Los Angeles Times managing editor Kimi Yoshino has been named the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Baltimore Banner, an all-digital news outlet that is slated to launch in 2022.

Kimi Yoshino

The Baltimore Banner will be overseen by The Venetoulis Institute for Local Journalism, a nonprofit news organization in Baltimore whose launch was announced on Oct. 26. The nonprofit is named after the late Ted Venetoulis, a former Baltimore County executive, television analyst and supporter of local news who died at the beginning of October.

The Banner is slated to begin operations next year with about 50 journalists and an annual operating budget of $15 million.

“Since the beginning, we’ve been focused on bringing unbiased, locally owned news to the Baltimore community to hold our leaders accountable and report on the varied stories of our region and our times,” Stewart Bainum Jr., chairman of The Venetoulis Institute, said in a statement.

The nonprofit is named in honor of Venetoulis, who fought to bring The Baltimore Sun under local, nonprofit ownership — a goal that ultimately was not reached.

“The institute will establish a more sustainable model for locally owned, nonprofit news,” officials with the nonprofit said in a press release. “The institute’s mission is to expand local news coverage in the Baltimore region and become an indispensable resource that strengthens, unites, and inspires the Baltimore community through unbiased, quality journalism.”

Yoshino, 49, worked for 21 years at The Los Angeles Times, where she rose from a reporter to several newsroom leadership positions and most recently served as the newspaper’s managing editor.

As The Times’ business editor, Yoshino oversaw #MeToo investigative stories and helped lead coverage of corruption in the city of Bell, which earned the Pulitzer Prize gold medal for public service.

She spent her first year as a metro reporter covering Disney’s accountability for dangerous accidents, including an incident in which a Disneyland ride crushed 4-year-old Brandon Zucker, who suffered serious brain damage and died eight years later.

Previously, Yoshino worked as a reporter at The Fresno Bee and The Stockton Record.

“I am excited to return to my roots in local journalism,” Yoshino said in a statement. “It is critically important to Baltimore — and to cities around the country — that we develop a successful model for sustainable local news. With Stewart’s commitment, I believe we have a shot at figuring this out. I can’t wait to start building this newsroom.”

The Times reported that Yoshino was “well-placed” to take the paper’s top spot until 2020, when a food section editor, whom Yoshino had hired, resigned amid staffers’ public accounts of sexual harassment and toxic behavior.

The Times reported that Yoshino said she regretted not seeing the issues and taking action.

Yoshino’s last day at The Times will be Nov. 12, the paper reported.

The Venetoulis Institute also appointed Imtiaz Patel to serve as its chief executive officer. In that role, he will lead business operations and help build the digital newsroom in Baltimore’s downtown business district.

Patel most recently advised news organizations such as The Philadelphia Inquirer, Gannett and USA Today on their digital growth and transformation.

As a former executive with Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, Patel aided the rapid growth of digital subscriptions and managed niche business markets.

Bainum said Patel and Yoshino will both contribute to the success of The Venetoulis Institute and The Baltimore Banner.

“Their collective experience and expertise will be instrumental in building a diverse newsroom capable of reporting daily news, investigative journalism, and lifestyle and sports content that Baltimoreans care deeply about,” Bainum said in a statement. “Our success will be measured by the quality of our journalism, the service that we provide to the community, and the partners and subscribers willing to support local news.”

The Venetoulis Institute and The Baltimore Banner will rely on paying subscribers as well as individual and institutional donations to fund their operations. Contributions to the nonprofit news organization will be tax-deductible..

Former Democratic presidential candidate, New York City mayor and Bloomberg News co-founder Michael R. Bloomberg praised Bainum for adding another local news outlet to Baltimore.

“The talented team Stewart is assembling reflects his deep commitment to Baltimore, and I’m looking forward to reading their work — and seeing the positive impact they will have on the life of the city,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

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