Seven Years of APN, Fundraiser Update
If you had told me seven years ago that the online news service that I founded, through hard work and persistence, would go on to be an Atlanta institution that would redefine how Atlantans see online media and the purported objectivity of corporate “news,” I would not have been able to envision just how that would look and what a tremendous honor and responsibility it would be to carry forward such a news service.
In fact, we have done everything we set out to do and much more.
Just this year, I, APN’s News Editor, won a major legal victory in the Supreme Court of Georgia that established legal precedent and essentially banned secret votes in Georgia. While I personally filed the litigation and argued my own case with no attorney, the litigation grew out of an Atlanta Progressive News investigation and was ultimately filed on behalf of APN readers, who we believe had been deprived by the City Council of Atlanta of information that you were entitled to.
This has also been another great year of coverage.
As every year upon the occasion of our anniversary, I would like to take this opportunity to review those accomplishments, talk about our vision as a publication, and thank you, our readers, for your ongoing support over the last seven years, which has made everything we have accomplished possible.
Also, we need to ask for your help again in meeting our goals and finishing out this year. Unfortunately, we have not quite made the progress that we need to make this year towards our 2012 Fundraising Goal, which is 4,200 dollars. We have raised 2,205 dollars, with 1,995 to go. Please click HERE to make a donation.
Our actual anniversary of seven years of publication is November 23, 2012; however, in previous years I have sent out our anniversary email on that date and it has been in the midst of Thanksgiving weekend when many readers are on vacation. So that’s why this email is a week early.
As many of you know, I came to Atlanta seven years ago after Hurricane Katrina with a plan to start an online independent news service. I had previously been on the verge of launching what was to be the New Orleans Street News when the hurricane struck.
But the underlying concern and conviction that I had that led to the founding of APN was that the lack of independent news media serving the interests of working people was the single-most important problem facing our nation. I had spent years studying the problems of alienation and disengagement from our democratic process, which problems are in turn the root cause of public policies that often do not reflect the interests of the majority of the citizenry.
And it occurred to me that in order to ask people to be involved in the democratic process it was necessary to provide them with the news and information that is required for them to do so.
And so, knowledge really is power, and at the heart of everything we do is the goal of empowering you, our readers, with information that you can use to be a better informed citizen and voter and member of the community.
One of the things that I’m most proud of this year is our elections coverage, both of the Primary Election and the General Election. During June and July, we provided interview or questionnaire responses in the races for US House District 5; State House Districts 53, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, and 62; and local races including Fulton County Superior Court Clerk, Solicitor General, Sheriff, and more. We interviewed or at least attempted to interview all five Public Service Commission candidates, in the process enlightening our readers about meaningful issues involving the PSC. And we covered the charter school amendment referendum like there was no tomorrow.
I know of no other Atlanta publication that provided such comprehensive issue-driven, substantive coverage of local elections, with the hope that our readers could base their vote on more than campaign literature, organizational endorsements, or intangible things like likability.
I’m also proud of our coverage of Atlanta and Fulton County government, where we have been one of the only on-the-ground reporting agencies, covering issues like the Tax Allocation District audit, affordable housing and the Beltline, airport concessions procurement, the elephant bull hook issue, and the closed-door Committee Briefings, to name a few.
And as a result of APN’s ongoing coverage of transparency issues involving the City of Atlanta, and the related litigation with respect to those issues, minutes have been amended, secret votes have been disclosed, Council Retreats are now videotaped, the rules of Council are now published, the two minute speaking limit for latecomers at Community Development/Human Resources Cmte has been done away with, the locations of all Briefings are now advertised, and the Finance/Executive Cmte and City Utilities Briefings are now open to the public. And we’re just getting started.
As I noted earlier, we have also redefined how Atlantans view news. When we first launched, people didn’t understand what it could mean to be an online news service and how that was different from a blog. Today we are just one of many online-only news services in Atlanta, including Saporta Report, Atlanta Unfiltered, Project Q Atlanta, and more. We are so thankful we were able to pave the way for these publications, which today each serve their own niche and have a unique flavor in terms of types of content and organization of the content they provide.
And we’ve also I believe changed a lot of hearts and minds with regards to the notion of an objective corporate media. We have taken an overarching editorial stand which is to embrace the fact that we have a progressive viewpoint that shapes and constrains our coverage, and yet our articles are full of undisputed facts. We’ve reminded people that no medium is objective, as evidenced by the 250,000 dollar contribution to the TSPLOST advertising propaganda campaign by Cox Enterprises at the same time that the AJC, which is owned by Cox, ran largely positive coverage of the TSPLOST proposal.
We don’t pretend to be omniscient or objective; we take sides — your side –and, unlike our competitors, we make our viewpoint transparent so that our readers can engage in healthy media literacy.
But we need your help, seriously, for real, in all seriousness, so that we can keep going. I believe we have turned a corner with respect to our reach, to the quality and diversity of our sources, and in terms of the contribution that we consistently make to the information needs of Metro Atlantans.
In a time of newsroom cuts, in a dearth of in-depth, investigative reporting, we are growing and surviving. In an era at the height of a corporate propaganda model that is intended to misinform, distract, fail to inform, and disempower you, we have made it our mission to do the opposite. We survive on a slow stream of advertising dollars that, believe me, we have to seek out, which also requires work; and from the generous support of readers like you.
Over the years we have gotten literally hundreds of small donations, ranging from one dollar to five hundred dollars. Our 2012 fundraising goal, of 4,200 dollars, is less than what we actually need, but is reflective, based on previous years, of what we think our growing readership, as a whole, is capable of donating. We know the economy is tight, that banks have shrunk our money supply, and that a lot of readers have to be more judicious and selective with their donations. Just know that we, first, have never made a profit, that is, every dollar goes to operations; and second, that we provide more full-length news articles than most Atlanta publications and with a fraction of the budget. But in a democracy such as ours, in a capitalist system such as ours, where the stakes are so high and where information is the greatest equalizer, we would submit to you that independent news is a must-have, is a staple like rice. We know our readers sit there with their debit cards weighing, okay, can I afford five dollars, and we thank you, our readers, for time and time again recognizing the value of what we provide and finding a place in your budget to support us.
In honor of our seventh anniversary, we are asking for donations in the amount of $7.77, $77.77, or $777.77. Every donation makes a difference and is appreciated. Please click HERE to donate today.
So thank you again for seven great years, over 1,100 original full-length news articles, and the opportunity to be your trusted source for the reality of your municipality and all the news that you can use, so you can get a handle on the scandal and have a better interpretation of the situation. See you in year eight!