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WASHINGTON – It was 15 years ago May 4 that WND, then known as WorldNetDaily, debuted quietly as the first independent global news source on the Internet.

“There was not a lot of fanfare involved,” recalls Joseph Farah, editor, chief executive officer and co-founder, along with his wife, Elizabeth. “There were no press releases, no grand announcements. Frankly, we didn’t know if it would last, or even whether we could sustain the experiment.”

But, within a month, when the Farahs saw the traffic climb to approximately 10,000 visitors a day, they realized they were on to something big.

“At that point, we began to devote more of our time and resources to WorldNetDaily – and it began to dawn on us that this could indeed be a revolutionary and critically important vehicle for the kind of journalism I had been doing for the previous 20 to 25 years,” said Farah.

Unlike any other independent national or international effort of its kind before or since, what distinguished WND from the rest was Farah’s traditional journalism background and experience, as well as his commitment to the traditional, uniquely American-style of journalism – a throwback to the idea that the central role of a free press in a free society is to serve as a watchdog on government and other powerful institutions.

“That’s part of the secret of our success,” said Farah. “I’ve never sought to hide it from anyone. No one else has attempted to replicate it. It’s not ‘conservative’ journalism or ‘liberal’ journalism. It’s American journalism. It’s traditional journalism as practiced in this country. It shows no fear or favor to party. But it clearly takes a highly skeptical view of government – just as the Founders envisioned the press would.”

The idea was to expose waste, fraud, abuse and corruption in powerful institutions wherever it was found – especially in government. And in 15 years, Farah says, WND has lived up to that reputation – even though others have tried to caricature it.

“I constantly see WND marginalized and stereotyped as ‘right-wing’ or ‘conservative,’” he said. “But those labels should reflect more on those employing them than on us. You will notice those hurling such labels seldom use ‘liberal’ or ‘left-wing’ to pigeonhole the New York Times or CNN or even MSNBC.”

There’s something else unique about WND in the heavily populated world of Internet news and blogs – a mission statement that reflects a strong commitment to Judeo-Christian values.

“WND is an independent news company dedicated to uncompromising journalism, seeking truth and justice and revitalizing the role of the free press as a guardian of liberty. We remain faithful to the traditional and central role of a free press in a free society – as a light exposing wrongdoing, corruption and abuse of power. We also seek to stimulate a free-and-open debate about the great moral and political ideas facing the world and to promote freedom and self-government by encouraging personal virtue and good character.”

In the earliest days of WND, the Farahs covered the news of the world largely with what he calls “smoke and mirrors” – employing heavy use of links to other news sources, supplemented by a limited amount of original reporting and original commentary. But, over the years, WND developed a formidable reporting and editing staff culled from the world of newspapers, radio and television newsrooms – staffers who sought out WND because of its unique and hard-hitting emphasis.

Today, 15 years old, WND boasts a monthly unique audience of 8 million, a full-time staff of 30, a book publishing company, two magazines, a budding “TV network,” several premium online specialty publications and even bigger plans for the future.

Joseph and Elizabeth Farah are available for media interviews in connection with the anniversary commemoration that continues throughout 2012.

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