City Paper veteran Brandon Soderberg has been named editor of the Baltimore alt-weekly.
The news was first reported by The Sun, which owns City Paper, because Soderberg was on deadline and neglected to send the release to anyone.
Soderberg served as interim editor following the departure earlier this year of Karen Houppert, who left to become assistant director of Johns Hopkins' graduate writing program—a position with less strenuous hours (I assume) and better pay (I guarantee).
In a probing, very professional, and objective Slack conversation with this reporter, Soderberg said he was excited to continue leading the staff in covering the city with the same voice and critical eye the paper has developed in its 40 years.
"The staff is really the best thing," he said (what a mensch!). "I'm impressed by how hard everybody works and how fucking good the writing and ideas are, you know?
"The strengths of CP are its voice and its knowledge and experience in the city," he continued. "With that knowledge and experience comes an ability to keep shifting and changing our perspectives and trying to call ourselves out as much as we'll call everybody else out."
Soderberg offered a vision for the paper that matches a common mantra he can often be heard saying around the office: "let's see what we can get away with."
And while that does include things like trolling Attorney General and overall ninny Jeff Sessions and liberal use of the f-word, it means other things too.
"[It's] reporting things that aren't being reported or approaching a story or a narrative in a creative or different way," he said. "It means pushing our talents and skills further and often, getting weird with it. This I think is the best stuff that alternative weeklies have done and can do and still do."
In the current media landscape, which has seen alts left out of the conversation in favor of financially loaded websites led by think-fluencers who explain things and clickbait mills, Soderberg thinks alts can break through the problems of "the media elite" and coastal bias that led the country to Donald Trump.
"Echoing my colleague Baynard Woods: Alts are the model for how to cover when you're an underdog and you're denied access and you're bursting at the seams with an opinion and have a story to tell," he said. "I'd like to see City Paper as a model for how others should cover the news and politics and the arts, and as I've said plenty to anyone who will listen, the ways in which those things intersect—which is pretty much always if you think hard enough."
In a pitch to make this model financially viable, he added: "Advertise with us, please!"
Soderberg first started freelancing for City Paper in 2007. Soon after, he was contributing writing to the Independent Weekly, the Museum of Moving Image, Vice, the Village Voice, and Washington City Paper. He then was given a regular hip-hop column at SPIN magazine and eventually became a SPIN Contributing Writer.
In May 2014, he was hired at City Paper and took on three titles: music editor, fact checking coordinator, and special issues editor. A little over a year later, he was promoted to arts editor and deputy editor. Along the way he has covered everything from the city's dirt bikers to the death of rapper Lor Scoota to weed to the city's underground hip-hop scene to weed.
During his decade, on and off, at the paper, Soderberg said he has learned a lot from his predecessors, including Houppert, Evan Serpick, and Lee Gardner, as well as former managing editor and arts editor Baynard Woods and former arts editor Bret McCabe.
"It's hard but seemingly doable because of them," he said.