Baltimore Beat will shut down after four months

By ALYSSA WOODEN | March 8, 2018

The Baltimore Beat only published 16 issues before stopping production.

The Baltimore Beat, a free, local alternative weekly newspaper, announced in a tweet on Tuesday that it would be shutting down effective immediately. The Beat, which was founded in November after the Baltimore City Paper closed down, only printed 16 issues.

The tweet stated that the Beat was “grateful for this opportunity” and regrets that it is unable to continue publishing.

The Beat was owned by Brown Naff Pitts (BNP) Omnimedia, a D.C.-based publication company. The company also owns the Washington Blade, a newspaper covering LGBTQ issues.

In its tweet, the Beat cited a lack of advertising funds as a reason for the shutdown. In a statement to the Baltimore Sun, BNP Omnimedia co-owner Kevin Naff blamed the closure partially on Baltimore’s high crime rate.

Naff said that increasing crime and its negative portrayal in the media had caused small businesses to suffer, leading many to cut their marketing budget.

The City Paper, which previously served as Baltimore’s alt-weekly publication, also cited declining ad revenue when it closed. The City Paper ran for 40 years after it was founded in 1977 by Hopkins graduates. 

According to its website, the Beat sought to serve as a forum for debate over issues such as government, activism, arts and entertainment. They aimed to set themselves apart from mainstream media by featuring diverse perspectives and publishing more in-depth news stories.

The Beat’s Editor-in-Chief Lisa Snowden-McCray formerly wrote for the City Paper and the Sun. Brandon Soderberg, managing editor of the Beat, was previously editor-in-chief of the City Paper. Many other former City Paper staff worked for the Beat

“[The paper] did great work in a short time with very limited resources,” Snowden-McCray tweeted.

In another tweet, Soderberg called the closing “terrible stupid news” and expressed frustration with the publisher for ending the publication so soon. 

“I was not interested in doing a paper for a few months for kicks,” he tweeted. “I wanted to change the media landscape here.”

Many on social media expressed disappointment and sadness with the paper’s sudden closing.

According to Snowden-McCray, the Beat’s website will remain live. Both she and Soderberg look forward to what they will do next. 

Soderberg plans to continue working with the Baltimore Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, an organization he co-founded that funds journalists and partners with independent media outlets.

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