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Paper-Based Journalism is Melting Away – January 2024 M&A Activity

paper-based journalism is melting away

The churn in newspaper ownership continues unabated. While some newspapers simply close up, there remains a robust market as local publications are scooped up by new players. As it has always been, newspaper ownership confers a certain position of power and influence on the owners. The allure of being the next William Randolph Hearst is still present, wielding sway over politics, art, and social norms. Billionaires and multi-millionaires are drawn to the newspaper business, despite the risk of financial failure and diminishment of their fortunes.

However, one overriding trend is clear, and that is that eventually time-sensitive news will not be printed. In each and every instance, the new owners understand and articulate the need to transition news from a print-based delivery mechanism to a digital online channel. They are buying printed newspapers as the vehicles to the future of news.

Print & Digital News Compete in Baltimore

The citizens of Baltimore are not yet sure what to make of the latest change at their beloved metro newspaper, The Baltimore Sun. Ownership of the paper’s parent company, Baltimore Sun Media, has flipped again, this time to local businessman David D. Smith. The new owner is the family scion and executive chairman of the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the second-largest owner of television stations in the United States, measured by number of stations owned. The Sinclair Broadcast Group issued a statement that Smith purchased the paper personally, and that the television and entertainment giant was not involved in the transaction to acquire the newspaper. Nonetheless, Smith suggested that future partnership opportunities and synergies between the TV stations and the newspapers were possible.

The ownership of the Baltimore Sun has bounced around for years, and for nearly four decades has not been owned locally. Smith’s purchase changes that. Not only will Baltimore’s newspaper now have local ownership, other Maryland papers, including those serving Annapolis and Towson, were included in the transaction.


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