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Award winning reporting giving voice to the voiceless, holding officials accountable, creating a forum for re-imagining Baltimore.
Award winning reporting giving voice to the voiceless, holding officials accountable, creating a forum for re-imagining Baltimore.
296 backers pledged $24,624 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Support Baltimore Brew’s fresh and fearless online reporting of the politics, culture and incredibly diverse communities of the city that inspired H.L. Mencken, John Waters and the creators of “The Wire.”

Baltimore Brew, as our loyal readers know, is a daily news website that gets behind development deals, tracks campaign cash, features outsider artists and offers gazpacho recipes with equal verve. We’ve become a municipal must-read.

Since former Washington Post reporter Fern Shen launched the Brew a few years ago, the site has won plaudits from publications ranging from the Baltimore City Paper, which named it the best local on-line news site three years in a row, to the New York Times, which calls it “a reason for cheer.”

Shen and former Baltimore Sun investigative reporter Mark Reutter, working with a team of more than a dozen other volunteers, have built a dedicated corps of 25,000 regular readers by:

  • Giving a voice to Baltimore’s voiceless through coverage of the workers at the Sparrows Point steel mill and residents of impoverished neighborhoods in one of America’s poorest cities.
  • Holding city and other officials accountable by reporting on deals with favored contractors, tax breaks for big political contributors and regulatory concessions to major industries.
  • Creating a forum for city planners and visionaries to re-imagine Baltimore, helping ensure that in the future it can provide the jobs and neighborhoods its residents need – without resorting to tax gimmicks and giveaways.

Now we want to expand the Brew’s coverage of the city’s spending practices and tax breaks, to make sure Baltimore uses its scarce resources for programs that benefit its people and not the politically-connected. And we want to make the Brew sustainable by tapping new income streams and eventually paying salaries.  We plan to do this by:

  • Expanding coverage to include online video and podcasts.
  • Creating more interactive features with readers.
  • Publishing special food, culture and lifestyle pages.
  • Expanding school and neighborhood coverage.

So far, we’ve kept the Brew percolating with tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of donated time. With a bare-bones budget, we’ve broken stories, shaped the civic conversation and modeled a new kind of local media.

But we can’t expect the quality work we want without paying talented people for their time. So we recently hired Meredith Mitchell as our business development manager, as part of an effort to create a steady stream of income for the Brew.

Now we’re asking our great and growing family of Brew readers, as well as supporters of quality community journalism around the country, to help out as well – by dropping a generous donation into our Kickstarter tip jar.
 
Who We Are:

FERN SHEN, the Brew’s publisher and editor, was a Washington Post staff writer for 17 years and also has been a staff reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun and  the Hartford Courant. At the Post she worked on the Metro staff in Maryland bureaus and in Annapolis, where she covered the Statehouse. On the Post’s Style staff, she helped create and wrote for their unique KidsPost section. A resident of Baltimore for 25 years, she created the award-winning Brew in 2009.

MARK REUTTER, the Brew’s associate editor and senior reporter, has been reporting and writing on Baltimore since 1970, when he started as an intern covering cops for The Evening Sun. Reutter covered inner-city housing and downtown development at the Sun and began the reporting on Baltimore’s then-largest employer, Bethlehem Steel, which resulted in the now classic book, "Making Steel – Sparrows Point and the Rise and Ruin of American Industrial Might." Reutter has edited the historical magazine, Railroad History, and publishes with the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

MEREDITH MITCHELL, the Brew's director of business development, is a founding member of Baltimore Bicycle Works, a cooperatively-run bike shop in Baltimore where she continues to work. Meredith brings to the Brew a Masters in Communication Studies from West Virginia University and work experience doing marketing and fundraising for Catholic Charities of Baltimore. Mitchell grew up in Towson, but for the last eight years has called Hampden her home.
BEN KUTIL, the Brew’s Online Director, is owner of Make Things Studios, focusing on graphic and interactive design. Ben, who finds the design challenge of online news extremely intriguing, has provided design and development consulting to The Wall Street Journal, WNYC and the Brew. Ben also teaches web design at Maryland Institute College of Art. Raised in Milwaukee, Ben has for the last 11 years made Baltimore his home.

How KickStarter Works:

If we don't make our goal by our deadline, your credit card doesn't get charged and we get zip, zilch, nada!

So:
If you appreciate what we work so hard to bring you every day, if you want more, better Brew, support us today!

Thanks!
Fern, Mark, Meredith, Ben and the whole Brew Crew

PS: Thanks and a huge shout-out to Rebecca Yenawine and her amazing team at New Lens, the folks who produced our nifty video. Check out the great work they're doing making art, media and new career paths for city youth.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    You get our sincere thanks and - if you wish - your name listed on the site as a supporter.

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    The above + we'll mail you a very cool Baltimore Brew bumper sticker.

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    The above + an invite to a caffeine-themed Mug-a-Rama event in Baltimore, where you'll meet the Brewers and receive a Baltimore Brew coffee mug.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Listing/sticker + claim your mug at a Brew staff meeting, where you can lobby Mark on your pet issue or tell Fern she overdoes it with the alliteration.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Listing/sticker + invite to a Brew Books Breakfast to claim your mug and (while supplies last) a signed copy of a Brew contributor’s book (Rafael Alvarez, Mark Reutter, others. See details on Brew) or a printout of Brew story.

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    Listing/sticker/mug + dinner with the Brewers at one of our favorite Baltimore ethnic restaurants.

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    Listing/sticker/mug + join us for a special guided Brew bike ride through Baltimore - lunch, post-industrial scenery included.

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    Listing/sticker/mug delivered at Book Breakfast or Mug-a-Rama + a full-color, bound book "Best of the Brew" a compilation of our favorites from the Brew archives.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    All of the above $1.000 level stuff plus a framed print of an original Jennifer Bishop photograph (published 7/1/11 in The Brew).

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    All of the $500 level stuff + two months of advertising on The Brew within our guidelines. (We'll make the mug&sticker available in March!)

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Funding period

- (45 days)