The Baltimore Sun

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The Baltimore Sun
Light for All
The March 27, 2024 front page
of The Baltimore Sun
TypeDaily newspaper
Owner(s)David D. Smith and Armstrong Williams
PublisherTrif Alatzas[1]
EditorTrif Alatzas
FoundedMay 17, 1837; 187 years ago (1837-05-17)
Headquarters200 St. Paul Place
CityBaltimore, Maryland, U.S.
CountryUnited States
Circulation43,000 daily
125,000 Sunday (as of 2021)[2]
OCLC number244481759 Edit this at Wikidata

The Baltimore Sun is the largest general-circulation daily newspaper based in the U.S. state of Maryland and provides coverage of local, regional, national, and international news.[3]

Founded in 1837, the newspaper was owned by Tribune Publishing until May 2021, when it was acquired by Alden Global Capital, which operates its media properties through Digital First Media.[4][5][6][7][8] David D. Smith, the executive chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group, closed a deal to buy the paper on January 15, 2024.[9]


19th century[edit]

The Sun was founded on May 17, 1837, by Arunah Shepherdson Abell and two associates, William Moseley Swain from Rhode Island, and Azariah H. Simmons from Philadelphia, where they had started and published the Public Ledger the year before.

Abell became a journalist with the Providence Patriot and later worked with newspapers in New York City and Boston.[10]

20th century[edit]

The Abell family and descendants owned The Sun until 1910, when the local Black and Garrett families invested in the paper at the suggestion of former rival owner/publisher of The News, Charles H. Grasty, and they, along with Grasty gained a controlling interest; they retained the name A. S. Abell Company for the parent publishing company. That same year The Evening Sun was established under reporter, editor and columnist H.L. Mencken (1880–1956).

From 1947 to 1986, The Sun was the owner and founder of Maryland's first television station, WMAR-TV (channel 2), which was a longtime affiliate of CBS until 1981, when it switched to NBC. The station was sold off in 1986, and is now owned by the E. W. Scripps Company, and has been an ABC affiliate since 1995. A. S. Abell also owned several radio stations, but not in Baltimore itself (holding construction permits for WMAR sister AM/FM stations, but never bringing them to air).

The newspaper opened its first foreign bureau in London in 1924. Between 1955 and 1961, it added four new foreign offices.

As Cold War tensions grew, it set up shop in Bonn, West Germany, in February 1955; the bureau was later moved to Berlin. Eleven months later, The Sun was one of the first U.S. newspapers to open a bureau in Moscow. A Rome office followed in July 1957, and a New Delhi bureau was opened four years later, in 1961 .[11] At its height, The Sun ran eight foreign bureaus, giving rise to its boast in a 1983 advertisement that "The Sun never sets on the world."[12]

The paper was sold by Reg Murphy in 1986 to the Times-Mirror Company of the Los Angeles Times.[13]

The same week, a 115-year-old rivalry ended when the oldest newspaper in the city, the News American, a Hearst paper since the 1920s with roots dating back to 1773, folded.[14] A decade later in 1997, The Sun acquired the Patuxent Publishing Company, a local suburban newspaper publisher that had a stable of 15 weekly papers and a few magazines in several communities and counties.[15]

In the 1990s and 2000s, The Sun began cutting back its foreign coverage. In 1995 and 1996, the paper closed its Tokyo, Mexico City and Berlin bureaus. Two more—Beijing and London—fell victim to cost-cutting in 2005.[12] The final three foreign bureaus—Moscow, Jerusalem, and Johannesburg, South Africa—fell a couple of years later.[16] All were closed by 2008, as the Tribune Co. streamlined and downsized the newspaper chain's foreign reporting. Some material from The Sun's foreign correspondents is archived at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.[17]

21st century[edit]

In the 21st century, The Sun, like most legacy newspapers in the United States, has suffered a number of setbacks in the competition with Internet and other sources, including a decline in readership and ads, a shrinking newsroom staff,[18] and competition from 2005-2007 with the free daily The Baltimore Examiner, along with a similar Washington, D.C.-based publication of a small chain recently started by new owners that took over the San Francisco Examiner.[19] In 2000, the Times-Mirror company was purchased by the Tribune Company of Chicago. In 2014, it transferred its newspapers, including The Sun, to Tribune Publishing.

