Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

Why I Did It

On Monday, I posted a revealing story to explain why Heather and I were no longer at JPG Magazine. It’s the kind of story people don’t usually tell in public. Perhaps I’m into radical transparency or maybe I’m just difficult.

Many have asked me why I did it. I would have loved to handle this privately, but I was told to leave immediately. I was unable to train a replacement or transition the community to a new editor. As it was, the only official word was that I had “left the company to pursue other projects.” That’s like telling a wife her husband has “left to pursue other women.”

The community that made JPG deserved a better explanation than that. So I told the story as honestly as I could. Of course, stories are all subjective, and everyone has their take. And we all have the same opportunity to tell them.

Maybe it was a mistake for me to tell this story. I don’t think it makes me look good. It probably will hurt me financially. And it’s certainly embarrassing. But my professional career is based on inspiring community participation online. I can’t do that again if it looks like I just leave on a whim.

Heather and I formed a strong bond with the members of JPG. That’s what happens in a vibrant community. So you have to expect a backlash when we’re suddently removed. I waitied over two weeks for 8020 to say something publicly, so I could get on with my life. When they didn’t, and MetaFilter started asking questions, I had to tell my story.

I’m glad to see Heather and I have returned to the JPG About page. It’s ironic that it’s basically the same text I wrote, and Paul removed, two weeks ago.

But to be clear, this was never about ego for me. It has always been about respecting the community. Erasing issues 1-6 and pretending that “the new JPG” was somehow not the same magazine with the same community was what I could not agree to – and was what’s made the community so justifiably angry.

I also want to make sure everyone knows that the other employees at 8020 had no hand in this. That’s why I named Paul in my post. If I’d said “the people at 8020,” it would have been untrue. They had no idea this was going on. I’m really sorry this has been so hard on them. It sucks, no doubt about it.

I’ll tell you honestly, watching the JPG backlash makes me sick. JPG was my life’s work for three years. Seeing it fall apart is horrifying. But a trust with the community has been broken, and there’s always a price to pay for that.

I’ve always said that JPG doesn’t own its community – it rents. And that rent is paid by treating the community members with honesty, integrity, and respect. No matter who says what, or who’s loyal to whom, the fact is that issues 1-6 are still missing from the site, and there’s still no public explanation to the thousands of people who made those issues why their work disappeared from the JPG website.

I’ve made my response to that. How you respond is up to you.


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Hi, I’m Derek. I live in San Francisco and make awesome community-centric web stuff. I sometimes post things to Flickr and Twitter. I’m mostly harmless. More.





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