Here's a look at what was accomplished last year thanks to crowd-funded journalism. With support garnered through Kickstarter, we'll do much more this year.

When you support a journalism project, your dollars impact people from all walks of life. Your money pays reporters to unearth corruption of our government processes. It touches issues from public safety to democratic rights to transportation to animal rights to public policy to public health.

As Dr. John O'Connor told me last spring during an interview in Fort McMurray, to have a reporter on a story is sometimes a matter of life and death.

Dr. O'Connor's practice extends throughout the communities surrounded by the oil sands. He sees an inordinately high rate of a rare cancer manifesting among his population, causing suffering and premature death. He has demanded the government of Alberta carry out a detailed health study, so far, to no avail.

The government wishes industry to self-regulate, but Dr. O'Connor says that's the fox guarding the henhouse.

Dr. John O'Connor in a Fort McKay clinic in a photograph by Andrew S. Wright. Our team created an archive of images and interviews from Canada's oil sands thanks to crowd-funded journalism.

Thanks to funding from the Tar Sands Reporting Project last year, reporters were there to tell the story of one of Dr. O'Connor's patients, who worked as an executive at Syncrude for her entire career and died from this rare cancer in her early forties.

Thanks to the Kickstarter funding, we were there to question the government about why they aren't doing more to investigate health issues in the region.

Nurse at Fort Chipewyan public health centre downstream of Canada's oil sands. Photo by Andrew S. Wright. Crowd-funded journalism made it possible for our team to talk with health professionals in Canada's oil sands, and create a body of work that documented health impacts on people living in the area.

"Media has saved lives," Dr. O'Connor said, "Media has helped to highlight this. Thank God."

When people funded the Tar Sands Reporting Project last year, the impact was enormous.

As author Naomi Klein told me, "It's an information war. We're up against the richest industry in history."

Earlier that day, Bill McKibben stated in an interview we did that the tar sands are "ground zero" of climate change.

Those funds from the Tar Sands Reporting Project meant we could afford to go to Fort McMurray to record Archbishop Desmond Tutu speech about Canada's oil sands.

The Guardian, The New York Times, The National Post, BBC, CBS, Newsweek, HuffPo, Grist, and CNN all picked up stories generated by Tar Sands Reporting Project last year. One story alone was linked to by 80 other publications.

We cover stories where peoples' lives are impacted by policies meant to favour industry, where industry encroaches on people's lands and lives, where lobbyists for industry sit at tables with government officials to craft public policy.

We cover exciting breakthroughs happen in innovation and technology, breakthroughs that can provide solutions to climate instability that will carry us into the future, if only our government will embrace them.

As Prime Minister Harper stands for re-election, a progressive angle on the news is truly urgent and this voice must reach across Canada.

I'm humbled and thrilled by how much we raised on this Kickstarter campaign. I'm overwhelmed by the range of people who have supported "Reports from the Energy Battleground."

We're reporting in a time that is ever more precarious for journalists. Threats on freedom of speech and attacks on reporters seem to multiply by the month. News organizations are hacked, attract haters and powerful forces attempt to undermine their credibility.

Your support means so much and not just to me, and not just to my team, but to the hundreds of people whose stories will be heard thanks to the reporting that will be funded by your dollars.

In Canada, we live in one of the world's healthiest democracies, in a country rich in beauty and resources. There is so much at stake. The role of journalists is to ensure as much transparency in the public process as possible, to ensure that stories that really matter do not unfold out of sight and out of mind.

Thank you so much for your patience over the last month as you've received my many messages.

We will now resume our regular newsletter send-outs. Please stay tuned for exciting and important news over the next few months.

Photograph of tailings pond in Canada's oil sands by Andrew S. Wright.

Investigative journalism has never been more important. Will you help?

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