Editor's note: This is the fourth part of a series of columns by WND founder Joseph Farah as the pioneering, trailblazing, independent, alternative online news site celebrates its 20th year in business Thursday, May 4.
I have grown increasingly nostalgic about WND's history as we approached today's 20-year anniversary of the launch of the first independent, alternative online news enterprise.
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I've been reflecting on some of the biggest moments along the way – some positive, some negative, all of which really define what we represent in the media marketplace:
- The path to 20 years has never been strewn with rose petals. There have repeatedly been existential crises that have been overcome through prayer and bona fide miraculous solutions. One came very early on when the infamous dot-com bomb hit. WND had raised only about $4 million in investment capital by 2001. The plan all along was to do a more sizable second round of financing – anywhere from $10 million to $30 million. But when the Internet lost its sheen, resulting in the bankruptcy of many more well-financed Web properties, we knew there was no option for us to raise capital. Overnight we were forced to do something very difficult for a startup enterprise – live within our means, beginning immediately. It was not easy. No one had really figured out how to make money on the Internet. We always assumed the first goal was to grab the audience and rely on advertising revenues, as we did in the newspaper business. But, in 2001, Internet advertising was almost non-existent. It was hardly even a factor. So we looked at our revenues and virtually overnight began living within them. It meant major cuts in staff with the core employees doing more with less. And that's when God blessed us – with unanticipated and unforeseen new revenue growth! There have been half a dozen more crises along the way – all of them survived through prayer and supernatural resolutions.
- One of the proudest moments for me was our sustained coverage of the Terri Schiavo case. WND was the only news outlet that covered the saga of this young, disabled woman, who was eventually starved to death by court order, for two years before it became, for a short time, the biggest story in the world. I am convinced that without that coverage, few would even know the name Terri Schiavo today. She might have died in obscurity, and the great debate over the sanctity of life that her sacrifice inspired might have been limited to local backwater courtrooms.
- More recently, WND set the standard – and is still doing so – in coverage of the killing of another innocent: Miriam Carey, a young black dental hygienist from Connecticut who was gunned down by Secret Service and Capitol Police on the streets of Washington for making a wrong turn near the White House. WND did the kind of journalism in this case that inspired me to become a reporter, to devote my life to news, to feel like I had the best job in the world. This case isn't over – and won't be – until the cover-up is fully exposed and her family receives justice.
- Everyone knows the name Loretta Lynch today – the former attorney general under Barack Obama. But WND knew her work before she ever became the highest law enforcement official in the land. She was a federal prosecutor in New York who oversaw the terror-financing and money-laundering case against the biggest bank in the world – HSBC. In one of the best investigative series we ever did, WND exposed HSBC's hyper-criminal practices with the help of an inside whistleblower. Unfortunately, few noticed. But HSBC did and used its power to shut down WND for a period of hours so the public could not view one of the most sensational scoops. My only regret was not suing the bank for that additional illegal act within the statute of limitations.
- WND became the first online news agency to be granted standing press credentials to cover the U.S. Capitol. But it wasn't easy. It took two years of lobbying and ultimately a personal lawsuit threat against the board members for obstructing WND's First Amendment rights. This action broke ground for all other alternative news sites in the future.
- I can't forget WND's dogged pursuit of Barack Obama's eligibility issue, culminating in its book, "Where's the Birth Certificate?" going to No. 1 at Amazon, forcing the White House to retrieve what it claimed was the legitimate document from Hawaii a day later. The pursuit of this story, it should be recalled, got Donald Trump involved in arguably his first major controversial political act.
I could continue compiling reminiscences like this, but, hey, it's our 20th anniversary.
Media wishing to interview Joseph Farah, please contact [email protected].
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