Thank you, readers! And a note*
Change is coming.
I’m so thrilled you’re here, and so engaged! Your feedback has greatly encouraged me to feel that the path I’m interested in taking now — a new and different way to tell my reported stories, a way to get into the how — is of interest to you. But I want to talk to you about a new aspect to Chills that is coming soon.
As I think you’ve seen, you can currently subscribe to my Substack for free, or support it by paying a subscription fee by month or by year.
As of May 14, some of my content will start to publish behind a paywall — exclusively for paid subscribers. This is not meant to deprive anyone of critical stories, but rather to be a transition that will (hopefully) allow me to make a living doing what I love, which means offering you important journalism with a twist: Chills delivers a behind-the-scenes look at how complex international investigative stories get made.
I’ve been publishing in places like The Guardian, The Atlantic and The New York Times for about 20 years now. But with the future of journalism so uncertain — because of the slow but inevitable death of print media, and the “trust no outlet or fact” disaster that has recently overtaken our country, if not the world — my future as a reporter is not necessarily sustainable.
All I’ve ever wanted is the opportunity to tell the essential stories of people who don’t have the reach to tell their own. It’s deeply personal, the reason I do this often dangerous journalism. (I’ve talked more about why I do it here, in an interview with UN Dispatch.)
I have never been a highly paid journalist. (Generally, I have only ever received about $250 to $350 for any 2,000-word article written from a war zone, even for major publications like The Atlantic and Foreign Policy.) Over eight years, I estimate that I spent at least $20,000 of my own hard-earned and carefully watched money just to make sure I could be on the ground to tell the stories I believed were crucial for the world to hear — whether they were articles about the abuse of women in the Syrian war or the arrest of the Guatemalan president responsible for 30 years of an insidious civil war in his country. I spent that money because I felt I had to, and I’m glad I did. But it hasn’t made doing something like this Substack easy.
Despite what many people seem to think, the vast majority of print journalists just don’t get the big bucks.
If you choose to pay for a subscription to Chills, some of the things you’ll get are extras like Ask Me Anythings; new interviews with my sources and fellow journalists; oddities related to stories, such as art or historical context (here’s an example); as well as live classes (schedule TBD), in which I will teach you how I do the kind of difficult journalism I do, while describing best practices. My hope is that, if you need it, I will be able to mentor you as possible while you endeavor to report and write your own tough journalism projects.
On top of that, there are things I’ll be offering that I’m still discovering. This is why I love this platform!
Right now, until May 20, if you pay to subscribe, you’ll get 10 percent off the monthly rate of $6, or of the yearly rate of $68.
I hope you have enjoyed reading Chills so far. I appreciate your support, which will allow me to keep it going, and continue to expand the scope of the project. If not, I recognize what a difficult time we’re in. This year has been bananas, and, like you, I’m figuring out this new reality as I go.
No matter what, I feel honored that I have such an engaged readership who cares about the unseen issues in our world that we can, maybe, actually do something about. I believe in journalism for the public good. I know you do too.
I hope you’ll stick with me as I find new ways to continue that here.
Thank you, as always, for reading.