But you know, even when you have a generous owner who is not trying to make a gazillion dollars and skim the cream, this game is still really, really hard. You still have limited funds. You still can't pay freelancers a living wage. The only strategy that makes sense is to hire some people. Then, you learn from each other (thanks, Megan Garber!). You work hard. You write good stuff. You comfort each other when people are huge a-holes in the comments. You catch typos for each other. You come up with jokes on Gchat. You figure out who has the golden touch with headlines (Derek Thompson is a certifiable genius at this). You make friends on the print side (Kate Julian! I know I owe you another Q&A candidate) and try to learn their game. You stare at Chartbeat and ask yourself, "Why am I doing this? It is two in the morning and I should be asleep and even my cat is giving me the stinkeye."
And then, you hope hope hope that this amounts to something sustainable. Because I owe it to this institution to help ensure its survival. I'll be damned if The Atlantic dies with my generation, if all that is left of it when I leave is some moldering books and cold servers. Quite possibly, I would get to the gates of heaven and Ida Tarbell would be sitting there like, "Wait, wait, *you're* one of those guys who let The Atlantic die?" And poof: trapdoor in the clouds, burning in hell for all eternity. Actually, strike that, I'd probably get stuck in purgatory rewriting press releases about corporate sustainability, forced to eat tuna sandwiches every day for lunch.
Anyway, the biz ain't what it used to be, but then again, for most people, it never really was. And, to you Mr. Thayer, all I can say is I wish I had a better answer.