Potential End of the City Paper is Bad for Maryland
“Like many alternative weeklies across the country, declining ad revenue at City Paper continues to be a challenge,” BSMG’s director of marketing, Renee Mutchnik, said in a statement. “It became clear to us this past fall that we would cease publishing City Paper sometime in 2017. Details about the closing date are still being discussed. This is a difficult decision and we are mindful of how it affects our employees, the readers and advertisers.”
The City Paper has existed in Baltimore for 40 years. Over that time it has shown itself to be far outside of the mainstream. From it’s radical far-left politics, to its promotion of illicit drug use, to its complete lack of moral compass, the City Paper is the very definition of what most people think of from an “alternative” newspaper.
Over the years, we at Red Maryland have documented several issues with the coverage in the City Paper, from the mundane idea that the Baltimore Sun reader forums define mainstream opinion, defending mob intimidation of State Senators, an unhealthy obsession with Donald Trump, all the way to totally insane stuff like proclaiming that it’s racism to point out that the use of marijuana is a federal crime and . You will hardly find an issue on which the City Paper takes a stance that is agreeable to most Maryland voters.
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However, the City Paper served somewhat of an important function as well. When the City Paper focused on hard news (particularly as it relates to Baltimore City government) they contributed a lot to the public discourse and were another journalistic check on city and state government. When they keep the editorial politics out of their stories, they can do some down and dirty investigative work that the “traditional” media was reluctant to do.
Part of the problem of the potential closure of the City Paper goes back to something I wrote in 2014 about media consolidation in local and statewide media. There are fewer and fewer reporters covering state and local politics. The Sun’s decision to shutter the City Paper potentially takes more reporters off of the Baltimore and Maryland beats, and means fewer and fewer reporters having the opportunity to investigate stories that fall through the cracks of the regular city and state beat reporters.
You may not like the editorial view of the City Paper. You may not like the focus that they put on stories that aren’t actually relevant to anybody. But that does not make the potential loss of another newspaper in Maryland any better for its citizens or its politics.