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Armstrong Williams to Be a Baltimore Sun Owner

www.journal-isms.com– Monday, January 15, 2024

The Baltimore Sun, the largest newspaper in Maryland, has been acquired in a private deal by David D. Smith, executive chairman of Baltimore County-based television station owner Sinclair Inc., the Sun announced Monday, with conservative commentator and entrepreneur Armstrong Williams his sole partner.

Williams told Journal-isms Monday night that his role will be “whatever I want it to be,” and that he and Smith’s longtime business and personal relationship means that it doesn’t matter what size financial stake Williams has in the enterprise, the two share the same goals and will work together.

“There are no egos,” Williams said. The size of Williams’ stake was not disclosed, but it is rare for an African American businessman to have such an ownership interest in a mainstream newspaper.

“We just want to get back to journalism,” Williams added, saying the priority will be providing coverage to places in the region that have been relatively neglected. “We will be hiring,” he said. “We want our reporters on the ground.”

Williams also said, “We want to show that newspapers can work if you have the right partnership. I couldn’t have a better partner than David Smith.”

He said the current publisher, Trif Alatzas, would remain.

Lorraine Mirabella reported for the Sun, “Smith said Monday that he acquired Baltimore Sun Media on Friday from investment firm Alden Global Capital, marking the first time in nearly four decades that The Sun will be in the hands of a local owner.

“Smith decided to personally buy the newspaper, along with the Capital Gazette papers in Annapolis, Carroll County Times, Towson Times and several other Baltimore-area weeklies and magazines, because of the publications’ focus on local news in the Baltimore area.

“ ‘I’m in the news business because I believe … we have an absolute responsibility to serve the public interest,’ Smith said in an interview. ‘I think the paper can be hugely profitable and successful and serve a greater public interest over time.’ “

Williams said the purchase had been in the works for two years. His relationship with Smith is one of long standing. Smith, as president and CEO of Sinclair Broadcasting, helped Williams acquire television stations, at times directly from Sinclair. ‘I’ve always admired his ability to stick his neck out there and call people . . . for what they’re doing,’ Smith told Journal-isms in 2014, referring to Williams. ‘We’re big believers in advocacy journalism, and he fits that mode. He was the first one I called’ when the then-current ownership possibility arose, Smith said.

Williams then planned to buy WMMP-TV in Charleston, S.C.

The website of Williams’ company, Howard Stirk Holdings, shows ownership of seven stations: WSES-Tuscaloosa, Ala., WGWW-Anniston, in the Birmingham, Ala., market; KHSV-Las Vegas; WGWG in Charleston, S.C., WPDE-Myrtle Beach in South Carolina; WEYI-Flint in Michigan; and WXBU-Lancaster in Pennsylvania. The company also produces “The Armstrong Williams Show,” which airs Saturday mornings.

Williams said he had been researching the Sun’s relationships with African Americans over its history, which dates to 1837. The Sun apologized for its racial past in 2022, declaring that “For decades, The Baltimore Sun promoted policies that oppressed Black Marylanders; we are working to make amends.”

 

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