Best Baltimore Brew Story: The death of Thomas Palermo

When Baltimore Brew, the reader-supported daily news website founded, edited, and published by the indefatigable Fern Shen, clamps its jaws on a story, it never lets go. Occasionally, this pit-bull instinct inspires shrugs, and you want to tell Brew to for god’s sake drop it, just drop it. But this instinct paid off in the Brew’s coverage of the death of a bicyclist, Thomas Palermo, and (now former) Episcopal bishop Heather Cook, the woman who has been charged with striking Palermo with her car while driving drunk and fleeing the scene of the accident. Shen and company pursued the story with vigor and care, with particularly compelling stories about the reaction to and involvement by the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. At the time of the accident, Cook, now defrocked, was the diocese’ second-ranking member, and the Brew uncovered information that persuasively suggested the diocese knew about Cook’s history of alcoholism at the time of her ordination. Cook pleaded guilty this month in exchange for a sentence of 10 years in prison.

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