He tried and failed to buy the Baltimore Sun. Now Maryland hotel magnate Stewart W. Bannum Jr. is building an ambitious publication to compete with it.
The planned digital news outlet, The Baltimore Banner, will have an annual operating budget of $15 million, and Mr. Bainum is now looking to hire a editor-in-chief and a staff of 50 journalists, newspaper consultant Imtiaz Patel, to advise Mr. Bainam said on Thursday.
Mr Bainam’s goal, Mr Patel said, is to create the largest newsroom in Maryland – with more than 100 journalists – and rely on subscription sales to achieve sustainability. The Baltimore Banner will be run as a non-profit organization and will not offer a print version. the Atlantic previously reported Mr. Bainam’s plans for Thursday.
The creation of The Baltimore Banner is a side result of last year’s biggest newspaper deal, when hedge funds Alden Global Capital buys Tribune Publishing, the company behind The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and other major metropolitan dailies, in a deal valued at $630 million.
Months before Tribune shareholders approved that sale, Alden Global Capital announced that it had reached a non-binding deal to sell The Sun. Mr. Bainum for $65 million once the major acquisition is complete. Mr Bainam’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 fails, leaving Mr. Bainam to try. putting together new bids Overall for Tribune Publications. Those efforts were not successful, but Mr. Bainum did not lose interest in becoming a publisher.
“He has the vision to make a genuine alternative paper of record and invest the resources he would have invested in The Sun,” consultant Mr Patel said on Thursday.
A native of Tacoma Park, MD, Mr. Bainum is president Choice Hotels International, a lifelong family business that is home to one of the world’s largest hotel chains, including the Comfort Inn and Quality Inn brands. A lifelong Democrat, he served in the state legislature of Maryland from 1979 to 1987.
When he was submitting bids for Tribune Publishing earlier this year, he expected local, citizen-minded beneficiaries to be willing to take ownership of the company’s personal papers, a group of large-circulation dailies. which includes The Hartford Courant, Orlando Sentinel and Daily News.
Journalists from several Tribune newspapers publicly supported Mr. Bannum’s efforts to buy the company, and many of them publicly criticized Alden Global Capital, whose reputation spanned dozens of newspapers through a stringent cost- is for cut. Assistantmedia newsgroup.