The Sun introduced a new layout design in September 2005, and again in August 2008.[20] By 2010 daily circulation as of 2010 had fallen to 195,561 and 343,552 for the Sunday edition. On April 29, 2009, the Tribune Company announced the lay off of 61 of the 205 staff members in the Sun newsroom.[21] On September 23, 2011, it was reported[22] that the Baltimore Sun would be moving its web edition behind a paywall starting October 10, 2011.

The Baltimore Sun is the flagship of the Baltimore Sun Media Group, which also produces the b free daily newspaper and more than 30 other Baltimore metropolitan-area community newspapers, magazines and Web sites. BSMG content reaches more than one million Baltimore-area readers each week and is the region's most widely read source of news.[23]

On February 20, 2014, The Baltimore Sun Media Group announced that they would buy the alternative weekly City Paper.[24] In April, the Sun acquired the Maryland publications of Landmark Media Enterprises.[25]

In February 2021, as part of the planned merger between Tribune Publishing and Alden Global Capital, Tribune announced that Alden had reached a non-binding agreement to sell The Sun to the Sunlight For All Institute, a nonprofit backed by businessman and philanthropist Stewart W. Bainum Jr. The deal was contingent on approval by Tribune shareholders of the merger deal.[26] It fell apart in talks over operating agreements with Tribune for functions including human resources and customer service.[27] Bainum then led a failed bid to acquire all of Tribune Publishing.[28] Bainum subsequently founded The Baltimore Banner, pledging $50 million to the nonprofit outlet.

In February 2022, the editorial board of The Sun published a lengthy apology for its racism over its 185–year history, including specific offenses such as accepting classified ads for selling enslaved people and publishing editorials that promoted racial segregation and disenfranchisement of Black voters.[29][30][31]

In January 2024, David D. Smith, executive chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group, reached an agreement to acquire the paper, with conservative commentator Armstrong Williams holding an undisclosed stake. Though the transaction is independent of Sinclair, Smith said he foresees partnerships between the paper and Sinclair properties like WBFF-TV. Smith said he believed he could grow subscriptions and advertising through a greater focus on community news and integrating technology in ways other print media publishers are not going.[9] In his first visit to the newsroom, he sparred with reporters and said the paper should emulate Sinclair's local flagship, WBFF, including through non-scientific reader polls and aggressive coverage of Baltimore City Public Schools. He dismissed newsroom concerns about the future of public service journalism.[32][33]

Since Smith's acquisition of The Sun, the paper has become more conservative, and has published more stories on Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott and his administration, as well as crime in Baltimore.[34] Williams said the paper's editorial page would cease endorsing political candidates and start including more Conservative viewpoints, but not at the expense of Liberal ones. The Sun may run his syndicated column "on its merits."[35]


From 1910 to 1995 there were two distinct newspapers, The Sun, which was published in the morning, and The Evening Sun, which was published in the afternoon. Each newspaper maintained separate reporting and editorial staff.

The Evening Sun was first published in 1910 under the leadership of Charles H. Grasty, former owner of the Evening News, and a firm believer in the evening circulation. For most of its existence, The Evening Sun led its morning sibling in circulation. In 1959, the afternoon edition's circulation was 220,174, compared to 196,675 for the morning edition.[36] However, by the 1980s, cultural, technological and economic shifts in America were eating away at afternoon newspapers' market share, with readers flocking to either morning papers or switching to nightly television news broadcasts.[37] In 1992, the afternoon paper's circulation was 133,800.[38] By mid-1995, The Evening Sun's readership—86,360—had been eclipsed by The Sun—264,583.[36] The Evening Sun ceased publication on September 15, 1995.


After a period of roughly a year during which the paper's owners sometimes printed a two-section product, The Baltimore Sun now has three sections every weekday: News, Sports and alternating various business and features sections. On some days, comics and such features as the horoscope and TV listings are printed in the back of the Sports section.

