I have never been so nervous and excited about an Editor’s Note.
Over the last three years, I have felt so seen. I came to Discorder having had my passion exploited by independent media organizations and nonprofits for years. The gift of leading a publication, mentoring contributors and collaborating in good faith has filled my spirit and emboldened me to share this magazine with other people and communities that have felt excluded or ignored completely. When considering what will be regarded as my legacy as Editor-In-Chief, I hope that people will acknowledge the transformation of Discorder Magazine while I’ve been Editor, but I believe the credit for that transformation belongs to the entire masthead, which is the strongest team I have known. I expect that my individual legacy lies somewhere in these beautiful-weird Editor’s Notes.
I’ve said this before, the purpose of an Editor’s Note in Discorder is vague. I’ve used this space to comment on issues outside of the magazine that resonate with readers, to amplify the topics whispered about at shows and parties and in the offices of CiTR 101.9FM. To every person who has ever thanked me for the content of these notes, I am so honoured and grateful to you for reading them. I wrote these words, but they were inspired by you. I hope that I’ve done you justice.
There’s a certain symmetry between my arrival and my departure, which in a lot of ways is long overdue. Three years ago, Discorder was the antidote for cynicism that resulted from having my passion exploited; today Discorder is the cause of cynicism from having my work undervalued.
The job posting for Editor-In-Chief is public, so it’s no secret that the position pays $16 per hour for 21 hours per week, no benefits. This is not a starting wage, but the same wage that I receive now after three years. When I began, I was paid $400 per issue. An hourly wage is an improvement, but it’s far from a liveable wage. In 2015, I burned for recognition and for the opportunity to prove myself. But now, at 29-years old and confident in my capabilities as a writer and an artist, glory isn’t paying my fucking rent.
I bring this up because I know that I am not the only person in this position. I know that most readers are young professionals and creatives working precarious jobs that are often not in their chosen fields, or students uncertain about their futures. Well, you deserve better and I deserve better and the next Editor-In-Chief deserves better.
To CiTR’s credit, the workplace culture is one that encourages critique and the constant reevaluation of priorities. As an organization, it’s fluid and responsive to its community. A remarkable example is the development of the Sexual Violence, Bullying and Harassment Policy over this past year, voted into existence last month. Like a lot of smaller nonprofit arts organizations and campus-community radio station, CiTR does the best that it can to support members and staff.
If you’re feeling undervalued, it is not exclusively the fault of your employer, but a flaw of the society that we exist in — where people will pay $300 to see Beyoncé and Jay-Z at BC Place but they won’t pay $20 to see lesser-known bands at a local venue; where some promoters / gallerists / publishers / boards will put women, non-binary people, people of colour and Indigenous people on lineups / in exhibitions / on mastheads / on committees for the sole purpose of ensuring that they’re not called out for continuing to favour white men; where people will tolerate alleged sexual predators in positions of influence because it’s easier than dealing with the privilege that put them there. It’s all part of the same puzzle of misguided values and corrupt reward systems.
It may seem overly ambitious, but I believe that every one of us can work to effect change on a grassroots and larger scale. You may not be in a position to speak up for yourself, but you can speak up for others, especially for those who produce the cultural content that entertains you. You can ask questions and choose to engage in conversations around wage and compensation. Artists and cultural workers literally cannot afford to keep these topics taboo any longer.
At the time I write this, a new Editor-In-Chief hasn’t been hired yet and CiTR has extended the deadline because there are so few applicants. I wish the lack of interest is because my shoes are too big to fill, but I know that it’s because the pay is shit. What I will say is that the opportunity to work with Discorder’s Art Director, Ricky Castanedo-Laredo almost makes up for it. Ricky has shown me so much patience and trust, and I am incredibly thankful to have been paired up with such a talented artist and to call him my friend.
Ricky should be paid more, though, along with everyone else who make this magazine possible.
I hope you like this issue as much as I do.