The Clayton Crescent, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit news site, founded in April 2020 and incorporated in Georgia in May 2020. The founder, executive editor, and CEO is Robin Kemp, an experienced, award-winning journalist who has worked in print (Gambit, Clayton News, Henry Herald, numerous magazines), broadcast (WPRG-FM, WVUE-TV), cable television (CNN, The Weather Channel), and digital media (nola.com) since the 1980s. Robin has earned certifications from the Poynter Institute in Backpack Journalism and Covering Jails.
The Clayton Crescent was born of a critical need to serve a longtime news desert when COVID-19 forced the county paper to lay off nearly all of its already tiny reporting staff, including Robin. When she got the news, Robin walked into her home office, found a website template, and kept on reporting — even though she was not drawing a paycheck. Using what little money she had, as well as some modest donations from family, friends, and area residents, Robin put together the basics of The Clayton Crescent from scratch, handling all the reporting, production, social media, technical support, and business matters by herself.
During routine coverage of county results of the November 2020 Presidential primary, Robin’s live Twitter coverage of events in Clayton County’s “bunker” drew international attention–and tens of thousand of dollars in unsolicited donations to a dormant GoFundMe account that Robin had set up for friends and family to help reimburse the site’s modest start-up expenses.
Knowing that she would need a board to help maximize this windfall, she asked Richard Griffiths and Tammy Joiner to help her grow the nonprofit news operation for the long term. We then contracted with an experienced back-office company for one year of support to stabilize operations.
In one short year:
- The Clayton Crescent won praise from local, national, and international outlets, most notably for its coverage of the 2020 elections, from venues including The Washington Post, Bloomberg News, Georgia Public Broadcasting (Georgia Today, Political Rewind), WABE-FM (All Things Considered), NPR’s Weekend Edition, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Leading Britain’s Conversation, LPTV’s The Breakdown, The Journalism Salute, Gaining Ground: The Flip, VoteHER, Mother Jones, and Atlanta Magazine, among others
- With help from the University of Georgia Law First Amendment Clinic, media attorney S. Derek Bauer, and the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, The Clayton Crescent challenged the City of Forest Park when it barred the press and public from attending public meetings in person and successfully negotiated improved (audible and visible) livestreams of those meetings, including a dedicated professional audiovisual installation on behalf of the public
- Robin received the 2021 Media Changemaker Award from Mercer University’s Center for Sustainable Journalism
- Robin has been a guest on Atlanta Press Club panels and Mitch’s Media Musings, two major industry venues in metro Atlanta
- The Clayton Crescent held its first Citizens’ Sunshine Workshop, to coincide with National Sunshine Week, with Robin and Richard teaching a group of local citizens the basics of open records and providing them with curated Clayton-specific resources, including our curated Reading Room
- Robin was asked to join the board of the Atlanta Press Club, where she serves on the First Amendment Committee
- In May 2021, the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) invited The Clayton Crescent to join its growing network (now larger than either NPR or Reuters) and accepted us into NewsMatch, its annual donor matching program
The Clayton Crescent’s mission is primarily watchdog journalism and government reporting for the benefit of residents of Clayton County and the Southern Crescent, with investigative journalism as an ongoing project. Our goal is to tell readers what their government is planning to do, not just what it has done already. This approach puts citizens back into the equation as participants in decision-making, rather than treating local governance as a spectator sport. We do not take political positions on the issues we cover. We do not seek an adversarial stance with the entities we cover but we do also not suppress coverage that may ran counter to any “official” narrative or public relations effort.
- We focus more on reporting from the voters’ and citizens’ level upward, rather than focusing exclusively on amplifying policy and politics from the top down.
- We also pay attention to issues of broad local interest, such as community policing, the impacts of development on local communities, and the complexities of redefining the South in the 21st century.
- Our mission involves building a new kind of legacy for local news–one that will outlast us and serve the public interest for many years to come–by covering communities that have received short shrift from legacy media. This includes particularly underserved, unincorporated areas like Rex, Conley, and Ellenwood, as well as small towns like Lake City and Morrow and larger towns like Riverdale, Jonesboro, and Forest Park that generally don’t get coverage from news operations inside the Perimeter.
