Merced is the county seat of Merced County, which is located in the heart of California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley. Merced is home to the University of California’s 10th and newest campus, which opened in the fall of 2005 and represents the first American research university built in the 21st century. The region’s economy has been based on agribusiness for generations but aspires to become an educational hub as UC Merced grows. The Sun-Star has twice been awarded first place in the state for general excellence among papers of its size in the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Better Newspapers Contest.

In 2020, McClatchy transitioned to private ownership when it was acquired by Chatham Asset Management. The Chatham acquisition marked the beginning of a new era of opportunity for McClatchy, strengthening the Company's financial position and enabling it to build on its 150-plus year history of independent, community-focused journalism by investing in local newsrooms.