Matter announced that applications are open for their reporting fellowship today. The magazine, which was bought by Medium in 2013, will award $10,000 to a journalist or team of journos who will:
Investigate and report a narrative feature on an issue of global importance—or local stories of global interest. We’re open to a broad range of topics and interests, though we’re looking for stories that are provocative, timely, and idea-driven. It’s our mission to take big swings at big issues, and this story should reflect that.
It won’t be easy to get it, though, so beware. You need three writing samples and a pitch for a story that you’ll write as a Matter “Draft.” They’ll publish all the drafts here and then they’ll pick the Top Seven. They’ll be completely public and Medium/Matter readers will be able to vote on them. There will be a week of voting, and then the number of ‘recommends’ will be tallied to determine a winner.
So make sure your idea and story and writing is shareable, well-thought out, and ready to be reported. The deadline for submissions is November 1st.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
- Werner Brell, MD, redbull Media House
“At the time, Tumblr was was considered social media, and we were doing longform writing on it. It was a photo platform. Because we were early on it, we got a lot of followers,” she told me. “It became really interesting to me to figure out how authority was conferred and how something became culturally significant.”
The cultural significance of The New Inquiry has grown since then — today they have around 25,000 followers on Twitter and the same number of likes on Facebook. “What we seemed to be doing felt original and felt vital,” says Rosenfelt. As she recruited new writers via social media — many of whom were figures on the periphery of academia in the pre-Occupy Wall Street days — confidence in the magazine’s editorial mission grew.
Rosenfelt funded the building of an independent The New Inquiry website out of her own pocket. As on Tumblr, the content — which includes longer essays, a few short web features a day, and a handful of blogs — is free. But revenue had to come from somewhere, which was how The New Inquiry-as-magazine was born. For a “micropayment” of $2 a month, Rosenfelt conceived of a monthly edition, delivered to subscriber inboxes in PDF format.
“There’s a joke somebody made — I wasn’t there, but I heard that somebody was doing a parody of The New Inquiry saying, ‘Give us $2 a month for what we already give you for free and we’ll send you a Word doc every month,'” Rosenfelt laughs.
Having regular issues to plan and design helped the ragtag band of geographically diverse New Inquiry writers solidify their understanding of what the publication was all about. Moreover, the premium product model — the magazine is not quite print but more than a web page — helps The New Inquiry strike a delicate financial balance. “The subscription is actually quite expensive for a PDF,” Rosenfelt says. “24 dollars a year is what you would pay for print. As a business decision, I think it’s a bad idea to charge more for that product.”
When The New Inquiry hit a thousand paying subscribers, Rosenfelt quit her day job. With $2,000 a month in revenue, she was able to pay contributors $50 a piece; in total, she says the magazine spends around $1,000 per issue on writers. As growth continued, more volunteers were able to join the paid staff. Today, although Rosenfelt didn’t want to disclose circulation numbers, the magazine is able to pay a few bloggers and employ a full-time editor (Ayesha Siddiqi), a creative director (Imp Kerr), a managing editor (Joe Barkeley), and a few other part-time staffers, including senior editor Max Fox. Adds Rosenfelt: “It’s a little silly to call them full-time considering what they get paid.” (Rosenfelt herself is no longer on The New Inquiry payroll, having hired Siddiqi and taken a job at Gawker Media in June. She’s since left Gawker but returns to teaching at The New School this fall.)
Changes to the masthead have been accompanied by equally remarkable financial shifts for the magazine. This summer, The New Inquiry secured an anonymous donor who agreed to match individual donations if they could raise over $25,000, which they did. Rosenfelt says the cash influx will support some new writer talent, but will most importantly help to secure the magazine’s future and stabilize their finances. “That money is there to ensure as we hit bumps in the road, which happens with every little magazine, that we don’t turn around from our commitment to paying contributors first and that I don’t put the staff in a vulnerable position,” she says.
Little magazines gone digital: How the late-adapting literary press has made its way in the web agen+1: Learning that print and digital can peacefully coexistJacobin: A Marxist rag run on a lot of petty-bourgeois hustleThe Baffler: The anti-innovation magazine embraces digitalThe New Inquiry: Not another New York literary magazineA conversation with David Rose, little magazine veteran and publisher of Lapham’s QuarterlyPart of that past instability results from the fact that, over the years, The New Inquiry has said no to more potential revenue streams than it’s said yes to. For starters, there are no ads. At first, Rosenfelt eschewed banner ads because she didn’t want the website cluttered up. Now she says she’s happy to have created an editorial environment untethered from concerns about traffic, Facebook’s algorithms, social media gaming, and Chartbeat.
