A goal for the New Year
I’ve been lucky in my professional life. Despite graduating into a horrendous economy, just three years after the 2008 crash, I’ve managed to carve out a decent career in one of the worst industries imaginable. It’s never been particularly easy to be a writer or a journalist, but the twenty-first century, in almost every aspect, has been worse than the twentieth. Pay rates for articles, even adjusted for inflation, have declined drastically. Book advances are more boom-and-bust than ever. Living costs are a steep challenge. If you long for a staff job and some stability, you’re going to have to scrap and claw against many, many applicants. Newspapers have closed en masse across America. Magazines have shrunken or gone out of business altogether. It’s an old story, and I don’t have to keep telling it.
I’m not here to complain. I have paying work and I can afford my rent. People have said nice things about what I produce. I have an audience, and that’s all one can really hope for. Life is good.
It’s good, in part, because of this Substack. I started it in the depths of the pandemic in 2020. Unwittingly, I was one of the early Substackers, though I didn’t see it that way. I just wanted to publish what didn’t quite fit any of the national magazines and online publications I was writing for at the time. I wanted a place where I could truly be myself. Slowly, the audience grew, and I saw I was having something of an impact.
Here is my goal: to make a genuine living here. I set that as my goal because the media is too precarious. Last year was a disaster and this year won’t be much better. If I want to be able to write, report, and think into middle-age—if I want to keep doing this—Substack will need to be the backbone.
Have you enjoyed my work? Did you get something out of my many Eric Adams dispatches? Did you like my honesty about the SHSAT or the YIMBYs? Do you want someone cutting through the poptimist myths? Did you enjoy the clapback against Borat’s censorship quest? The wackiness of online liberals and the anti-woke alike? Or the gut-check over what’s actually happening in Israel and Gaza? Do you want me to keep chugging through 2024, 2025, and 2026?
My tangible aim, in 2024, is to get 1,600 paying subscribers for this Substack, Political Currents. That’s a level that will guarantee, forevermore, I can keep doing this, even if the media crumbles around me.
Do you read for free? I still like you! But I really want you to go paid. You’ll break through the paywall and help me survive these strange times.
I know the usual objections. You’re stretched thin. Too many Substacks. Times are tough. I get it.
But here’s the thing—I’ve debated raising prices. A lot of newsletters are charging $8 a month to read. I’ve kept the same price for years. It’s a new year. Time to raise rates, right?
I’ll be back soon with our usual scheduled programming. I hope the new year has been good to you thus far.