“Brewing in Baltimore: An Alternative to Mainstream Media”

Fern Shen is a veteran journalist, who worked at The Hartford Courant, The Evening Sun and at The Washington Post for 17 years. In 2009 – with mainstream media here and across the country suddenly cutting back, laying off and shutting down – she struck off into somewhat uncharted territory. Shen started Baltimore Brew – an online-only news website with reported news stories, culture and community dialogue. Since then, she’s found the response to the Brew’s unique blend of highly-professional but dogged accountability reporting and community coverage enlightening and uplifting. She’ll talk about what the experience has taught her about the challenges and opportunities faced by the city and the Fourth Estate.

Fern Shen reported for The Evening Sun in the late 1980s and then for 17 years was a staff writer for The Washington Post. An award-winning writer on The Post’s Metro staff, she covered Maryland state government and the General Assembly, local government, education, crime, environment and social issues. On the Style staff, she helped create and wrote for The Post’s “KidsPost” section, a daily page of news and features for young readers. Since leaving the paper she has been a fellow at the Knight Digital Media Center, at the University of California Berkeley. She was proud to see The Brew mentioned in The New York Times as “a reason for cheer” – but moderately embarrassed that Times media blogger David Carr also said sites like Brew show “how far journalists will go to avoid getting a real job.”

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