Good morning, Baltimore! Sorry, I couldn’t resist — we truly feel like busting out in song. The Baltimore Banner launches today and we’re excited about what that means for local journalism.
This day has been two years in the making, born out of founder Stewart Bainum’s commitment to boosting the local news ecosystem in this city and, eventually, the state.
The same time I first met Stewart last October, The Atlantic published a story on the devastating effect Alden Global Capital was having on local news across the country. The hedge fund has been scooping up storied newspapers, like The Baltimore Sun and the Chicago Tribune, and, as reporter McKay Coppins wrote, offering buyouts and reducing newsrooms “to the size of a Chipotle.”
Frustrated by the state of news and armed with a sense of purpose, I quit my job as managing editor of the Los Angeles Times, moved across the country, and joined Stewart and CEO Imtiaz Patel. We know that there’s already great journalism in Baltimore and other local outlets, but we believe that more is better. There are too many stories in this city going uncovered.
We’ve assembled a talented and diverse team of journalists — 42 so far — who have chosen to join The Banner. Most of our reporters and editors have ties to Baltimore and Maryland, making it a truly local newsroom.
Together, we share a common mission to be an indispensable resource that will uplift, unite and strengthen our community.
We’ve spent the last several months meeting with community groups across town, listening. Our reporters have solicited your ideas and feedback. And we commissioned a poll to better understand how Baltimoreans are really feeling about our city, our elected officials and the biggest issues facing us today.
The results of that poll were a reminder that for all the challenges that exist here — and there are many — optimism still triumphs. This is a place filled with creative, dedicated and hopeful residents who want more out of where we live.
We can help. Our journalism will provide insight, depth, analysis and solutions. We want to break news, but don’t expect us to cover every shooting or incremental development at City Hall. We’ll watchdog government agencies and elected officials when things aren’t working right. We’ll highlight success stories. We’ll celebrate the rich culture and art in this region and provide useful information that helps you decide how to spend your time and money. And we’ll find interesting tales that you’ll want to talk about with family and friends.
A few other things to expect from The Banner:
- Our Creatives in Residence — an exciting group of Baltimore-area writers, poets and artists — will contribute regularly. You can read some of their early work here.
- Reporter Hallie Miller will anchor a reader-focused series called Better Baltimore that will help residents harness their power and spotlight people, problems and solutions.
- We’ve asked our staff to share their interests, hobbies and passions. The result is Baltimore Curated, a user’s guide to everything from visiting the State House in Annapolis to where to get the best cheesesteak (hint: It’s not in Philly!).
- The Scan, a weekday newsletter, will highlight our best work and keep readers updated on the news around the region and state. Sign up here.
- Our reporters are developing individual mission statements for additional transparency about how we’re approaching our beats. We’ve also posted a newsroom ethics policy that details how we’ll guide ourselves and our journalism.
Don’t expect everything on Day 1. We will continue to grow, add more beats like business and sports, and expand our coverage area beyond Baltimore City and County. We also expect to deepen our partnership with WYPR and find more innovative ways to bring our reporting to new platforms.
We need your support to do the ambitious work we have planned. Please consider subscribing — and we will keep listening to your ideas. You can reach out to me or any of our journalists with your feedback and questions. I’ll also be joined by several of our reporters and editors next Wednesday at a free community forum at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, where we’ll be discussing our poll.
Thank you so much for the early support. We will work every day to earn your trust.