APN Celebrates Ten Years Of Radical Reporting and Rabble Rousing
(APN) ATLANTA — For ten years, Atlanta Progressive News has served as a voice for the Left and a source of information on labor, education, local politics, the environment, economic justice, and many other issues that too often receive short shrift in Metro Atlanta’s corporate media.
APN will officially turn ten on tomorrow, November 23, 2015; then the online news service will be in its eleventh year of publication.
On November, 09, 2015, about fifty journalists, activists, elected officials, and others readers and supporters gathered to celebrate this publication’s decade anniversary.
“There already are progressive organizations, there already are research institutes that are putting the ideology out there, putting the information out there, doing the research, doing the press conference and the protests and the rallies and the forums, and they’re just not getting covered,” Matthew Charles Cardinale, the founder and CEO of APN, said at the gathering.
“We need to have that progressive knowledge and news and information to empower people. And that’s what APN has always been about: giving you all more power to make a meaningful difference in the democratic process,” he said.
Cardinale originally intended to found a publication called the New Orleans Street News in the city where he went to undergraduate, and then graduate school.
Then Hurricane Katrina hit, and he found himself unmoored.
“I called [the office of then-U.S. Rep] Cynthia McKinney, Connie Curry, and Anita Beaty and asked, ‘Does Atlanta need a progressive news service?’ I didn’t want to duplicate anything that already existed.”
The staff of the former Congresswoman, the Civil Rights Movement veteran, and the homeless advocate all encouraged Cardinale to start his publication in Atlanta.
“I didn’t know a lot about Atlanta, but I had a theory about the way that cities worked and the relationship between capitalism and inequality and government, and how we needed to address that by empowering people to be more involved in the political process,” Cardinale said.
At first, APN writers were all volunteers. Gloria Tatum, APN’s senior-most reporter, got involved because she was frustrated with the lack of media coverage of Atlanta’s anti-war movement, of which she was a part.
“[The George W. Bush administration] put out so much propaganda. The media kept running with it for years,” Tatum said at the anniversary event.
As APN grew, it developed a large readership, a sustainable financial model, and a unique approach to reporting that engendered policy changes and progressive victories in Atlanta.
“There are so many things that are amazing about what Atlanta Progressive News does, but one of the things that [APN] has been so instrumental in for the city, is advocacy. [Cardinale] has really moved the needle,” Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong (District 5) said when she gave remarks at the celebration.
In his speech, Cardinale highlighted some of APN’s accomplishments.
In 2010, Cardinale, without an attorney and in connection with his reporting for APN, sued the City of Atlanta and fought the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Georgia. In 2012, the court sided with Cardinale in declaring that no Georgia agency can conduct secret votes.
In the settlement of a second lawsuit brought by Cardinale, the Atlanta City Council’s Committee Briefings must be open to the public per City code.
APN closely covered the dismantling of Atlanta’s public housing and influenced policy changes within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
This year, 2015, APN broke the news that Mattie Jackson, a revered 93 year-old community leader, was being forced from her home by the City’s Watershed Department. APN used its coverage to rally supporters to attend an Urban Design Commission hearing, spurring activists to take up Jackson’s cause. Shortly thereafter, Mayor Kasim Reed rescinded the plan to demolish Jackson’s home as an ultimate result.
And most recently, the Atlanta City Council unanimously passed affordable housing legislation authored by Cardinale.
“I don’t think it’s unique that we make a difference in the world. Journalists and editors get very happy if they write an article and it leads to someone getting fired, or it leads to an FBI investigation,” Cardinale explained.
“Granted, sometimes we get a little more involved. That means me filing a lawsuit or going down to City Council… I feel that the problems are too urgent and life is too short to be in a box and say ‘I can’t do this because I’m a journalist.’ So we’ve opted to have a unique approach to social change,” he said.
“Atlanta Progressive News is in the fight for a transformative Atlanta; that’s why this newspaper is so important,” State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) said during remarks.
“What we have the opportunity to do when we get information is to believe in ourselves and believe we can change the place we live. That’s why what [APN does] is so important; so powerful,” he said.