“There are lots of ways you can shift priorities if traffic does somehow connect to revenue,” she says. “It’s not that we have an ethical problem with advertising as such. There’s no money that comes from somewhere great. It’s not a matter of being against advertising ethically. It’s more about the practice and the internal mechanism of The New Inquiry.” (Rosenfelt declined to share figures on web traffic, which she says she rarely checks.)
Elsewhere, the magazine has met with challenges. Echoing concerns at n+1, Rosenfelt says getting grants for the magazine — an inherently collaborative and ever-adapting project — has not been easy. “It makes it harder for us as a nonprofit to make the case for why it’s a humanitarian cause to give money to us rather than Save the Whales,” she says.
In addition, the magazine has failed to profit from putting on events — the cost of organizing and hosting in New York City often outweighs the value. Rosenfelt will assist Nathan Jurgenson with the next iteration of the Theorizing the Web conference, which Jurgenson co-founded with PJ Rey, in the spring — but in general she takes issue with the exclusivity implied by the publisher-as-convener model.
“We want The New Inquiry to feel to people anywhere like an accessible magazine. It’s not a New York literary magazine where you’re in New York City and there are these parties and if you’re not at them you’re not part of it,” she says. “Our focus is: How do we make The New Inquiry feel, in both form and content, for everybody like a local magazine with a global reach?” It was for similarly semi-financial and semi-structural reasons that The New Inquiry stopped renting office space — the staff felt it was important that everyone, New York-based or remote, have the same working experience.
The relationship between form and content is an important one for Rosenfelt. She feels strongly about magazine’s ongoing mission to explore what’s possible with digital publishing. “The way the magazine operates, to me, is as important as what the magazine publishes,” she says. For that reason, thoughts of publishing New Inquiry anthologies or charging more for a print edition haven’t yet come to fruition.
“Ultimately, I’m still hesitant to put out a print product. The amount of labor it takes to put that together, to distribute, to promote…if that amount of energy was put into being more innovative with what we can do on the web, I think that’s actually a better bet,” she says. “I would rather put my mind on that and let the print product idea be something that’s more of a luxury item once we’re able to have a really stabilized system of revenue from our digital products.”
Accordingly, the magazine’s web store is minimally stocked — “We only sell tote bags.” As far as new publishing projects, Rosenfelt says she’s more interested in looking into an app than into print. But it’s more likely that the next strategic move for the magazine will be a sponsorship or brand partnership announcement. There are more mundane but equally important projects in the offing too, like figuring out a way to make it so the magazine doesn’t lose a quarter of its subscribers every year as credit cards expire.
“It’s very challenging to think in the form of what it actually means to run an Internet magazine, versus what it means to run a magazine that you put on the Internet, too,” says Rosenfelt. “What is formally different and what is different in the DNA of the thing is something I think about all the time.”
Illustration by Jon Han.
HM Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Office of His Majesty the King
Dear King Hamad,
We, the undersigned 155 civil society organisations based in over 60 countries write to you united in our condemnation of the politically motivated arrest of human rights defender and co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Maryam Al-Khawaja at Manama airport on 30 August 2014. We urge that Maryam is immediately and unconditionally released.
We believe that Maryam Al-Khawaja is being persecuted for exercising her legitimate rights to freedom of expression and association in the defence of fundamental freedoms including her co-operation with international institutions and her important role in documenting human rights violations in Bahrain. We stand in solidarity with Maryam and all other human rights defenders wrongly imprisoned by your government for their work and beliefs.
We remind you that the harassment, intimidation or stigmatization of a human rights defender, including arrest, detention, trial or imprisonment for reasons of the opinions they may hold, constitute a serious violation of Bahrain's obligations under international law.
We remain concerned that since the pro-democracy protests intensified in February 2011 your government has deliberately subverted democratic freedoms using a combination of legal and extra-legal measures involving politically motivated prosecutions, brutal crackdowns on protests and silencing expressions of dissent in the print and online media. Many have raised the concern about the arbitrary detention of hundreds of pro-democracy activists and their being subjected to torture and ill-treatment in detention centres across Bahrain.
