BALTIMORE BEAT RETURNS AS A BLACK-LED, BLACK-CONTROLLED NONPROFIT NEWSPAPER
Baltimore, May 13, 2022 — A team of journalists and nonprofit practitioners led by Editor-in-Chief Lisa Snowden announced today the return of Baltimore Beat, a Black-led, Black-controlled nonprofit newspaper and online outlet.
In the traditions of the Black press and the alternative weekly, Baltimore Beat’s community-focused reporting prioritizes thoughtful engagement with local readers—especially those with limited internet access and those who are a part of underrepresented communities.
To make sure news gets to those with the least access, the Beat will begin publishing and distributing a free newspaper every other week starting this summer, with plans to strategically expand distribution and frequency of publication over time. For Snowden, free print news is a necessity in Baltimore, a majority Black city with a significant digital divide and so many people living below the poverty line.
“The pandemic continues to highlight the many, many inequities that exist in our communities,” said Snowden, formerly an editor at The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore City Paper, and The Real News Network. “Our decision to forgo a paywall and distribute a print newspaper is our way of addressing those inequities. We want to make sure everybody can access the nuanced reporting we’ll be doing.”
Baltimore Beat will rely on support from Baltimore readers and likeminded large-scale donors who understand that reporting must reflect the diversity and experiences of all Baltimoreans and hold those in power accountable through investigative work, literary storytelling, and service journalism.
Joining Editor-in-Chief Snowden is Baltimore Beat’s Deputy Editor J. Brian Charles, who has been reporting on Baltimore gun violence at The Trace for the past two years and has previously worked at Chalkbeat, Governing, and The Hill.
“Baltimore has always been an important city in the story of Black America. It is a place where communities are faced with corrupt policing, substandard housing, underfunded schools, power-serving politics, and an overdose crisis, among many other issues,” Charles said. “Our publication will document the challenges facing Baltimore and show readers how communities here continue to develop ideas to address and get past those challenges.”
The Beat’s Arts and Culture Editor Teri Henderson is formerly a staff writer for BmoreArt and gallery coordinator for Connect + Collect, and is the author of the 2021 book Black Collagists.
“Art is always political and at Baltimore Beat we will tell the stories of those artists and creatives whose contributions are often overlooked or ignored by news outlets that focus on the predominantly white art world,” Henderson said. “Baltimore Beat will provide a space for creative reflection and celebration of the artistic and creative contributions of Black Baltimoreans.”
The Beat’s Director Of Operations Brandon Soderberg is the former editor-in-chief of Baltimore City Paper, coauthor of the 2020 book I Got a Monster, and an advocate for mindful, person-first journalism. His experiences as both reporter and publisher make him uniquely situated to strategically assist the Beat.
“After two years of work on this with the staff and a team of community-minded financial and nonprofit folks, I’m elated to finally tell the city: Baltimore will have a news outlet that reflects Baltimore’s majority Black population and prioritizes the city’s working class concerns,” Soderberg said. “You’ll see intentionality in every aspect of the Beat: from how we report to how we distribute our paper to how we operate our nonprofit newsroom.”
Baltimore Beat was established in 2017 following the closure of alt-weekly institution Baltimore City Paper. The Beat began as a for-profit weekly newspaper, shuttered in 2018, and transitioned to a nonprofit online outlet focused on service journalism and high-impact investigative work in 2019.
In 2020, the Beat paused its journalistic operation to strategize the start of a nonprofit newspaper with support from the Baltimore-based Lillian Holofcener Charitable Foundation. In response to the police murder of George Floyd and inequities exacerbated by COVID-19, The Lillian Holofcener Charitable Foundation made the bold decision to provide the Beat with the vast majority of the foundation’s holdings, creating a longer runway towards sustainability for the publication.
“The money held by the Lillian Holofcener Foundation came from Baltimore. Divesting our assets to a Black-led news organization is what Baltimore and its majority Black citizenry need right now,” Lillian Holofcener Charitable Foundation’s Adam Holofcener said. “We hope that our model of no-strings attached, large-scale giving to Black-run, Black-controlled local organizations inspires other Baltimore philanthropic groups to act in kind.”
For EIC Snowden, this is an important opportunity to change the mood and tenor of local news.
“Journalism is still a very white industry. There aren’t a lot of places Black journalists can go where they will be valued, heard, and respected,” Snowden said. “I want Baltimore Beat to be a place where that can happen.”
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Baltimore Beat is a Black-led, Black-controlled nonprofit newspaper and media outlet. Our mission is to honor the tradition of the Black press and the spirit of alt-weekly journalism with reporting that focuses on community, questions power structures, and prioritizes thoughtful engagement with our readers.
