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Lucky 7: Happy birthday to us, thanks to you! photo by myvector.

Seven years ago today, I hit send on a mass email that went out to about 4,500 people, telling them about my plans to launch a nonprofit news website on state government and politics called Maryland Matters. The idea, I wrote back then, was to make Maryland Matters “a vital resource for government officials, policymakers, politicians, business executives, civic leaders and everyday citizens.”

We’ve come a long way since then. And we owe it all to you.

That first email, full of political analysis and tidbits, was loosely modeled on Politico Playbook and ABC’s old political tip sheet, The Note. But that wasn’t the ultimate objective. In that email, I described my ambition to make Maryland Matters our state’s equivalent to the Texas Tribune, the highly successful and well-funded nonprofit news website. You can read that very first iteration of Maryland Matters here.

The truth was, I had no idea how we were going to accomplish those goals. Maryland Matters at that point had a very loose collection of advisers, and three of us — Lou Peck, the late Keith Haller and I — met weekly to strategize. Lou and I were journalists, and I had a full-time job in Washington, D.C.; Keith was a communications guru. None of us really had any idea how to raise money, though Keith offered some pretty fanciful suggestions.

Somehow, it all came together. Today, we have the largest full-time staff of any media outlet dedicated to covering the State House and state politics — four. Hold on to that number for a minute. It may sound like a lot, but it isn’t.

Our first email, on March 1, 2017, was titled: “Our journey begins.” And a journey is exactly what it has been — a treacherous journey sometimes, but a hell of a journey just the same.

My colleagues and I are deeply grateful that so many of you have chosen to take that trip along with us. Plain and simple, we would not be where we are today without your encouragement and generosity.

Every day, we’re hustling to find out what’s important — in state government, as the legislative session progresses, and on the campaign trail. We labor to bring you news you may not find anyplace else. We aim to hold our political leaders and institutions to account. And we try to do it in an intelligent, lively way.

Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images.

We’re not perfect. We’re always striving to get bigger and do better. The four of us who cover the State House do everything else, too — we report, write, edit, take pictures, travel the state, consider and edit the many op-ed submissions we receive, speak at public events and on radio and TV shows, and so much more. If this were a different era, we’d probably be out selling papers, too.

We’re stretched thin most of the time. But we’re dedicated to the mission and to being there for our readers. On Thursday, we were working during a lockdown of the State House and legislative buildings, texting our loved ones in case the worst occurred.

I think what we’ve accomplished in these seven years is nothing short of remarkable. We’ve helped to fill a dangerously big gap in state and local news coverage. We punch above our weight class. And we’ve done it without a billionaire owner or a multimillion-dollar endowment. Without you reading, without your financial support, without your feedback — we would cease to exist.

If you appreciate our work, please celebrate seven years of Maryland Matters — and help us look ahead to the next seven.

Please consider a tax-deductible contribution today. Your support has gotten us this far — and can take us farther.

Seven is a lucky number. And we feel very lucky to have so many of you on our side. Thank you!

Now, two points of personal privilege:

This is the first opportunity I’ve had to communicate with all our readers since our nonpareil editor-in-chief, Danielle Gaines, left Maryland Matters on Jan. 19 to spend more time with her wonderful daughters and figure out her next steps in life.

This was a big blow to my colleagues Dani Brown, Will Ford, Bryan Sears and me. We love Danielle personally, admired her leadership, and enjoyed working with her and learning from her every day. We’re still feeling her loss.

Danielle is one of the smartest, savviest and most well-rounded journalists I know. I can’t think of anyone who works harder. Collaborating with her has been one of the great privileges of my professional life. And I can never adequately thank her for all of her incredible work, the mind-numbing sacrifices she has made for Maryland Matters, and the things she did to make us better. She deserves way more credit for our success than she has ever gotten.

Meanwhile, some folks have asked me what I think about the very public fight over the last several days between Ryan Miner, the political blogger, and Eric Saul, an architect, pro-development activist in Montgomery County, and the brains behind the very funny satirical website, the Takoma Torch. If you need to be brought up to speed on the dispute, you can check out some of the accounts on the Montgomery Perspective website, run by another blogger, Adam Pagnucco.

I do have strong opinions about both of these guys, and about their spat, which I will keep to myself. But I do feel compelled to say this:

Ryan Miner is not a journalist. He has never been a journalist. He will never be a journalist.

Eric Saul is not a journalist. He has never been a journalist. He will never be a journalist.

Yet these self-appointed truth tellers have seen their opinions elevated over the last few years, on social media, on their own websites and in the body politic, by friends and foes alike.

Why is anyone listening to these guys? If state and local news coverage hadn’t been so hollowed out for so many years, probably no one would have heard of Eric Saul or Ryan Miner or be arguing about their pronouncements.

We bring you the news. And we thank you for reading.


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Lucky 7: Happy birthday to us, thanks to you!