Across the country, local journalism is in crisis. An average of more than two newspapers a week are disappearing, and more than 2,500 have stopped publishing since 2005. In the last several months alone, hundreds of journalists have been laid off — including 73 at my last employer, the Los Angeles Times.
But in Baltimore, local news is thriving.
Since launching a year ago, The Baltimore Banner has helped revitalize local journalism in the greater Baltimore region by hiring 100 staffers, including 68 journalists who keep our newsroom at the Inner Harbor humming with activity. We’ve covered thousands of news stories since June 2022, many of which have prompted substantive change. By year’s end, we expect to be the largest news outlet in Maryland.
We have nearly twice the number of journalists as when we launched — with added coverage of sports, food and healthcare. Later this year, we’ll add business, transportation and more regional reporters to the mix.
If you haven’t checked us out lately, please take another look during our free Open House, with unlimited access to our website on June 14-15.
Our stories are making a difference and sparking real impact. A few examples:
- Expansive coverage of housing issues has led to legislation banning predatory real estate practices by a local company, exposed inequities in Baltimore’s tax sale process and prompted a state investigation into the Philadelphia-based ABC Capital, which has been accused of running a Ponzi scheme selling distressed properties to foreign investors.
- Helped an unhoused Druid Hill Park artist find a permanent home after city officials read the coverage and connected him with services.
- Exposed a quota-like ticketing system by the Maryland State Police, which the acting superintendent has acknowledged was “blatantly wrong.”
- Sparked an overhaul in the leadership within the Maryland Park Service after reporting on a decadeslong toxic workplace culture of abuse and harassment. The state superintendent, a regional manager and two top managers of Gunpowder Falls State Park all were either fired or resigned.
- Prompted federal legislation that helps reimburse stolen SNAP benefits. In Maryland, Gov. Wes Moore has set aside $11.3 million to help thousands of low-income residents whose benefits were stolen.
- Offered free access to The Banner to hundreds of low-income households through Project Waves, and through the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
Our mission remains the same: to be an indispensable news resource that strengthens, unites and inspires our communities. We are committed to telling stories that have been largely ignored or untold. Our reporters are on the ground in neighborhoods across Baltimore. Data journalists are diving into the numbers to add context and depth to our articles. We’re trying to help you have fun, too — because we all need a night out or a weekend getaway.
Over the weekend, I was listening to New York Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger on a podcast, discussing the tension between providing free information and the real cost of producing news.
Sulzberger said: “I think it is so interesting that our industry has an obsession with making the news free, even though the news is so expensive to make. … We don’t expect free medical care in this country or food or electricity or water. … But yet, we think that this essential service should be free, and we know what happens when it is.”
What happens? Newspapers close. Journalists lose jobs. Bad leaders continue without scrutiny or accountability.
With your help, we’re fighting that trend here in Baltimore and trying to find a sustainable model for local news. To the many people in this community who support us by subscribing, donating and advertising, thank you. We couldn’t do this without you.
And to those who haven’t yet taken that leap, please reconsider how you can help. Baltimore and Maryland need — and deserve — trustworthy, in-depth journalism.