Two publishing ideas

Writing about Tokyo Art Space and the project’s innovative publishing strategy further established one certainty within me. Digital publishing, media creation, journalism – all that sort of stuff – must be one avenue I am going to explore further for my own professional future. (Note: this blog is partially about finding out what it is that will keep me busy once a six-month stint in Tokyo will be over.)

I like the idea (and experience) of curating information that I am interested in myself and disseminating it via a bunch of channels old and new. Against this backdrop, I have been checking out some recent Kickstarter projects.

The Memo, a fresh new initiative from Berlin, sets out on an ambitious path:

The Memo is an independent print quarterly magazine published in english: an editorial journey around the world that takes us beyond our media comfort zone and challenges our established viewpoints on contemporary issues.

Their image video:

What do I think? I get the feeling Memo aren’t selling their project to me journalistically (only one editor in core team). Yet they are very strong (as you may expect for a Berlin-based project) on visuals and overall design. And there’s marketing and PR talent onboard. Both seem a bit distracting to me at this early stage. The form will undoubtedly be good and professional, but what about the content?

I find the editorial idea itself isn’t very strong or at least not very well articulated, and the image video is not giving away further clues. Like many other outlets the Memo promises to report on stories from all different angles, using local sources, known and unknown. That could mean anything and the two examples given, Beirut and pharma industry, are perhaps not the most groundbreaking topics (especially given the anti-industry bent I seem to detect in the latter).

But anyway, it’s a young project, based in my hometown. I’m sure they’ll refine their mission along the way. I’ll watch out for news closely. The Memo needs to raise $40,000.

Another project that caught my attention was Matter (their blog is here). A completely different impression. Jim Giles and Bobbie Johnson have a solid footprint in mainstream journalism. Both are science and tech writers. They lament the demise of proper longform journalism on the web. Budgets are cut, press releases are sold as news, it’s tough to find quality reporting out there:

MATTER will focus on doing one thing, and doing it exceptionally well. Every week, we will publish a single piece of top-tier long-form journalism about big issues in technology and science. That means no cheap reviews, no snarky opinion pieces, no top ten lists. Just one unmissable story.

I like the focus and simplicity of the idea. It’s the editorial and journalistic value of the end result that I can see as a potential backer (alas, I only found out about the project after its funding was complete). I’m sure they’ll get a nice design going as well judging from their video and online presence.

And, to round off this innovative venture, Matter will employ a novel and democratic way of commissioning stories using All Our Ideas by Google and Princeton.

Kickstarter visitors were impressed and showered the project with $140,000, almost three times as much as initially sought. One science and tech story a week, delivered digitally via subscription or pay-as-you-go. Simple. I’ll be checking it out for sure!

2 thoughts on “Two publishing ideas

  1. hi Ben, thanks for checking out The Memo; we hope we can demonstrate in the near future that The Memo is, before anything else, an editorial and journalistic driven project.

    It is sometimes difficult to capture all aspects of a new and innovative project in a short film. And yes, we are still learning and evolving.

    We chose Sophie as the face of the editorial team in the film but there are many people behind her: for example we have an editorial board of editors who will support The Memo with their expertise when it comes to defining the themes and sections. Regional editors are involved not only to research texts from different sources in different parts of the world but also to contribute ideas. And finally, we will commission writers to link the curated content to current events.

  2. Hey Memo team, thanks for taking the time to get back. Completely understood how it can be daunting to present all the ideas and aspects of The Memo in a short image film. I’ll be curious watching your progress and wish you all the best!

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