In the age of Donald Trump, an independent media that holds our elected officials accountable is more important than ever. This is especially true in Iowa, where the new Republican majorities have rammed through an extreme right-wing agenda that brings something new and disastrous seemingly every single day to the Statehouse.
Fortunately for those of us on the left in Iowa, we have a rather robust online news presence from several independent sites and blogs. But it wasn’t always like that, and it didn’t spring up over night. Now it needs your help to keep it going [donate to Starting Line here].
I launched Iowa Starting Line over two years ago to bolster progressive news coverage in the state, in part due to conservatives’ out-sized influence on Iowa politics from their blogs and Twitter presence. In the time since, we’ve seen incredible success. Starting Line has become a must-read for Iowa politics, followed by thousands of Iowa activists, as well as state and national reporters.
It’s had a real, tangible impact. Political watchers in the state are better-informed of what’s going on at the Statehouse and what’s happening behind the scenes on campaigns. Republican legislators and candidates have been held accountable for their actions. And one thing that I have really enjoyed using Starting Line for is highlighting our younger Democratic leaders in the state.
Last year we partnered with the Iowa Daily Democrat, adding a host of writers to our site that have further spread a progressive message in the state. Their contributions have greatly helped shape a more accurate and progressive narrative around many of the biggest Republican controversies of the day, both nationally and in Iowa.
And you can see the success in the numbers:
- 750,000 views on the website in February 2017 alone (100,000/month is pretty good for an Iowa blog)
- Stories and videos that began on Starting Line have appeared on CNN, MSNBC, ABCNews, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Salon, Esquire Magazine, the New York Daily News, and even Breitbart (oddly enough), as well as nearly every Iowa newspaper, radio and TV program
- $3.3 million: the combined cost of a 30-second TV ad for all the TV programs Starting Line’s videos appeared on last month
Best of all for Iowa Democrats and progressives, Starting Line is very cost-efficient in how it accomplishes all of this.
However, it does have costs. To do this all correctly, it has to be a full-time job. And I can’t do it for free. Back during the Iowa Caucus, I had a decent amount of advertising funding coming in, but now I need to turn more to you, my readers, to help keep it going [donate here].
Investing in Starting Line is very important to the overall progressive cause in Iowa, and you definitely get a good return from what you put in. When I write a piece connecting an individual legislator’s vote to impacts back in their district, I’ll get 2,000 – 3,000 views of it in their district alone. Imagine how much money you’d have to contribute to a campaign to send several rounds of direct mail to get a similar result. When a story from Starting Line shows up in Iowa newspapers and nightly TV news, consider how big a check you’d have to write to a candidate to get their message in front of the same amount of people.
We get results. But we’ll only stay operating if we remain funded.
So I hope that those of you in Central Iowa will attend our fundraiser Thursday night [details here], where we also have a great lineup of younger Democratic leaders speaking. If you can’t, then I would appreciate it if you could still help keep us going through 2017 with a donation [donate here].
Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this journey with Starting Line, and I look forward to what we’re able to accomplish in the future.
by Pat Rynard