- While we recognize the importance of covering county leaders, we also try to cover local news from the perspective of average people–those who live in extended-stay motels, those whose houses were tiny before that was a thing, those who run small businesses, and those who make their living by the hour.
- We help our readers understand what elected and appointed officials are doing and how to hold those leaders accountable for their actions.
- We defend the First Amendment and are advocates for greater government transparency, open meetings, and citizen access to open records.
- We are committed to expanding our staff to reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. To do so, we need your financial support.
The Clayton Crescent, in the interest of journalistic ethics and service to the people of Clayton County and the Southern Crescent, adheres to the following editorial independence policy (as well as the codes of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Press Photographers Association):
We serve the public interest by covering news in Clayton County and the Southern Crescent, particularly those geographical and topical areas historically (and currently) less-served by traditional news organizations. We exist to inform the public about policies and actions that impact them directly or indirectly, with special attention to elected and appointed officials and bodies. We investigate alleged corruption by those in power. We cover those communities historically ignored by the local press, including marginalized groups and unincorporated areas with no city government. We strive to connect citizens to their elected officials on matters of substance.
We maintain a strict firewall between all newsmaking decisions about editorial content and all revenue sources. That means the board has no influence over editorial matters.
We do not engage in “pay-to-play” journalism or quid pro quo editorial coverage. Examples of this would be a person seeking coverage of his or her business in exchange for possible future donations or sponsorship, or an elected official likely to be covered by The Clayton Crescent contacting the editor directly to offer financial support. We will not accept donations from government entities, political parties, elected officials or candidates actively seeking public office.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit news operation, we do not endorse any political candidates.
We have hired a separate back office to handle financial transactions and nonprofit donations. Acceptance of financial support in no way constitutes endorsement, either actual or implied, of any donor’s products, services, or opinions. Donor inquiries should be directed to 7742 Spalding Drive, #209, Norcross, GA 30092 or (678) 395-3618 and not to the newsroom. In accordance with Institute for Nonprofit News transparency requirements, we make public the names of all donors of $5,000 or more.
We accept gifts, grants, and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities.
The Clayton Crescent will make public the names of all donors who give a total of $5,000 or more per year. We will accept anonymous donations for general support only if it is clear that sufficient safeguards have been put into place that the expenditure of that donation is made independently by our organization.
The Clayton Crescent may consider donations to support special coverage of topical interest but maintains editorial control of that coverage. We will cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of any editorial content, to include text, photographs, audiovisual recordings, or any other media that is part of our site. For editorial permissions on deadline, contact Robin Kemp, Executive Editor.
Donor and Financial Transparency
The Clayton Crescent is committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization. We are Bronze and Silver Transparency rated on GuideStar.org and actively working to achieve Gold and Silver Transparency ratings.
Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions.
We accept gifts, grants, and sponsorships from individuals, organizations, and foundations to help with our general operations, coverage of specific topics, and special projects. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that operates as a public trust, we do not pay certain taxes. We may receive funds from standard government programs offered to nonprofits or similar businesses.
Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors or any revenue source. We do not give members, donors, board members, or supporters the rights to assign, review, edit, or influence editorial content.
We make public all revenue sources and donors who give $5,000 or more per year. As a news nonprofit, we avoid accepting charitable donations from anonymous sources, government entities, political parties, elected officials, or candidates seeking public office. We will not accept donations from sources who, as deemed by our board of directors, present a conflict of interest with our work or compromise our independence.
The Clayton Crescent is registered with GuideStar (now called Candid). The Internal Revenue Service issued our 501(c)(3) determination letter on March 29, 2021, retroactively effective to May 7, 2020. That means all donations to The Clayton Crescent from May 7, 2020 forward are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Our EIN is 85-1134444.
For your convenience, we have posted The Clayton Crescent’s 990-N or 990s below. You can download your own copies by clicking the download arrow on the black bar above each form.
Please note: The IRS is still experiencing, as of May 2023, a two-year backlog in posting 990s and 990-N filings on its online web portal and has not stated a date when it expects those file uploads to be caught up.
Should you have further questions, you may contact firstname.lastname@example.org and, if necessary, we will pass along any concerns to our legal counsel. The Clayton Crescent is proud to steward our grantmakers’ and donors’ gifts with transparency and frugality.
IRS Form 990-N
Interested parties also can look up our financial documentation on GuideStar.org (Candid).