David Zurawik

Baltimore Beat publisher faults closure on Baltimore crime, perception of it

The website of the Baltimore Beat as it appears Tuesday, the day the publication has announced it is closing.

The publisher of Baltimore Beat blamed the abrupt closure of the four-month-old publication on Baltimore crime — and the perception of it.

In a statement to The Baltimore Sun, Kevin Naff said, “This is not a story about the death of print or of journalism or of the alternative press.”


But the free weekly struggled to establish sufficient ad revenue from local businesses.

"Small businesses in Baltimore are suffering due to the crime — and perception of crime — especially as it's portrayed on local TV news,” said Naff. “We heard from many businesses — restaurants, bars, theaters and more — that they cut their marketing budgets due to declining revenue, which many attribute to the crime problem and dwindling visits from suburbanites."


The Beat announced its closure Tuesday on social media, saying, "We launched the Baltimore Beat in November 2017 in an effort to provide a new alternative, independent journalistic voice to the city. We're proud of the work we've done but, unfortunately, advertising support hasn't been sufficient to sustain us. As a result, we are closing the Beat effective immediately."

The paper was established with backing from the publishers of the Washington Blade in the wake of the closing of Baltimore’s City Paper, which was owned by the Baltimore Sun Media Group.

“Ugh terrible stupid news. Our publisher has decided to stop publishing the Baltimore Beat. The paper is over,” managing editor Brandon Soderberg wrote on Twitter.

Soderberg said he and contributor Baynard Woods aim to continue supporting reporting projects with funding from their Baltimore Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.

Beat Editor-in-Chief Lisa Snowden-McCray could not immediately be reached for comment.