APN Celebrates Four Years of Publication

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(APN) ATLANTA — In celebration of the four-year anniversary of the founding of Atlanta Progressive News, which occurred on November 23, 2009, News Editor and Founder Matthew Cardinale released the following statement:

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We did it! Four years of Atlanta Progressive News: November 23, 2005, to November 23, 2009. Someone could have actually started and completed an entire Bachelor’s degree in the time that we’ve been in existence.

As we always do on our anniversary, I wanted to take the time to thank our readers for helping make us the news and information institution for Atlanta that we are today. It is because of your trust, your interest, your involvement, and your support, that we have been able to make it this far.

We have reached a number of milestones this year. Our web traffic has increased quite a bit, from 3,000 hits a day on average, to 4,000 hits a day on average, to 6,000 hits a day on average, to… are y’all ready… October and November 2009, we’ve had about 9,600 hits per day on average: that’s almost 300,000 hits per month. Wow!

We had our best advertising year yet, with about 25 municipal candidates advertising in our publication. This is far, far more than the amount of candidates advertising in any ATL publication. What’s great about that is, it means that you–our readers–have become recognized as the valuable and coveted part of the electorate that you already are. Every single citywide Council candidate advertised in APN this year, and we just think that’s awesome.

We also set a community fundraising record. So far we’ve raised $2175 from 73 readers. Our previous fundraising record had been $1,000.

The fact that 73 of our readers would think that the work of Atlanta Progressive News is important enough to support, with contributions ranging from $5 to $100, especially during these economic times, is absolutely inspiring! So I’m sending out a big thank you especially to our reader-donors for helping to make this possible.

We do still have a bit of a ways to go in our fundraiser and the year is almost at an end. To reach our goal for 2009, which is $3,000, we only need to raise $725. As of today, there are only 26 days left of 2009. If we pull together, I know we can do this!

If you are able to help with a donation of $5 or more please visit our donations page at: http://atlantaprogressivenews.com/extras/donate.html.

THE BACKSTORY OF ATLANTA PROGRESSIVE NEWS

I know we have many new readers since last year, so even though we’ve told this story on previous anniversaries, I wanted to recount the founding of Atlanta Progressive News.

Between the years of 2003 and 2005, I–your news editor at APN–started writing for a lot of independent, online publications, covering the news. Not because anyone invited me, but because I felt it was so important, with the decline of quantity and quality of traditional, corporate media content.

And new online tools made all of this possible. GoogleNews in particular played a huge role because they started indexing independent online news services along with the more corporate ones. In 2005, I decided to start what was going to be called New Orleans Street News.

Then, as many of you know, that particular vision was cut short by Hurricane Katrina, the largest disaster in the history of the US. And so I was like, where can I move in the South that needs a progressive newspaper? So I called the three people I knew in Atlanta–Anita Beaty of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, the Congressional office of erstwhile US Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), and civil rights activist Connie Curry–and asked whether Atlanta needed a leftist publication.

They all said yes. I was like, are you sure? Because I don’t want to duplicate anything that already exists, and they were like, yes.

So APN was founded from my extended stay hotel room paid for by FEMA and I started showing up at events and interviewing people. APN’s first article was published November 23, 2005.

Within a few months, we were incorporated; we had a Board of Directors including Susan Keith and Sarah Epting; Sarah designed us a basic html website which we’re still using today; and Jonathan Springston, a recent journalism graduate from Georgia State University, began writing with us to get more hands-on journalism experience (he is now a seasoned Atlanta writer, serving as APN’s Senior Staff Writer). Other writers like Alice Gordon joined in later years.

Fast forward four years: we’ve published 559 original news articles, with a current publication schedule of about 3-5 full-length articles per week. This is more than most other alternative news services currently serving Atlanta.

OUR GREATEST HITS IN 2009

This has also been a major year for APN in terms of big stories, breaking stories, and exclusives.

-While the Black Leadership Forum memo was originally published by the Newsmakers Journal website, we advanced the story by providing community reaction and launched the issue into the city’s political discourse.

-We broke the news regarding the APD and REDDOG raid on the Atlanta Eagle, which led to protests and lawsuits. Everything we reported has been consistent with the testimony that later came out by witnesses.

-We brought full-length interviews with all Mayoral candidates, Council President candidates, the majority of at-large candidates, and did questionnaires in Districts 6 and 11. From a perspective of getting into substantive issues–rather than horse race stuff like fundraising, endorsements, and press conferences–I believe we provided the most in-depth coverage of this election.

-While these are probably the articles that caused the most love and hate, we also ran a series of articles critical of each of the leading Mayoral candidates. First, we ran an article examining the ties between Lisa Borders and a national Republican politico, Tom Bell. Second, we ran an article examining the personal voting record of Mary Norwood, including several votes for Republicans, as well as her attendance at a statewide Republican convention in Georgia. Third, we ran an article examining Kasim Reed’s record of defending corporations, including Cracker Barrel, in a variety of cases brought by workers, including race and sex discrimination, wage issues, and Americans with Disability Act complaints.

-We also provided an in-depth analysis of the second quarter fundraising disclosures for Norwood, Reed, and Borders, providing totals of donations received from real estate and developer interests for each candidate. (Reed had the most.)

-We were the first to report that Southern Voice may reemerge in a new form.

