It’s time for laughter

Yes, we do wear some serious faces.

Alongside other brave journalists in the country, we chose independent and progressive journalism. We decided to take the emotional risk of practicing media at a time when more often than not the stories we tell are of a bleak reality. We knew withdrawal was possible — almost desirable — and that it came with promises of a better and healthier life, for us and for our loved ones.

But we chose the daily occupation of writing about the ways in which people’s lives and rights are consistently, persistently violated. We come to work every day to write about how corruption has permeated every aspect of our lives, and how it has been the practice of both the old and the young. Every day we write a story on how our country is mismanaged and subjected to poor, shortsighted policy making. Every day we try to think, analyze and articulate how those managing our lives are doing very little thinking, analyzing or articulation.

Every day we grapple with turning this everyday brutality into a subject of inquiry, instead of just living it, passing it by and slowly forgetting about it in the quest to survive.

On exceptional days there is real fear. A kind of fear that makes bits of your body tremble steadily, a fear that pops up in your sleep. Fortunately there aren’t too many of them.

Other days we wonder how long this will last. We operate with the understanding that there might be no tomorrow for this journalistic venture of ours, for a bundle of economic and political reasons. I am often forced to assume a detachment, for fear of too much sadness if Mada has to go one day.

But mind you, if it wasn’t for fun, we wouldn’t have lasted. We know how to laugh and even how to make you laugh along. We know how to fight paranoia with a good meal and we try not to take ourselves too seriously, after all.

It’s also fun to work together and learn from each other. We spend long hours thinking and rethinking our job titles as editors, reporters and business developers. We spend hours fixing each other’s typos and blunders. We’ve created a small virtual family, and at the risk of sounding patriarchal, a family is inevitably a departure point for some major construction and deconstruction.

It’s been two and a half years since we posted our first story. We have since published hundreds of stories that try not to miss the information you should know and won’t find elsewhere. We’ve written dozens of long-form features, some of which explore the different literary routes one can take to tell stories and represent certain intricacies. It’s been two and a half years of endless editorial discussions behind the interface you see. It’s been two and half years of defining and redefining the journalism we wish to produce, a journalism in which raw information, people, and language are craftily, artistically intertwined by writers and editors who are very much implicated in the stories told. It’s a new wave of journalism that has abandoned the traditional voyeur’s seat.

It has also been two and a half years of building an institution and organizing a body of people in ways we wish we could have been organized by our states. It’s an institution that aims to mobilize its individual energies toward a project that individually and collectively makes sense. It’s been two and a half years of business development, unfolding through imagining a broader vision for a self-sustainable media operation. This sometimes means leaving our screens to interact with the public on the ground, through a group of products and services that may be as necessary as information.

Part of this group of activities is tomorrow’s Mada 2.0 Birthday Party, where we will celebrate our second anniversary, our new website launch and a bunch of other beginnings. Come join us, for the celebration has no meaning without our community of readers and supporters. And above everything and despite everything, let’s make space for laughter.*

“Make space for laughter” is a line from Sonallah Ibrahim’s Notes from Prison.