the news frontier

The Kickstarter Chronicles

Two region-focused publications: one in New York, the other in the Upper Midwest
August 10, 2012

Each week, dozens of journalistic endeavors turn to Kickstarter for funding. Pitching media projects to this online community brings another meaning to the concept “public interest journalism”; success depends on how intrigued people are by the pitch. From the hugely popular to the barely noticed, CJR’s Kickstarter Chronicles is a look through some of these journalistic proposals.

Noah Rosenberg has always been drawn to human interest pieces, both reading them and—recently, as a freelancer for The New York Times—writing them. But there’s a lack of human interest publications out there, he says. Most outlets are caught up in the 24-hour news cycle, and the human interest features that do get out there are too quickly overshadowed by the next big story.

And so, the 29-year-old Brooklyn resident came up with Narratively, a digital (though Rosenberg says he’d like to publish print versions down the road) platform for New York City-centered stories. Rosenberg’s plan is to explore a new theme (New York City’s waterways, death, and sex are currently under consideration) every week by publishing one story per day. Several formats will be used—words, photos, videos, even animation—whatever best lends itself to the story. “We want to get creative in terms of presentation and storytelling,” Rosenberg says.

It’s a big undertaking, and Rosenberg is asking for a lot of money to do it—$50,000, much of which, he says, will go to contributors who have impressive credits from the BBC, GQ, New York, and The New Yorker. If Narratively can make it in New York, Rosenberg says he’d like to expand it to other cities. “Every city out there has a story to tell,” he says.

Deadline is September 10 at 11 a.m.

Sign up for CJR's daily email

I’ll be honest: I don’t know much about Minnesota. I’ve never been there, and for an embarrassingly large part of my childhood I thought it was called “Mini-soda” and it always made me thirsty when I heard someone mention it. So I didn’t know if Thirty Two, a new bimonthly print magazine based in the Twin Cities area, was truly a worthy venture.

Fortunately, I was able to contact C.J. Sinner, my former classmate and Minnesota native who is now the multimedia producer at St. Paul Pioneer Press. “C.J. Sinner,” I asked her; “Can Minnesota use a new magazine?” Her answer: “Yes.”

Katharina Eggers clearly agrees. The East German-born co-founder and editor now lives in Minneapolis, a place she says is full of good stories waiting to be told—and told beautifully, if the pictures of the magazine on its website and Kickstarter campaign page are any indication. This was intentional, Eggers told CJR in an email: “We figured, if we are on paper, we might as well go all the way and make reading a pleasant experience that touches more than one sense.” To that end, the magazine itself is printed on “matte, almost velvet-like paper.”

The campaign is being used as a sort of subscription drive. “We need to know now if people want to keep reading it,” Eggers says. If the reaction to the magazine’s first feature is anything to go by (it “gained the attention of tens of thousands of readers and numerous media outlets across the world,” according to the campaign page), the interest is definitely there. If Thirty Two is able to meet its $4,500 goal, the cost of its next print run will be covered and the magazine will increase its subscriber base, as a year’s subscription to the bimonthly mag comes with every pledge of $32 or more.

Deadline is August 29 at 1 p.m.

Sara Morrison is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @saramorrison.