Earlier today we announced a partnership with Your Public Radio (WYPR). In light of that announcement, I wanted to share the rationale behind that partnership and review our plans as we gear up for the launch of our news site, www.thebaltimorebanner.com, which is just weeks away.
Building a sustainable newsroom for the future
Last year when it became apparent that our attempts to purchase The Baltimore Sun would fail, Stewart, Ted Venetoulis and I spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of news organization we wanted to create and what it needed to be to best serve all the different communities of Baltimore and eventually the state. These conversations led us to a few absolutes:
- Be a nonprofit news organization focused on delivering quality, trustworthy content unconstrained by the need to deliver a profitable return to investors
- Serve all communities and be a platform for different voices
- Be mission-driven
- Exclusively focus on local news and leave national and international news to others
- Have strong accountability journalism but balance that with what’s great about Baltimore
- Be multi-platform, not just a website, allowing readers and users to access our content on multiple platforms
- Build a diverse organization
As we have been building the organization and working towards launch, we have stayed true to these absolutes. They will continue to guide us in all things moving forward.
Preparing for launch
Let me give you a sense of what to expect from us in the coming months. We are building our team incredibly quickly, literally adding 2-3 people a week to our newsroom. We will continue to add staff throughout the year and into next year as we look to scale our operation and coverage. As our team and operations grow, we will be taking a gradual approach to what you will see from us as a user. Our site will go live in a few weeks, but think of it as phase one in a multi-phase development cycle. We will rapidly introduce additional coverage areas and products that we know we need.
At launch our news site will go live and we will launch a daily newsletter that will replace our current newsletter. Additional topic-specific newsletters will follow in the coming months. We will also continue to enhance the site and add new functionality post-launch.
We won’t cover everything on Day One. We’ve decided that we would rather go deep and have great coverage on a limited set of areas than go wide and narrow. As the newsroom builds, we will add other coverage areas.
We are starting by covering the City and Baltimore County. By the end of the year, we will add additional counties and continue to add counties into next year and beyond.
Our site will render on mobile from Day One, and both iOS and Android apps will come in a few months.
We will launch a series of podcasts in the months post-launch.
Don’t expect us to chase every story. We want to be diligent about how we cover stories and whether we actually have something to add. Just because someone else is covering the story doesn’t mean we have to. We want to add to the conversation, not just repeat the conversation.
Partnership with WYPR
During our planning phase, Ted Venetoulis was the one who brought up the idea of a partnership with WYPR. As soon as he mentioned it, it made absolute sense. Both organizations share the same values and have similar missions. We complement each other. WYPR allows us to deliver our stories across multiple platforms and reach a larger audience. Together we can have a greater impact and ensure that local news matters. This could become a model for other communities across the country.
What you can expect from this partnership is collaboration on a number of things. We will work together to cover stories, special reports and develop joint programming to serve the needs of communities throughout Baltimore and around the state. This includes content sharing across platforms accessible to The Baltimore Banner subscribers and the Your Public Radio audience and members. One of the first collaborations will be to cover the upcoming local elections.
The agreement provides an opportunity to expand the capacity and reach of each organization’s newsroom, increasing our ability to cover more issues and stories that matter. We will work together, leveraging WYPR’s audio expertise to create a series of joint podcasts and radio programming.
We are not here to compete with other news outlets. We want a strong and vibrant news ecosystem in Baltimore and the state. A stronger news community can only be good for everyone. To fulfill our mission, we will partner with others who share our goals and values. Expect more collaborations and partnerships from us.
Finally, I want to thank all of you for your support and encouragement. We will strive to be worthy of your ongoing support. Thank you. And please feel free to email me if you have any suggestions. I’d love to hear from you.