Getting to know each other

A reader survey and updates from behind-the-scenes
Watercolour illustration of a turquoise-topped cake with an @ sign and a large red 100 placed on top like a candle.
Happy 100th, by Tan Kuan Aw

Dear Debriefers,

Somehow the Debrief reached its 100th edition this month. Thanks for joining me on this journey, and making it possible.

As well as celebrating that, it's a chance to go behind-the-scenes on where the Debrief is at and where it's going.

And it's also a chance to get to know y'all better! In the spirit of helping me set the directions for the next hundred editions, please:

It's only ten questions and you can answer as many or as few of them as you like.

These hundred editions were made possible because individuals and organisations support the Debrief on a pay-as-you can basis. Thanks to Brendan and to Genevieve for renewed subscriptions.

How the journey changes us

Every time I press publish on a newsletter I get a thrill of trepidation. Is there a mistake, an overlooked typo, an obvious error? Is the coverage wrong or controversial? Will this go down well? The work of days or months goes out into the world.

And that's the beauty of it. To share, to get feedback, to do it again next week. It takes on a direction of its own, and one that's gone far beyond my initial plans. In January 2020, when I started a newsletter to stay in touch with international disability work I thought maybe a hundred colleagues would be interested.

That's one of the biggest changes since I started: the audience is bigger and more diverse than I would have thought. It's both folk all-in on disability as well as those curious to be introduced to it. This is one reason it'll help me to know who's reading this now.

It's particularly fitting that the 100th edition was Alexander Ogheneruemu's coverage from Nigeria. I never could have imagined that at the start of the project, when I didn't even know Alex. We met in part through Alex's thoughtful reactions to each new Debrief.

This is a journey that's changed me. And I like to think it might have changed some of you too. Let me know how, in the reader survey.

Behind-the-scenes updates

And on my side, I want to update you on how things are going for the Debrief. This time last year I set some directions for the next twelve months. Here I'll revisit each one and say how I'm adjusting them going forward. Transparency isn't just something to talk about, it's a practice.

“Making great content”. I like to think mission accomplished. See more in last year's stocktake on how the Debrief covers stories you won't read elsewhere. Since then two pieces this year have been among the most-viewed (and most influential) since the Debrief started: coverage of the International Disability Alliance, and analysis of gatekeeping in the disability movement. This goal stays the same:

  • Make great content.

“Double the Debrief's audience.” This was a miss. The audience continues to grow, but not that fast. It's about 35% growth on the email list and 55% on web traffic. But organic growth of a highly engaged audience is more important than overall size. Relationships are more important than numbers. A better goal going forward is:

  • Grow connections with the Debrief community.

“Triple what I invest in contributors.” I'm proud to say we exceeded this one. The financial year just closed saw £8,523 invested in writers and illustrations for the Debrief, an increase of over three times from £2,557 of the year before. I would love to continue to grow this exponentially, although maybe not at the same rate. So adjusting it to:

  • Double the investment in contributors.

“Upgrade curation and navigation of the library.” Last summer I made a significant upgrade to how the library can be browsed, and I hope soon to be able to share new ways to search it. From that basis we have the more important goal of content. The UN has 193 member countries. I have disability news from 149 (77%) of them, and am working on more. So the new goal:

  • Extend curation of disability news to 90% of countries.

“Build the partnerships and fundraising that make this possible.” Thanks to individual readers and organisations, the Debrief fundraising this year reached an amazing £70,681. That's a 66% increase on the year before. See the full accounts for details. This goal stays the same:

  • Build partnerships and fundraising.

It's extraordinary to have this support for a product that is given away for free. Thanks to all of you for embracing the idea of making the Debrief a resource available to all. Being in this privileged position means that I'm now in a position to use my time and resources to support others, so there's a new goal:

  • Support the wider ecosystem of disability media.

If fundraising continues to grow then I will be able to give mini-grants to help others take forward their own projects in disability media. Stay tuned, and if you can contribute, please do join those supporting.

Making a new future

Through the Debrief we are finding a new lens to witness, understand and shape the situation of disabled people around the world. It's a new way of telling human stories and talking about social change. A new way to understand the world, and to change it. Together, we can make a new future.

Thanks again for joining me,


p.s. Next stop on the journey is filling out the survey. Or, if you're not up for that, hit reply and tell me in a sentence how reading the Debrief impacts you.

Please share this with friends, as that's how people find the Debrief. On socials we're on Linkedin, twitter at @DisDebrief and I'm @desibility. And hit reply to say hello!


A million thanks to all those who have made this journey possible.

Thanks as ever to Tan Kuan Aw for the illustration, and to Áine Kelly-Costello and other friends for feedback and ideas that shaped this piece.