The Baltimore Sun Media Group this morning announced it has purchased Landmark Community Newspapers of Maryland, publishers of the Carroll County Times, from Landmark Publishing.
, publishers of the Capital.
Times staff first received news of the sale at an 11 a.m. Thursday meeting with Landmark Publishing executives and Pat Richardson, publisher of the Times and the Capital Gazette. Many questions on changes to the paper and staffing could not be answered at the time, but will be in the coming weeks.
Frank Batten Jr., Landmark Publishing chairman and CEO, said the company had been asking to purchase the Times and the Capital for several years, but because the Tribune Company was in bankruptcy, Landmark Publishing officials said no.
Its finances are now stable, and the time for the sale was right, though Landmark Publishing will miss being associated with the Times, he told staff at the morning meeting.
"This newspaper has been successful not because of what we at Landmark have done," he said, "but because of what you all have done here."
The Baltimore Sun Media Group will be on site Friday and next week to start the transition. Times staff peppered Richardson with questions on staffing and other potential changes to the newspaper.
She has not yet met with Baltimore Sun Media Group officials, she said, and did not know what their plans are at this time. The Times will continue to maintain an independent editorial voice and be a "strong newspaper for this market," Richardson told staff.
"We will be the voice of Carroll County," she said, "and it will be dictated by us."
The Times is the 27th largest employer in Carroll County, according to the county's Department of Economic Development's website last updated January 2013.
The Times has about 83 full-time employees and roughly 30 part-timers. This includes about 25 newsroom staff, 14 advertising employees, 10 in charge of the printing press and an array of other departments, such as business, circulation and more.
Batten said in an interview that he did not know if the Times and the Capital would stay daily newspapers, but he would be "surprised" if the papers' frequency changed.
The Baltimore Sun Media Group is not buying the Times' building, but will be renting it until further notice.
Timothy E. Ryan, publisher, president and CEO of BSMG, said in a written statement that he values the local coverage the Times and other papers provide.
"We want the newspapers and websites to remain the source for news and opinions on local politics, communities, sports and the arts in this region," he said. "We respect and intend to maintain the excellent local news coverage and editorial voice that CCT has been providing for so many years."
Michael Abernathy, president of Landmark Publishing, said in a written statement, "Landmark will miss the many good people associated with these fine media companies. We wish them continued success and plan to work closely in the coming months with the BSMG leadership team to effect a smooth and successful transition."
Landmark announced in 2008 that it would be selling off its newspaper properties.
Richardson said Thursday "I'm very optimistic that this is a good move for our companies. Aligned with BSMG we will have new sales opportunities and increased editorial staff that will give readers broader news coverage and in-depth reporting. This will help our newspapers grow and evolve as media is changing. We look forward to the coming years."
Richardson told staff it will take time to internalize what this means and asked employees to stay mindful of the paper's mission as that will not change.
The acquisition includes the daily newspaper, Carroll County Times, and related publications that include Community Times, Carroll Living, Central Maryland Homes, three Advocate newspapers, three Purchasing Power papers, Mason-Dixon Marketplace and Shopper and carrollcountytimes.com.
Ryan said the Capital and Times "are wonderful newspapers and successful media businesses that have long provided vital news and information to residents in their regions. We look forward to using BSMG's capabilities to build upon that tradition of excellent service to readers, advertisers and the community."
The Times started on Oct. 6, 1911, as a weekly newspaper published by the Mather Printing Co. of Westminster. T.W. Mather owned the T.W. Mather Department Store in downtown Westminster, but it was his son, George, who was the moving spirit behind the paper.
Mather started the newspaper because of a belief that the county needed a newspaper with a strong Republican voice. In an editorial appearing in the first issue, Mather wrote, "In politics, the Times will be Republican, but it will adhere rigidly to the policy of malice toward none and charity for all. Biting sarcasm, mud-slinging or fault-finding shall have no place on our page."
On the editorial page every day, beneath the masthead telling of the newspaper's ownership and subscription information, the Times carried the motto "A Republican Weekly."
A major target of the newspaper was the long-established Democratic Advocate, which carried its political leanings in its title. The two battled often over the years, until the Times purchased the Democratic Advocate in December, 1968.
Landmark Community Newspapers Inc. purchased the Times in April, 1974, from Adam Spiegel.