Happy birthday to us!
One year ago today News Growl published its first article. Two more came out later that afternoon, and since then over 300 more have followed.
But the full News Growl story began closer to 18 months ago when two casual acquaintances struck up an online conversation. Was it possible a group of beginner citizen journalists could create a trusted news website with a real, growing audience?
We decided to try, not really understanding how much work was involved (or what adventures lay before us). It’s been a wild ride!
Besides wishing ourselves happy birthday, we also wanted to thank our readers. You have been fantastically supportive! Thank you so much for reading News Growl regularly, and if you have any ideas for year two just email us!
Meanwhile, to celebrate we’ve decided to share with you…
10 things about News Growl you always wanted to know but were too afraid to ask!
- What is “News Growl” supposed to mean, anyway? In all honesty we chose the name mostly because it was available as a .com website address, and as social media handles on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The name popped into someone’s head when we were trying to riff off the name “BuzzFeed.” We took another animal sound, changed “feed,” to “news,” and swapped their positions. Presto!
- What’s up with having a fashion column? We were looking for something that would make News Growl different from other politics sites. Fashion has always played a hugely important role in politics (just ask any politician, male or female, about the style choices they make) but it is rarely addressed head on as a topic. When it is, it is often done in a frivolous or demeaning way (especially when covering female politicians). We’ve striven to have a grown-up discussion about fashion and – much to our surprise – politicians seem to love it!
- Wait – are you saying politicians you’ve profiled have actually responded to your columns?! Absolutely! Not all, of course, but about half of the people we profile send us some sort of message on social media or via email. We’ve had several thank you letters, and the profiles are often shared on their official social media channels.
- What was the most surprising moment in News Growl’s first year? Seeing a story we broke, about the Indiana Democrats actively campaigning for Libertarian US Senate candidate Lucy Brenton, get picked up by the Indianapolis Star, Fox News, the National Journal, and even provoke a tweet from President Trump!
Rumor has it that Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana is paying for Facebook ads for his so-called opponent on the libertarian ticket. Donnelly is trying to steal the election? Isn’t that what Russia did!?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2018
- How about the second most surprising moment? Watching our fashion profile of Kosovar Ambassador to the United States, Vlora Çitaku, go completely viral in Kosovo and Albania. It got picked up by Kosovo’s biggest online newspaper, Telegrafi, and then spread to literally dozens of other news sites (we have genuinely lost count of them all). But it was really great to see the Albanian-language media refer to us as the “the famous News Growl magazine,” and the “the prestigious News Growl.”
- Why does News Growl report on state legislature stories so regularly? When we first started, we really tried to avoid the same stories that most other political news sites pounce on. We didn’t think we could really add much to that conversation. As we explored deeper into the news, we found there are regularly AMAZING, crazy things happening in state legislatures that are mostly ignored beyond local media. The immediate impact may be only local, but the stories often contain common threads that deserve wider exposure and discussion.
- Why is “World Editor” Steve Goodale now doing all of the bigger articles, including interviews, and Editor in Chief Patricia McConnell doing less than she used to? Life is a funny thing! For personal reasons Patricia needed to step back from the biggest jobs over the summer of 2018. This may change, but Steve has stepped up and so far, with a few minor hiccoughs, it’s gone very well.
- Who pays for News Growl? We do (the people who write this crazy site I mean). Because we are volunteers, the only real ongoing cost is web hosting and things like that which amounts to a few dollars each per month. We put up Google Ads for a while, but we were only making a few pennies here and there so we took them down.
- You mean, you’re not secretly financed by the Russians? Ah….no. Actually, Steve’s Live Journal blog about his experiences with News Growl was recently suspended for publishing content critical of the Putin regime. It turns out LiveJournal has been bought by Russian investors since its heyday in the 1990s, and they don’t care for independent journalism much. Fortunately, Steve found a way to access all of his old content and republish it on a new blog.
- What can we expect from year two of News Growl? Gosh – who knows?! Hopefully we will still be going this time next year. We didn’t expect a lot of what has happened in the first year, so predicting year two is going to be a stretch. It would be great to grow the number of contributors, do more amazing interviews, and scoop the mainstream media a few more times. And, someday we’d love to do a podcast.