He tried but couldn’t buy The Baltimore Sun. Now Maryland hotel tycoon Stuart W. Bynum, Jr. is creating an ambitious publication to rival him.
The Baltimore Banner’s upcoming digital news outlet will have an annual operating budget of $ 15 million, and Mr Bainum is now looking for an editor-in-chief and a staff of 50 journalists, a consultant for the newspaper Imtiaz Patel, and an advisor for Mr Bainum. Bainum said Thursday.
Mr. Bynum’s goal, Mr. Patel added, is to build the largest newsroom in Maryland – more than 100 journalists – and rely on subscription sales to achieve sustainability. Baltimore Banner will operate as a non-profit organization and will not offer print publications. The Atlantic first announced Mr Bynum’s plans on Thursday.
The Baltimore Banner is a spin-off of last year’s biggest newspaper deal, when hedge fund Alden Global Capital bought Tribune Publishing, the company behind The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and other major metropolitan dailies. valued at $ 630 million.
Months before Tribune shareholders approved the sale, Alden Global Capital announced that it had reached a non-binding deal to sell The Sun to Mr. Bynum for $ 65 million following the completion of a larger acquisition. Mr. Bainum’s plan was to turn the 184-year-old newspaper into a non-profit organization that would run it as a public trust.
However, this arrangement fell through, and Mr. Bainum had to try to collect new applications for Tribune Publishing as a whole. These attempts were unsuccessful, but Mr. Bynum did not lose interest in becoming a publisher.
“He has a vision of creating a viable alternative official paper and investing the resources he would invest in The Sun,” adviser Mr Patel said Thursday.
Born in Tacoma Park, Maryland, Bynum is Chairman of Choice Hotels International, a former family owned company that is one of the largest hotel chains in the world, including the Comfort Inn and Quality Inn brands. A life-long Democrat, he served in the Maryland legislature from 1979 to 1987.
When he collected applications for Tribune Publishing earlier this year, he hoped to find local, civic philanthropists willing to take ownership of individual shares of the company, a group of high-circulation daily newspapers that include The Hartford Courant, The Orlando Sentinel, and The Daily news.
Journalists from several Tribune newspapers have publicly supported Mr Bynum’s efforts to buy the company, and many have publicly criticized Alden Global Capital, which has a reputation for strict cost-cutting in dozens of newspapers it owns through its subsidiary MediaNews Group. …