At the UN Human Rights Council, during Bahrain's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2012 your government agreed to protect human rights defenders and allow them to conduct their work without hindrance, intimidation or harassment. On 5 September 2014, a group of United Nations independent human rights experts also demanded Maryam Al-Khawaja's release, and urged you to follow through on your commitments made during the UPR to end the persecution of all human rights defenders in Bahrain. We support Maryam's courage and strength for advocating for democratic change.
￼We urge your government to recognise the legitimate demands of the Bahraini people for their rights and end the cycle of protest and repression. We thus call upon you to begin a process of democratic reform, healing and reconciliation in Bahrain. Key steps towards achieving the above would be to release all detained human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience and cease the oppression of human rights defenders, journalists and civil society organizations.
1. African Life Center – USA
2. African Women's Active Nonviolence Initiatives for Social Change (AWANICh) - Democratic Republic of the Congo
3. Aithria Agro-Environmental Research and Action Team – Greece
4. Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) - Bangladesh
5. Aman Network for Rehabilitation & Defending Human Rights – United Kingdom
6. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) – USA
7. Andalus institute for tolerance & Anti-violence studies – Egypt
8. Arab Network for Democratic Elections – Lebanon
9. Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) – Lebanon
10. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) – Egypt
11. ARTICLE 19 – UK
12. Asian Human Rights Commission – Hong Kong
13. Asian Press Institute – Sri Lanka
14. Association Dea Dia from Serbia - Serbia
15. Association for Progressive Communications – South Africa
16. Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) -Canada
17. Association Transparence et Développement (ATED) – Mauritania
18. Avocats Sans Frontières Network – France
19. Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) – Bahrain
20. Bahrain Human Rights Observatory (BHRO) - Bahrain
21. Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) – United Kingdom
22. Bahrain Rehabilitation & Anti Violence Organization (BRAVO) - Bahrain
23. Bahrain Salam for Human Rights – United Kingdom
24. Baidarie Pakistan – Pakistan
25. Belgrade Center for Human Rights - Serbia
26. Bishkek Feminist Collective SQ – Krygzistan
27. Building More Future Opportunities and Capacities (BMFOCA) – Nigeria
28. Burundi Child Rights Coalition (BCRC)– Burundi
29. Bytes for All – Pakistan
30. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) - Egypt
31. Campaign Against Ignorance & Illiteracy (CAII) - Nigeria
32. Cambodia Center for Human Rights (CCHR) – Cambodia
33. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) – Canada
34. Center for Peace Education - USA
35. Center for National and International Studies (CNIS) – Azerbaijan
36. Center International Training for Human Rights and Development – Democratic Republic of the Congo
37. Center of studies on Justice and Resolution of 1325 – Democratic Republic of the Congo
38. Charity and Security Network - USA
39. Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea – United Kingdom
40. Civic Initiatives – Serbia
41. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation - South Africa
42. Civil Rights Defenders - Sweden
43. Coalition pour le Development et la Rehabiniltation Social (CODR UBUNTU) – Burundi
44. Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) – South Sudan
45. Concertation Nationale de la Société Civile du Togo (CNSC Togo) - Togo
46. Corporación de Investigación y Acción Social y Económica (CIASE) – Colombia
47. Counseling Center for Transgender People Association – Turkey
48. Danish PEN – Denmark
49. Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) – Philippines
50. Democracy Monitor – Azerbaijan
51. Diverse Voices and Action for Equality - Fiji
52. East and Horn of African Human Rights Defenders Project - Uganda
53. Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms – Egypt
54. Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) - Egypt
55. Elma7rosa Network for Advocacy Media& Arts - Egypt
56. English PEN – UK
57. Ethiopian Human Rights Project - Ethiopia
58. European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR) – Switzerland
59. European Women's Lobby – Belgium
60. European Saudi Organizations for Human Rights - Germany
61. Federation of African Muslim Women in America (FAMWA) – USA
62. Families of Desaparecidos for Justice - Philippines
63. Foundation of The Victims Of Abduction And Forced Disappearance (FVAFD) – Egypt
64. Fontaine-ISOKO for Good Governance and Integrated Development- Burundi
65. Freedom International – Ghana
66. FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, France
67. Freedom House – USA
