Best of Baltimore: News
Our picks in media, news, and the community.
Best Original Voice: D. Watkins –Mike Morgan
Citizen Uprising Citizen Uprising The 25th Street Station “big-box” project appeared to be a fait accompli. In 2010, the Walmart-anchored project even won final approval from the planning commission. But residents—concerned about Walmart’s impact on retailers, truck traffic, and neighborhood walkability—rallied, filing lawsuits and filling community meetings until the lead developer pulled out this spring. Now, Seawall Development, which put together several recent successful Remington development projects, may take over the 25th Street project, which would be better.
Cultural Resource BmoreArt Seven years in, painter, teacher, and writer Cara Ober’s BmoreArt blog has grown into a full-fledged website with new content, a stable of contributors, and correspondents in New York City and Philadelphia. An impressive recent redesign gives the site a cleaner, sharper look. And interviews with local artists, theater reviews, weekly music picks, and critical essays—like one last May about why artists should buy property—augment the gallery opening news that Ober is consistently good at covering.
Environmental Reporter Tim Wheeler At a paper that’s been bleeding institutional knowledge for some time, Wheeler’s 25 years of experience covering the Chesapeake Bay and city and state environmental issues for The Baltimore Sun are particularly valuable. Whether covering fish kills in the harbor, teetering crab and oyster industries, the proposed Cove Point natural gas facility, or Eastern Shore farming and wind power issues, the former president of the Society of Environmental Journalists always brings depth and balance to his informed reporting.
Firestarter Tracey Halvorsen “I happen to live in a city. Baltimore, to be specific. And I’m growing to absolutely hate it here.” With these words, the Patterson Park resident and Fastspot.com president, began her controversial online essay, “Baltimore City, You’re Breaking My Heart.” Written on the heels of a spate of violence in “supposedly appealing neighborhoods for young professionals, students and families seeking an urban living experience,” as she put it, Halvorsen certainly spoke for many experiencing a similar grip of fear. For others, the essay reeked of white privilege with Halvorsen threatening to leave Baltimore for greener pastures.
The Marc Steiner Show Named the “Most Valuable Radio Program” by The Nation, WEAA’s Marc Steiner Show pulls together diverse, and often underrepresented, voices to the day’s discussions.
The C4 Show Morning host of The C4 Show on WBAL, Clarence M. Mitchell IV’s own political career imploded, but he brings an independent perspective and deep knowledge of Baltimore’s political culture to local airwaves.
WYPR Maryland Morning WYPR Maryland Morning host Sheilah Kast covers everything under the sun and does her homework. Her reporter’s curiosity and sharp listening skills enliven everything she tackles.
Fond Farewell Don Scott You can’t help but like a morning TV host who, upon announcing he’s retiring after 40 years at the same station, tweets, “Hello. Coming in late today, in preparation for soon not coming in at all. Talk with you at 7:26 a.m. @cbsbaltimore.” Half of WJZ’s popular morning team with Marty Bass, the preternaturally calm, dulcet-toned Scott has long served as the straight man to the hyper Bass, and will be missed as we sip our first cup of coffee each day.
Insurgent Campaign Heather Mizeur The Montgomery County delegate ran the most effective upstart campaign for statewide office in recent memory. Even before the General Assembly, she began driving the Democratic primary debate in the race for governor with grassroots organizing, an e-mail drumbeat to activists, smart social media outreach, and eventually, solid debate performances. It’s a “bittersweet distinction” as Sun political columnist and UMBC professor Thomas Schaller noted—but Mizeur won the campaign while losing the election.
Online Journalist Mark Reutter Details about how city government spends money are available if one looks hard enough, and that’s where the Baltimore Brew’s Mark Reutter shines. He has covered important—and complicated—matters, including which City Council members received campaign cash from developer Michael Beatty while approving $107 million for the Harbor Point development and why the politically connected firm Dynis bid $100 million more on a questionable water meter contract. It’s the digital age, but Reutter’s a newspaperman.
Original Voice D. Watkins The black writer’s first-person story for Salon, “Too Poor for Pop Culture,” garnered national attention for its blunt portrayal of life in East Baltimore. One commenter called him out for criticizing “selfies” while posting frequently to his own Instagram page. But the substance of Dwight Watkins’s piece focused on the irrelevance of consumer culture for black Baltimoreans suffering economic hardship. Crack-dealer-turned-writer-and-adjunct-professor, Watkins recently published his first printed essay collection as a Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse zine.
Parody City Paper Sometimes, all you can do is laugh to keep from crying. Much hand-wringing ensued after The Baltimore Sun, the city’s venerable daily, purchased their long-standing nemeses, the alt-weekly City Paper—especially at City Paper, which no doubt feared a loss of editorial independence and street cred. But City Paper managed to spoof their predicament with maybe their best cover ever—a worst-fears-realized mock-up of The Sun’s traditional front page and “Light for All” motto.
Political Couple Nick and Marilyn Mosby Keep an eye on new City State’s Attorney General Marilyn Mosby and her husband 7th District City Councilman Nick Mosby. He’s a sharp, active voice on City Council and proud Polytechnic Institute alum, who met his college sweetheart and future wife at Tuskegee University. From a law enforcement family, she ran a tough, underdog campaign to unseat Gregg Bernstein as the city’s top law-enforcement official. We’re sure we going to hear a lot more from both in the upcoming year.
Reporter Brittany Ghiroli: MLB.com Orioles reporter
The multi-platform journo, a former Academic All-Big Ten swimmer, loves her job. Which is good, because it’s a 24/7 affair during the season.
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TV Reporter Melinda Roeder The Fox Baltimore journalist recently picked up her second Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association reporter of the year award since 2011 and is a key member of WBFF’s strong local reporting team. Additionally, Roeder was nominated for a National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter Emmy award for her in-depth, on-the-spot reporting of a massive, Pennsylvania Avenue fire that collapsed a building and sent five firefighters to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center for medical treatment.
Twitter isn’t just a tool for sharing articles for Sun crime reporter Justin Fenton. He used it to call out the Baltimore Police Department when it (briefly) stopped tweeting news of non-fatal shootings in the fall. More than 16,000 people rely on Fenton’s near-incessant updates on shootings and other crime in a city that saw its murders rise in 2013. His posts are powered by a dogged belief in the public’s right to know — including, of course, the occasional baseball score. (Fenton is a huge O’s fan.)
Award-winning Baltimore Sun photographer Amy Davis’s updates related to her book-in-progress chronicling Baltimore’s old movie houses are terrific photojournalism on their own, exploring a chapter of the city’s history by focusing a lens on a single subject. Whether posting decades-old pics of vintage movie palaces, mid-century Art-Deco theaters, or restoration projects, Davis’s Facebook page is a treasure chest of compelling photos and local culture. We can’t wait for the book.
The Instagram page of Jen DuMars is a trove of the personal and public, with shots from her life interspersed with photos of Baltimore that earned her a Q&A with The Atlantic’s Atlantic Cities (now CityLab) web project. For several years, the Charles Village resident has documented life in Baltimore from behind her camera lens. What has come of it is a quirky and interesting Instagram page, as well as a visually rich Flickr gallery she calls her Urban Diary.