Disclaimer: Ben did not ask me to write this post, nor did I run it by him before I published it (not that I do any other time). These are my personal views, and do not necessarily reflect the views of this site or its owner. But seriously, I’m totally right.
As some of you may remember from a few months ago, after I filled in for him during a week-long vacation from blogging, Ben asked if I would stay on as a contributing editor for The Brooks Review. While the English award I received in elementary school clearly qualified me for such a title, I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to perform up to the standards this site has risen to over the past few years.
Unfortunately, before I even had a chance to buckle under the pressure, I had to write an email I didn’t want to write: “I have to quit”. At the time, between work and life my free time had dwindled to the point where keeping up with even a single-post-per-week pace was impossible.
Thankfully, Ben’s response was even better than I could ask for: keep writing when you can, and don’t let missing a few weeks here and there stop you. And while up to this point I still haven’t had—or, perhaps more accurately, made—the time to write as often as I’d like, I knew I had to write this.
You see, this site is special. It may not look it (though Ben’s taste for elegantly minimal design certainly speaks to my soul), but it really is.
It’s special not because of its content, its design, or even its writers, but because of its independence. And independence not just in terms of ownership, but in editorial process and even its business model.
There are plenty of independent sites out there, many of which I’m sure you read regularly. As an independent media advocate myself, I absolutely love that the Internet has lowered the bar to entry so that anyone—even my mom—can have their voice be heard.
But while many sites like this are independently owned, many rely on a third party of some sort to monetize it. Whether it’s running an ad network spot in the sidebar or RSS feed, or even doing those sales independently, there’s a third party involved that isn’t the site owner, the writers, or the readers. There’s another voice that doesn’t really… fit.
And I don’t begrudge those sites for doing it this way. Ads ran on my own site before it was overrun with crickets. I believe in independent media, and I believe those who create it deserve to be compensated just as those who produce mass media are compensated. If all it takes is a single ad for one of my favourite writers or podcasters to plop themselves into a chair and create magic, then god bless that little ad.
But what’s exciting about this site, as I’m sure you have figured out, is its true independence. While there are a couple of us slugging away at these keys, clamouring for that tiny morsel of attention you have left after work and kids and wives 1 and friends and drinks, we write with a singular aspiration: to entertain you.
Guys, I don’ get paid for this. I did, for that brief shining moment when I was actually dedicated to a posting schedule. But as soon as I stepped down, I told Ben to keep his money because I know both how much this site makes and how much he has invested right back into it.
I first started using the Internet back in 2003. I was in high school, I was a loner in a big crowd of people, and I was drawn to the acceptance I found on the message boards and blogs I participated in. I’ve made great friends online—among which I count Ben—and I believe this was only possible because we were each given permission to have a voice.
Having a voice in a world that so frequently tells you not to have one is one of the most important revolutions of human history. But for that to continue, we need people who can say what needs to be said; whether it’s about the crazy shit our own governments are doing behind our backs or that GODDAMN BLUE ICON, the freedom to speak and have our voices be heard is one of the greatest privileges we’ve ever stumbled into.
The Brooks Review does not use slideshows, articles broken up into multiple pages, or ugly fucking popovers asking you to “SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER GUYZ!” because we don’t need pageviews, ad clicks, or multiple streams of income. We need one.
We need you.
The Brooks Review runs on three things: the dedication we have to provide you with the most honest, brutal truth we can muster about things silly and significant; the love and support our readers have shown this site through your emails, @replies, and crazy-ass comments; and your money.
I’m not going to link to the page Ben’s set up for you to become a contributing member. You can DuckDuckGo that shit. I don’t want to make it easy because my hope isn’t that you’ll support this site. My hope is that you’ll support independent media, whether that’s here or wherever you find that person or group of people who says or writes or performs or draws the things you need to hear or read or experience. Because if you don’t…
- Adendum: Or husbands. Sorry, sometimes my inner chauvinist sneaks out. Apologies. — P ↩