68. Freddom Now - USA
69. Frontline Defenders – Ireland
70. Ghanaian Centre of PEN International - Ghana
71. Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) –USA
72. Groupe des Experts Nationaux - Madagascar
73. Gulf Civil Society Association Forum - Kuwait
74. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) - Lebanon
75. Helsinki Citizen's Assembly – Turkey
76. Human Rights Center "Viasna" – Belarus
77. Human Rights Concern Eritrea – United Kingdom
78. Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation (HIVOS) – Netherlands
79. International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran – USA
80. International Centre for supporting Rights and Freedoms (ICSRF) - Egypt
81. International Commission of Jurists – Switzerland
82. International Pen, San Miguel Chapter – Mexico
83. International Service for Human Rights - Switzerland
84. International Solidarity Network Women Living Under Muslim Laws - USA
85. International Youth Human Rights Movement – Russia
86. Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) – UK
87. Lualua Centre for Human Rights(LCHR) - Lebanon
88. Justice for Iran (JFI) – United Kingdom
89. KAOS GL – Turkey
90. Karapatan Alliance - Philippines
91. Khiam Rehabilitation Center For Victims of Torture – Lebanon
92. Kitgum Women Peace Initiative (KIWEPI) - Uganda
93. Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM) – Serbia
94. Ligue des Droits de la personne dans la région des Grands Lacs (LDGL) – Democratic Republic of Congo
95. Ligue Algerienne Pour la Defense des Droits de l (LADDH) - Algeria
96. Maharat Foundation – Lebanon
97. Martin Ennals Foundation – Switzerland
98. MENA Monitoring Group - Tunisia
99. Middle East Democracy (POMED) – USA
100. Mpalabanda - Associacao Civica de Cabinda - Angola
101. Movimiento Amplio de Mujeres de Puerto Rico – USA
102. Monitoring of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia
103. Muslim Women's Research and Action Forum – Sri Lanka
104. Nasra for Feminist Studies – Egypt
105. New Bakkah Foundation – Switzerland
106. National Lawyers Guild - USA
107. National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms - Yemen
108. National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) – Somalia
109. No Peace Without Justice – Italy
110. World Organisation Against Torture, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders – Switzerland
111. Pacific Feminist SRHR Coalition – Australia
112. Palestinian Conflict Resolution / Transformation Center – Palestine
113. PEN Center – Nicaragua
114. PEN American Center – USA
115. PEN International - USA
116. PEN International Women Writers Committee – Egypt
117. Policy Center – Serbia
118. Pusat Komas - Malaysia
119. Reporters sans frontières (RSF) - France
120. Réseau des Défenseurs des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (REDHAC) – Cameroon
121. Right Defenders Lawyers & Consultants (RDLC) – Pakistan
122. Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association - Turkey
123. Shia Rights Watch - USA
124. Social And Human Development Consultative Groups (SAHDCG) – Sudan
125. South African Centre of PEN International –South Africa
126. Synergie des Femmes pour les Victimes de Violences Sexuelle – Democratic Republic of the Congo
127. Secularism Is a Women's Issue – UK
128. Society of Former Political Prisoners Against Arrest and Detention in the Philippines – Philippines
129. South Sudan Law Society (SSLS) – South Sudan
130. Synergie des Associations Feminines du Congo - Democratic Republic of the Congo
131. Swiss Italian PEN – Switzerland
132. Tanzania Human rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) – Tanzania 133. Teso Women Peace Activists (TEWPA) - Uganda
134. The Training Nest - Sri Lanka
135. Three Cities Foundation – Malta
136. Trans-der – Turkey
137. Transparency International – Bangladesh
138. Ucan Supurge Women's Association – Turkey
139. Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC) – Zambia 140. Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights - USA
141. Un Ponte Per- Italy
142. Union Nacional de Instituciones para el trabajo de accion Socilal – Bolivia
143. Vivarta - UK
144. West African Human Rights Defenders Network (WAHRDN) - Togo
145. Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL) – Liberia
146. Women Peace Initiatives-Uganda (WOPI-U) - Uganda
147. Women and Allies Peace Builders Network – Burundi
148. Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) – Philippines
149. Women's Resource Center – Pakistan
150. Women's Solidarity Fund – UK
151. World Movement for Democracy - USA
152. Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) – Zambia
153. Zeugmadi LGBT- Turkey
154. Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum – Zimbabwe
155. 1325 Policy Group – Sweden
Police carried out a dawn raid on the home of 81-year-old dissident writer Tie Liu three days ago and took him and his assistant Huang Jing into custody. Reporters Without Borders demands their immediate release.
