March 20, 2017 (Fault Lines) — At least for the moment, I still have the keys to this joint, and the ability to sneak in and leave a love note. Fault Lines was my baby. I gave it birth and nurtured it. It was conceived as an alternative to anything that existed on the internet, a bunch of writers who actually did what others only wrote about, saw from a distance. It would offer all legitimate views of the criminal justice system rather than pander to one perspective. Fault Lines would be the real deal.
And it was. We had criminal defense and prosecution. We had trench lawyers and judges, academics and cops. I sought out people who would fill niches that would challenge readers’ understanding and bias. Some readers hated it. Some readers appreciated it.
The original concept was to create a website that would not only be financially sustainable, but remunerative. I wanted to get enough traction to make some decent money so that we could pay writers. So that I could be paid for the time and effort put into Fault Lines. Alas, we never achieved that critical mass of readers necessary to do more than make a pittance. It’s unclear why, as the content here was truly good.
The writers at Fault Lines worked hard to bring you posts. They have jobs, practices, family and a life, yet they wrote for your edification, amusement, illumination and vicious attacks. Some of them did so for no better reason than I asked them. They never got a dime for their efforts. They often got their butts kicked by readers who hated any idea that didn’t confirm their feelz.
After it became clear that Fault Lines wasn’t going to be a money-churning machine, it was decided to go a different way. We formed FL Foundation, an educational non-profit, and started a new standalone website. Part of the reason for this shift was that I could no longer dedicate myself to the full-time job of making Fault Lines happen. It may not look that way on your side of the screen, but a great deal went into keeping this joint alive. Far more than anyone, even the writers, appreciated.
The writers chose to keep writing because they believed in the idea that you, the readers, should have something more real, more diverse, than the ignorant fluff you were being fed elsewhere. There was one overarching rule: don’t make people stupider. My respect and admiration for the efforts of the writers at Fault Lines is limitless. I know what they had to go through to make this happen. I know that they suffered to put content on this screen.
Yesterday, I resigned as Managing Editor of Fault Lines. I woke up yesterday morning tired and angry, as I had every morning for the two weeks prior. The demands of making this happen had not only continued after the change, but increased. And a confluence of events made it clear that there was little support for the back end of Fault Lines. Neither the time, effort nor money put into making this happen, or the rules or workflow or limitations, seemed to be worthy of concern.
This was meant to be a good thing. It was always going to be hard, even burdensome, but it was supposed to be worthwhile. Instead, I found myself angry and frustrated. Life is too short to spend it angry and frustrated. And so, it was time for me to walk away.
What will become of Fault Lines is unclear. Perhaps it will continue to live. Perhaps not. If it does, it will be because of the zeal of the writers who persist in trying to make you understand the real criminal justice system rather than the fantasy being sold elsewhere. Whether anyone can, or will, do the lifting I’ve done since Fault Lines was started is another matter. There is no vast wealth, fame or glory in doing this. It is, to be blunt, a thankless task. More thankless than I realized it would be when I started.
But I owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who writes, who wrote, for Fault Lines. I thank the readers, but your thanks is the content we put on the screen for you to read for free, to love or hate. It’s the writers I appreciate. I know what it took for you to produce insight day after day, when it was hard, when you had other things to do, when your kids were crying or your day in court was so shitty that all you wanted to do was drink a tall glass of scotch and go to sleep. And still you wrote, and wrote brilliantly. And you did it because I asked you.
Thank you. SHG out.