-We continued to cover the Troy Davis death penalty case and related issues in Georgia. When Davis first faced execution about 2 years ago, APN was the only publication to be talking about the evidence of innocence in the weeks and months leading up to the execution. We believe we played a major role in making the public aware of this issue, along with WRFG radio.

-We’ve provided continuing updates on the VoterGA electronic voting case, probably the only in-depth analysis of our lack of election integrity in Georgia.

-We’ve provided continuing updates on Faye Coffield’s ballot access case, with implications for independents and third party candidates throughout Georgia, the only coverage thereof.

-We advised that Obama’s Administration is still pushing forward on new nuclear bomb production in the US, despite his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize.

-We were the first to report on the issues surrounding the Grady dialysis center closure and brought you the most thorough, complete information about the status of those patients. Jonathan Springston’s series on Grady has been ongoing since Grady first considered privatization, and he has followed it through its logical conclusion of cutting services.

-We examined the Beltline and what is happening to the so-called affordable housing dollars allocated from the TAD bonds.

-We brought you the other side of the story about the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless.

-We’ve covered racial profiling related to the 287(g) law, which is negatively impacting Hispanics.

-When progressive activists in our community have passed away, like Allen Thornell, Marilyn Clement, and Errin Vuley this year, we have written detailed obituaries.

-We’ve provided coverage of the anti-war movement, including the only coverage of Retired Col. Ann Wright’s speech on the US occupation of Afghanistan and in-depth coverage of the planned Dekalb County Marine School (the plans for which were later canceled).

-We’ve provided ongoing coverage of the Fighting Foreclosures coalition, including their protests and arrests at Wachovia and Wells Fargo.

-We were the only news service to raise concerns about the now-defunct GONSO (Georgia Online News Service), which was led by and had questionable ties to a notorious PR firm, Alisias.

And that is just a small small portion of what we’ve done this year alone.

A CHANGING MEDIA LANDSCAPE

What’s been amazing is to watch over the last four years as the media landscape has changed around us.

The AJC cut back its staff by the hundreds and even cut the size of its paper. Creative Loafing has cut its staff and production of full-length news articles is way down. Southern Voice and David Magazine has ceased to exist. Access Atlanta stopped printing and went online. The Story stopped printing and went online.

Meanwhile, new news services have emerged: Sunday Paper, Insider Advantage, Project Q Atlanta, Atlanta Unfiltered, SaportaReport, and others. The former Southern Voice staffers met on December 03 to discuss a new, leaner, meaner, independent, community publication. Other glbt publications may be in the offing.

But through our consistency, transparency, and substance, we have staked our claim in the future on what is emerging, and what will emerge, as Atlanta’s new media landscape, post-monopoly, post-corporate-dominated.

I can still remember when we first began and people didn’t know or understand what an online news service is. Do you mean a blog, they would say?

And I remember when people would protest the notion that a news service could or should have a point of view, that we could be both progressive and a news service?

Now–and I really get a kick out of this–we’ll get emails from readers when they disagree with an article that says, “You call yourselves progressive!” Or they’ll put progressive in quotation marks.

Actually, I consider the idea that we would have to defend our progressive credentials as a sign of major progress in the original debate.

OUR MISSION

Our mission has always been to empower people with news, information, and analysis, so that they can take meaningful action in the democratic process.

You see, we’ll never have a different world until we have different public policies; and we’ll never have different public policies unless we have different elected leaders; and we’ll never have different elected leaders, until more US citizens vote and become politically active; and we’ll never have more US citizens vote and be politically active, until they have the news, information, and analysis that allows them to make meaningful choices, and to be connected to a larger movement for progressive change.

So my interest as the founder of Atlanta Progressive News has always been driven by the idea of political empowerment, especially for the most disadvantaged citizens. That is how we will have a better democracy and thus a better society.

A big part of this is also recognizing that many citizens are already politically active, but the progressive community needs a medium that pulls together news and information from across the progressive umbrella (and let me tell you what a big umbrella it is). This way, people can focus on their issues of interest and still be aware and connected to people working on the issues that interest them.

Where possible, we also try to look at the intersection of issues and constituencies as part of our coverage.

One of the virtues of providing a common source of progressive news and information is to reinforce the idea that there is a legitimate leftist viewpoint (whether the corporate media wants you to know it or not) and to let progressives know that they are not alone.

THE FUTURE

So what is the future of APN? Well, we really want a new website. Hopefully, we can make that happen because I think that’s the next big thing that’s going to revolutionize the way we do business and the way interact with our readers. We want to increase ways that readers can both comment on staff content and provide their own content.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll keep reading, that you’ll consider making a donation if you can, and that you stay in touch with us. We love to hear from readers to hear your concerns or even how our articles have impacted you or made a difference in your life.

We have definitely seen where APN coverage has empowered people to take action, and then we go and cover the action that is taken, which then causes a third action, and so forth. Unlike some media institutions, we recognize the interplay between media and community and we realize that we are part of this community.

Thank you for helping to make us a trusted source for news and information in Atlanta. And we’ll be in touch for our 5 year anniversary- I’m hoping we’ll have a shindig.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for Atlanta Progressive News and is reachable at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

Revised syndication policy:

Our syndication policy was updated June 2007. For more information on how to syndicate Atlanta Progressive News content, please visit: http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/extras/syndicate.html

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