After dropping the standalone business section in 2009, The Sun brought back a business section on Tuesdays and Sundays in 2010, with business pages occupying part of the news section on other days.[39] Features sections debuting in 2010 included a Saturday "Home" section, a Thursday "Style" section and a Monday section called "Sunrise." The sports article written by Peter Schmuck is published only on weekdays.


The Sunday Sun for many years was noted for a locally produced rotogravure Maryland pictorial magazine section, featuring works by such acclaimed photographers as A. Aubrey Bodine. The Sunday Sun dropped the Sunday Sun Magazine in 1996 and now only carries Parade magazine weekly. A quarterly version of the Sun Magazine[40] was resurrected in September 2010, with stories that included a comparison of young local doctors, an interview with actress Julie Bowen and a feature on the homes of a former Baltimore anchorwoman. Newsroom managers plan to add online content on a more frequent basis.[edit]

The company introduced its website in September 1996. A redesign of the site was unveiled in June 2009, capping a six-month period of record online traffic. Each month from January through June, an average of 3.5 million unique visitors combined to view 36.6 million Web pages. Sun reporters and editors produce more than three dozen blogs on such subjects as technology, weather, education, politics, Baltimore crime, real estate, gardening, pets and parenting. Among the most popular are Dining@Large, which covers local restaurants; The Schmuck Stops Here, a Baltimore-centric sports blog written by Peter Schmuck; Z on TV, by media critic David Zurawik; and Midnight Sun, a nightlife blog. A Baltimore Sun iPhone app was released September 14, 2010.


In 2008, the Baltimore Sun Media Group launched the daily paper b to target younger and more casual readers, ages 18 to 35. It was in tabloid format, with large graphics, creative design, and humor in focusing on entertainment, news, and sports. Its companion website was[41] The paper transitioned from daily to weekly publication in 2011.

b ceased publication entirely in August 2015, more than a year after the Baltimore Sun Media Group acquired City Paper.[42]


The Baltimore Sun has won 16 Pulitzer Prizes. It also has been home to many notable journalists, reporters and essayists, including H.L. Mencken, who had a forty-plus-year association with the paper.

Other notable journalists, editors, photographers and cartoonists on the staff of The Baltimore Sun include:


The Baltimore Sun's headquarters, from 1950 to 1988, on North Calvert Street
The newspaper's headquarters, between 1988 and 2022, at "Sun Park" in Port Covington

The first issue of The Sun, a four-page tabloid, was printed at 21 Light Street in downtown Baltimore in the mid-1830s.

In 1851, the newspaper moved to a five-story structure at the corner of Baltimore and South streets. In 1904, in the Great Baltimore Fire, the structure, known as the "Iron Building", was destroyed.

In 1885, The Sun constructed a building for its Washington, D.C. bureau at 1317 F Street, NW, in Washington, D.C.[44] The building is on the National Register.

In 1906, operations were moved to Charles and Baltimore streets, where The Sun was written, published, and distributed for nearly 50 years. In 1950, operations were moved to a larger, modern plant at Calvert and Centre streets. In 1979, ground was broken for a new addition to the Calvert Street plant to house modern pressroom facilities. This facility commenced operations in 1981.

In April 1988, at a cost of $180 million, the company purchased 60 acres (24 ha) of land at Port Covington and built "Sun Park". The new building houses a satellite printing and packaging facility, and also is the newspaper's headquarters for its distribution operations.[45] The Sun's printing facility at Sun Park has highly sophisticated computerized presses and automated insertion equipment in the packaging area. To keep pace with the speed of the presses and automated guided vehicles, intelligent electronic forklifts deliver the newsprint to the presses.

