Announcing the 2021 Longreads Member Drive

Longreads logo with the text "Member Drive 2021"

Working at Longreads is continually gratifying, largely because our readers believe in our work as much as we do. It’s in that spirit that we’re coming to you now. To celebrate the launch of our annual Best Of project, we’re returning to another tradition: a Membership Drive. Between now and the end of the month, we’re asking our readers — asking you — to contribute to Longreads’ story fund via paid subscription or a one-time donation.

As always, 100% of reader contributions funds work from writers, photographers, and illustrators from all around the world. Additionally, WordPress.com and our parent company Automattic match every dollar we receive — effectively tripling your donation. Not a bad deal.

Yes, I’d like to contribute!

We’ve grown a lot since our 2009 origin as a Twitter hashtag that enabled people to share their favorite longform stories with a wider community. We began publishing our own award-winning essays and criticism while still recommending the best nonfiction writing each week. We were joined at Automattic by our sister publication, The Atavist, which produces one deeply reported feature each month. But while we’ve evolved, the core of our work remains the same: we recognize exceptional journalism and celebrate thought-provoking memoir and commentary that are at once relevant and timeless.

And we continue to evolve.

The core values that we share with Automattic and WordPress — the value of the open web, the democratization of publishing, and the belief that people should own what they create — have never been more important. Social media platforms prize volume over nuance. Walled-garden ecosystems trap your attention. All the while, local newspapers are withering, and print magazines are shuttering.

The stories we love are still out there. But they don’t come only from the titans of the publishing world. That’s why we seek out and surface the best work from small journals and magazines, writing from across various cultural diasporas, and emerging voices turning out compelling work — not to mention the local and regional outlets, interest-driven publications, and any other place that contributes to the very best of nonfiction.

We also remember that the best stories don’t spill onto the page fully formed. Nonfiction writing is an art and a craft, and we celebrate the process as much as the finished product. The time and attention it demands, the curiosity and conversation it elicits. So we also want Longreads to feel like a salon: a place you come to discover and savor great writing, yes, but also a place to think about and discuss what you’re reading.

Here, you’ll find essays and criticism that are engaging, unexpected, even surprising. While everyone rushes to push out hot takes about trending topics, we’d rather look in another direction to find the story that outlasts them all. The story that pulls you in. The story that you find yourself thinking about months later — or maybe never stopped thinking about at all.

We’re fortunate to receive generous financial support from Automattic — but that support is predicated on our readers. We continue to be gratified by people’s willingness to help fund the work they care about. You’re why we’re still here, and you’re why we’re still growing. Thanks for reading.

The Longreads Team
(Cheri Lucas Rowlands, Peter Rubin, Krista Stevens, and Carolyn Wells)

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