It’s impossible to predict what any job will be like until you’re already ensnared inside a place, but it’s safe to say that when I started at Jezebel I had some distinct ideas. Rarely do you love a place from afar and then find yourself with the chance to become part of it. By the time I joined Jezebel in 2019, I had read the site for so long, and so fervently, that I’d practically imprinted on it—an odd tale that’s also, I think, a pretty typical experience among the writers and editors who choose to come here and make a website each day.
This job has been better, harder, weirder, more challenging, terrifying, and thrilling than I conjured in even my wildest fantasies from my perch on the outside staring in. It’s pushed me up against a group of brilliant weirdos who shook me out of my magazine roots and rearranged my brain and my ideas of storytelling. It has humbled me to watch an already nimble, scrappy staff make good work on even thinner resources. It’s forced me to consider boning aliens.
And I’ve gotten to shepherd the kind of work that would be impossible to publish almost anywhere else: dispatches from the anti-vax frontlines, the Iowa caucuses, a boutique egg freezing clinic, an ass-themed comeback party, the launches of a “cancelled” bestseller and a viral sandwich. We’ve reappraised iconic television men, “feminist” institutions, and interrogated abuse and misconduct with the space and sensitivity rarely allotted for such stories. I got to run reporting on Amazon, gender-affirming surgery, online therapy, the future of the Republican Party, QAnon. Stories that would’ve been news blips on any other site became nuanced, elegant features giving life and space to the people within them. I got to run essays few other outlets would’ve published but everyone read. I got to write about my feelings and the history that built them.
In isolation, a small handful of these stories would be impressive. But as a body of work produced during years of mass chaos in the media industry—under any number of different owners, bosses, presidents, and, for half this time, an historic pandemic—it’s an impossible, improbable achievement. The team Julianne Escobedo Shepherd leads with blood and maniacal laughter is what makes this site soldier on, through anything that’s thrown at it (and almost everything has been thrown at it). It will always feel like a bit of a dream that I got to work here. I’m grateful that I got the chance.