The winter of 2020 was a dark time in my life. My former coworkers and I at [redacted politics website] were unceremoniously laid off just as the 2020 primaries were getting underway. Then the pandemic started.
So after months of venting into the void in Slack purgatory, we decided to start blogging for free on WordPress. We called it Discourse Blog, and I found a picture of a bird on Flickr that became our logo. I thought the bird was a heron, but it was a starling, which looks nothing like a heron. It turns out herons actually eat starlings.
My insulting ignorance of bird species aside, it's not hyperbole to say this website has helped me get through the last two years in one piece, both emotionally and—thanks to the support of our subscribers—financially as well. But this is, sadly, my last regular Discourse blog.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the changing nature of work in America, and one of the more personally disturbing trends is how companies have attempted to repackage the workplace as a sort of family. The relationship I have with the people at this website, though, is admittedly something more than collegial.
The final year of the website where we all worked before this one was a horribly shitty one. The demands on us were absurd, there were no resources to meet those demands, and it all culminated in us logging onto a video conference at 10 a.m. on a Thursday in October and watching my new boss fire my coworkers in New York. It was one of the worst days of my life, and for a time, I very seriously considered a career in almost anything else but this.
That experience and the desire to avoid repeating it has guided every step we've taken in approaching our work at this site. Most of us have been laid off multiple times, and we wanted to take control of our lives without the fear of private equity hanging over our heads. We know how it feels to be treated with zero respect from people who make more money in a year than you make in four or five, and so we've approached every decision we made as a group with the respect and love we have for each other.
We wanted to do weird blogs, good takes, and niche reporting without prioritizing traffic. We’ve done all of these things our way, funded entirely by people with no ulterior motive aside from a desire to read our work. As a result, it's been wholly fulfilling in a way I didn't anticipate and made working here even in some of our more lean months entirely worth it.
That's not to say that it's been easy; we started a politics website a couple weeks into a global economic meltdown, and we've predictably had wild highs and depressing lows. But at least as far as work is concerned, I'm more proud of what we've built and what I've done at Discourse than anything else I've ever done. Even though I won't be writing for the site anymore, I still believe deeply in the mission and ability of Discourse Blog to chart a different course for a broken industry, and to be a friend to the exploited and an enemy of those exploiting them.
I'll end by reiterating that we never could have done any of this without the support of people willing to give us their hard-earned money. So if you've enjoyed these blogs over the past two years and have some disposable income, please consider buying a monthly or annual subscription. The world needs more antagonistic, smart journalism unbothered by the whims of investors, and the people who write and edit for this site have been doing it for their entire careers.
Going forward, you'll be able to find my work at Vice News. You'll also be able to find me in Discord and trolling the comment section, as will be my right as an annual subscriber, so I'm not going far. See you on the other side.