The Baltimore Messenger ended its print run Thursday, September 29, 2016. For more than three decades The Messenger was a strong community paper.
Each week came news and photos of North Baltimore neighborhoods — Cross Keys, Chatham, the Orchards, Hampden, Remington, Roland Park, Radnor-Winston, Guilford, Homeland, Mount Washington, Poplar Hill and North Roland Park. At one point Original Northwood was included. This weekly at first was free; later it was subscription-only.
Not always were all of these North Baltimore neighborhoods in touch with one another. Socio-economic and religious differences once sharply divided Baltimore neighborhoods. Things have improved, but more work is needed. The Messenger helped to further interaction among neighborhoods.
The paper fostered a sense of community within the city. It helped build community before anyone had a home computer or a mobile phone and before Facebook, Twitter and NextDoor existed. As Ed Gunts wrote this week, “The Messenger was hyperlocal before anyone knew the term, and before the advent of online publications….”
In an era when many newcomers were moving to Baltimore, it helped them to feel at home in their neighborhoods. The Messenger did that for me when I returned to Roland Park in the 1980s. I had just left a busy job at Maryland Public Television to write fiction. The weekly paper put me in touch with my new/old neighborhood.
One afternoon in 1995, the unique way Roland Parkers park their cars jumped out at me. Without email then, I phoned Elizabeth Eck, editor of The Baltimore Messenger. I asked if she took essays. She encouraged me to send one in. She published the parking essay on September 27, 1995. More followed. In 1998 Eck’s successor, Rachel Wallach, suggested a regular column called “Hudson’s Corner.” That column ran every other week from June 11, 1998 to September 29, 2016.
Twenty-one years is a terrific run. Editors like Eck, Wallach, the tireless Larry Perl, and recently Ken Weiss, helped me develop my voice, beat, and range. Elizabeth Eck now oversees all community papers and targeted media for The Baltimore Sun Media Group. With gratitude to her and to The Baltimore Messenger, I say, “adieu,” as I continue on in Baltimore and Washington.