by Robin Kemp

Members of our tentative board of directors met today to discuss various matters that will move this project forward. We will be adding a couple of other members to round out and diversify the board and will be fully operational for funding purposes “pending 501(c)(3) status” shortly. 

We are so incredibly grateful for everyone’s support, both moral and financial, during Phase One of The Clayton Crescent’s launch. We’ll have some additional contributors reporting for us very soon!

And, dropping the royal/editorial/literal “we,” I personally want to say thank y’all so, so much for backing this effort. I could not stand by and see this important yet under-covered part of metro Atlanta go without serious ongoing news coverage, which requires a commitment not only to clicks but to the people doing the clicking. ALL the people.

Many journalists in communities that have become news deserts are building nonprofit news organizations from the ground up. I was forced to do so under the emergency circumstances of COVID-19 with no funding (other than my own shallow pocket and the pre-incorporation Phase One donations to reimburse those expenses). My priority has been all the many facets of editorial planning, reporting, and production–essentially, continuing to provide this community with as much news coverage as one person can handle and then some.

It is especially important in these times, when many governments and elected officials operate outside of the bounds of law and ethics, for citizens to have professional journalists who serve as watchdogs for their interests. We fight for the First Amendment and we fight for transparency, especially where government is concerned. “Democracy dies in darkness” is not a marketing slogan. It is a warning and a call to action–both for the press and for the citizens we serve.

In the interest of full transparency, I voluntarily chose NOT to touch Phase One funds, which were donated personally to me by many of you to reimburse basic startup expenses, UNTIL 1) a board approved my doing so and 2) I could return donations from political officials to avoid any potential ethical conflicts of interest. 

The board members today approved my doing so. 

One of the things that reputable nonprofit news groups do is post their financials online. We will continue to do so as a matter of ethics and will create a more formal page for that than the one already on our site (probably not until after the election, as we’re swamped).

Having a very highly-experienced board allows for necessary breathing space and brings serious muscle to the executive and fundraising parts of the whole. I want to thank Richard GriffithsTammy Joyner, and Debbie Griffiths for their leadership and brainpower in the early stages of this project. We expect to announce the final board composition and officers in the next couple of weeks. This will be an active board, not a dial-it-in board.

I also would like to take the opportunity to thank Clare Norins, Samantha Hamilton, and Taran Harmon-Walker of the UGA Law First Amendment Clinic and Derek Bauer of Baker Hostetler for their offers of pro bono legal representation on First Amendment matters. 

Thanks as always to the valuable resource that is the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.

Thanks to Maggie Lee for advice on technical matters.

Thanks also to the Press Freedom Defense Fund‘s COVID-19 Crisis Fund for Journalists for a much-needed, much-appreciated personal grant.

Thanks to my ride-or-dies, my fellow CNN Alumni.

And thanks to Jim and Kay Kemp for their support and advice from the Press Club in Exile Brain Trust.

As we say in the news business, we’ll have updates as events warrant!

Let’s make some news!

#ClaytonCentric #SouthsideStrong

–Robin Kemp

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