Pioneer independent news site enters 20th year

By WND Staff

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WASHINGTON – It’s been a long, strange road for the trailblazing independent Internet news pioneer, says Joseph Farah about WND.com, as his “baby” is about to turn 19.

“Back then, in 1997, there was no Google,” he recalls. “There was no YouTube. There was no Facebook. There was no Twitter. It was the frontier – the wild west. Nobody knew what was going to happen next. We were in uncharted territory.”

The Drudge Report blazed the trail as an independent aggregator of news links a few months before WND, then known as WorldNetDaily.com, appeared May 4, 1997, the first full-blown news operation featuring original reporting established specifically for the Internet.

About to move into its 20th year, WND remains a fixture among the top news sites and the top websites of any kind in the U.S and the world.

Alexa.com, an Amazon company that ranks the relative traffic of all websites, shows WND.com among the top 350 websites in the U.S. and the top 1,500 globally. Among news sites, WND has consistently ranked among the top 25 in the U.S. since its inception.

“One thing often overlooked because of the virality of Internet news is just how many of the biggest stories of the last 20 years were broken by WND,” says Farah. “I often run into people who tell me about a story they think is sensational or really important. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to respond: ‘Yeah, I know, it was broken by WND.'”

Here (in no particular order) is a listing of some of the most important and consequential stories WND has published over the years:

  • “10 years later, Terri Schiavo’s death still hurts.”
    Terri Schiavo prior to her brain injury.
    Terri Schiavo prior to her brain injury.

    WND began reporting on the famous Terri Schiavo case way back in 2002 – long before almost any other national news organizations – exposing the many troubling, scandalous and possibly criminal aspects of the case that to this day rarely surface in news reports. Schiavo abruptly collapsed in her home, eventually being moved to a care center, and died only after her estranged husband requested, and a judge ordered, that care center workers stop providing her with any food or water, literally starving and dehydrating her to death, even though her parents desperately wanted to take her home and care for her themselves.

  • “Ramos, Compean freed from prison.” WND was on the forefront of reporting the case of Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who were prosecuted and imprisoned for non-fatally shooting a fleeing Mexican drug smuggler who was carrying 750 pounds of marijuana into the United States. Characterizing Ramos and Compean’s incarceration as a “political prosecution,” Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, called for a congressional investigation into alleged prosecutorial misconduct by El Paso U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton under the direction of Bush administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Poe also called for an investigation into the alleged role of the Mexican government in demanding that Ramos and Compean be prosecuted. When the two law enforcement officers were finally freed, Ramos’s family credited WND, saying, “Your reporting had a lot to do with the decision today by President Bush to commute the sentences.”
  • “DOJ: No comment on why cops killed Miriam Carey.”
    Miriam Carey
    Miriam Carey

    The still-ongoing Miriam Carey story centers on why police in Washington, D.C., shot and killed a mom who apparently made a wrong turn into a White House access point, then tried to back out and leave. The list of remaining issues is extensive and includes such questions as why she was shot in the back, where the officers’ statements are, what happened to the video from nearby cameras – and more.

