Stephen Janis

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Stephen Janis (born 1968) is an American investigative journalist who has written extensively about policing and crime in Baltimore, Maryland. He is featured prominently in the feature documentary Fit To Print.[1].

Early Life[edit]

Janis was born in New York and attended Hamilton College. He joined the staff of Esquire Magazine as a fact-checker in the late '80s[2]and later worked at Rolling Stone as a research assistant.[3]



Janis moved to Baltimore in the early '90s and founded the independent record label CLR, which specialized in a regional fusion of go-go and hip-hop. In 1996, the label released the top 40 single "Let Me Clear My Throat" by DJ Kool[4][5]. CLR signed a deal with Rick Rubin's American Recordings and jointly produced a remix of the song featuring Biz Markie and Dougie Fresh[6]. Later, Janis founded the production company Instant Records, which jointly published Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) by Jay-Z[7] and, later, music for the motion picture Cecil B. Demented, directed by John Waters[8].


Janis returned to journalism in the early 2000s when he became a contributing writer and columnist for the Baltimore City Paper[9][10]. He later joined the now-defunct Baltimore Examiner as a senior investigative reporter[11]. At the Examiner, he published a series of award-winning investigative pieces on policing and crime, including an early piece on the city's now-notorious zero-tolerance policy. After the paper closed, he founded the web site Investigative Voice, where he continued to report on policing and crime[12]. He is now the subject of the feature documentary Fit To Print.


In 2011, Janis was hired by Sinclair Broadcast Group to work as an investigative producer for its affiliate, WBFF. There he won three consecutive Capital Emmy Awards for his investigative work on irregularities in development deals in government contracting.[13] In 2015, he joined the non-profit journalism outfit The Real News Network as an investigative reporter.[14]

Crime Writing[edit]

Janis has written two books with former Baltimore homicide detectives that are critical of the Baltimore Police Department and its tactics and culture. In 2011, Baltimore True Crime published his book Why Do We Kill: The Pathology of Murder in Baltimore, co-written by Kelvin Sewell[15][16], and in 2013, it published You Can't Stop Murder: Truths About Policing in Baltimore and Beyond, co-written by Stephen Tabeling[17][18]. In 2009, Janis released This Dream Called Death, a critique of Baltimore's zero-tolerance arrest policy that uses the dream as a metaphor for mass incarceration[19][20]


  1. "Fit To Print". Fit To Print Film. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  2. "The Unabridged Esquire Masthead". Esquire. The Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  3. "Behind the Music with TRNN's Stephen Janis". The Real News Network. 27 November 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  4. Bush, John. "DJ Kool, Biography & History". All Music. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  5. Iverem, Esther (29 June 1996). "MOVING WITH THEIR MUSIC". The Washington Post. Fred Ryan. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  6. "Stephen Janis Discography at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  7. Zurawik, David (13 July 2013). "WBFF's Stephen Janis reinvents himself for TV news". The Baltimore Sun. tronc. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  8. "Cecil B. Demented (2000) - Soundtracks - IMDb". IMDb. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  9. Landers, Chris (1 April 2009). "New Media Players: Will the future of journalism come from journalists?". Baltimore City Paper. Trif Alatzas. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  10. "Stephen Janis Author Archives". Baltimore City Paper. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  11. Michael, Sara (8 May 2009). "The Voice of Baltimore". Gelf Magazine. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  12. Bartlett, Rachel (11 August 2012). "'It's imperative to offer a different perspective': Stephen Janis is Baltimore's alternative journalist". Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  13. "COP COLLABORATION — Fox45's Stephen Janis nominated for Emmy, third year in a row". Voice of 15 May 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  14. Zurawik, David (7 March 2015). "Stephen Janis leaving WBFF for The Real News Network". The Baltimore Sun. tronc. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  15. "Why Do We Kill?". C-SPAN. 28 July 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  16. Sewell, Kelvin; Janis, Stephen (20 July 2011). "'Why Do We Kill?' -- The life and times of a murder police". The Baltimore Sun. tronc. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  17. "As Violence Spikes in Baltimore, Former Investigator Says Police Aren't the Answer". The Real News Network. 27 May 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  18. Brandi, Nicki. "You Can't Stop Murder". Coastal Style Magazine (March-April 2014). Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  19. "Q&A with STEPHEN JANIS: "We rarely ask the right questions"". My City Paper. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  20. Hughes, Bill (11 April 2016). "Review: This Dream Called Death". JMWW. Retrieved 1 May 2017.

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