A year can be an eternity. Especially if you measure time by the speed of news publishing. Old enough to have written for print periodicals, but young enough to have begun my journalistic career online, I remain astonished by the amount of media that can be produced in a week, let alone a month, or a year.
Looking back at our progress since we launched last March, I’m amazed at how much we’ve managed to accomplish in such a short amount of time. Adhering to a one article a day rule, Monday through Friday, we’ve produced roughly twenty feature-length, long-form publications per month, not including photo pieces, and short audio installations.
Compared to a print periodical, that’s a lot. Compared to a traditional news publication, with an active web presence, it’s equally significant. We’re not blogging to supplement print features. We’re continually drafting substantial new pieces for the web, in three different formats. You’d think we’re a fully-funded startup. In fact, we’re an all-volunteer operation, with an editorial staff split between the United States, Italy and Germany.
As much as we’ve all grown accustomed to writing for free, it’s important to remember that a significant amount of us remain paid, or at least expects to be, if not now, at least some time in the future. Considering how many of our staff come from professional media backgrounds – Al-Jazeera, the BBC, The Forward, France 24, The Guardian, Punk Planet, Tikkun, XLR8R, Yahoo! – it’s astonishing the goodwill our contributors have shown us.
Obviously there’s something about our mission that’s been worth the sacrifice of everyone’s time and energy. Having worked as an editor and journalist for the better part of the past seventeen years, it was my hope that I’d be able to continue to collaborate with such a stellar cast of contributors, in an independent context. Not only has that panned out. We’ve received a significant amount of recognition for our work, as well.
Since last March, our articles have been cited everywhere from The Daily Beast and Counterpunch to Ha’aretz, The Stranger and the Washington Post. Equally important have been reprints with Palestine’s Ma’an, and Le Monde, our favorite French newspaper. The latter, a translation of Mitchell Plitnick’s Zionist at Heart, was included in a special supplement produced by the periodical on behalf of Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday.
Everyone has been working to the best of their abilities. The context, and the platform, go a long way towards inspiring our contributors to excel. Though most of us are already recognized for what we do, I sincerely doubt our colleagues would be taking notice of our efforts if what we were producing was the least bit underwhelming. Good work always gets noticed, whether your periodical is rolling in dollars, or not.
Equally inspiring has been the work of the non-journalists on staff. A DJ here, a former European Commission staffer there, the ‘civilians’, as we affectionately call them, have consistently produced work on a par with the most experienced journalists on staff, and then some. It’s been a brilliant and inspiring way of affirming the idea that Souciant ought to serve as a supportive publishing space for everyone, where we all have a chance to innovate, equally.
Irrespective of our accomplishments, we still have an enormous amount of work to do. Our visual design is not yet complete. Media publishing features still need to be added. We have plans to eventually open an online store. I could go on. When we first explored the idea of putting this publication together, I never thought we’d get as far as we have, especially in such a lousy economic environment. It’s immensely reassuring to still be alive, albeit growing.
If there’s anything else we could improve on, it’s encouraging our readers to submit content to us, to give us feedback on how we’re doing, and what we could do better. Souciant’s circulation has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several months. Help us continue to flourish, however you can. We’re a community periodical, as much as we are an experimental platform for interrogating politics, and creating new culture. Here’s to making an equally productive year out of 2012, together.
Photograph courtesy of the author