Reflections on Five Years of APN; Party Tonight at 7pm

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(APN) ATLANTA — Tonight, Tuesday, November 23, 2010, Atlanta Progressive News will celebrate the five-year anniversary of the publication, at Manuel’s Tavern, Eagle’s Nest room, from 7-930pm.

The Facebook event page for the event is here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=150099328369972

Today, we celebrate an incredible milestone in progressive news in Atlanta: the five year anniversary of the Atlanta Progressive News.  We follow in the footsteps on many other Atlanta institutions: most importantly, the Great Speckled Bird newspaper, WRFG 89.3 FM radio, and the Atlanta Inquirer newspaper.

Atlanta Progressive News was founded in November 2005 after I–its Founder and News Editor–relocated to Atlanta after Hurricane Katrina.  APN was founded upon a simple premise: that there was an entire progressive reality, an entire universe of facts which were newsworthy from a progressive perspective, that needed to be documented.

And that there were working families and progressive activists in Atlanta who deserved to have a news service which empowered them with information.

(SUPPORT OUR CONTINUED WORK — Make a donation today!)

http://atlantaprogressivenews.com/interspire/donate.html

Since then, APN has produced over 700 original, full-length news articles.  Today, we produce about 3 original, full-length news articles per week, which is more than some of our local newsweeklies with full-time paid staff.

One of the most exciting things about this anniversary is that it coincides with our brand new website having just gone live.  We are still working on some of the features and will be doing a formal unveiling in the near future.

However, the new website has already been live for over a week!  People are already commenting on news articles, blog items, photos, and Youtube! videos.  All of our five years of content is available in a free, searchable database.  That is five years of our history, available for your research purposes.

There are many who we would like to thank, but we would like to start with our readers!

Our readers have supported us from the very beginning, particularly with financial contributions.  To our knowledge, we are the only reader-supported print (online) publication.  The donations have ranged from as low as one dollar to as high as 250 dollars.  We also received a one time gift from the former Staff of the Great Speckled Bird for 2,500 dollars.  Also, dozens and dozens of organizations have also supported us through the years by taking out advertisements, and some of those have been partially subsidized by individuals.  

We would like to thank current APN Staff Writer Gloria Tatum; Board Members Susan Keith and Sarah Epting; Graphic designer Anjie Lymon; and Website consultant Ray Abram; as well as former Staff Writers Jonathan Springston, Alice Gordon, Betty Clermont.

We would also like to thank the Lloyd E. Russell Foundation, which along with individual donations, helped make our brand new website possible.

Our favorite thing about the community support is that the community surrounded to a product that was provided to them for free, that they did not necessarily ask for; that they did not even know they wanted or that even was possible (news can be progressive?  news can be online-only?).  In other words, our readers have found our work valuable, empowering, and important.

And over the past two years, our political advertising base has greatly expanded.  Politicians and organizations from all political parties–from Democrat, to Republican, to the Democratic Socialists, to the Greens, to the Libertarians, to nonpartisan and independent candidates!

What’s so gratifying about that is that this means that the progressive community is being valued; our votes are being coveted; people are paying big bucks for the opportunity to connect directly with our readers.

Let me say this: We are on the cusp of perfecting a model for activist-oriented, independent news for local communities.  In these times of news agencies downscaling, closing altogether, or turning their backs on Metro Atlanta (like the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) in favor of the suburbs– Atlanta Progressive News is just barely subsisting as a small business to provide a consistent, important, substantive, meaningful, high-quality product.

We ask our readers to continue to support us with their readership, with their posting comments on the new website, and with financial contributions, so we can becoming viable and sustainable for the long-term, and able to hire staff, which will in turn increase the quality and quantity of the news product.

There is actually something specific we need help with.  Our PC is having hardware issues and our computer consultant has advised we purchase a new computer.  He has identified a laptop that will meet all our needs and this will cost about 400 dollars.

CAN YOU HELP US WITH A DONATION TODAY?

http://atlantaprogressivenews.com/interspire/donate.html

I came from an activist background, but I became tired of being one of the masses in protest after protest, questioning the benefit of such collective actions when they are not being covered by the corporate media.

APN’s founding was based on the belief that more working-class people and progressive activists would be better able to advocate for the reasonable and fair goals they espouse, if they were able to be connected to ongoing actions, to a broader community of likeminded people, and if they were able to benefit from the research and analysis of a news institution that put them first.

The crisis of democracy is not that the left in Atlanta does not exist, not that it’s taking the wrong strategy, not that it’s not active: the crisis of democracy is that, without the benefit of a progressive news institution, you might believe that there is no one else who thinks like you do, you would not be aware of all of the problems specific to your community nor the actions already being taken to address them, nor would you have a connection to a progressive movement through which to advocate effectively.

In addition to engaging the disengaged, APN also aims to serve existing activists.  Not everyone has the time to be a full-time activist and juggle 50 good causes like people like Dianne Mathiowetz and Ben Howard.  This means that everyone can work on a cause that’s important to them primarily, while also being connected to what everyone else is doing, and thus being able to take select actions for other issues as well.

Within the last year, Atlanta Progressive News has also been at the forefront of the battle for open records, open meetings, and public input.  As APN’s Editor, I have filed a lawsuit currently in the Georgia Court of Appeals to challenge the secret vote of the City of Atlanta.  We have put the City on notice that they appear to be violating the law by withholding the secret building plans for City Hall East.  And we have kept the CD/HR Committee of City Council on its toes; and I believe we are about to see some policy and practice changes there which will benefit public input.

All of this–and really–everything we do, has been for our readers.

Why have I sued the City of Atlanta?  Because our readers have a right to know who voted which way in the secret vote.

Why did we violate a court order to quote confidential sources about a possible Eagle raid settlement?
Because the public has an interest in knowing what’s going on in this case.

APN readers should know that as a news institution, we have had to make very difficult decisions about
what to cover and what not to cover, in a variety of sensitive situations.

Often, difficult decisions have meant upsetting someone being written about and not being able to go back to that source for more information; upsetting someone in power who could retaliate against us; or upsetting an advertiser who could pull all their business.  We have always, always, always put our readers first in these situations.  When in doubt we have always erred on giving our readers the most information possible.

In the next year, we plan to continue doing what we’ve always been doing- bringing you the reality of your municipality, indeed of your Greater Metro region, of your state, and sometimes the nation and world.  We have a lot of excellent coverage coming up in the near future that we look forward to providing.  We hope that with the new website, our web traffic will increase to where we can truly compete with the big guys.  That day is not far away.

Here’s to another five years.  Yours truly, MC

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