Deadline Detroit's team this month will toast -- virtually, of course -- our ninth anniversary of online publication.
We've delivered news, commentary, videos and galleries daily since April 26, 2012 -- back when Jim Leyland managed the Tigers, Barack Obama was running for a second term, Detroit's bankruptcy was 15 months away and Dave Bing had 20 months more as mayor.
"We want to make it easier for smart people to stay smart about their community," co-founder Bill McGraw wrote in a "welcome to Deadline Detroit" post on Day One. Through nine years of chronicling local, regional, state and national events with Detroit impact, we've adapted to changes unsettling the news business.
McGraw and co-founder Allan Lengel launched with seed funding, offices and equipment from Compuware Ventures, which backed technology startups. Ten months later in February 2013, as Compuware Corp. resisted a New York hedge fund's buyout effort, its investment arm said support for Deadline and other portfolio holdings would end.
Seven years ago this month, Deadline laid off four full-time employees as its creators continued posting content while seeking new investment. Crain's Detroit Business posted a premature obituary. "The fatal Digital Age bogeyman of revenue that lags behind audience growth has claimed another online news outlet," wrote former media reporter Bill Shea, though he quoted the founders as saying they'd "reorganize while we keep the site going."
Brighter news was chronicled four and a half years later in October 2018 at Crain's:
Bolstered with new money from businessman Peter Karmanos, its original bankroller, news site Deadline Detroit is relaunching.
The original reporting and aggregation news outlet is looking to rise again. ... Deadline Detroit didn't disappear; it was maintained for a small but loyal following through its quiet years by original staff members Allan Lengel, a co-founder, and Alan Stamm, a contributing editor. Freelancers helped. ...
The alternative news outlet ... is armed with a website redesign, ad revenue strategy and money for more staff.
That same year, a "Detroit Journalism Landscape" report from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan cited Deadline as an example of newcomers "working to elevate the quality and volume of accountability journalism." It also had this stark reality check:
These news outlets depend on digital ad rates, which are much lower than print rates; philanthropy, which can be hard to predict; and competition for both eyeballs and ad dollars, which puts them up against online behemoths such as Facebook.
Fast-forward to this anniversary month, which is when readers like you can make it even more special by joining our membership program. Participation starts at $3 a month, though many people choose a higher level or onetime contribiution.
Our site is free and will remain that way, and reader support helps pay staff writers, editors, our photojournalist, a freelance network and "back end" tech costs. So we put our hand out and ask: Is this worth anything to you?
We show appreciation with monthly prizes, such as the three Amazon gift cards given this week to March winners.
Thanks for reading and helping us continue homegrown independent journalism for a tenth year.