The Baltimore Banner officially launched their digital news publication Tuesday, with a newsroom staff of 42 journalists that it plans to grow to about 70 reporters and editors by the end of the year.

The Baltimore Banner published its first news article in February and has had a trickle of stories since then. But Tuesday’s launch unveiled the Banner’s new homepage with an assortment of articles.

“I’m grateful to the collective team, countless supporters, and the talented professional journalists for their tireless effort and commitment to the publication over these past few months,” Chairman Stewart Bainum Jr. said in a statement. “The work we are doing has never been more important for our community and our democracy.”

The organization held a launch party last week in anticipation of its start.

Bainum, who is also the chairman of Choice Hotels International headquartered in Maryland, originally set out to buy The Baltimore Sun – and later all of the newspapers owned by the Sun’s then-parent company Tribune – to prevent them from being purchased by Alden Global Capital, a New York-based hedge fund that gained a reputation for buying newspapers, slashing staff and reaping the profits.

Bainum’s bids failed, and Alden bought the Sun along with the other papers under the former Tribune umbrella.

From there, Bainum announced in October he would be launching The Baltimore Banner in summer 2022 and that it would be overseen by the nonprofit Venetoulis Institute of Local Journalism. The nonprofit is named after former Baltimore County executive Ted Venetoulis, a supporter of local news, who died in 2021.

“We established The Venetoulis Institute for Local Journalism to reinvigorate local news through nonprofit ownership and to bring trustworthy, locally-owned news to the Baltimore region,” Bainum said in a statement. “I know Ted would be enormously proud of today’s launch of The Baltimore Banner, but he would also say that our work is just beginning.”

The Baltimore Banner in October announced it had hired former Los Angeles Times Managing Editor Kimi Yoshino to be the Banner’s editor-in-chief. The staff also includes nine former Baltimore Sun reporters as well as journalists from other outlets in Baltimore and in other parts of the country.

“Our growing team of journalists has already begun covering stories that matter to the residents of Baltimore and the region,” Yoshino said in a statement Tuesday. “Consistent with our mission, our reporting will go deeper as we examine and re-examine issues, look for solutions and highlight arts and lifestyle stories that will help strengthen and inspire our community.”

In addition to its journalists, the Baltimore Banner also established a “Creatives in Residence” program to feature the work of Baltimore-area artists and writers. Among the initial group of resident creatives are D. Watkins, Kondwani Fidel, Kerry Graham, Mikea Hugley, and others.

The Banner also announced last month a partnership with WYPR, Baltimore’s National Public Radio affiliate news station, to allow the organizations to collaborate on news stories and programming.

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...