Exit, Pursued by a Bear

I have all the feelings.

Sad Keanu/Madrigal. (Alexis Madrigal)

The one piece of advice I've given to writers more than any other is: just say what happened.

So, here's what happened: In 2010, I took a job with The Atlantic and it turned out to be everything one could hope a job would be.

My colleagues became my best friends. The publication grew, and my profile grew along with it, both inside and outside the company. I got the opportunity to hire a bunch of brilliant people. I discovered my voice as a writer, which is a cliche thing that is also a real thing. I covered so many interesting stories. My work has been so, so satisfying. On the weekends, left to my own devices, I would write—that is to say I would work—because I love it. Monday mornings were exciting.

I would wake up in the dim light of an Oakland dawn and dial in to the morning conference call, imagining my colleagues gathered around the starfish microphone thingy that almost works. Then I would start in on the work, and before I knew it, it was 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. The days, the weeks, the months. I don't know where they went. I know I spent them with amazing people. I've learned so much from my bosses John Gould, Bob Cohn, and James Bennet and the cast of characters who covered technology during my time: Nick Jackson, Becca Rosen, Megan Garber, Rob Meyer, Adrienne LaFrance, Rose Eveleth.

Other stuff happened, too, I moved to Washington D.C. and then back to the Bay. I got engaged, then married. I became a dad. (Man, did I become a dad.) I grew a mustache. I shaved a mustache.

And as time went on, I would sometimes consider doing something else, and but then ... Nah. I'd be my generation's James Fallows—just stay and build this beautiful thing for my career.

But that's not what's happening. This is my last day as a staffer at The Atlantic. I'll still be on the masthead, but as a contributing editor now.

I start in a couple of weeks at Fusion, the ABC-Univision joint venture. I'll be writing, building a team here in Oakland, putting on events, and creating and hosting a TV show. Our topic? The future(s).

So, what pulled me away? Really it was the challenge of wanting to work in new mediums. I've been working in words for so long. But, as a media maker, I felt the call of podcasts and video and art. I wanted to make something that wouldn't exist solely in the stream.

And yet: Television programming, to me, just feels weird, an atavism. It doesn't work for me. I turn it on and don't know what I'm looking at.

But what if I could make television that I'd love, that the people around me who feel the same way about television, would love? There is no rule that says that TV must be or look a certain way. And maybe I could help make it look and be different.

So, that's how it went down. I got too excited to care that I might fail and I made the leap.

And now it's 4:50 p.m. Eastern on my last Friday. I take comfort in knowing that at an institution like The Atlantic, the individual editors are like shark teeth, indispensable until they're gone, and then replaced by another that's just as sharp.

Stay in touch: alexis.madrigal [at] gmail.