Longform bubble? Latterly promises to be different – and international

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Latterly founders Ben Wolford and Christina Asencio. Credit: Latterly.

Ben Wolford likes craft beer, and living indoors, but being a journalist in Brooklyn wasn’t making ends meet. So he moved to Thailand and started Latterly with his wife Christina Asencio.

The longform narrative storytelling magazine has successfully attracted the attention of media reporters at Venture Beat and journalism.co.uk. Prior to hitting its crowdfunding target Friday, Latterly was centrally featured in Columbia Journalism Review’s “Behind the News” blog.

The post titled “Longform Overload” argues that the term longform emerged a few years ago in reaction to the kind of short news stories that are common online but now it’s just a buzzword.

“The market is flooded with longform producers, even as the model for how to succeed is still yet to be cracked,” author Chris Ip wrote.

Despite all the attention, Latterly is by no means the first longform project to find success on Kickstarter. In fact, some of the best known names in longform and most successful campaigns in the history of the Kickstarter Journalism category were to support longform.

Narratively raised more than $50,000 in fall 2012. Matter, now part of Medium, brought in $140,000 earlier that year. The Classical, which can be considered a form of longform sports journalism, brought in $55,000.

Wolford said Latterly will be different by focusing on international journalism for an English-speaking audience and underreported stories. 

The first issue of the magazine and the Kickstarter campaign to pay for the first three issues launched together Nov. 18.

Latterly may be best known for its approach to ads – there are none. Instead the site asks people to pay a $3 a month subscription.

Wolford called the small, specific subscription the future.

“The idea of subcompact publishing, elucidated here by my mentor at Compass Cultura, is probably the future of all publishing. Why should my subscription to The New York Times, for example, subsidize the food and sports sections I never touch?” he wrote in a Medium post to explain why Latterly was created.

“Journalism has weathered its nadir, and the trade is making its redemptive ascent, improving both the quality of the work and the sustainability of its production. Latterly is part of this upswing.”

The following message was posted on the Latterly Facebook page earlier this week:

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Khari Johnson
Khari is founder and editor of Through the Cracks: Crowdfunding in Journalism. He also writes about bots and artificial intelligence for VentureBeat. He has built news startups in the U.S. and Europe for the last decade.

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