When the dust settles, The Sun will still shine

Merger: Proposed sale of Times-Mirror, will create stronger Baltimore journalism.

March 14, 2000

WHAT we were yesterday, we are today and will be tomorrow -- a newspaper dedicated, in words written by our founder [163] years ago, `to the common good, without regard to that of sects, factions or parties'."

That was the first comment in this column on May 29, 1986, upon news that the Times Mirror Co. of Los Angeles had purchased The Sun.

Looking back, it proved to be a prediction that was accurate, a pledge that was kept.

The Baltimore Sun has remained these past 14 years a Baltimore newspaper aiming at -- and usually achieving -- the highest standards of objectivity in news, integrity of opinion, service to advertisers and indispensability to subscribers.

If the proposed merger goes through, The Sun will join a stunning array of the proudest and strongest and most independent-minded newspapers in the country including not only the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Hartford Courant but soon also the Chicago Tribune, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel.

In that context, which should allow advantages of scale in such business areas as purchases and national advertising sales, readers will continue to see the searching investigations, the trend-setting Reading by 9, the comprehensive news gathered by The Sun's own reporters in Washington and around the world, and the loving care for our whole community -- such as the crusade for criminal justice reform -- for which this newspaper is famous in the industry and region.

This will be a merger of strong newspapers at a time when some prophets call the industry itself obsolescent.

There are versions of all the newspapers involved on the World Wide Web, engaged in creating the new medium that is quickly achieving its own traditions, values and content

And yet there are still newspapers on newsprint delivered to people's homes before breakfast. For each, tradition and innovation are complementary, not contradictory, values.

News of this merger is not the shock to community and staff that first word of the 1986 sale was. The Sun will be trading-in one distant corporate owner of great journalistic reputation and accomplishment for another.

It is not so wrenching to contemplate.

The Sun should emerge from it an even better newspaper for its readers, advertisers and employees.

What we were yesterday, we are today and will be tomorrow.

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