Shadowproof’s Sixth Birthday: Looking Back On The Past Year
We launched Shadowproof six years ago, and in spite of a global pandemic that has fueled economic crisis, we’re still around so let’s celebrate.
Since our last birthday, Shadowproof published 42 articles from 28 freelance journalists. This is nearly twice the amount we published in 2020.
Thanks in part to the Marvel Cooke Fellowship, we were able to pay writers higher amounts than in previous years. This was made possible by Members and donors, as well as journalists, who contributed work and believed we could provide a solid platform for their reporting.
Shadowproof managing editor Kevin Gosztola covered the extradition trial against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and was interviewed by Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio, Paul DeRienzo of WBAI, Dennis Bernstein of Flashpoints, Abby Martin and Robbie Martin for “Media Roots,” Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton for “Moderate Rebels.” Sky News Australia, The Real News Network, Jacobin Magazine, and The Intercept’s “Deconstructed” also had him on as a guest.
We hosted an independent media roundtable discussion the weekend after the Assange extradition trial concluded, which featured several of the reporters who diligently covered proceedings—Joe Lauria, Mohamed Elmaazi, Tareq Haddad, Mary Kostakidis, Taylor Hudak, Richard Medhurst, and Juan Passarelli.
As Australian journalist and Assange supporter John Pilger put it, American journalist Kevin Gosztola “reported more of the trial than the major U.S. press and TV combined, including CNN.”
Beyond Prisons, which Shadowproof publishing editor Brian Sonenstein co-hosts, introduced a new series called, “Beyond Solitary,” featuring voices from incarcerated people as well as a new cast of hosts. An excerpt of our episode with Mariame Kaba was published in her bestselling book, “We Do This ‘Til We Free Us,” as well.
Shadowproof was proud to publish in-depth reports from reporters working under the Marvel Cooke journalism fellowship over the past year, producing 4 articles since our last anniversary. Our fellows tackled COVID-19’s impact on Chicago’s Cook County Jail, organizing by women forcibly sterilized in California’s prison system, the strength of international solidarity in the abolition movement, and how the fight against new jails in New York City is prompting discussions around “abolitionist architecture.”
The Dissenter Newsletter moved away from Substack and relaunched as an independent website so all of the revenue from subscribers could go toward journalism. The newsletter asked journalists and writers for submissions and garnered recognition while covering the political cases against Daniel Hale and Craig Murray.
There are plans to expand the newsletter so it isn’t solely built around Kevin’s work, but those plans are dependent on how many readers are willing or able to become subscribers. The newsletter only has 135 paid subscribers currently, a small fraction of the people who are signed up as free subscribers.
Shadowproof maintained its support for two podcasts: “Unauthorized Disclosure,” hosted by Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola, and “Beyond Prisons,” hosted by Brian Sonenstein and Kim Wilson. And C.J. Baker, who curates a website called “Ongoing History Of Protest Songs,” continued his bi-weekly posts on protest music.
Between Shadowproof’s members and subscribers to The Dissenter, we’ve maintained and in some cases have steadily grown our financial base of support over the past year, which we find remarkable given the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on individual finances.
Recurring monthly contributions are critical to our operation as they give us more flexibility to budget and plan our editorial calendar, and the growth of this financial base is directly responsible for our ability to double our freelance editorial output this past year and increase our pay rates for writers.
Our podcasts, as well as The Dissenter newsletter, are crucial ways for Shadowproof to sustain the work we do. The more subscribers, the more we will be able to offer a diverse range of voices a platform for their journalism. (Subscribe for $7/month if you would like to receive the newsletter or support “Beyond Prisons” or “Unauthorized Disclosure.”)
Shadowproof recognizes its limitations, but we believe our overwhelming reliance on small-but-generous reader donations over large donations and grant money gives us both editorial dependence and stability. As a very small team, this also allows us to focus on journalism and not on chasing funding opportunities.
Six years in, it is becoming clearer what we are best suited to accomplish for an operation of our size and budget. And we believe that this clarity will help us push ourselves to produce better journalism and better leverage our resources in support of writers in the coming year.
It is exceptionally difficult to operate an independent media organization. Last year, the news media industry lost 16,160 jobs, more than in 2008 when there was a recession. Already 800 jobs were cut in 2021. Yet in spite of this dismal trend, Shadowproof has pushed back against the corporate and political culture that is ruining journalism.
Much of our initial work as an organization was confined to our website, but that is no longer the case. On a shoestring budget and with minimal staff, we curate a newsletter, produce a weekly YouTube show, maintain a fellowship for freelance journalism, and upload regular episodes for two separate podcasts throughout the year.
We never spent much time covering United States politics and the partisan narratives promoted by elites in the Democratic and Republican parties. But now we rarely pay Democratic Party politics any attention, and that includes the progressive insurgency against centrist liberals.
Instead, we are more focused on sociopolitical trends that have intensified and will likely produce negative effects, like the hysteria around a “violent crime” wave that is fueled by national and local news media. This is obviously a concerted attempt at a counterrevolution by law enforcement, who seek to reverse even the tiniest gains that activists were able to make in 2021 after George Floyd was murdered. Our primary focus continues to be on social movements and political activism.
We find the post-Donald Trump era to be eerie because it seems far too many believe the U.S. military, FBI, CIA, and various other national security agencies saved the country from Trump. Much of whatever Left coalition or consensus that emerged after 2016 seems to have splintered. Given the human rights abuses, civil liberties violations, and political prosecutions they’re responsible for over the last 20 years, we can only imagine what these institutions are getting away with presently.
And while we have not quantified the impact, we are increasingly bothered by the partnerships and alliances between government agencies, social media corporations, and other tech companies to censor information and limit the sharing of certain political posts. This obviously benefits establishment media that see the alternative press as a threat to their business.
Joe Biden’s first months as president have shown what parts of the Trump project are bipartisan political consensus. That forces us to to approach what we do with greater clarity.
We know we could easily be gone tomorrow, and we’re fortunate to still be here after six years.
Thank you again for supporting and reading Shadowproof.
The 10 most popular articles in Shadowproof’s 6th year were:
- Trump Jr. Fixer: Everyone In WikiLeaks Deserves The Death Penalty
- A Guide To Journalists And Organizations Covering Assange Trial For Those Upset About Lack Of Media Coverage
- Judge Railroads Assange As Legal Team Objects To Fresh Extradition Request
- Khaled El Masri Stands Up To CIA Intimidation, Supports Assange During Extradition Trial
- In Extradition Hearing, Julian Assange’s Legal Team Focuses On US Torture And War Crimes Exposed By WikiLeaks
- Facing COVID-19 Outbreak Among Workers, USPS Seeks Help With Mail-In Ballots In Swing States by Eoin Higgins
- Prosecutors’ Password-Cracking Conspiracy Theory Against Assange Unravels At Extradition Trial
- Thousands Of Mathematicians Join Boycott Against Police Collaboration by Maddie Rose
- Assange Legal Team Submits Closing Argument Against Extradition To United States
- Doctor Diagnosed Julian Assange With Asperger’s Syndrome