On Monday morning, The Florida Independent’s Ashley Lopez filed a story with a pretty shocking headline: “Scott cuts funding for rape crisis centers during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.” The substance of the story was simple: Florida Gov. Rick Scott, using his line item veto authority, had eliminated $1.5 million in the state budget that would have gone to the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, which was planning to distribute the funding to the state’s 30 rape crisis centers.
It was hardly the first time Gov. Rick Scott made a controversial budget decision, but for whatever reason (the timing?), Ashley’s story struck a nerve.
Seven hours after we posted Ashley’s piece, The Huffington Post re-reported the story, succeeding in actually getting someone from the governor’s office to discuss the veto. And then the floodgates opened: Mother Jones reported on the veto, as did Rachel Maddow’s blog, Think Progress, The New Republic and others.
Florida media outlets then began to localize the story, speaking with nearby rape crisis centers about what the budget cut would mean for them. The USF student newspaper editorialized against Scott’s decision. Someone launched a Change.org petition. Lawmakers weighed in, saying the decision highlighted Scott’s “lack of understanding.”
By Wednesday (after he attended a ceremony honoring the director of a rape crisis center whose funding he had just cut), Scott was being asked about the decision during press gaggles. Wire services then picked up on the story.
And it all started with a 500-word blog post here at The Florida Independent, which will cease publishing new content at the close of business today.
Timing like that could make us here at the site feel bitter about our closure. We hit upon a great story, generated tons of interest and now we’re shutting down?!? But, actually, I believe the timing is perfect. Ashley’s reporting this week gave us one last opportunity to demonstrate what we tried to do here each and every day for the last two years: generate impact.
Late last year, I wrote a series of posts recapping some of our site’s greatest impacts since we launched in May 2010. To get a sense of the stories we were most proud of putting out, I recommend you read through those examples. Those are the kinds of pieces we were hoping to continue publishing through 2012, and beyond.
With that, all of us here at the Independent — myself, Ashley, Marcos Restrepo and Virginia Chamlee — would like to say goodbye, and thank you to all our readers, supporters, tipsters and commenters. We’ll miss you.