For E&P’s March issue, I had the pleasure of speaking with Lisa Snowden The Baltimore Beat’s editor. Last summer, Baltimore Beat returned to the local news scene after a publishing pause. They had a somewhat quiet relaunch in late summer, when other Baltimore news outlets were basking in national attention over Baltimore’s new “newspaper wars”—pitting the new Baltimore Banner against the city’s legacy paper, the Baltimore Sun.
Snowden didn’t have much time to pay attention to that media frenzy. The veteran Baltimore journalist was busy relaunching the Beat as a nonprofit local news title for Baltimore’s Black community—61.6% of the city’s population, per the U.S. Census. It is intentionally a print title (w/ a companion site) that’s strategically distributed around the city, and it’s free.
The Baltimore Beat’s revenue model relies on philanthropy and the sustained support of the community. Snowden plans to earn that support by being a practical, accessible, go-to resource for the public.
As 2022 comes to a close, my social feeds have been heavy with news of layoffs across media and tech worlds.
It’s the loss of local news that feels most ominous. We’ll start the new year with fewer journalists in newsrooms, fewer columnists to stoke our minds, fewer visual journalists to show us new perspectives, fewer production, sales, audience and administrative pros to ensure that the news reaches subscribers and the public.
The threads that gut me most chronicle all the stories of little to great importance that journalists produced over time in service to employers and the community. There are the investigative pieces, expensive and sometimes tedious to produce; stories holding the powerful and elected to account; stories about the economy, housing, the food chain, immigration, public policy, foreign policy, crime, war, the heavy stuff.
There are endearing examples of human interest stories about the many inspiring people who contribute to our communities. There are the stories about events, art, food and local traditions that help us to feel connected to one another, to have the sense and security of a community around us.
Who will tell these stories, elevate these voices, speak these revelations when newsrooms are scuttled?
I’ve had the pleasure of another year reporting on the state of news for Editor & Publisher magazine, my 12th year with the title. It’s been a humbling, troubling, yet exhilarating year in news. Here are just a few of the stories I’ve had the privilege to tell:
My final E&P dispatch of the year is bittersweet, like the holidays or the end of a year. We wanted to tell the stories of journalists who’ve worked a newsroom, a sound booth or a TV studio on one of the major year-end holidays. We wanted to know about festivities, food (because you know that’s important to us) and newsroom traditions, but also about the memorable events reported on those holidays — a reminder that the public’s need to know never takes a holiday.
I was so grateful for all the reporters, editors, photographers, on-air hosts, everyone who shared their memories with me. Throughout those conversations ran two themes — what a privilege it is to do this job, and how so many journalists lost their jobs this year, how so many have had to (reluctantly or enthusiastically) leave the profession.
I’d like to extend a special thanks to E&P Columnist and Cartoonist Rob Tornoe, who illustrated the cover and perfectly captured the experience of chasing a lead while the newsroom is quiet and the world around you celebrates.
With new local owners, former Gannett-owned newspapers benefit from reinvestment
By Gretchen A. Peck
Gannett remains at the top of the leaderboard for newspaper ownership. It publishes over 1,000 weekly titles and more than 100 dailies, amassed over the years through independent acquisitions and headlining mergers. But the company turned heads in the newspaper world when it recently began selling off some of those newspapers, mostly small-market and community titles that local owners were eager to buy.
It was 2015 when an idea first began to germinate for Elizabeth Green, the co-founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization devoted to American education.
“I’d been thinking that the way philanthropy organizes in the education sector had lessons that could be applied to journalism philanthropy sector that was emerging slowly at the time—too slowly, I thought,” she said.
In the education sector, Green and her colleagues at Chalkbeat had begun to talk about how enriching it could be to create a network by which educational-publishing leaders might share and learn from one another. Green began speaking with philanthropists known to invest in journalism and suggested that they “steal from that playbook.”