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Looking Back On Shadowproof’s Second Year

We launched Shadowproof two years ago. Our birthday is a regular opportunity to honestly assess the work we are doing and to share aspirations with members and regular readers.

Throughout the past couple of years, we worked to support freelance journalists and pledged to elevate the voices of individuals, who often are marginalized or ignored by establishment news media.

With a modest budget funded by our members and donors, we published journalism from Jared Ware, Will Parrish, Paul Gottinger, Jaqil Ali, Brandon Jordan, Branko Marcetic, Steve Horn, and Jon Walker. We produced a single-payer plan written by Walker, the Medical Insurance And Care For All (MICA) bill, which leading progressive journalists and economists continue to debate.

Our members and donors also helped us fund journalist Ken Klippenstein’s journalism project on FBI “dirty files” he obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. We appreciated our collaboration with Klippenstein so much that we are pleased to announce we are hiring him to do open records journalism and curate a document reading room at Shadowproof.

Roqayah Chamseddine produced an “Islam In America Today,” a multimedia project funded by members that profiled American Muslims to dismantle caricatures often presented by news media, entertainment, and politicians. She also continued her typically stellar column, “Sharp Edges,” which Shadowproof has published for more than a year.

Her journalism on movements for health care, the environment, immigrants, and labor rights helped us forge new connections with grassroots organizations on the front lines of struggles. We are impressed with how her work resonates with our audience and continue to do more each day to better support Chamseddine’s journalism.

We hired Liz Pelly, a writer, editor, art space organizer for The Silent Barn in New York, to strengthen our “Protest Music Project.” Pelly publishes regular “Protest Song of the Week” columns and also a new monthly feature, “Five Songs of Resistance.” She helped us expand our ideas on how to approach the soundtracks of resistance and the intersection of music and politics.

Co-founder Brian Sonenstein reported on the nationwide labor strike by incarcerated people that began in September 2016. He reported on a meeting of formerly incarcerated people and their families about the status and future of the prison reform movement. He also chronicled the efforts of the Chicago Community Bond Fund to abolish cash bond in their city.

This author produced a major series examining President Barack Obama’s legacy of further entrenching executive power in a way that greatly expanded a national security industrial complex ripe for abuse by President Donald Trump. He also called attention to a political prosecution against Myron Dewey, an indigenous journalist known for his work covering the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Days before trial, Morton County prosecutors dropped the charge against him and acknowledged there was concern about a spike in media interest in Dewey’s case

We supported the weekly podcast, “Unauthorized Disclosure,” hosted by Rania Khalek and this author. The podcast, “Beyond Prisons,” hosted by Sonenstein and Kim Wilson launched to elevate people directly impacted by the system of mass incarceration by giving their voices a platform.

A space for satire not so subtly called “Beyond Satire” was launched. Every so often, we made use of it. It enjoyed some small success, with a few pieces resonating with our audience (like this one inspired by the right-wing myth of legions of protesters funded by George Soros). We plan to continue to experiment with this space.

Our work has stayed focused on creating space for dissent and encouraging solidarity in the face of a counter-subversive presidential regime and a Democratic Party that role plays resistance but is still the same corporate political party that has sold out working people of all colors and ethnicities time and time again.

But there are definite areas, where we would like to build upon and improve.

Like most independent media organizations, we face very real budget constraints, but in order to increase the impact of our media organization, we would like to support much more freelance work from journalists involved in climate or environmental reporting. We would also like to publish reporting on education or labor organizing in schools, and on Wall Street or capitalism in general.  

We would like to seize more opportunities to engage in the history of the left, as we did when highlighting the 40th anniversary of the Combahee River Collective statement, and use this history to help us better understand and confront current events.

Plus, we acknowledge there is more work to be done in forging connections with grassroots organizations so that our reporting stays on top of developments that matter to citizens struggling to get by in their daily lives.

Our present political moment is absurdly abominable or abominably absurd, depending on how you react to each day’s surreal events. The Trump administration is a real-life parody of all the most destructive aspects of American government and corporate influence over politics and society. But this farce that has our nation in a kind of death grip is not simply an exhausting source of inspiration for humor.

It demands spaces, where dissent is strongly championed, and solidarity is shown with journalists and organizers, particularly those who are seen as highly influential on the left. It calls for encouraging culture that promotes resistance at the grassroots level. And it requires journalism that is unafraid to pursue nuanced ideas and display healthy skepticism; writing that aims for clarity in struggle instead of the easiest or laziest explanation for resolving intense problems.

We are very proud that we made it through our second year, and we dedicate the success of this past year to our avid readers and devoted members. We hope that you all will continue to support Shadowproof and ensure we have an even greater impact in our third year.

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Now, here are some interesting statistics about our website’s second year:

We had 2 million page views in the past year and averaged about 166,000 page views per month. This is a bit lower than last year possibly due to our 2016 election coverage, which boosted 2016’s numbers. We have also been shifting our focus from shorter bloggy articles to more in-depth and longer-form journalism over the past year. This means we’re publishing fewer articles per day than before in favor of articles that achieve greater impact. This has reduced regular daily traffic, however our most popular posts from this year had traffic that surpassed our most popular posts from last year.   

Top Five Most Viewed Posts From Our Second Year

Redneck Revolt Builds Anti-Racist, Anti-Capitalist Movement With Working Class Whites” by Jared Ware

Interior Department Produced Memo On Dakota Access Pipeline That Trump Doesn’t Want Public To Read” by Kevin Gosztola

An American In Syria: The Anti-Fascist Struggle For Communal Society In The Ruins” by Roqayah Chamseddine

Clinton Campaign Makes Wildly Inconsistent Claims About Emails Published By WikiLeaks” by Kevin Gosztola

Obama’s Legacy: Refining System Of Secrecy, Cracking Down On Leaks” by Kevin Gosztola

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."