James Piecowye thinking out loud

Ideas, inspiration and a bit of random.

More Journalism Re-imagined.

Posted on | November 16, 2014 | No Comments

I am always interested in how we take the idea of storytelling and marry it to technology.

And here is another experiment, Latterly.

The idea of returning to the roots of journalism, narrating the world, is compelling.

And every good idea has a manifesto.

what we do

Narrative journalism combines the standards and goals of journalistic reporting with the devices of literature. That’s a powerful thing. Narrative journalism peers deeply, like a good novel, into what it is to be human. Like beautiful music, it can put a chill in your spine or tears in your eyes. And while there are truths in all art, narrative journalism is, by definition, true.

Starting Nov. 18, Latterly will begin publishing this kind of storytelling, with four pieces each month from all over the world. You won’t find sensationalism. No ads, either. Just really compelling stories.

Latterly is different from other digital magazines. We never refer to our stories and photographs as “content,” and they are not our “product” — terms that commoditize the life stories of our subjects. Journalism isn’t our “passion project”; it is our raison d’être. And while other digital journalism startups depend on free labor, we are paying our journalists from Day One.

Most importantly, we don’t care about clicks. We won’t monitor our traffic. Because of our unique ad-free, community-based model, we only care about two things: the stories, and our community of journalists and readers. That’s you.

how it works

Our model is simple. Anyone can read one story for free. Subscribers pay just $3 per month or $8 every three months. In return, they’ll receive complete access to the stories they’ve funded.

Narrative journalism is expensive, and so are the striking photographs we’ll deliver in each issue. Even straightforward stories can cost thousands of dollars to produce. Traditional media, which depend heavily on advertising, are withering under their failing revenue models. And most digital publications aren’t paying their journalists fairly. Unless something changes soon, journalists will stop telling important stories.

This is Latterly’s mission — to keep this work alive.

During the first several months, Latterly is investing 100 percent of its revenue back into the journalism. We are not a nonprofit, but for-profit doesn’t seem to fit, either. We don’t have investors; we have subscribers and donors. And periodically, as other publications have done, we will publish our finances so that anyone can see where each dollar goes.

who we are

The Latterly family, in order of importance:

1. The subjects of our stories, who accept great personal risks in boldly sharing their inner lives with the public

2. Our subscribers, who care about making a better future and without whom this journalism would not be possible

3. Journalists and photojournalists whose talents illuminate the hidden corners of our world

Latterly was created by freelance journalist Ben Wolford and Christina Asencio, a human rights lawyer. Ben grew up in Ohio and has contributed to The New York Times andNewsweek. Christina, whose advocacy helps refugees and immigrants, grew up in Miami. They now live in Bangkok.


What is even more interesting is who the creators of Latterly are, old school journalists.

So what we have is a new journalism outlet.

But what we also have are a group of realists who understand that traditional funding of journalism just doesn’t work.

Traditional revenue models where metrics such as impressions or page views are valued cannot support this type of narrative journalism, he added, because it would not generate enough traffic to make an investment pay off.

“So I think a reader-funded model is more suited for this type of journalism.”

Latterly was inspired by the style of stories published in Epic Magazine, and its funding model is one publications such as Compass Cultura are working with “in smaller niches”, he said.

I look forward to reading what Latterly publishes.


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