On January 30, 2022, The Baltimore Sun newspaper was printed for the last time at its Sun Park facility.[46] It was reported that The Sun's printing operations would be moved to a printing facility in Wilmington, Delaware.[47]

In December 2022, the Sun announced an agreement to move its offices to 200 St. Paul Place in downtown Baltimore, abandoning Sun Park altogether. [48]


  • The paper became embroiled in a controversy involving the former governor of Maryland, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). Ehrlich had issued an executive order on November 18, 2004, banning state executive branch employees from talking to Sun columnist Michael Olesker and reporter David Nitkin, claiming that their coverage had been unfair to the administration. This led The Sun to file a First Amendment lawsuit against the Ehrlich administration. The case was dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge, and The Sun appealed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the dismissal.[49]
  • Olesker was later forced to resign on January 4, 2006, in a separate incident in which he was accused of plagiarism. The Baltimore City Paper reported that several of his columns contained sentences or paragraphs that were extremely similar (although not identical) to material previously published in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Sun.[50] Several of his colleagues were highly critical of the forced resignation, taking the view that the use of previously published boilerplate material was common newsroom practice, and that Olesker's alleged plagiarism was in line with that practice.[51]
  • Between 2006 and 2007, Thomas Andrews Drake, a former National Security Agency executive, allegedly leaked classified information to Siobhan Gorman, then a national security reporter for The Sun. Drake was charged in April 2010 with 10 felony counts in relation to the leaks.[52] In June 2011, all 10 original charges were dropped, in what was widely viewed as an acknowledgement that the government had no valid case against the whistleblower, who eventually pleaded to one misdemeanor count for exceeding authorized use of a computer. Drake was the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling.[53]
  • In 2018, in response to the European cookie law, the parent company of The Sun did not enable permission-requesting software, and many European visitors (and those from some non-European countries) were forced to visit the site via proxies, potentially muddling the website's analytics.[54][55][56]

Portrayal in The Wire[edit]

The Baltimore Sun was featured in the American crime drama television series The Wire in 2008 (season 5), which was created by former Sun reporter David Simon.[57]

Like all of the institutions featured in The Wire, the Sun is portrayed as having many deeply dysfunctional qualities while also having very dedicated people on its staff. The season focuses on the role of the media in affecting political decisions in City Hall and the priorities of the Baltimore Police Department. Additionally, the show explores the business pressures of modern media through layoffs and buyouts occurring at the Sun, on the orders of the Tribune Company, the Sun's corporate owner.

One storyline involves a troubled Sun reporter named Scott Templeton, and his escalating tendency to sensationalize and falsify stories. The Wire portrays the managing editors of the Sun as turning a blind eye to the protests of a concerned line editor, in the managing editors' zeal to win a Pulitzer Prize. The show insinuates that the motivation for this institutional dysfunction is the business pressures of modern media, and working for a flagship newspaper in a major media market like The New York Times or The Washington Post is seen as the only way to avoid the cutbacks occurring at the Sun.

Season 5 was The Wire's last. The finale episode, "-30-", features a montage at the end portraying the ultimate fate of the major characters. It shows Templeton at Columbia University with the senior editors of the fictional Sun, accepting the Pulitzer Prize, with no mention being made as to the aftermath of Templeton's career. Alma Gutierrez is shown being exiled to the Carroll County bureau past the suburbs.

News partnership[edit]

In September 2008, The Baltimore Sun became the newspaper partner of station WJZ-TV, owned and operated by CBS; the partnership involves sharing content and story leads, and teaming up on stories. WJZ promotes Baltimore Sun stories in its news broadcasts. The Sun promotes WJZ's stories and weather team on its pages.

See also[edit]


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  14. ^ Walsh, Sharon Warren; R, Eleanor; olph; Ifill, Washington Post Staff Writers; Staff writers Gwen; repo, Steve Luxenberg also contributed to this (May 29, 1986). "Baltimore Sun Papers Sold to Times Mirror Co". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 10, 2018.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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  17. ^ "Baltimore Sun Foreign Bureaus records" Archived April 1, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
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Further reading[edit]

  • Hill, Frederic B.; Broening, Stephens, eds. (July 25, 2016). The Life of Kings: The Baltimore Sun and the Golden Age of the American Newspaper. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4422-6256-0.
  • Gerald W. Johnson; H. L. Mencken, eds. (1937). The Sunpapers of Baltimore (1st ed.). New York: Knopf. LCCN 37009111.
  • Merrill, John C. and Harold A. Fisher. The world's great dailies: profiles of fifty newspapers (1980) pp 73–80

External links[edit]

Media related to The Baltimore Sun at Wikimedia Commons