Below the Fold

From the Baltimore Brew crew, a behind-the-scenes look at what we do…

Brew staff meeting smokes out the elusive Twitter ninja “Mair”

Brew supporters "Dennis the Cynic" and Ebonie Williams with Mark Reutter (standing) and Fern Shen. (Photo by Amy Shelton)

Brew supporters included “Dennis the Cynic” and Ebonie Williams, with Fern Shen and Mark Reutter (standing). But whose head is that poking up at the bottom left corner? (Photo by Amy Shelton)

We Brew-ers have been gradually getting our act together to finally give our Kickstarter contributors their Thank You mugs, bumper stickers and other rewards. On Saturday we knocked out one more of those formal thank yous in a borrowed conference room downtown.

It was a “Baltimore Brew Staff Meeting.”

We mostly have lower-case “staff meetings,” occasional get-togethers over coffee at Charmington’s. And really the more common way we confer, since we have no office per se, is via multiple daily emails, phone calls and texts. But Saturday we classed up our act.

A plucky sub-set of our 296 Kickstarter backers ventured out on a mild December morning to join us to talk over Brewish matters large and small, throw down some actual brew (the caffeinated kind), and nosh on some breakfast treats.

They talked about the coverage they liked, such as our stories about slapped-on extra work orders, ladled-out tax breaks and short-changed fire companies and rec centers.

And they talked about all the things that puzzle and irritate them about The Brew, mostly having to do with the homepage layout.

Why don’t we have a more appealing, less gray design? A zippier “contribute” button? A big, fat link that says “email us here with your tips?”

Argh, working on it, folks. We’re so caught up in the hamster-wheel of daily story reporting, writing and editing that we move forward on the other stuff at a fraction of the pace we’d like. It was useful, and a bit humbling, to get constructive criticism and encouragement from this bunch face-to-face because they are some of the most ardent and thoughtful readers we have.

In fact, we were joined by our biggest booster of all, the woman known to the Baltimore Twittersphere as “MairZdoatz.”

International Woman of Mystery

Mair likes to say she very rarely comes east of Mondawmin Mall, but we were honored to have her journey to the center of the city to be with us.

Mair may prefer anonymity (you’ll notice she chose to face away from the camera in the shots accompanying this story), but she is one of the most solid, tough-minded and reliable presences on Twitter in Baltimore.

Brew staff and readers raise a mug, including "Mair," who enjoys her coffee, scones and anonymity.

Brew staff and readers raise a mug, including “Mair,” who enjoys her coffee, scones and anonymity.

For one thing, the woman is prolific (63,277 tweets as of last night, practically War and Peace). She’s also lightning fast (more often than not she promotes our stuff on Twitter before we do.)

Mainly though she’s got stern views about government accountability (there ain’t enough of it) tempered with a deep-down soft spot for true good actors on the local scene (as well as really cute dogs, especially hers, “Dog.”) At all hours of the day she combs local and national media to find breaking news and worthy news-features relevant to people who care about Baltimore.

If there’s ever a dispute about which outlet broke a story first, Mair could probably settle it. Like a good editor, she knows when the writer’s buried the lede. (Tweeting my slower-moving stories, she’s been known to write, “If you’re pressed for time, just go to the 12th paragraph.”)

One of her estimable colleagues in 140-character punditry, “Dennis the Cynic,” was among the folks who joined us Saturday. Always nice to be reminded of the face (and the smart and funny intelligence) behind the Snidely Whiplash avatar.

Anyway, we got some great ideas for new Brew features and events and, before we let them go, we tried to sign them up to help us pull them off. One of them will be more real-time get-togethers with our readers. So keep your eyes and ears open about that in 2013.

If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll come to one where Mair shows up.

Brew staff meeting smokes out the elusive Twitter ninja “Mair”
  • Josh Hall

    Sounds like quite the turnout at this one.

  • Gerald Neily

    My one contribution to Mair’s identity: “Mairzy Doats” became the #1 hit on the pop chart in March 1944 (WikiPedia). That was over 68 years ago. I didn’t even know there was a pop chart then.

  • Ebonie Williams

    Yikes, I’m not smiling. :)

  • Rocky_Ground

    God bless Mair

  • Chris T. Delaporte

    I like all of this, all of it. I am pulling 4 U guys every day and hope to contribute in 2013 on a city-wide-favorite…U got it: Audits, or the almost total lack thereof, and, of course on the recreation and park scene,