Discover more from Jacob Silverman
What I'm Doing Here
Finishing a podcast, perma-freelancer, and Substack as home base
Let’s start with company news:
“The Naked Emperor,” my 4-episode limited podcast series about FTX, SBF, and what the hell happened, is now online in full. You can find it here or really anywhere podcasts are found.
Back in March, I wrote for the Globe and Mail about surging digital asset prices, huge mintings of offshore stablecoins, and the closing of fiat ramps.
For The New Republic, I wrote about Kerry Howley’s new book, “Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs: A Journey Through the Deep State.” For some, it’ll be about familiar names from the GWOT — Reality Winner, John Kiriakou, Abu Zubaydah, John Walker Lindh — but as I write in my essay, Howley’s an excellent investigator and thinker who expands on these stories, providing a necessary reframing of the government’s official fictions.
I’ve got some other articles in motion and am always open to tips, disputations, conversations, and thoughtful complaints. Reach out.
The main point of this post is to simply say that for now, Substack is going to be my home base. I’ve written a lot (maybe too much) on the pangs of freelance journalism (and baser forms of content production), the journalism industry’s prolonged death spiral, and the general precarity that has infected writing and media, like so many areas of the economy. With the recent closure of BuzzFeed News, the impending Vice bankruptcy, the Hollywood writers strike, numerous waves of industry layoffs, and general shitty treatment at the hands of venal and incompetent corporate managmeent, the outlook in media is as dim as it’s ever been. Many of my colleagues have been writing well about this terminal decline, chronicling the material and human costs of people being unable to practice journalism with the care and resources it deserves, and being unable to support themselves and their families.
I’m one of those people. Perpetually frustrated with my economic relationship with the industry I’ve worked in for 14-plus years, I’ve reached an inflection point and decided to make some changes. I will still be freelancing — I can’t escape that grind, and I love writing for editors and having relationships with good publications. But the jobs aren’t coming back, and I am trying to re-orient my freelance writing career around having control over my own work, my ability to get paid with some regularity, and spending more time with my family.
For now I don’t plan to write much about the progressive attenuation of the media — it’s grim, it can be too navel-gazing, and as I said, plenty of other people are managing to do that kind of work and do it well. But I will be writing more here on Substack. I don’t have any deal with them — there’s no inducement that brought me here, except that I think it’s a decently designed platform and the network effects are favorable. I’ll still be covering many of the same subjects I’ve been writing about in recent years — tech and right wing politics, crypto, corporate malfeasance, illicit finance, corruption.
For now, it’ll all be free. I’m going to turn on donations/a subscription, but my lack of entrepreneurial instincts aside, I don’t want to put things behind a paywall and I don’t want to spend much time on various tiers of monetization. And I also don’t want to make promises I can’t keep, in terms of what I provide readers. I want to do work, and it’ll be great if some people support that by giving me a little money. I’m grateful to the people who have already made pledges. If you choose to read for free, that’s great, too.
Hanging my own shingle here will free me up to be timely when I need to be and to be flexible in form. Expect a few posts a week running the gamut — blog posts, reported features, audio interviews, close readings of the latest fraudster’s indictment. For as long as the servers stay up, I’ll still be tweeting, but my occasional long threads will probably now be served up here as something more considered and, hopefully, meatier.
Later this week, I’ll be posting a new feature, a look at a Sam Bankman-Fried-funded startup that I think epitomizes some of the pitfalls of AI ferver, automation, and VC hype. I hope you’ll keep reading.
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