Talking of Medium, as we were, Matt Locke had a great idea on how Medium could bring a new but familiar business model to the journalism web:
There is another, intriguing possibility – building a business model around publishing episodic series of content. Audiences understand this model – we’ve been brought up on TV seasons for decades. But freed from the schedule, we’re now consuming episodic series in new ways, from bingeing Netflix box sets to subscribing to podcasts and returning to the cinema for the latest episode in our favourite superhero franchise.
What a good idea! Luckily Medium has Bobbie Johnson on board, who between Ghost Boat and Matter has been responsible at least two serialised product that made editorial sense. Matter, in its early days, was very much that. You essentially subscribed to a series of eBooks delivering longform science and tech journalism. It was great, and I missed it when Medium bought and absorbed it. Still, lots of opportunity here, right?
Kinda puts lie to the idea that it was mainly people in sales and support that got cut, doesn’t it?
Happily, it looks like Bobbie has something up his sleeve:
Matter didn’t matter to Ev
But what how about Matter itself? It was started as a Kickstarter several years ago, acquired by Medium, and then eventually spun off as its own content studio.
Well, this e-mail arrived during the Trump inauguration:
So, that’s that. Another journalism experiment launched, acquired and killed. Matter RIP. You did reader-support longform right – until you were killed.
For those who aren’t aware, within Medium are several publications they run in-house, including Backchannel, a tech magazine, and Matter, which is an evolved form of the long-form science journalism crowd-funded startup which I’ve written about in the past.
And they’re open to pitches.
However, you might want to take a good look at what they require before you pitch away:
- already be on Medium, writing, responding, highlighting, recommending and engaging with communities
- be eager and excited to interact not only with users who respond to your story — but also users out on the platform obsessing over similar ideas and topics.
No “dump your copy and run” here – you’re expected to be part of the community, not just a supplier to it.
More publications should do this.
Nearly a week ago, I spent the early evening at the Royal Institution, celebrating the launch of Matter. A few months ago, Matter created a minor sensation in journalism circles by raising many times it goal on Kickstarter to bring its vision of long-form science journalism for the digital age to life. I was a backer of Matter (but not a huge one – it was in the early stage of my freelance working, and I was being careful with my cash), and as a result got immediate access to the new book – the first product of Matter’s funded publishing operation – when it was launched early last week.
I’ve held off on writing about it because I wanted to see the actual result first, to read the matter, as it were, and be able to give you an honest appraisal of how it’s developing. I downloaded the first Matter ebook – Do No Harm – to my iPad, and read it on the train into London. And didn’t think about anything else until I’d devoured the whole thing.
It tells the story of Body Integrity Identity Disorder – an unusual condition where sufferers feel that one or more of their limbs are alien – something that shouldn’t be attached to their body. It also tells the story of one person’s journey to deal with this situation through amputation, meeting some of the significant people in the field as a result.
Make no mistake – this is journalism. It’s storytelling and research mixed together into a compelling experience. Author Anil Ananthaswamy intertwines the narrative of one sufferer of this disorder on his journey to resolution, with the meat of the current scientific and political thinking on the condition. It deserves the length – both the story and the science are compelling, and at any more parsimounous word count, one or the other would have been neglected. In a way, it reminded me of the very best of quality magazine journalism – happy to tell a human story, unafraid of examining something in depth and unflinching in the face of something people will find isturbing.
Was my Kickstarter investment in Matter worthwhile? Based on the quality of this release – yes. The test will be how well they can sustain this level of reporting in the coming months, but I’ll certainly be awaiting the second release eagerly.
You can buy Do No Harm from the Matter site for $0.99, or the book is available as a Kindle Single: Do No Harm: The People Who Amputate Their Perfectly Healthy Limbs, And The Doctors Who Help Them for about twice the price from Amazon.
Go on, treat yourself.