Fundraising Fridays: Why we’re doing this

Fundraising Fridays: Why we’re doing this

Michele Ellson

It was nearly a year ago that I realized how much Alameda needed an additional news outlet that could keep an eye the public officials that make decisions on our behalf. I was at an untelevised school board meeting in a conference room that was attended by three people – myself, the president of Alameda’s teachers union and Kurt Peterson.

City Hall and schools watchers know Mr. Peterson as a vocal advocate of transparency, and on that August evening he told the school board in no uncertain terms that he believed that by offering just three days’ notice of the meeting that they had failed to provide it. As I thought about what he was saying it occurred to me that not a single media outlet had covered any of the school board’s meetings that month – a big problem that I felt obliged to solve.

Among suburban communities, Alameda is unique in the number of complex issues that really demand attention and explanation. We have our own local hospital and power company, and our diverse schools are a microcosm of school districts from across California and the nation. Alameda Point alone offers a wealth of development, environmental and other questions that need to be asked and answered.

But as anyone who has been following the news for any length of time knows, the resources available to cover the news generated in communities like ours have dwindled to levels that eat at the very foundations of our Democratic society – at a time when the need for such information is greater than ever.

One of the chief reasons I started this news website is personal: It breaks my heart to see what I view as a critically important component of our democracy, something I believe in very deeply, fall apart in such a spectacular fashion. It is unbearable for me to watch my former colleagues at the chain of newspapers where I used to work endure round after soul-crushing round of layoffs as the industry works to redefine its mission in a way that also balances its bottom line. And I feel obliged to help find those solutions. As much as some of my former colleagues still curse the Internet for destroying the Edenic newsrooms of their not-too-distant memories, I see an opportunity to rebuild what we had – an opportunity to build something better, even, than we had before.

A growing number of journalists and civic-minded individuals – from the folks behind the groundbreaking Voice of San Diego and Baristanet to the founders of SF Public Press, Oakland Local, Berkeleyside, Neighborweb SJ – are taking advantage of that opportunity and investing a not-insignificant amount of their own time and treasure in the idea that communities need a reliable mirror to look into and a genuine opportunity to talk about what they see in it in order to remain healthy.

We want to provide that mirror, that information and that opportunity, but we can’t do it without your help. As we said before, producing the news costs money, and in future posts, we’re going to talk to you about how much.

The Alamedan’s goal is to raise $10,000 in individual donations this year in order to maintain our efforts to bring you the news you need. If you value what we’re doing, please contribute to our efforts.

Juelle-Ann Boyer, Adam Hamalian, Richard Hausman, Donald Krause and Keith Nealy answered our first Fundraising Fridays call for support last week. Thanks to all of you for your support.