Most of you will have already heard the news, that after today, Latterly will suspend publication for the foreseeable future. I made that announcement by email to our closest fans last month, and at midnight at the beginning of this month, I halted recurring subscription payments. Latterly, as I slowly came to realize since November, is a strong publication with a weak business model. I made a lot of mistakes, but I’ve learned from them. The main thing I’ve learned is that journalism publishing is a difficult business. The chances of longterm viability are lower probably than for businesses in other industries.
But that’s journalism. None of my classmates in j-school at Kent State chose their path because they wanted to get rich or because they thought a career in news would give them a comfortable life. There were other schools on campus for that. Journalism was always about something else: service. In its purest form, journalism is a public good forced to perpetuate itself as a retail product. Notably, the British government recognizes the difficulties and conflicts inherent in such an enterprise and extracts millions of pounds from Britons to sponsor its largest news organization. Society, they realize, is better off with the BBC.
For the rest of us, forced to peddle our work like common vendors, things are a bit different. Some news organizations continue to sell apples and celery sticks; others found they could make more money by switching to Little Debbie and candy bars. Throw in Facebook distribution — where the most trashy, inciting content draws engagements and ends up on your wall — and now we all have rotten teeth. You can see how it’s already affecting the quality of our democracy, in both the United States and Europe.
I happen to believe most of us don’t like this state of affairs and that soon a new internet paradigm will save us from ourselves. Latterly was and is part of that new paradigm, and through 16 issues we fought the good fight. All of our articles will stay right where they are, here on the web and on our iOS app. And over the next few months I’m going to be thinking about ways to revive Latterly’s mission, if not its magazine.
Enjoy this final issue, and I encourage you all to share your thoughts with me about the future of news. In an ideal world, how would you prefer to get your news? How could Latterly have done better? And how can journalism do better? Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally, I want to thank everyone who has helped to make Latterly what it is: the first funders who backed our Kickstarter campaign, the journalists whose art and words fill these pages, the editors who helped shape each issue, the donors whose generosity sustained us, the web developers at thePrintLabs whose talent gave Latterly its much-adored aesthetic, my wife who helped get this magazine off the ground, my friends who encouraged me and especially the hundreds of subscribers and readers who found Latterly to be a valuable addition to their media diet. I think there are a lot more of you out there hungry for inspiring stories from the far corners of the world. Maybe someday we’ll pick up where we left off.
So long, for now.