Shadowproof Is Shutting Down
After eight years, we have decided that it is time to shut down Shadowproof, but that does not mean that the independent journalism that we fostered is coming entirely to an end.
In a span of time defined by numerous global crises and an ever-shifting online media landscape, readers like you helped us develop an oasis for incisive reporting on prisons, policing, whistleblowers, and crackdowns on political activists.
So many members and donors made it possible for Shadowproof to hire over 90 freelance journalists to cover stories and perspectives that were often outside the beats of most other publications. We were able to pay journalists fairly and give them a solid platform as many major media organizations were uninterested in their work or treated them poorly in the context of layoffs and politically motivated firings.
There is so much to be proud of in the last eight years, and we can’t recount all of it here. The Marvel Cooke Fellowship, overseen by co-founder Brian Nam-Sonenstein, was a remarkable success thanks to the support of Mariame Kaba and dozens of subscribers, who funded in-depth reporting from incarcerated and marginalized writers on the movement to abolish the prison industrial complex.
Shadowproof further distinguished itself through regular coverage of the extradition case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Co-founder Kevin Gosztola drew from this reporting to write a book, Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case Against Julian Assange, that was published in March of this year.
Countless other reporting projects – from our dogged coverage of the prison strikes of the 2010s to our on-the-ground reporting at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, early investigations into privatized prison health care, our development of model Medicare For All legislation, reporting trips to the UK to cover the Assange case – made critical interventions and contested mainstream narratives and, in some cases, mainstream silence on major events of the time.
Yet in the past couple of years, we have moved away from the Shadowproof website. We propped up other media platforms, like newsletters, podcasts, and YouTube channels, that gave us more outlets for sharing our work. Kevin has produced the bulk of his journalism on Assange, whistleblowers, government secrecy, and press freedom through The Dissenter Newsletter, which began as a project of Shadowproof.
Brian recently joined the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) as a senior editor and researcher, where he has been publishing the bulk of his work on police and prisons. Meanwhile, the media technology space has radically changed and in some ways introduced tools that made it simpler and less cumbersome to publish work without operating a full website and organization. And so, like all good things, we have made the decision to celebrate our accomplishments and fully transition away from Shadowproof.
Kevin will continue his extensive coverage of Assange through The Dissenter Newsletter, and if you are not yet a subscriber, we strongly encourage you to sign up. He is also developing a YouTube channel to accompany his written journalism. He is still on Twitter (@kgosztola), and he has updated a Substack account here to make it easier for readers to follow postings that appear on several platforms.
Brian plans to continue his collaborations with incarcerated writers and his work covering the abolition movement, including through the Beyond Prisons podcast. You can follow him on Twitter (@bsonenstein) for updates on such projects in the coming months.
Beginning today, Shadowproof memberships will transition to supporting The Dissenter newsletter. Members will receive an email with more information, but if need help making changes to your subscription, please contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This change will present new challenges. Kevin Gosztola will continue his journalism at The Dissenter newsletter but without much of the supportive infrastructure that was built through Shadowproof.
Go to thedissenter.org/donate to support his work.
Finally, we are immensely grateful to all the journalists and writers who collaborated with us. In particular, Dan Wright, Kit O’Connell, and Roqayah Chamseddine deserve special mention for working as founding Shadowproof staff members. Their talents, perspectives, and contributions were essential to starting and shaping our work over the years. We would like to thank Rania Khalek, Kim Wilson, Maya Schenwar, Jane Hamsher, and many others for their friendship and support over the years, without which none of this would have been possible. We’d also like to thank our families, whose love and encouragement have always been crucial to our ability to experiment and take risks with this work.
We would also like to thank our many freelance contributors over the years, listed below. We encourage you to seek them out, follow their work, and support them. And if you are a publisher, we highly encourage you to work with them.
We are honored to have published the work of the following writers, and want to give special thanks (from most recent to earliest contributor) to:
Jessica Phoenix Sylvia
Brendan Maslauskas Dunn
Juan Moreno Haines
Natascha Elena Uhlmann
Willie Burnley Jr.
We plan to keep the Shadowproof archive online for the foreseeable future. (If you wish to help fund that work, you can do so through donations and subscriptions to the Dissenter).
Running an independent media platform is difficult and often unglamorous work, but it is essential given the media landscape which all too often feels like a rocky wasteland.
We have learned so much from those we mentioned and many others, and we strongly encourage the next generation of young independent publishers to stick with journalism, even if it is a struggle. Your efforts are desperately needed in these times. We encourage independent publishers to make themselves available to mentor and support emerging publications focused on voices for liberation.
This is intergenerational work, and it cannot be done in isolation or with a highly competitive and cutthroat attitude. It is critical that independent media organizations and media workers work together, are accountable to each other, and take their role in our movements seriously. They must do everything they can to pay people well, empower them in the editorial process, and help them develop their skills.
We cannot afford to lose more journalists to this unforgiving media economy that has already pushed so many people out.
Thank you for believing in our work and supporting us.