Up here at Brew HQ, it’s not unusual to get an urgent call from senior reporter Mark Reutter – sometimes dialed from a City Hall men’s room – reporting sotto voce on the latest doings by city pols or officials.
But what he told me they did yesterday was beyond outrageous.
They wrote up a resolution saying:
“Be it hereby known to all, that The City Council of Baltimore offers its sincerest congratulations to Mark Reutter in recognition of becoming Baltimore’s Best Online Journalist for the Baltimore Brew.”
Holy moly! Thank goodness it’s just a resolution, and therefore has no fiscal note attached. Otherwise he’d be scrutinizing it to make sure he didn’t need to include himself in the next installment of “Inside City Hall,” his closely-read compilation of questionable expenditures and political maneuvers.
Blame it on our brother and sister journos over at Baltimore City Paper, who this week conferred on Reutter the title “Best Online Journalist” in their annual 2012 Best of Baltimore issue. Readers also voted our site as a whole the “Best Website About Baltimore.”
(In the “Best Blog” readers’ category we came in second, which was fine since, well, we ain’t one.)
Scoops and Smart Analysis
CP lauded Reutter for his “scoops and smart analysis,” for exposing mayoral efforts to oust CHAP director Kathleen Kotarba, for “breaking news of John Paterakis’ Enterprise Zone grab” and for his “unmatched” coverage of the RG Steel bankruptcy.
Funny thing is, they must have been taking the sweeps-week approach to judging the contest because those examples were just plucked from his most recent month of mammoth production.
Call him Marky Machado, Reutter’s been knocking them out of the park for the past three years – from his devastating documentation of costly “Extra Work Orders” (whereby Slim city contracts quietly balloon to XX-Large) to his barn-burning reporting on city fire station closures.
Then there’s his graceful portraits of Baltimore’s memorable characters, sinners and saints. I’m thinking here of his hilarious Morris Martick profile, his prescient portrait of billionaire steel-mill flipper Ira Rennert and his joyful celebration of Baltimore’s Johnny Appleseed, Gene DeSantis (who called Mark just this morning to tell him he’s planted his 13,964th tree).
Loading his crucial supplies onto his battered Bianchi – a small camera, a reporter’s notepad and a shiny-domed noggin stuffed with 40 years of encyclopedic reporting experience – he haunts the city’s streets, alleys and governmental hallways to unearth its secrets.
So it was great this week to get recognition (for Reutter and the rest of us pixel-stained wretches) from our media peers at CP (who break plenty of news themselves) and from our smart and sassy readers, whose tips and comments always blow us away (the record-holder: a single steel-mill post that drew over 900 comments.)
But it was kind of striking that Mark also got kudos from the City Council, whose actions (and inaction) have received some withering Reutter coverage.
Maybe they appreciate that Reutter and The Brew believe that, for better or worse, what they do matters – and could really matter if they did it better.
Or maybe it’s just a reflection of the amount of time the guy spends down there. No journalistic parachuter, Reutter hangs around. Some fellow habitues presume he’s a city employee.
So, frameable proclamation in hand, Mark did what he always does after his latest City Hall encounter. Balanced the thing as best he could and pedaled up Holliday Street toward home.
Among other fine folk honored in CP’s “media” section: Luke Broadwater Justin Fenton, Dan Rodricks, Melody Simmons, Marc Steiner and (waaah) Urbanite.