Last month, the Baltimore news world said goodbye to WEAA’s The Marc Steiner Show after 24 years. Shortly after, City Paper announced its closure at the end of the year, leaving a void for alternative news in the city.
A new nonprofit founded by two City Paper editors—Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg—along with Marc Steiner started a new affiliate based on the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism (BINJ). Baltimore BINJ launched on August 11 with the introduction of an IndieGoGo crowd-funding page with a goal of $25,000 to fund local journalism projects. All donations will fund projects that will be published at existing media outlets.
While the Baltimore-based outfit isn’t directly connected to its Boston predecessor, the model and logo were borrowed with the permission of Boston’s founder Chris Faraone, who is a longtime friend of Woods. The nonprofit is operating under the fiscal sponsorship of Steiner’s Center for Emerging Media.
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Woods, the editorial director for the local BINJ and editor-at-large for City Paper, said that the purpose of the organization is not meant to replace the alt-weekly or Steiner’s show, but will become a way for journalists to provide local news for residents without a connection to a corporate entity.
“It’s not a thing that’s directly affiliated with City Paper, but it’s definitely coming out of the world of alternative news weeklies,” he says. “The tagline we’re using is ‘A guerrilla newsroom raiding the ruins of corporate media.’ We’re fighting against the encroachment of media deserts here.”
With that goal in mind, to start, BINJ plans to fund three very specific projects, including working with local nonprofit Writers in Baltimore Schools to encourage students to write profiles.
“We thought that being able to help fund the writing of young journalist in Baltimore would be something that we really want to do,” Woods says.
The other two projects include a feature on the culture of street basketball in Baltimore by Reginald Thomas—who recently chronicled Baltimore Polytechnic’s basketball season in a photo essay for City Paper—and an extremely timely investigative piece on white supremacy in law enforcement.
Multimedia journalism is also something extremely important to BINJ. So far, they have developed a daily news podcast called Baltimore Binge that is released Monday through Friday. The show provides news, hot topics, and politics in less than 15 minutes.
“We thought that there really needs to be a daily news show,” says Woods. “There was a need for something really short, ‘off the cuff,’ and as honest as possible, addressing Baltimore news each day.”
Although the nonprofit is less than a week old—and the founders are still juggling journalistic responsibilities of their day jobs—its founders have high ambitions for the future.
“We’re going to have several different meet-ups where we’ll have a lot of opportunities for people who want to be involved—writers, producers, web designers,” Woods said. “Ultimately, we would like to fund beats, a high school reporter, and even fund translation of existing stories into Spanish.”
Currently, the team is meeting with local independent news organizations that would be interested in publishing their content as they continue to raise money to fund future projects. So far, the group has raised $3,718 with 22 days left to reach its $25,000 goal.
“Someone asked the other day, ‘What if you don’t meet the goal?’” Woods says. “The answer is, ‘So what?’ At that point, we have already funded one story just by raising the first $1,000. Every new project that we can help exist is a better day in journalism than it was the day before.”