The New Mic

Allow us to reintroduce ourselves.

A set of various doodles and smiley faces in yellow and black
So Fresh & So Clean
Originally Published: 

Welcome to the new Mic!

This relaunch isn't just a reimagining of the Mic brand, it’s also an anniversary of sorts. As of 2021, Mic has been a part of the media landscape for a decade, and what a decade it’s been.

The site launched in 2011 as a blog called Policy Mic before shortening its name — and transitioning to a full-fledged media company — in 2014. At the time, I was editor-in-chief of a small website owned by Complex called NTRSCTN, which had what I believed to be a vital mission: “to reflect the unique identities of all millennials.” (As a reminder, in 2014, vowels were excised from nearly all media brands, especially millennial ones.)

At the time, identity narratives and social justice commentary were often cordoned off to separate verticals (think: “Latino Voices” or “Our Stories”), which always felt weird and counterproductive to me. It made it seem like there was only one dominant, valid point of view, and that other communities and their perspectives — along with the issues that affected them — were being sidelined.

It was the apex of the Obama era, when we were all buoyed by the promise of progress, and I was really moved by Mic’s social justice coverage at the time. Powerful PSAs with Kendrick, SZA, and others speaking out on the inhumane practices of ICE and Beyoncé, Rihanna, and dozens of other pop culture icons powerfully petitioning for an end to police brutality come to mind. So do award-winning features like Unerased and Black Monuments advocating for POC and queer and trans communities.

When I came to Mic in 2019, after it was acquired by BDG, I saw a real opportunity to reinvent the brand, leaving behind what now felt like an outdated idea of pandering to millennials and centering it on a new generation who was raised on the internet.

The time we’ve been rebuilding Mic has been among the most disorienting years of our lives.

During the pandemic, record numbers of Americans were galvanized into action as protests erupted across the country. As a racial reckoning spread from the workplace to the marketplace, the incremental progress made was both impressive in its immediacy, but underwhelming in scope — it didn’t solve racism, it just pointed out how pervasive it was. We’re not all living in the same world, and the communities we come from create stark divides in our experiences. We’ve been forced to ask new questions of our communities, our friendships, and of ourselves.

At this moment, we need more than information. We need empathy, insight, connection, levity, and, yes, even escapism. The newest iteration of Mic reflects that monumental shift. It’s not a pivot — it’s an entirely new perspective.

The new Mic is not a millennial news outlet.

Mic is a digital culture magazine. We aim to reflect the unrest, optimism, and obsessions of a new generation with sharp commentary, insightful profiles, and essential reporting. We meet readers where they are and amplify voices that can speak directly to the unique moment we’re in right now.

Mic’s take on culture is expansive. It’s more than what we watch or listen to; it’s who we are and how we see ourselves; how we care, and how we cope. We make space for young people’s complexities and speak to the whole person. We make as much room for fun — Shrooms! Bimbos! Dragging Rudy Giuliani! — as we do for thoughtful analysis of climate anxiety, class wars, and how we grapple with identity.

Mic’s design ethos has also evolved to reflect our new voice.

Good news — we’ve finally ditched the corporate green! When we were imagining what the new Mic would look like, I told our product team I wanted Mic’s homepage to feel like an amusement park. Somehow, they managed to deliver on that directive. We also incorporated ‘60s iconography and vintage typography. I was inspired by grainy scans of Rolling Stone from the ‘70s, a publication that took young people seriously, and where the images were as impactful as the interviews. The result, we hope, is bold, unexpected, playful, and a little weird — a reflection of how it feels like to be young and figuring it out in this strange moment.

Each of our verticals — Culture, Identity, Life, and Impact — provide a critical lens through which we can better understand our world, our future, and ourselves.

Part of that understanding comes from creating coverage that threads the needle between contrasting impulses — articles that are as joyful as they are impactful, and that grapple with the real world but also revel in escaping from it.

Slacker’s Syllabus is our answer to the Instagram explainer, a tap-through breakdown of all the issues that matter to Mic readers.

Mic’s new signature profile series, Good Ones, features artists we love whose work makes a measurable impact and who, either by virtue of who they are or the art they create, challenge our assumptions and push against the status quo.

We’re also debuting Mic’s first-ever cover story with Issa Rae, a creator who deeply embodies the “Good Ones” ethos, and Mic’s approach to culture more generally.

I’ve gleaned so much from Issa — both on-screen and off — over the years: the delicate dance between sharing and self-preservation, the word “hoetation,” and what it means to work in a way that shines a light for others.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what “doing the work” really means.

I don’t mean the work we’re paid for, but the kind of sustained focus that makes us better — for ourselves, and for others. In a world that values painstakingly presenting ourselves over truly being seen, there’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from putting our best energy and effort into uplifting others.

My personal motto has always been “lift as you climb.” The phrase has been used to mean many different things, but it appears to have originated with civil rights activist Ella Baker.

For me, the phrase is a reminder of the importance of elevating other people as I pursue my own purpose. But lately, I’ve been thinking I might have gotten it wrong. Lifting other people up might actually be my purpose in and of itself. Ambition for ambition’s sake is a meaningless undertaking, but if you infuse care into your projects, and share your truth radically and fearlessly, you do more than climb — you create community wherever you go.

In a world where tenderness can be hard to come by, nothing accomplishes more.

—Shanté Cosme, Editor-in-Chief

From left to right, photographer Kajal, cover star Issa Rae, Mic EIC Shanté Cosme