Happy 18th birthday for ‘unique’ WND

By Joseph Farah

It seems like yesterday, literally, that my wife, Elizabeth, and I founded WorldNetDaily.com – the first news organization started specifically for the Internet.

But it’s been 18 years today – 18 years filled with excitement, turmoil, challenges, threats, lawsuits and memories of every kind.

I want to thank every discerning person who has made WND one of its primary destinations for news, because it is not just another news organization. It’s not just another independent voice on the Net. You know it’s unique in its mission, in its staffing, in its standards and practices and in its fearlessness.

On this auspicious occasion, it’s worth revisiting how and why.

From the beginning, WND aspired to create a “new American Gold Standard for news.”

One of the things that sets WND apart from other independent Internet news agencies is the experience of its team. For instance, I brought 20 years of daily newspaper experience, mostly as a senior executive or editor in chief of major-market dailies to the enterprise. With all due respect to my competitors, no other founder of any other online news agency boasts that kind of resume. Today, WND employs dozens of highly skilled news reporters and editors with collectively hundreds of years of experience in daily newspapering, radio news and TV news at outlets such as CNN, NBC, the Associated Press and major market newspapers and broadcast outlets.

I’ve been attacked, smeared, caricatured and marginalized for 18 years. But one thing critics will never do – compare their experiences with me or their staff with our staff. For more than two decades before founding WND, I held top leadership positions at major metropolitan daily newspapers as well as jobs as an investigative reporter, foreign correspondent and senior news executive. I taught journalism at UCLA. Later, I devoted three years to hosting a daily, nationally syndicated radio talk show, and I have appeared on dozens of TV news networks, including Fox, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS and CSPAN.

From the beginning, I set out to create a “dream team” of refugees from the corrupt establishment press – the finest and most experienced journalists whose backgrounds parallel and complement my own resume.

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In an Internet environment heavy on commentary, unedited blogging and unverified claims, WND stands virtually alone in pioneering the most rigorous standards of fact-checking, multiple sourcing, the seeking out of primary sources and old-fashioned reporting and editing techniques. No other independent or alternative news source on the Internet boasts this wealth of professional, “mainstream” experience.

The values that form the foundation of WND.com’s news judgments and craft are uniquely American in origin. The birth of the free press in the world came during the American colonial period and was codified in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The framers of the Constitution saw the free press as an additional check and balance on central government power, something they saw as the pre-eminent danger to self-government and limited constitutional government. That’s why the free press in America became known as “the Fourth Estate.”

It is in that tradition that WND filled a void beginning in 1997. I believed – and still believe – the so-called “mainstream press” had lost its way. No longer was it an institution committed to serving primarily and most importantly as a “watchdog on government waste, fraud, abuse and corruption.” And that became WND’s identity and mission – to serve as an independent news agency committed to this traditional, uniquely American value.

WND’s full-time and part-time news team is comprised of experienced news reporters and editors devoted to upholding this mission, while also creating news presentations of the highest professional standards, engaging, lively and entertaining.

One of the adages of the American press has been to “comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable,” in the words of legendary 19th century Chicago scribe Finley Peter Dunne. I think we live up to that standard.

My emphasis has always been on reporting diligently on news that is under-reported by competitors. A good example of this commitment over the past 18 months has been WND’s laser-like focus on the fatal police shooting of Miriam Carey, a single black mother visiting Washington, D.C., in October 2013. She apparently made a wrong turn near a blockaded entrance to the White House. Police fired numerous shots at Carey before killing her near the Capitol. In her car was Carey’s 2-year-old daughter who was miraculously uninjured in the hail of gunfire. WND filed Freedom of Information Act requests that proved the government’s cover story, that Carey had rammed a police barricade, was untrue and pushed for an independent inquiry and congressional investigation into the deadly shooting. WND devoted more resources to its investigation of the Carey incident than all other news agencies combined in its pursuit of the truth. More recently, we filed suit against the Department of Justice for covering up the facts in this case.

WND believes the establishment media too often follow a dangerous “pack” or “herd” mentality in news coverage driven by a “conventional wisdom” ethos that needs to be challenged by original, hard-hitting, independent and fearless investigations of its own.

Here are some highlights of WND.com’s unique journalistic standards and practices and experience:

  • While WND strives for “fair and balanced” news coverage, it believes a higher value not emphasized strongly enough by competitors is the pursuit of the truth.
  • In our work, WND reporters and editors are always encouraged and required to seek out multiple sources and contrary viewpoints in news articles.
  • WND, as the first independent Internet news service, fought a long, hard, expensive and successful battle with the U.S. Senate Press Gallery to obtain accreditation as a non-traditional “new media” entity, paving the road for future competitors and colleagues.
  • WND’s reporting and editing staff includes veterans of newspapers, television stations and networks, radio news outlets and magazine journalism, as well as “new media” journalists. The average reporter and editor at WND.com has worked for the company for more than eight years. They include people like: Jerome Corsi who has twice authored No. 1 New York Times bestsellers; Aaron Klein, another New York Times bestselling author who made a name for himself doing what no other reporter in the world dared to do – face-to-face interviews with some of the world’s most notorious Middle East terrorists; Michael Maloof, a former Defense Department official who “drops in” to some of the most dangerous hotspots in the world and nonchalantly reports on what he learns in places cameras could never visit.
  • Unlike many other “new media” enterprises, WND is truly independent from party lines, pressure groups and political entanglements. Since 1999, its operating capital has been generated exclusively from small investments and a multiplicity of revenue streams, including advertising, e-commerce and the retail distribution of books and movies.
  • While WND’s strong emphasis is on the gathering of and presentation of news, it also maintains an opinion and commentary section that boasts the widest spectrum of political views to be found in any newspaper, magazine or Internet site. From Alan Keyes and Pat Buchanan on the right to Bill Press and Ellen Ratner on the left, with many shades of gray in between, there is no other news and commentary forum with a more diverse and eclectic lineup.
  • WND was the first online content site to launch a book-publishing company, one that consistently produces the highest percentage of New York Times bestsellers of any publisher in the world.
  • Three years ago, WND founded WND Films, which has since produced a string of some of the most successful documentaries in that time period.

There’s a lot more that sets WND apart from the competition, but the biggest distinction is the Judeo-Christian worldview we bring to our mission. Perhaps the most remarkable achievement in the last 18 years, from my point of view, is that WND has become, without doubt, the largest “Christian” website of any kind in the world – not just for news, but for the Christian worldview we present. Again, that includes all websites – broadcast, ministries, news, opinion, denominational. It’s even bigger than any Vatican sites.

Is there a reason to make it a daily stop? Is there a reason to make it your homepage? Is there a reason to support this enterprise in any way you can? You make that decision – with the facts and with discernment.

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