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Baltimore Urban Affairs Reporting Projects
Each semester, students in the college's Urban Affairs Reporting class (JOUR327) use Baltimore as a laboratory to cover issues of importance to cities. The class is taught by Sandy Banisky, Merrill's Abell Professor in Baltimore Journalism, a former deputy managing editor of The Baltimore Sun.
The class is organized like a newsroom project team. Students develop story ideas and meet with residents, elected officials, business people and community leaders to produce a comprehensive, multi-platform report on a different topic each semester. Increasingly, the projects are done collaboratively with other classes in the college.
The stories, photos, videos and graphics that the students produce are distributed on the CNS (Capital News Service) wire and have been published by news organizations around the state.
Projects by Semester
Fall 2013 - Stuck in Transit: Baltimore's Public Transportation Woes: For decades, the jobs that many Baltimoreans rely on have been moving to the suburbs. But most of the region's transit routes haven't been changed since before the Maryland Transit Administration took over local bus service in 1971. This project looks at the state of transportation in Baltimore today and possible solutions for the future including smart phones and streetcars.
Summer 2013 - Sea Level Rise in Maryland: Sea levels are rising worldwide, but they’re rising two to three times faster in the Chesapeake Bay. A new semester-long investigative project coordinated by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s Capital News Service (CNS) shows that sea level rise is putting major coastal areas of the state of Maryland at risk – including some of the state’s most iconic places — Fells Point in Baltimore, Harriet Tubman’s birthplace, and Fort McHenry, home of the national anthem. Students from the Baltimore Urban Affairs class were part of this in-depth investigation that saw wide coverage throughout the state and region.
Fall 2012 - Locust Point: A Changing Waterfront. While Baltimore has been losing population, waterfront neighborhoods like Locust Point have been growing – and attracting younger, more affluent residents who don't work at the port. But the growth has created some tensions – between industry and developers and between oldtime residents and newcomers. (produced in collaboration with the college's Capital News Service advanced reporting program.)
Spring 2012 - Maryland Families: Falling Behind. The number of Maryland families who need government help to make ends meet has reached record levels. More than 700,000 people receive food assistance, the most in state history. A record 70,000 people depend on emergency cash assistance. Yet state and federal officials are budgeting less money for the safety net in the coming fiscal year. The move reflects the government's confidence in the economic recovery. (Done in conjunction with Senior Lecturer Deborah Nelson's Advanced Public Affairs Reporting/Investigative Reporting class.)
Fall 2011 - Can Art Change Baltimore? Ten years after the state designated Station North an arts and entertainment district, city leaders say it’s too soon to know. And even the biggest boosters advise that art can’t fix all Baltimore’s ills. But in a city whose residents have struggled for years to find a way to stabilize neighborhoods, some city leaders hope art can stoke the economy and help improve Baltimore life.
Spring 2011 - Juvenile Justice in Baltimore City. In Baltimore alone, 4,700 cases were filed in 2010 in the city's Juvenile Justice Center. Meanwhile, as legislators and advocates argue over how to fix the system, about 160,000 youths -- some under arrest, some victims of abuse, some in foster care -- troop through the state system every year.
Fall 2010 - Searching for Healthy Food. In a city plagued with high rates of obesity, heart disease and stroke, Baltimoreans know they should be eating better. But in many neighborhoods, burger joints and corner stores are the only sources of food. Now, in a variety of ways, Baltimoreans are trying to make it easier for more people to find healthier foods.
Summer 2010 - More Than a Game: The Orioles and Baltimore. What does it mean to a city when its once proud baseball team loses season after season?
Spring 2010 - East Baltimore: Ten Years Later. Biotech has not proved the answer for creating jobs and attracting residents to the new neighborhood. With construction stalled on the biotech park that was forecast to create 8,000 jobs, leaders of the redevelopment project now are looking for another economic anchor for the neighborhood.
Fall 2009 - Reclaiming a Neighborhood: The Revitalization of Baltimore's East Side. East Baltimore Development Inc. has relocated more than 800 families over the last eight years as it begins to rebuild a struggling neighborhood -- and create a new community -- just north of the Johns Hopkins medical campus.
Produced by University of Maryland students under the Abell Initiative in Baltimore Journalism.