We have some big news to share today: Longreads is teaming up with The Atlantic, in a partnership that will allow us to expand our site and membership model—and continue to serve this community of readers, writers and publishers.
When I first started the #longreads hashtag four years ago, The Atlantic was one of the earliest publishers to embrace it, and they understood what makes it special—the diversity of readers’ tastes, sharing the stories they love, from a mix of well-known and undiscovered publishers and writers, across both nonfiction and fiction.
We’re excited about the opportunity to work together with The Atlantic, and to continue expanding this site and community.
If you’re curious about the business side of things, here are some specifics about how the partnership is set up:
Longreads remains an independent company and editorial team, just as we always have been. We’re six people who have invested our time and resources into building Longreads—and we will continue to do what we do best, which is spotlight the best work from magazines, newspapers, books, and across the web.
Our site will be featured alongside the rest of The Atlantic’s growing network of sites, and their team will be helping us with business and operations.
By now, you’ve already seen the two big pieces of the Longreads business model, and in the spirit of transparency, I’m outlining it here:
Our goal has been to create a business that supports readers, writers and publishers in different ways, through a mix of paid memberships and advertising.
With paid memberships, we’re creating a system where you, our subscribers, are helping to pay writers and publishers for rights to stories and book chapters that are featured as “Longreads Member Picks.” (Here’s this week’s Member Pick, a short story from Amelia Gray and Tin House.)
Through our membership, we want to keep building a secondary market for publishers and writers to make money off licensing, and we’re doing so with your financial support. (You can join for $3 a month or $30 a year.)
On the advertising front, we teamed up with Virgin Atlantic last year on Travelreads, and we’d like to continue pursuing these types of creative initiatives. Advertising, done thoughtfully, will help support new channels like Travelreads, as well our daily editor picks across Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and the weekly Top 5 Longreads email.
We’re excited for what’s next, and we’re so thankful for this community’s continued support. We can’t do this without you, and we’ll share more details as things come together.
-Mark and rest of the Longreads team (Mike, Kjell, Hakan, Jodi and Joyce)
This week, we’re excited to feature Janet Reitman, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and the author of Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. “Baghdad Follies” is Reitman’s 2004 story on what it was like to be a war correspondent in Iraq. As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the war, Reitman reflects on her early fears about traveling to Baghdad:
People talk a lot about what it’s like to cover a war; no one talks about what you have tell yourself in order to actually get on the plane so you can go and cover the war. ‘Baghdad Follies’ is a story about what reporters go through in covering war, and it began, in a sense, with my growing sense of panic over having signed up to cover the war. It was about an hour before I was scheduled to leave for the airport. I’d finished packing, and began to think—which right there is a killer. My thoughts went like this: I was insane. I’d covered other conflicts, but like, little ones. Africa. Haiti. This was Iraq. I’d been dying to go to Iraq. Now, I really didn’t want to go to Iraq—let alone go to Iraq to write a story about how dangerous the war had become for U.S. reporters. Which was what this story was about.
So I called a friend who’d covered the Iraq invasion. ‘First of all,’ he said, ‘you don’t have to go.’
‘I mean, no one will blame you if you back out,’ he said. ‘It’s perfectly fine if you stay home. It’s just a story.’
This of course made me feel that now I really had to go because there were also a lot of other reporters, most of who would kill for this assignment, and what was I thinking? … ’I think I might die,’ I told him.
‘You might,’ he said.
We debated the likelihood of getting killed or kidnapped for a bit. We decided it was 50-50 I got kidnapped, but probably only for a short while. Ultimately, we decided the best course of action was to get on the plane, fly to London, my first layover, decide if I felt good enough to keep going to Jordan, my next layover, and then, depending on how much I was freaking out, either keep on going to Baghdad, or turn back. ‘Look at it as a process,’ he said.
Two days and an untold number of tiny airplane vodka bottles later, I arrived in Baghdad and stayed a month, during which time two other colleagues, both of who had confided their own fears about doing this job, were kidnapped, and released. I told their stories in full. Then, I went home, regrouped, and returned to Iraq. Twice.
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