For nearly 11 years, I’ve been publishing CenLamar, which began as my personal blog and became something much bigger and much more influential than I had ever anticipated.
Working by myself, without the luxury of an editor or a support staff, I broke major stories about the good, the bad, and the ugly of Louisiana politics: A US House Majority Leader who attended a national conference of white supremacists, a US Senator who billed taxpayers, in his capacity as a medical doctor, for thousands of dollars of work with LSU for which he could not fully account, a broken school voucher program, and series of stories on government transparency during the Jindal era.
So far, all told, my website has received nearly 2 million unique visitors; it’s been mentioned on “Meet the Press” and “Maddow” and on shows on CNN and Fox News and the BBC.
My work here has also been picked up by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, AlterNet, The Daily Beast, and Salon, as well as every major newspaper in the state of Louisiana.
Because of my work on CenLamar, I’ve been interviewed about Louisiana issues and history on national and international television. I’ve had the opportunity to meet Governors and Senators and Cabinet Secretaries and even a couple of Presidents, and I’ve gotten to personally know dozens and dozens of members of the Louisiana legislature, mayors from all corners of the state, and perhaps most importantly, hundreds of people from all over the great State of Louisiana.
During the last eleven years, I’ve never received a dime in advertising revenue; instead, once every two years or so, I ask readers to consider making a donation that offsets the costs of maintaining the site. Those donations have helped ensure that I kept a digital home.
I am and will always be tremendously proud of what I have been able to accomplish on CenLamar, and I will forever remain incredibly grateful to each and every person who has contributed in years past.
I’m also sincerely appreciative of those who donated with the expectation that you’d be receiving a tote bag in exchange, because for most of you, I was unable to deliver; the vast majority of my tote bags were stolen from me during my move from Texas back to Louisiana.
This year, though, I’m not asking for donations to prop up CenLamar. This isn’t about funding me or my blog.
This year, I’m asking each and every single one of you who care about independent, free, online, investigative journalism to take a chance on something much bigger and much more important.
The Internet isn’t the same as it was 11 years ago.
Blogs have largely been replaced by social media. Newspapers have been caught off guard by the proliferation of free news and the threats it poses to their business model.
This year, along with a group of dedicated people who care about the facts in an alternative fact-filled universe, I am going to launch something totally new and something much more expansive in scope than I ever had with CenLamar: A completely free, online-only, Louisiana-wide news publication.
Today in Louisiana, only 10% of the entire state’s population even sees a newspaper every day. For the overwhelming majority of us, news is delivered online.
I’ve spent the last three months developing a concept, a brand name, a logo, and a set of issues that deserve the brightest spotlight. I’ve learned from folks from all over the country who have successfully launched similar projects. Once all of the flaws are fixed, the funding is in place, and the rest of the team gives the green light, I’ll give everyone a sneak peak into what we’ve come up with.
I have no doubt there is an appetite, even here in ruby red Louisiana, for a professional and progressively-minded publication that can command the same credibility as anyone and everyone in the institutional mainstream media.
This is going to happen here, and in my opinion, it’s long overdue. This also means that I am finally graduating from blogger purgatory. I will no longer be a roving journalist with an eponymous blog. I’m going legit.
Very soon, I’m going to be asking folks to pitch in with sponsorships, because I’ve also learned that successful online publications require more start-up money than you could possibly imagine. It’s almost obscene. But it’s necessary if you care about legitimate investigative journalism and, at the same time, hate websites that hide behind paywalls or obnoxious pop-up videos.
So, here’s my pitch to all of you, my friends and followers here on CenLamar: Please donate whatever you can to help me launch this project, because your help is absolutely critical.
Invest in the idea early and help me and others demonstrate to folks with deeper pockets that we want something new and innovative here in Louisiana.
I want to be completely clear, though: You’re not going to see a financial return on your investment, other than the creation of a new publication, of course. This isn’t tax-deductible. You wouldn’t want it to be, either, because that’d be stifling.
I’m asking you to donate to my CenLamar account (though I will not use any of the proceeds for CenLamar, which I intend to turn back into my personal blog), so that I have the resources and the ability to attract the larger donations necessary to turn this concept into a reality.
I’m asking you to be an angel investor or an early adopter or a prescient genius, whatever description best fits.
Any and all donations- from $1 to $13,999- are much appreciated. And one day, maybe I’ll finally be able to replace all of those stolen tote bags.
It’s pretty simple: Just click here.