This issue of Baltimore Beat marks a new phase in a project that began six years ago. Back in November 2017, I began Baltimore Beat to continue the work of the now-defunct Baltimore City Paper. With me, were now-Director of Operations Brandon Soderberg and then-Arts Editor Maura Callahan. We wanted to tell stories that reflected the fact that Baltimore City’s residents are more than 60% Black. We wanted to give Black writers the opportunities to tell their own stories. We wanted to help add depth to the stories that are told about Baltimore. We wanted to make a paper that reflected the joys—the art created here, the celebrations held here, the lives lived here—and sadness of the city.
Since its inception, Baltimore Beat has transitioned from a for-profit paper (available both in print and online), to a nonprofit news outlet available only online, and as of this week, a nonprofit print newspaper again available for free all across the city, as well as on your favorite digital device.
Now, like then, we have a staff of dedicated professionals who are ready to use their skills to write, question, elevate, and inspect. In this issue, Deputy Editor J. Brian Charles, who was formerly at the gun violence website The Trace, took a deep dive into the complicated, frustrating history of land deals in the city. Teri Henderson, our Arts + Culture editor, who was formerly a writer for BmoreArt, takes a look at the world of Baltimore punk rock with special attention to Black contributors to the scene. Director of Photography Schaun Champion developed the photographic aesthetic of this issue.
I hope that Baltimore Beat is a place that challenges and informs this city. I hope that we inspire new waves of people to contribute to Baltimore and help change it for the better. Because what I have learned in my years of reporting is that change doesn’t come from city hall, but from regular people working together for good—and we need change badly. Sonia Eaddy, who for almost two decades has been fighting to keep her home out of the hands of private developers, recently reminded us all of how powerful organizing can be.
“This is a victory for all of us, Baltimore City,” Eaddy told news crews, neighbors, and government officials at a gathering last month to celebrate the city’s decision to allow Eaddy to stay in her home. The decision ended her lengthy fight for her home in the historically Black Poppleton neighborhood. I sat down with Eaddy for an interview, which you’ll find in this issue.
“We’re going to need all the neighborhoods of all of Baltimore City…letting our mayor know what it is that we need to be vibrant, [to] be healthy,” Eaddy said.
Welcome, once again, to Baltimore Beat.
– Lisa Snowden, Editor-in-Chief.
DISCLOSURES and CONFLICTS of INTEREST
As a community-focused newspaper, the Beat is proud to be on-the-ground, amid the city’s many scenes, and often a degree or two removed from grassroots activists and changemakers. We believe this is as it should be for a newspaper such as ours. At the same time, those relationships create complications to our journalism—which is why we’re disclosing possible conflicts of interest in each issue to make sure we’re being honest and accountable.
1. Organizing in Poppleton involved two close friends of the Beat: University of Maryland Baltimore County professor Nicole King and Nicole’s partner, Baynard Woods. Baynard was a City Paper editor and was involved in the 2017 founding of the Beat. Baynard also co-wrote the 2020 book, I Got a Monster, with Brandon, the Beat’s Director of Operations. Baynard was not involved in this version of the Beat (although he will surely contribute) and both he and Nicole will see this issue’s Poppleton stories for the first time when you do.
2. There is a lengthy disclosure about the band Mowder Oyal.
3. There’s a review of Jordan Peele’s Nope in this issue. The Beat partnered with the Parkway Theater to host a preview screening of Nope last month.