Pensacola, Florida
Saturday December 16th 2017

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Outtakes—Fighting For You

By Rick Outzen

Inweekly published its first issue on July 1, 1999. We wanted to be a newspaper that cared about its community and to be an advocate for positive change.

The paper has stretched its meager resources to be a medium upon which our readers could rely. Along the way, we have also earned a national reputation for our investigative reporting.

Over the past 18 years, we have seen our reporting profiled in the New York Times and mentioned by The Daily Best, Time, Newsweek and several television networks. Our investigations have been featured in documentaries on Investigation Discovery, OWN and MSNBC.

In November 2001, we reported on the need to relocate ECUA’s aging downtown treatment plant. The facility made downtown Pensacola smell like a Pea Ridge outhouse. It took Hurricane Ivan hitting the Main Street plant and our reports that untreated sludge spilled into homes and waterways to motivate ECUA to build its $316-million Central Water Reclamation Facility and demolish the old plant.

In May 2004, we proposed our “ballsy plan” for downtown Pensacola.  Our research had found that minor league baseball, particularly teams with downtown stadiums, were thriving across the country. After Hurricane Ivan, Quint Studer and city leaders partnered to propose a community maritime park. The naysayers went ballistic, but Inweekly fought for the passage of the 2006 referendum for it. The park has been a catalyst for downtown’s revival.

In the early days, the paper lost almost as many advertisers each week as it added. Elected officials didn’t care for our watchdog approach to journalism. Some still don’t.

The paper’s investigations into the Taser abuses in 2004 and the jail deaths in 2005 and 2006 led to a Department of Justice investigation. The 2007 story of a local teen being abducted, raped and nearly sold into sex slavery became a national story on human trafficking.

We drew national recognition again two years later with our coverage of the murders of Bud and Melanie Billings. A year later, Inweekly garnered international attention for its stories on the BP Oil Spill and the company’s marketing machine that overstated the BP’s few environmental successes and downplayed the risks.

We haven’t let up. Our reports on the jail deaths in 2015-16 led to the dismissal of the corrections director and better health care for prisoners. Our 2015 investigation reporting on possible mismanagement of local charter schools triggered a statewide investigation of Newpoint Education Partners. Last week, NEP founder Marcus May was charged with allegedly stealing over a $1 million in education funds.

Though far from perfect, we have fought for nearly two decades to make this community a better place to live. Thank you for support.