I can still picture us, three years ago on New Years Day, working doggedly to launch the first NewStandard edition ever. Simone Baribeau (whoâ€™s no longer with TNS) and I were printing out articles and reading them carefully for typos, while Brian Dominick frantically hacked computer code to pounding techno music. (Yes, thatâ€™s still how he writes code today.)
Hours went by and we still werenâ€™t ready to release the site. Everything that could go wrong did. I know thatâ€™s clichÃ©, but itâ€™s true. There was even a major glitch with swaths of the Internet causing us to have trouble communicating with our server in Washington state. We slept for a couple of hours on pieces of cardboard on the floor of our donated office space (thanks again, Syracuse Cultural Workers) and then woke to work again. Little did I know that those first few days of wrangling foreshadowed how hard things would be for a very long time.
As I look back on the three years that have passed since that first week, there are things I am super proud of:
Even when we didnâ€™t have the money to pay staff, we paid our writers.
We never sold out, no matter how dire our finances. We never took money from any source that could compromise our independence; weâ€™re still as ad-free as the day we were born. We always chose topics we thought were important instead of covering sexy stories that could bring in money.
We have created a working collective workplace without hierarchy in power or pay, proving that you donâ€™t have to have a bosses or executive salaries to get things done.
Weâ€™ve published nearly 3,000 news articles and won 3 Project Censored awards (for our first two years alone).
Weâ€™ve stuck to our standards for accuracy, balance and focusing on sources that have real knowledge of the issues we report on, especially those most affected.
Weâ€™ve admitted our mistakes.
Over the last three years, Iâ€™ve given the overwhelming majority of my waking hours to The NewStandard, and itâ€™s rare that I have a moment to think about things beyond what we are going to publish the next day. But when I do (here comes the sappy part), Iâ€™m really thankful for my co-workersâ€™ hard work and all the support weâ€™ve gotten from our readers.
But I also get anxious because keeping independent media outlets alive is a fierce struggle. Even while the publicâ€™s interest in alternative sources of information is reportedly growing, weâ€™ve seen too many of our fellow independent media projects die. Our third anniversary reminds me how lucky we are to still be publishing and reminds me to worry about our future.
So hereâ€™s to Year Four! To meeting and overcoming challenges I know are coming. To staying true to our principles. And to all of our readers and donors and journalists.
Happy birthday, NewStandard.