The Midwest Energy News newsroom. My kid made that drawing on the upper left. He’s 2.

I ruminated on Twitter last week that energy is basically a topic for A) smart, wonky types and B) completely unhinged lunatics (this observation was then retweeted by an environmental activist and the vice chair of the Wyoming Young Republicans. See? We can all agree on something!).

I was mostly joking, of course, but there’s a grain of truth here that illustrates the challenge facing energy coverage today. It just isn’t something that has the wide appeal of say, a royal wedding or a tornado outbreak.

That’s not to say there isn’t good journalism being done. The foundation of Midwest Energy News is to seek those stories out and help them find their audience.

At the regional level, the bulk of the real reporting on these important issues is still done by newspapers, and newsrooms are increasingly stretched thin as advertising revenues decline. As good as these reporters are, they can’t be everywhere at once.

So in January, we started doing our own reporting, and found out quickly that not only are there a lot of stories out there that aren’t being told, there’s an eager and willing audience for them.

It’s not our intention to compete with existing media. Our stories are available for anyone to republish, and our work has been picked up by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, OnEarth Magazine, Grist, SolveClimate News, the Twin Cities Daily Planet and others.

As Midwest Energy News continues to evolve, we’re looking at further expanding our reporting efforts and building and strengthening content sharing partnerships to help move this journalism to as wide an audience as possible.

This site is supported entirely by foundations and individual donors. We don’t run advertising (which means we don’t need to resort to top-ten lists or pictures of kittens to drive up pageviews), and we don’t accept money with strings attached.

Midwest Energy News is a lean operation. There is only one full-time employee devoted to the site (yours truly), and the original reporting is done by independent freelance reporters, many of whom used to work for newspapers. We believe in paying our writers a decent wage for their work, and value quality over quantity.

Those limitations mean we can publish about one story a week. We’re pursuing additional funding to expand this effort, and that’s where you can help.

If you’re reading this blog, it means you either have a lot of extra time on your hands or you really value regional energy coverage. I believe we’re in the early stages of something that can both significantly impact the energy debate in coming years, as well as help preserve a crucial slice of public interest journalism.

You now have the opportunity to donate a few bucks and help put reporters to work and advance this important conversation (click the link to go to our GiveMN page).

Seriously. Every little bit helps, and I promise not to be a pest about it.

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.