What we can learn from the death of b, the uh, paper, site thing?
b, bthesite, whatever you call the rag that competes with City Paper for the eyeballs of the city, has added a new adjective to the list of millennial-baiting bullshit printed on the orange boxes: dead. In a statement, Baltimore Sun Media Group CEO Tim Ryan said, "Though b remains a profitable and engaged brand with a loyal following, it has some overlap in audience and advertiser demand with our City Paper and Sun WKND section. Therefore, we have elected to cease publication of b."
What he is saying is that City Paper helped to kill b, a noble outcome of this little experiment where the BSMG ventured into alt territory. And you know why? Because we fucking care, we love our paper. Nobody on staff seemed to love b, so why should the city? Somebody has to fucking care! You have to have a vision. Sam Sessa, b's previous editor, was a bit milquetoast, but he at least seemed to care about the publication and have a vision. That has not been the case since Jordan Bartel took over.
When b did not mention the uprising for two issues—the two surrounding the events—I went after them a bit on Twitter. My editor, Evan Serpick, always said that was punching down. A huge misunderstanding of that term, if you ask me. It is a powerful publication owned by the people who own us and is hardly the equivalent of attacking the little guy. (Ed note: Serpick here. I always said attacking b was punching down because b never attempted to do what City Paper does, and so to attack them for that felt—feels—like punching down.) Others asked me why I would care and compared attacking b to attacking the Pennysaver.
I always cared more about b than that. I thought it could be something real and important. We need print publications and we need more perspectives. We need more people to report on the city and we need more people to care. But if you don't have a vision, no one will read you, no one will argue about you, and you will, at best, serve as bench warmers for the homeless.
So, we're sorry to see you go, b, because now our paper will be used more often as bench warmers. But hey, can we get all the b boxes painted yellow and put over on the east and west sides of town so we don't just serve white neighborhoods?