To my dismay, I quickly discovered that while everyone loved snarky bloggers (especially people in media), no one was looking to hire one. That sounds amusing now, but it was true as recently as five years ago and personally I think we still have a long way to go in integrating blogging into the mainstream media DNA.
Then, the seemingly impossible happened. I got a job. I was, to put it mildly, THRILLED. Unfortunately things quickly went awry and I was unceremoniously fired approximately 4 1/2 months later. Three days prior to being fired, I had found out I was pregnant for the first time.
I studiously kept looking for any sort of editorial job before I started showing when, I assumed, the jig would be up at interviews. Nothing materialized before my son was born. After, it became impossible even to shower or change into clean clothes for a very, very long time. He’s 2 1/2 in three days and I’ve only marginally improved on that track record.
I did go to work for the Sun-Times Media Group/Pioneer Press when my boy was about a year old. That didn’t work out. Four months into a job where my words and my reporting appeared in actual newsprint on a printed page, I felt ambivalent about the work. This was supposed to be my dream come true, but it felt hollow and unsatisfying. I wrote that I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. So I started to think bigger. If I couldn’t find a media company where I actually wanted to work, maybe I needed to start one of my own.
Something that always irritated me to no end is that good journalism only goes halfway to where it needs to go. It reports on a problem or corruption or a terrible injustice and…. that’s it. That’s where it ends. The rest of the distance to measurable change is often traversed by activists. Non-profits. Interest groups. PACs. Etc.
As a reader, I have too often experienced the frustration of reading an amazing story and at the end, saying to no one in particular: now what? If I want to do something about this, what exactly should I do? Where should I start? The journalist or her news organization will not help me with this. That would be considered activist journalism and thus very baaaaaad and possibly unethical. Journalists are supposed to be like clouds floating above it all. Seeing all and reporting it, but going no further. On the one hand, I see the value in this approach. On the other, I wholly reject it.
What do we get in the absence of clear-cut ideas and suggestions of where to invest money or time to solve a problem? We get Facebook petitions. Tweets. You-Tube videos you share with your friends. Slacktivism, as its been dubbed. Or we get shrugs and inaction. The problems seem so big and so nebulous that even a motivated reader wouldn’t know where to begin.
With Acta Magazine, I want to put a stop to all of that frustration. I want readers and those who want to reach a specific sort of reader to fund important journalism. I want to actually change the world, not just talk about doing it. Most of all, I want to write my own story instead of hoping that one day I can maybe get the sort of ending I want.
Will you join me? I’m doing a live chat soon about Acta, media and anything else people want to ask. Think of it like Reddit’s IamAs but for regular people. It will be on Wednesday, April 2 at 3pm CST and will take place here. I hope you’ll stop by.