Why is Medium Trying to Scare the Crap Out of Me?

I provide for my family off of this platform. Vision ain’t enough, bruh.

I provide for my family off of this platform. Vision ain’t enough, bruh.

I’m not one of those creators who came to Medium to find my voice, or to become a better writer, or to find artistic Nirvana by way of a clean looking CMS. I run the HBCU Digest. I have advertisers and a growing follower base. The stories and editorials I write help to set the agenda for a sector in higher education that is in real trouble, and that trouble could mean crisis for African Americans.

I respect Ev Williams and his vision for a better way of producing content for a population which desperately needs to read more and to think more broadly. But I feed my family off of this. I do this full time. And I thought Medium would be a unique place to serve my readers and the schools that I cover in a unique way.

I’m all in for the founder life. The HBCU Digest will enter its seventh year of existence on Jan. 26. I’ve gone from WordPress to Squarespace to Tumblr, and finally to Medium, which I thought was my last stop in my schizophrenic approach to digital publishing and design. College presidents loved it, students loved it, HBCU alumni still debate whether I care about black colleges or want to destroy them, but everyone seems to be all in for the look, feel and access of the content.

And now this.

Medium Lays Off a Third of Its Staff in Pursuit of Its Vision
The digital publishing company Medium on Wednesday laid off 50 employees – a third of its staff – as part of a larger…www.nytimes.com

I’m not here for this. I think I’ve held up my end of the bargain in being a good publisher on Medium. I’m one of the folks, hopefully, who capably contributes to the rise of African American voices on the platform (shout out to Bridget Todd, one of the good folks who was laid off today but helped to cultivate the Black Medium lounge and connect its members with other outstanding writers). HBCU presidents like Walter M. Kimbrough and Tashni-Ann Dubroy are now writing on Medium as a way to communicate about important issues in higher education, and access to it for an underserved population.

We aren’t among those on Medium bitching about how they can’t get recommends and reads. We are producing content that matters. It’s the thing Ev Williams talked about in his vision. But for a third of the staff to be laid off, offices closed, and few answers about if the platform upon which I make a living for a wife, two sons and a child-to-arrive in May coming my way, you can understand why I am once again contemplating a move back to WordPress. Like tonight, right after I post this.

I don’t complain about Medium. I love it. It serves the needs of my independent media company well. Do I wish it allowed more flexibility with advertising? Yes, but that’s only because advertising is what keeps my family in a warm house with food on our table and able to pay fees for little league basketball and soccer. Do I respect that Medium has artists in mind and in their hearts? Absolutely.

I love that Your Friends @ Medium write great posts and respond to people, and that they let folks cuss them out on the homepage of the site. I love the transparency and the mission. It’s the same thing I wish for the HBCU Digest to evolve into. I was hoping to make millions with Medium, or at least to live happily under the guise that one day I could.

Now I’m not sure. Because I’m reading about a yet-to-be-plotted vision that involves my family, my livelihood, and my life’s calling.

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