Baltimore City Paper is a free alternative weeklynewspaper published in Baltimore, Maryland, founded in 1977 by Russ Smith and Alan Hirsch. Current owner Baltimore Sun Media Group purchased the paper in 2014 from Times-Shamrock Communications, which had owned the newspaper since 1987. It is distributed on Wednesdays in distinctive yellow boxes found throughout the Baltimore area.
Russ Smith and Alan Hirsch started the Baltimore City Paper in May 1977 while students at Johns Hopkins University. It was originally named the City Squeeze and Smith and Hirsch published it using the offices of the Johns Hopkins student newspaper. In 1978, they took the paper out of the University and started publishing it as the Baltimore City Paper. Smith said that he viewed the paper as an alternatively weekly similar to the Chicago Reader and the Boston Real Paper. The paper has been free, except for a time between 1979–81, where they charged .25 per issue. Charging a fee turned out to be mistake, as most of the paper's income came through advertising revenue and the fee led to a precipitous drop in circulation, and consequently advertising revenues.
It is best known for providing information on clubs, concerts, theater, and restaurants, but each issue also has one major article on a subject not usually being carried by the mainstream media. In each issue there are also several political and advice columns and numerous cartoons including the weekly comic DIRTFARM by Ben Claassen III.
The City Paper presents the Best of Baltimore awards every year, in which various local businesses, attractions, and aspects of Baltimore, Maryland are highlighted.
In the summer of 2013, Times-Shamrock Communications announced its intention to sell off all of its alternative newspapers outside Pennsylvania, including the City Paper. In February 2014, the Baltimore Sun Media Group announced it had reached an agreement to purchase the Baltimore City Paper, with the sale to close in March 2014.