  • “Hamas terrorists endorse Obama. As WND exclusively reported, the terror organization Hamas endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008 when WND Jerusalem Bureau Chief Aaron Klein interviewed Ahmed Yousef, Hamas’ chief political adviser in Gaza, about the upcoming U.S. election. “We like Mr. Obama, and we hope that he will win the elections,” Yousuf told WND. “I hope Mr. Obama and the Democrats will change the political discourse. … I do believe [Obama] is like John Kennedy, a great man with a great principal. And he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community, but not with humiliation and arrogance,” Yousuf said, speaking from Gaza. The controversial endorsement became a featured meme of GOP presidential challenger Sen. John McCain, although Hamas later claimed it was neutral on the U.S. election.
  • “Ayers ‘confesses’ he wrote Obama’s ‘Dreams.'” When Bill Ayers, the unrepentant Weather Underground bomber, self-identified “communist” and Chicago colleague of Barack Obama, mockingly admitted, “Yes, I wrote ‘Dreams from My Father,'” many wondered whether he was serious. But not WND columnist Jack Cashill, whose exhaustive published research has documented that Ayers, an accomplished author in his own right, unquestionably played a significant role in the writing of Obama’s celebrated autobiography, “Dreams from My Father.” Best-selling author Christopher Andersen, in “Barack and Michelle: Portrait of a Marriage,” later acknowledged the groundbreaking work of Cashill, who has written more than two-dozen columns since June 2008, making the case that Ayers – dismissed by Obama during the campaign as just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood” – at the very least, shaped and refined “Dreams” with his exceptional writing skill and radical ideas.
  • “CAIR called ‘turnstile’ for terrorists suspects.”quranWhile the influential and highly controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations attempts to maintain its public posture as a moderate Muslim civil rights group, WND has led the news media in exposing CAIR’s shocking ties to organized terror, specifically Hamas, the radical Islamist ideology of its founders and leaders, and – as one FBI put it to WND – its role as a virtual “turnstile” for terrorists and terror suspects. Indeed, WND has published over the years a “rogues gallery” of CAIR leaders who have been investigated, indicted, deported and/or convicted and imprisoned for terror-related activities.
  • “The tragic story of Jesse Dirkhising.” WND reported extensively on the tragic death of 13-year-old Jesse Dirkhising, for which two homosexual men were convicted. The facts suggest strongly that the boy had been used as a sex toy as the two men tortured him to death. But Dirkhising’s horrific demise was largely ignored by the national media, which chose to focus instead on the killing of Matthew Shepherd – an adult homosexual brutally murdered in Wyoming. Dirkhising suffocated to death during the early morning hours of Sept. 26, 1999, after being bound, drugged, gagged and brutally sodomized by Davis Don Carpenter, then 38, and Joshua Macabe Brown, then 22, at the men’s apartment in Rogers, Arkansas.

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  • “Kids raped, sodomized on Facebook pages.” This groundbreaking report carried an “Explicit Content” warning because of its details of sex abuse of children appearing on numerous Facebook pages. The images, which immediately were reported by WND to the FBI, were revealed to include graphic depictions of sexualized children under age 12 and adults raping young kids. The images were being traded among circles of pedophiles on Facebook.
  • “The giant, gaping hole in Sandy Hook reporting.” WND is one of few major news organizations to comprehensively cover the vastly under-reported dangers of psychiatric medications, especially antidepressants with their “black box” suicidality warning labels. In 2013, a few weeks after the Sandy Hook mass shooting, WND documented the jarring correlation between such mega-crimes and psychiatric drug use, showing that most school shooters in recent years have either been taking, or just coming off of, antidepressants or other mood-altering drugs. Many followups came later, including publication of a “Big list of drug-induced killers.”

But WND hasn’t just been the No. 1 pioneer in independent Internet news. The company boasts many “firsts” in other areas as well.

  • First Internet content company to start its own digital shopping place – now called the WND Superstore;
  • First Internet content company to launch a book-publishing business. WND Books has, throughout its decade-plus history, boasted the highest percentage of New York Times best-sellers of any publisher in the world;
  • First Internet content company to become a documentary film producer. WND Films’ first major production, “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment,” was one of the best-selling faith movies of 2013 and 2014, with many other successful titles following.

In addition, Farah points out, there is a significant difference between WND and all of its successors in the “independent news” arena.

“WND reporters and editors all came from traditional news media experience,” he explains. “They didn’t just start blogging one day. For instance, before I started WND, I ran daily newspapers in major markets, I worked as an investigative reporter, I served as a foreign correspondent, I covered entertainment, I did time on the copy desk, I worked as a senior-level news executive at the age of 26. Pardon my boastfulness here, but there is no one in the New Media or old who has a resume like that. And I’m hardly alone among my colleagues at WND. They all have remarkable professional backgrounds in newspapers or newsmagazines or wire services or TV news or radio news. That’s the common denominator among our team and the mark of distinction that sets WND apart from others in ‘independent news’ operations.”

Joseph Farah
Joseph Farah

With experience comes standards, Farah explains.

WND’s editorial policy reflects the old-fashioned notion that the principal role of the free press in a free society is to serve as a watchdog on government – to expose corruption, fraud, waste and abuse wherever and whenever it is found, says Farah.

“That’s the unique perspective of WND,” he explains. “It’s the one that made it an instant sensation of the Internet, and it’s the one that has kept it growing to the No. 1 spot in independent news and among the top 25 news sites in the United States. We don’t see government as god. We’re here to be a check and balance on government, just as America’s founders intended the free press to be.”

And there’s one more key to WND that sets it apart from all its competitors – its pronounced and unabashed Judeo-Christian worldview.

Perhaps the most impressive achievement of all, with its monthly 6.5 million unique visitor audience, WND is the largest Christian content site in the world – including news, broadcast, ministry, denominational, non-denominational or any other category.

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