We all need a different media ecosystem than the one we have right now. There are lots of people frustrated with the structure and economics of publishing, and lots of people looking for ways to put power back into the hands of creators, diversifying the range of who and what gets published. We want to play a part in shaping what could be, and to partner with other folks looking for viable alternatives to legacy publications.
Publishing needs to prioritize different voices. We’ll actively seek out and commission underrepresented, historically undervalued voices. We’ll give contributors who have been chronically underpublished and underpaid the same chance to experiment and develop and get bylines and cred and supporters that their White, often male counterparts have had. And money! We’ll give them money.
Freelance writers deserve more from publications that would be nothing without them. A freelance-based system creates opportunities for new voices and ideas to flourish, with writers who aren’t tied to a particular beat or POV. When you pair that with unfettered capitalism, it also creates opportunities for exclusion and abuse. Publications owe writers safe working conditions, fair contracts, responsive editors, and clear expectations. Collaboration and competitive compensation produce better work than isolation and bootstrapping, and we want to provide new artists with creative partners, pooled resources, and production support beyond what their existing audience can help them afford on their own.
We don’t believe in paywalls. We believe in accessibility. We believe that fact-checking is a public good. We believe in progressive taxes and saying the next round is on us. Those with the means to pay for the things they want are always in a position to support public access to art and information they want everyone to be able to experience.
Money is neither equally distributed, nor the only resource with value. Our Backer-Barter membership model accepts whatever currency a supporter can offer — money, ideas, expertise, networks, time. They’re all key for building a sustainable, humane publication that gives contributors what they need and readers what they want.
Sustainability starts with an investment. The Pipe Wrench team is fortunate enough to have the resources needed for the foundations. That first round was on us; the next rounds are up to you.