Thursday, November 7, 2019
November 7, 2019: 9 Years of AmericanStudier: Other Online Gigs
[This week marks this blog’s 9th anniversary! Nearly 2800 posts later, AmericanStudier has become my most extended & enduring life’s work, and so this week I wanted to share a handful of the reasons why I’ve kept it going for so long. Leading up a special weekend list of other scholarly blogs that we should all be reading—add your suggestions (including your own blog of course), please!]
Over the last 9 years I’ve had the chance to write for many different online spaces, whether scholarly, political, or mass media. But I’ve had three main, multi-year such online gigs, and each has both reflected and contributed to my blog writing:
1) Talking Points Memo (TPM): In November 2014, Avi Green of the Scholars Strategy Network helped me land my first op ed with Josh Marshall’s political and social commentary site TPM. Written in response to President Obama’s immigration executive order, that op ed remains my most viral to date—it received over 110,000 views and became TPM’s 4th most-viewed op ed of 2014. I had to write that 750-word op ed in just a couple hours, and I’m quite sure that my then four years of blogging experience were crucial to my ability to produce a strong short-form piece so quickly. But it, and the 15 months of bimonthly pieces I would go on to write for TPM, also changed my blogging and public scholarship in clear and crucial ways, helping me become both more responsive to our current moment in my topics and ideas and more aware of audience in my voice and form.
2) Huffington Post: When my TPM editor left for another job and the site’s “Café” op ed section began to disappear, I found a second consistent online gig—as a blogger for the Huffington Post (the in the process of morphing into its current form as HuffPost). My HuffPost work wasn’t as consistent, not least because I didn’t work with an editor and so didn’t have the same expectations and schedule. That meant I could write pieces when the need arose, but also made the gig feel both less collaborative and less central to my evolving public scholarly career. But I wrote about 20 pieces for HuffPost over a year and a half period, and that work did force me to continue thinking about the questions of style and form, audience and response that I had begun developing during my TPM tenure. In particular, I would argue that I began finding ways to bring my own voice and experiences into the HuffPost columns more consistently, which both derived from and continued to influence my blogging voice as well.
3) The Saturday Evening Post: In late 2017, I connected with Jennifer Bortel, then the new (or least new-ish) web editor for the Saturday Evening Post. That connection quickly led to my bimonthly Considering History column for the Post, now nearing its 2-year anniversary and by far my most enjoyable and meaningful online writing gig to date. There are lots of reasons why, including how much of a pleasure Jen is to work with; but if I had to sum it up, I would go back to three reasons for starting this blog about which I wrote in Monday’s post: adding to our collective memories in order to counter contemporary political myths and propaganda; finding a space to do public scholarly writing; and finding community and connections. The Post has helped me do all those things, and has in many ways become a true complement to AmericanStudier and second home for my online public scholarly work and identity. Here’s to what’s next (on which more tomorrow)!
Last anniversary reflection tomorrow,
PS. Other scholarly blogs you’d suggest for the weekend list?