Friday, November 24, 2006

Hope for The Sun

City Paper reported this week on an idea that's been tossed around for the past couple of years: local investors interested in buying The Sun.

Local ownership of Maryland's largest daily has been a thing of history for two decades. The Sun is currently owned by the Tribune Company, a Chicago-based multi-media corporation that has been criticized for forcing cutbacks and damaging the quality of local papers.

But a group of local investors is trying to change that. Led by Baltimore native Ted Venetoulis, a consortium of 20 locals expressed interest in purchasing The Sun. Venetoulis is a Baltimore native who has had his hands in the publishing business since the late 1970's. The deal is nowhere near finished, but the pieces could fall together within the next few years.

As The League sees it, the purchase is really the only chance The Sun's got at becoming a respected newspaper again. Local investors with local interests could put the paper on the smart path: focusing on local issues. In an age of cable news - not to mention the internet - local papers are in no position to cover international or even national events. Local news is the only information they can provide that someone else can't do better. If The Sun and others like it focused all its resources on local news, it could provide better coverage of the city and state without wasting energy on news that can be got elsewhere.

There is, of course, the worry that these investors will attempt to steer the reporters away from stories that could be embarrassing to their financial or personal interests. It's easy for Venetoulis and others to now say they're not interested in "pushing the paper around as an ideological goal." But how will they feel as soon as it covers something damaging to their family? Of course, all media coverage is susceptible to that kind of manipulation, whether its financed by local or non-local investors. But the odds for those conflicts are greater when a local paper is owned by people who live nearby and are active in our political, business, culturual and social communities.

But any change is cause for hope at a time when Tribune makes poor staffing decisions from Chicago that have helped drag a once-great newspaper to the low it now finds itself.

from The League: Reassembled


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like that hope has fizzled for now:

Tribune Co. Rejects Baltimore Sun Inquiry

11/28/2006 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger The League: Reassembled said...

This is actually what the group of potential investors was hoping for. They figured that Tribune wouldn't sell of pieces of its empire a la carte. But if another corporation comes along and snatches up Tribune whole (as the article Andrew cited mentions), then this new owner may look to see off individual properties in order to pay off its debt.

11/28/2006 04:36:00 PM  

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