Looking Back On Shadowproof’s First Year
One year ago, we launched Shadowproof, an independent press organization to support freelance journalism and contributors committed to exposing abuses of power in government and business. We also pledged to elevate the voices of individuals, who often go unheard by establishment news media.
We achieved some tremendous success during our first year of operation because of our members. They chose to support independent media and empower us by donating money each month, and for some of our members, we realize it is no small sacrifice to make an investment in our work.
With a modest budget, we accepted a number of freelance pitches and empowered a number of independent journalists. We added Roqayah Chamseddine to our organization and gave her a platform to write her column, “Sharp Edges.” We also raised money and sent independent journalist Rania Khalek to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to ensure the truth of what unfolded at the Wells Fargo arena was reported.
Co-founder Brian Sonenstein called attention to some horrific injustices perpetrated by private medical contractors in United States prisons. Dan Wright launched a column, “The Next Cold War,” which anticipated the current antagonistic posture of Democratic politicians against Russia.
We became a home for two weekly podcasts: “Unauthorized Disclosure,” hosted by Khalek and this author, and “Delete Your Account,” hosted by Chamseddine and Kumars Salehi.
Additionally, our work, particularly during the 2016 presidential election in the U.S., has sought to create space for those engaged in struggle within the Democratic Party and outside the party by defending the tradition of protest.
But if we assess what we set out to do, there are definite areas where we must improve. It is possible to argue we strayed from our vision in giving the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders so much regular coverage.
We initially pledged to avoid the “overindulgent coverage given to electoral politics” and not be a “resource for updates on presidential horse races.” But the coverage of the Sanders campaign, and its effort to repudiate the corporate politics of the Democratic Party, was so appalling that regularly pushing a counter-narrative to defend political dissent became part of this organization’s commitment.
We could do a much better job reporting on news important to communities throughout the U.S. and forge more connections with grassroots organizations to ensure we report on developments that matter to citizens struggling day-to-day.
In the coming year, we expect the 2016 Election, which has tested the sanity of all of us, to maintain its vice grip over most of the nation’s media. We confess there will be some electoral coverage on our website, but we will not be a daily resource for the squabbles between the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Rather, we expect to publish reporting on third-party and independent political campaigns at all levels of government and challenge the pervasive ideology of “lesser evilism” fueled by a two-party system, which is a clear obstacle to social change.
We launched a “Protest Music Project” to show there are plenty of musicians commenting on society and engaging with the pressing issues of our time. While the “Protest Song Of The Week” generated more interest in particular artists, we hope to do more to support protest music by publishing interviews with some of the fine rebels providing the soundtrack for current struggles.
We exchanged letters with whistleblower Chelsea Manning from prison and held live interviews with authors including Jeremy Scahill, Doug Henwood, Jean Casella, Raymond Bonner, and Nicholas Schou.
In recent weeks, we have published a couple satire pieces on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s convention speeches. We plan to develop a satire column on the website, and we encourage writers to submit satire pieces to Shadowproof by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, we hope to support many more independent journalists in the coming year, and form working relationships with them that respect and honor their potential to produce exemplary reporting and writing.
We are very proud that we made it through our first year, and we dedicate the success of our first year to our enthusiastic readers and our dedicated members. And we hope that you all will continue to support Shadowproof and ensure we continue to make an impact in our second year.
Now, here are some interesting statistics about our website’s first year:
We had 2.6 million page views, which is about where Firedoglake was at when we shut it down and launched Shadowproof.
Our traffic has spiked recently, and we are averaging 217,000 page views per month.
The top five posts from our first year were:
Protest Song of the Week: “Old Man Trump” by Ryan Harvey featuring Ani DiFranco and Tom Morello received the most traffic out of all the protest songs we promoted.