What does the title connote and what does it say about your content?
I took it from this quote by the Georgia congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis: “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate, to stand up, to speak up and speak out, and get in the way, get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.” “Good trouble” is a phrase that he uses quite often to refer to the actions and protests that people sometimes have to take in order to stand up for what they believe. I felt it perfectly encapsulated everything the publication wanted to celebrate: irreverence and a spirit of rebellion, with a positive cause.
Calling this #22 suggests a long run and a certain amount of success. How do you define that success?
Ah, that’s an unintended illusion, the first issue was called ‘Issue 23’ and this, our second issue, is called ‘Issue 22’. We started in the middle and now we’re counting down to something or other, I’m not sure what yet. Simply to publish a second issue in this climate, and to have people want to buy and stock it, feels like a success at the moment.
Interesting conceit, that. I was fooled. In any case, who are you reaching? And, more to the point, haven’t you heard that people don’t read anymore?
I’ve watched (and participated) in newspapers that have reduced their sizes from grand broadsheets to tiny tabs and Berliners. Why so big?
I think that’s exactly the appeal, and certainly Richard was interested to make it as big as we could and use this somewhat archaic format for our own subversive purposes. I suppose it’s because we weren’t subject to the same commercial pressures and we like to be as contrarian as possible.
What is your most challenging editorial concern?
As a Brit living in the US, it is hard to avoid the ongoing horrors of the Trump administration. Just as an example, there are still more than 500 kids separated from their parents in US custody – more than a month after a court ordered them to be reunited. It’s horrendous. It’s simply inhumane. Its weaponized incompetence. But I try to take as wide a view as possible, and include stories from around the world and related to a variety of causes, from climate change to the refugee crisis. Though for practical and resource-related reasons, there’s an obvious skew to New York and London as dual home-bases.
What’s next for the paper?
I really want to get round to making some Good Trouble tea-towels.