Five years ago on this day — literally: November 5, 2014 — I published the first issue of this newsletter. (Lord, it hurts just to look at it.) And for one reason or another, I haven’t stopped publishing the damn thing since: through major life changes and tragedies, professional disasters and upswings, days where I have a spring in my step and the many more days where it’s painful to simply get out of bed.
Unexpectedly, this newsletter has become the anchor of my professional and creative life. To honor the half-decade of that fact, I’d like to take this opportunity to express my immense gratitude for the extended Hot Pod family (in addition to my actual family, which goes without saying): the folks at Nieman Lab for their long-standing syndication and friendly support; Caroline Crampton for her excellent work since joining the team last summer; Aude White, our most recent addition, for her glorious illustrations; absolutely everybody who’s offered me advice, mentorship, and sharp criticism over the past five years; and, of course, you, the reader. There have been hard days and bad mistakes, but on the whole, it’s been a fun ride.
This is usually the point in one of these things where the reflecting writer, in this case me, makes some positive and hopeful gesture about the days to come. “It’s been a great five years, here’s to five more” or some pablum like that. But I’m afraid I lack the disposition to say that with any conviction. I mean, I hope I’ll still be here working on this space in one form or another; after all, despite and because of everything, I still really love this shit. But you can never really know about tomorrow, you know? The media business — along with just about everything around it — has never felt more precarious, and I’m deeply cognizant that the fate of this publication can turn on a dime, perhaps even less.
Whatever happens, though, I hope you know this: it’s been a privilege to serve this community, and for what it’s worth, I tried my best.
Anyway, as you can probably guess by now, I’m not the sort of person who would use one of these anniversary issues to run some hazy retrospective highlighting all the stuff this newsletter has done over the past five years. I’d rather look forward, and down at the mud. So, for the occasion, I’m running with something much closer to my DNA: a special package featuring your gripes and frustrations.