Tie, whose real name is Huang Zerong, was charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. No reason was given for the arrest of Huang Jing, who is also Tie's care worker and occasionally helps him publish his writings. The police also seized his computers and some of his books.
His arrest was believed to be the result of an essay he published recently on the former head of the government's propaganda department, Liu Yunshan, and the restrictions imposed on the media while he was running the main censorship organ of the Chinese Communist Party's repressive machinery. Tie was placed in criminal detention, which allows the authorities to hold him for at least 30 days.
“This arrest shows how far the Peking government is prepared to go to muzzle critical voices,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia desk. “We add our voice to that of the international community in condemning the arrest of Tie Liu. We urge the Chinese authorities to release both him and Huang Jing immediately.”
At the age of 81, Tie is one of the oldest dissidents in China. Branded a “rightist” for rebelling against Mao Zedong and the Communist Party, he spent more than 20 years in a re-education camp. However, he has continued to write essays and pamphlets criticizing the Chinese government.
According to his wife and his lawyer, he believed he was unlikely to be arrested again given his age. However, his family reported that he recently received threats and warnings, such as the poisoning of his dog the day before he was arrested.
The charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” is used regularly by the Chinese authorities to detain political dissidents. At least 30 journalists and 72 netizens are currently in prison in the country.
China is ranked 175th of 180 countries in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.
During the second week of September, candidates, parties and other politically active groups sponsored about 4,500 U.S. Senate race-focused TV ads in each state, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of preliminary estimates from Kantar Media/CMAG, an advertising tracking service.
That’s nearly one ad every two minutes.
The Senate races in Iowa and Michigan — both are open-seat contests because Democratic incumbents are retiring — have this month emerged as two of the nation’s hottest as Republicans battle Democrats for control of Congress’ upper chamber.
Voters have been “inundated with advertising,” said Barbara Trish, a professor of political science at Grinnell College in Iowa.
“You can pretty much saturate [Iowa],” she added, “for a lot less money” than many other parts of the country.
Only one other Senate contest attracted more ads from Tuesday, Sept. 9, through Monday, Sept. 15: North Carolina, where viewers saw about 4,800 ads, according to estimates by Kantar Media/CMAG.
There, incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, is locked in an equally nasty and pricey battle with Republican challenger Thom Tillis, the state’s House majority leader.
The GOP must pick up at least six seats in November to wrest control of the Senate from Democrats.
In Michigan, Democratic Rep. Gary Peters is facing off against former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.
Land’s campaign aired more TV ads last week — 1,300, or about one ad every eight minutes — than any other candidate’s campaign except for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to estimates by Kantar Media/CMAG. McConnell is battling Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes for another six-year term.
Nevertheless, Land’s campaign was not the top sponsor of TV ads in Michigan’s Senate race from Sept. 9 through Sept. 15.
That distinction belongs to the NextGen Climate Action Committee, a liberal super PAC backed by billionaire environmentalist and former hedge fund executive Tom Steyer.
The group aired about 1,500 TV ads — or about one ad every seven minutes — that primarily slammed Land’s candidacy.
“Michigan needs a leader like Congressman Gary Peters, who will stand up for Michigan families and take on the special interests that threaten the state’s clean energy future,” said Sam Inglot, a spokesman for NextGen Climate Action in Michigan.
Heather Swift, a spokeswoman for Land’s campaign, said the spending spree by Steyer’s super PAC and other liberal groups was coming because Land “has the momentum.”
Swift added: “Independent fact checkers have rated their nasty attack ads against Terri as false, misleading and downright wrong.”
Top sponsors of TV ads in Iowa’s Senate race last week were American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Each aired about 1,000 TV ads.
For the DSCC, ads in Iowa alone amounted to about one out of every four ads the group aired nationwide from Sept. 9 through Sept. 15.
Overall during this period, the DSCC aired about 4,100 TV ads across eight, battleground states: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina and New Hampshire.
Since the beginning of 2013, Republicans and conservative groups have aired about 15 percent more ads than Democrats and their allies in both Iowa and Michigan.
Vincent Hutchings, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan, told the Center for Public Integrity that both Democrats and Republicans are finding the extra air support from outside groups helpful.
“It’s just so expensive to get on TV,” he said.