We aim to serve all of Baltimore City, including those with limited internet access and those who are a part of underrepresented communities.
Our organization aspires toward a more equitable, accountable, and rigorous future for journalism that fully represents the stories of all our neighbors.
We reflect the energy and excitement of the city, its legacy as a cultural hub of Black American life, and the joy of being a Baltimorean.
We are honest and rigorous in our reporting and always speak truth to power.
We believe news should be free and accessible to all and that to achieve this, journalism cannot solely be digital and should not be paywalled.
We uplift Black people, Brown people, queer people, disabled people, and all those whose work and voice have been actively silenced.
Baltimoreans are among the most politically-engaged—and most frequently ignored—in the country and we will not ignore them.
Journalism should be artful, ambitious, expressive—and approachable.
We do not believe there is a difference between “arts coverage” and “hard news” and understand that art is inherently political.
We will provide journalists opportunity, demystify journalism, and address harms perpetuated by pernicious, consent-manufacturing media.
We know that for news to work for everybody, it must first and foremost consider those who are underserved and afforded the least access.
We are fully invested in Baltimore and the people with whom we share this city.
Lisa Snowden (she/her) is Editor-in-Chief of Baltimore Beat. Previously, she was an editor at Baltimore City Paper, The Baltimore Sun, and The Real News Network. Her work has also appeared in Essence, The Washington Post, Baltimore Magazine, and many other publications. Lisa’s recent work has included overseeing The Real News Network’s Battleground Baltimore vertical, curating/hosting an episode of “Pass The Mic” on WYPR’s On The Record, and reporting on BLISS Meadows for Audubon Magazine.
J. Brian Charles (he/him) is Deputy Editor of Baltimore Beat. Previously, he was a staffer at The Trace, The Hill, Chalkbeat, Governing, and Pasadena Star-News. His work has appeared in Slate, Vox, Wired, Baltimore Magazine, Baltimore City Paper, and many other publications. Brian’s recent reporting has been about violence interrupters in Baltimore City for The Guardian, police reform in Newark, New Jersey, for The Trace, and the murder of rapper Nipsey Hussle for Playboy.
Teri Henderson (she/her) is the Arts and Culture Editor of Baltimore Beat. She is the author of the 2021 book Black Collagists, a survey of over 50 Black contemporary collage artists. Previously, she was a staff writer for BmoreArt, gallery coordinator for Connect + Collect, and served as the Art Law Clinic Director for Maryland Volunteer Lawyers For The Arts. Teri’s recent work has included a preview of Irina Rozovsky’s “Traditions Highway” for ArtForum, a profile of Murjoni Merriweather for BmoreArt, and a profile of rapper Jazz Cartier for Justsmile Magazine.
Brandon Soderberg (he/him) is Director Of Operations of Baltimore Beat. He is the co-author of the book I Got a Monster. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of Baltimore City Paper. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Intercept, Vice, Village Voice, SPIN, BmoreArt, and many other publications. Brandon’s recent reporting has been about Washington, D.C.’s Gun Recovery Unit for The Appeal, the overdose crisis for The Real News Network, and media’s usage of the oft-criticized phrase “police-involved” for The Huffington Post.
Baltimore Beat’s logo and branding are designed by Christopher Chester. Asia Reynolds is the Beat’s print designer. Jonathan Keen is Baltimore Beat’s Chief Financial Officer. The Beat board of directors consists of Jessica Solomon, Yinka N. Bode George, and Puja Patel. Headshots and team photo by Schaun Champion.
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Baltimore Beat is a Black-led, Black-controlled nonprofit newspaper and online media outlet for all of Baltimore, but we believe that those who have been underserved, ignored, or shut out by most news deserve special consideration.
Baltimore is a majority Black city with a significant digital divide—over 40% of the city’s residents do not have internet access at home—making accessible print journalism a necessity.
In the spirit of equitable access to news and other vital information, our newspaper is free and our website is not paywalled. As a result, we rely on donations to fund and distribute our work.
And that’s where you come in: When you support the Beat, it means that those who cannot afford to donate still have access to the Beat’s work for free. We know that readers who are able to financially support our community-focused approach want to pay it forward.
We accept various tiers and frequencies of donations, so donors have the option to provide what they can on a monthly, annual, or one-time basis. By donating to Baltimore Beat, you help make community-focused news more accessible to all.
Baltimore Beat is a 501(c)(3) organization, and all donations are tax-deductible. Donations go toward our print and online journalism and support the Beat’s mission of providing free news in print and online.
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