On March 16, 2021, I woke up and said something like, Oh, right, today’s the day I was supposed to make a documentary about the Dig surviving through this shittiest of years.
I hadn’t devised a specific plan, but generally I wanted to compile some sort of time capsule about the struggle we have endured to continue reporting the news. Our difficulties aren’t comparable to the family and personal hardships that too many people are still living through, but we’re among the last outlets that cover those for whom basic comforts amount to luxury amenities in good times, and considering that we’ve been going extra hard on that grind all year, it seemed like a video compendium was fitting.
To be completely candid, my initial motivation was to learn how to use the pro movie camera that I’m fortunate enough to have access to through the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism (BINJ), which three of us founded in 2015 to support local reporting. I also wanted to teach myself how to use professional editing software. But after recording my first couple of interviews, I began to realize that while those technical lessons are critical, again, this is the sort of thing that we ought to be documenting, and for a few reasons.
The first is probably quite obvious: The local journalism tailspin continues as the impact of the virus drags on, and we figured that since we’re that nimble scrappy indie weekly that could, there are probably some lessons for others in what we have done. I hope you watch my mini doc to see for yourself, but in short we have survived on a mixture of member donations, funding from BINJ, government loans, the sweat and passion of our many contributors, and endless workweeks for the three of us who run this ship.
But the most important thing that I believe this Dig video diary can offer is something I hadn’t realized was needed or possible until I started to edit the footage. And that’s an opportunity for those who read us to see who we are and get a glimpse of why we do what we do, plus a little bit of how we do it. At a time when reporters are simultaneously under attack from right-wingers who want to literally kill us and faux-leftist trolls acting like the fascists who they purport to disdain, it can’t hurt to show that there are actual people who pour their damn hearts into this publication.
Without further ado, it’s called Total Annihilation: How One Scrappy Independent Newspaper Weathered a Pandemic Year. I sincerely hope that you enjoy it. It wasn’t my original intention, but as it turns out, I made it for you.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, DIGBOSTON