This is not a Sinclair transaction,” an internal memo to The Sun staff on Monday read, seemingly distancing itself from the corporation while stating that Smith personally purchased the newspaper.
During the tense meeting on Tuesday, Smith announced that The Sun was profitable, NPR’s David Folkenflik reported, and the owner committed to increasing profitability.
Additionally, multiple media reports allege that Smith insulted the quality of journalism The Sun has been producing and encouraged staffers to emulate Fox 45 News.
Smith deflected concerns about his political leanings. He has a track record of funding far right-wing organizations like Project Veritas and Turning Point USA. Sinclair has also been controversial due to a conservative streak in its own broadcasts.
Some are already questioning Smith’s intentions with the outlet, considering his aggressive entrance to the paper and its staff.
You buy a paper.
Tell its employees you never read it.
Consider the reporting meaningless drivel.
Ask if the can be more like a FOX affiliate. https://t.co/94NyiUBJta
— David Beard (@dabeard) January 17, 2024
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