I met our founder, Stewart Bainum Jr., two years ago, July 15, 2020 to be exact. I couldn’t have imagined that now we would be launching a new digital media outlet. I thought I would spend a few months helping Stewart buy The Baltimore Sun but today I am CEO and Publisher of The Baltimore Banner. I can’t even express how grateful, excited and thrilled I am to be leading this venture and creating something that is singularly focused on our mission to support all the communities of Baltimore and to drive positive change to make the city better.
As Stewart, the late Ted Venetoulis and I conceived what The Baltimore Banner would be, from the very first day we have been very intentional about the kind of organization we wanted to build — from our areas of focus to the type of team we nurtured. One of our earliest decisions was to structure ourselves as a nonprofit, focused on delivering quality, trustworthy news that serves our mission. And unlike a hedge fund, we won’t be in it for the money, focused on profits.
Our editor in chief, Kimi Yoshino, and I both firmly believe that to report with empathy and understanding, the newsroom must reflect the different voices in the city, supplemented with new perspectives. With that in mind, we have built a team that is diverse in age, gender, race and perspective. We have knowledgeable staff from Baltimore bolstered by great talent from around the country. As an organization, we are more than 50% female, 48% non-white and 32% Black. Our newsroom essentially mirrors these numbers.
We have received a lot of local and national press coverage about our ambitions and the scale of our operation, possibly the largest local news startup in recent times. We believe scale is necessary if we are going to properly serve our communities and highlight different voices. This has been made possible by Stewart’s generous contribution.
However, it’s not enough to sustain us. Covering stories at a deeper level, with different perspectives and voices, is expensive. We will need ongoing support from others, including you, the readers, to deliver on our mission. We ask that you subscribe and consider a donation. We also have a special Founding Member program that allows you to support us at a higher level and receive member benefits, including early access to events. We also need more people to know that we’re here — so please spread the word and share our stories. That is how we will become sustainable.
Over the coming months and years, our success will be judged on three things:
- Did we have a positive impact?
- How does the community (all communities) view us? Do they see us as part of the community, representing them, or not?
- Are we commercially viable?
Impact is critical. Journalism is a means to an end, and we have chosen it as the vehicle to have an impact. Every individual who works for The Banner believes this. And we expect you to keep us accountable.
I know we won’t be perfect; I know we will make mistakes. But we will learn from them and keep striving to serve our mission. I hope you will support us and give us feedback to make us better.
I’d love to hear from you directly.