The Baltimore Banner, Turning Two, Celebrates A Subscriber Bump And A New Education Hub

The Baltimore Banner celebrated its second birthday this week with a “B” cake, balloons, and a pair of announcements.

First up, the nonprofit newsroom shared it now has 49,000 paid subscribers. Of those, 47,000 are individual subscribers and 2,000 are institutional subscribers who have activated their accounts. (Previously, The Banner included other group subscriptions in this total.) That’s more than a 40% increase in the past six months, which has also included the arrival of new CEO Bob Cohn in February 2024.

“We’ve seen steady and reliable growth throughout the year,” said Cohn, formerly the president of The Economist, in an email. “There were some spikes along the way, naturally: in January (after the sale of The Baltimore Sun), in March and April (around our coverage of the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge) and in the run-up to Maryland’s primary election day in May.”

With 80 full-time journalists, The Baltimore Banner has surpassed The Baltimore Sun — acquired by the outspoken conservative owner of Sinclair Broadcast Group earlier this year — as the city’s largest newsroom. The Banner relies on a mix of subscriptions, ads, donations, and live events and made $5 million in advertising and events revenue in 2023. More than 155,000 people subscribe to at least one of news org’s dozen email newsletters.

As the annual Digital News Report released by the Reuters Institute showed, many digital news subscribers pay less than full price. The Baltimore Banner — which offers a promotional rate of six months for $1 — has graduated more than half of its subscribers to the regular rate of $20/month, Cohn said. Around that all-important transition to full-price, The Banner uses renewal marketing that reminds subscribers of the nonprofit mission as well as subscriber perks like exclusive emails and seminars, free guest access, local guides, and more.