I want to talk about Latterly the business and some recent thoughts I’ve had about it. But first, look at this beautiful thing! It’s the summer issue, and we’re sending it to the printer tomorrow. That face on the cover is Beppe Grillo, who’s basically the racist Al Franken of Italy. We have a story about his wildly popular political party in the magazine.
Most of you know The Latterly Story, but like a proud grandpa I’m going to tell it again. In 2014, Latterly was a Squarespace site with four articles on it. We’ve published hundreds of stories since then. We broke the news of Trump’s Muslim ban. That was a big night. But mostly it’s been a slow, patient churn. We’ve reported on the ground from almost 40 countries. We’ve had stories go viral, and we’ve published probing, vital stories that hardly anybody read. That’s just the way the internet works. In December, we started publishing on paper because people take paper seriously.
But we’re still broke. Not completely poor, but not profitable. We bring in enough money to cover our basics (printing, shipping, hosting, a few freelancer payments here and there), but nobody actually gets paid for all this work. I’ve never taken a paycheck. Neither has Stefano. And we stopped paying contributors last March. I used to disclose specific financials, but a well-connected person told me I was too transparent so I won’t give you numbers. Sorry. Others have told me I’m too earnest, which sounds like a compliment?
I’ll put it this way. We’d need about 900 more subscribers to make me tell you how many subscribers we have, and about 240 more to pay journalists something approaching respectable fees. I think we’re going to do a subscription drive at some point, and that’s when I’ll cash in my favor from you all and ask you to evangelize. But whatever happens, starting in the fall, I’m going to pay writers $50 per reported feature out of my own pocket because it’s the decent thing to do and because there’s a gender imbalance in our bylines. (An informal survey of my journalist friends on Facebook suggests women are, justifiably, less willing to write for free than men are.)
So, hey, we’re still here. And Latterly is better than by all rights it ought to be. For that I have to thank our more or less regular contributors, new and old: J. Malcolm Garcia, Sean Williams, Shilpa Jindia, Justin Salhani, Ashley Okwuosa, Richie Koch, Ricardo Palavecino, Martha Bayne, Max Smith, Lewis Fried and everyone who’s pitched in a story here and there. I’m both proud and ashamed to have created a business for which professional journalists are willing to volunteer. Maybe they all think they’re getting equity or something, I don’t know. (Hold out for that IPO, boys!) Or they’re just good friends, and that’s a fact.
I’m going on vacation with my family for three weeks, so this is the last time I’ll bother you until late July. When you get your Latterly in the mail, write to me and tell me what you think! I’ll read your email on the beach. If you aren’t getting a Latterly, what are you waiting for? We ship free anywhere in the world.
OK, ya. Enough. Thanks for being so good to me. See you guys in a month.