When You Get Fired from Your Magazine & Your Kickstarter Gets Funded in a Single Day
The blogosphere went berserk this month when it was revealed — a day after a launch party for its latest issue — that GOOD magazine had laid off most of its editorial staff (prompting two additional stragglers to quit). This week, the departed team launched a Kickstarter Campaign to fund its next act — a one-issue print magazine called Tomorrow, which reached its $15,000 funding goal in less than 5 hours. We talked to Ann Friedman, GOOD’s former executive editor, about the project — and how she’s managed to master the art of the GIF.
So one day you’re out boozing with your staff, the next you’re being escorted from the office, and now you’ve got a new magazine in the works. What’s the thinking behind Tomorrow?
A lot of us share a belief that print magazines are artifacts people like to hold onto. That we now have a little bit more flexibility to do more with color, or make it oversized, or let the design sing, is really exciting. We will put it online and make it available in digital form, but we haven’t quite figured out what that’s going to be. Time-frame wise, we’re taking pitches for the next two weeks. In the meantime, we’re going to be having more conversations about things we want to assign actively, reaching out to folks.
Will it have a theme?
One issue we all worked on together at GOOD was themed “The Next Big Thing.” We definitely took that point of view: what is actually a big deal right now and going to be a bigger deal tomorrow? What are the people we know in each field or niche talking about today that culture more broadly is going to be obsessed with in just a few weeks or in less than a year? We also had an issue in the works for the end of this year themed “Reset Button,” that was pegged to come out on 12/12/12, the Mayan calendar apocalypse date. The idea was, “How would we do things differently if we were to reset them?” We want to take some of our ideas that we were already starting to formulate and pour them into Tomorrow.
You were the editor of a print magazine, yet you’ve also found a way to thrive on Tumblr. Do you think longform journalism can survive on the web?
I think there’s always going to be a market for stories. Narrative, longform nonfiction is a great vehicle for telling stories. Even the success of the Tomorrow Kickstarter campaign — I think it’s something people are willing to pay for when they’re invested in the people who are making that media.
You launched Lady Journos! as a one-stop shop for “lazy editors who claim there aren’t many women journalists.” What’s the story there?
There’s a conversation that happens a couple times a year in journalism, which is, “Where are the women writers?” “Why don’t women pitch as much as men pitch?” For me, that conversation frequently puts the onus on women to be more aggressive about pitching and putting themselves out there, which I think is good and all. But editors are really the gatekeepers here, and editors are ultimately responsible for what appears in their publications. To fix any kind of byline ratio in a way that is truly meaningful, you need to target editors.
Have editors used your site as a resource?
I use it, certainly. When I know there’s a story I want to assign, I’ve definitely gone back and been like, “Are there any writers in Cuba that I’ve linked to?” In some ways it was a way of not allowing other editors, be they women or men, an excuse to be like, “We don’t know how and where to find these women. They’re not in our network.” I created the most effective rebuttal I could think of to a “there are no women writing about this topic” complaint.
#Realtalk From Your Editor — your GIF tumblr — went viral pretty much instantly. What’s the number one most annoying thing a writer can say to an editor?
When writers are like, “I’m so swamped, I can’t get you a draft, there’s absolutely no way.” Then they’re tweeting about how they’re just hanging out somewhere. I’ve actually been on the phone with writers talking about their draft or about edits and see them tweet totally unrelated things at the same time. Just don’t procrastinate publicly. I see you.
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