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Friday, February 18, 2011

Why We Do What We Do and How You Can Help -- Last Chance!

Hi Everyone,

This is the final day of our annual fundraising appeal.

If you're like us newspaper people who need a good deadline to get the job done ... well, now would be the time to get out those credit cards and checkbooks!

As you know, we set an ambitious goal of raising $10,000 from readers. At last count, we've raised $3,513.

We are extremely grateful to the generous readers who have donated so far, but we know there are hundreds more of you out there who care about what we do. A donation from each of you for whatever you can afford right now will bring us much closer to our goal, and hopefully, over the finish line. Every dollar counts!

We've already told you and showed you in a number of ways why we're doing this, but I thought I'd add a little bit of a personal note about why we do what we do here at the Bronx News Network and why I've enjoyed coming to work every day for the last 16 and a half years when I started as the first full-time editor of the Norwood News.

If there's one story I'll always remember covering it's one that I began writing about when I was just a free-lancer for the then-monthly Norwood News. The construction of a badly needed school, PS 20 on Webster Avenue, in perenially overcrowded District 10 was way behind schedule. Meanwhile, the kids at PS 8, just a few blocks away in Bedford Park, were going to school on an abbreviated split schedule. The School Construction Authority, which was then independent of the Department of Education, could not explain to the community what the heck was wrong. So, we filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the agency, and went down there to look through the project status reports.

We discovered that piles were installed incorrectly and other ways the project was mismanaged. We started a PS 20 countdown clock on the front page, covered every meeting related to the school, and just generally held the agency's feet to the fire. To make a long story short, our coverage and the community's ensuing activism resulted in PS 20, and another school on Andrews Avenue, PS 15, being finished on time. The SCA also changed its management practices and other new local schools were finished on time after that.

There have been many other stories like this -- about issues that are critical to the community that we return to over and over again until they get the attention they deserve and are resolved.

And then there are all the stories that might not seem monumental but matter just as much because they're about live in your community -- stories about local children cleaning up a park or doing an interesting school project, profiles of a local artists and businesspeople and everyone else who makes the neighborhood what it is.

Simply put, no one else would be in the room with a pad, pen and camera if we weren't here to do it anymore. Covering hyper-local news in underserved neighborhoods is obviously not attractive to publishing companies looking only at the bottom line. If it were, someone else would already be doing it.

This is or last plea but it is a heartfelt and serious one. Your support -- at whatever level you can manage -- matters. We know there are other worthy organizations competing for your attention, but we also know that you care deeply about the Bronx and your community. And that's what we're all about -- building community and giving Bronx neighborhoods a voice.

We'll be back with the news next week and hopefully, with your support, we'll be hitting the ground running on a strong foundation of grassroots community support.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

-Jordan Moss


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