The Russian presidential election is a year away, but protests have already begun. Last week, images of Russians being carried and even dragged from Moscow’s Red Square spread throughout the Western media. Then came the crackdown—blocked access to web pages and social media showing the photos, and a criminal case against the protesters. Earlier this week, the square was nearly empty despite another planned action.
The protests demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev and objected to widespread corruption, but they also served as a rare moment of rebellion in a country that rarely dares defy its leader, President Vladimir Putin.
Syria is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. In the last three years at least 60 of them have been killed while covering the conflict there, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Missing from the statistics is anything about the kind of journalist who goes to Syria and why. After the death of Marie Colvin, in a blizzard of Syrian Army shells in Homs in February 2012, much of the Western media drew back from covering the country. Meanwhile, a lightly resourced, laughably paid, almost wholly uninsured cadre of freelancers, often armed with little more than a notebook and a mobile phone, infiltrated Syria anyway. A few were crazy narcissists or war-zone tourists, but most were serious reporters. Four-fifths of all journalists working in Syria, according to one estimate, are freelance and answering to no one but themselves.
-James Harkin, in May’s Vanity Fair, on the disappearance of journalists Austin Tice and Jim Foley, and the dangers that freelance reporters face. A video surfaced Tuesday in which Foley allegedly was killed by members of the militant group ISIS.
Today, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the police can collect a DNA swab from people who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime. The justices were unusually divided—conservative Justice Antonin Scalia joined liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan on the dissenting opinion.
We have some big news to share today: Longreads is teaming up with The Atlantic, in a partnership that will allow us to expand our site and membership model—and continue to serve this community of readers, writers and publishers.
When I first started the #longreads hashtag four years ago, The Atlantic was one of the earliest publishers to embrace it, and they understood what makes it special—the diversity of readers’ tastes, sharing the stories they love, from a mix of well-known and undiscovered publishers and writers, across both nonfiction and fiction.
We’re excited about the opportunity to work together with The Atlantic, and to continue expanding this site and community.
If you’re curious about the business side of things, here are some specifics about how the partnership is set up:
Longreads remains an independent company and editorial team, just as we always have been. We’re six people who have invested our time and resources into building Longreads—and we will continue to do what we do best, which is spotlight the best work from magazines, newspapers, books, and across the web.
Our site will be featured alongside the rest of The Atlantic’s growing network of sites, and their team will be helping us with business and operations.
By now, you’ve already seen the two big pieces of the Longreads business model, and in the spirit of transparency, I’m outlining it here:
Our goal has been to create a business that supports readers, writers and publishers in different ways, through a mix of paid memberships and advertising.
With paid memberships, we’re creating a system where you, our subscribers, are helping to pay writers and publishers for rights to stories and book chapters that are featured as “Longreads Member Picks.” (Here’s this week’s Member Pick, a short story from Amelia Gray and Tin House.)
Through our membership, we want to keep building a secondary market for publishers and writers to make money off licensing, and we’re doing so with your financial support. (You can join for $3 a month or $30 a year.)
On the advertising front, we teamed up with Virgin Atlantic last year on Travelreads, and we’d like to continue pursuing these types of creative initiatives. Advertising, done thoughtfully, will help support new channels like Travelreads, as well our daily editor picks across Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and the weekly Top 5 Longreads email.
We’re excited for what’s next, and we’re so thankful for this community’s continued support. We can’t do this without you, and we’ll share more details as things come together.
People talk a lot about what it’s like to cover a war; no one talks about what you have tell yourself in order to actually get on the plane so you can go and cover the war. ‘Baghdad Follies’ is a story about what reporters go through in covering war, and it began, in a sense, with my growing sense of panic over having signed up to cover the war. It was about an hour before I was scheduled to leave for the airport. I’d finished packing, and began to think—which right there is a killer. My thoughts went like this: I was insane. I’d covered other conflicts, but like, little ones. Africa. Haiti. This was Iraq. I’d been dying to go to Iraq. Now, I really didn’t want to go to Iraq—let alone go to Iraq to write a story about how dangerous the war had become for U.S. reporters. Which was what this story was about.
So I called a friend who’d covered the Iraq invasion. ‘First of all,’ he said, ‘you don’t have to go.’
‘I mean, no one will blame you if you back out,’ he said. ‘It’s perfectly fine if you stay home. It’s just a story.’
This of course made me feel that now I really had to go because there were also a lot of other reporters, most of who would kill for this assignment, and what was I thinking? … ’I think I might die,’ I told him.
‘You might,’ he said.
We debated the likelihood of getting killed or kidnapped for a bit. We decided it was 50-50 I got kidnapped, but probably only for a short while. Ultimately, we decided the best course of action was to get on the plane, fly to London, my first layover, decide if I felt good enough to keep going to Jordan, my next layover, and then, depending on how much I was freaking out, either keep on going to Baghdad, or turn back. ‘Look at it as a process,’ he said.
Two days and an untold number of tiny airplane vodka bottles later, I arrived in Baghdad and stayed a month, during which time two other colleagues, both of who had confided their own fears about doing this job, were kidnapped, and released. I told their stories in full. Then, I went home, regrouped, and returned to Iraq. Twice.
Our Top 5 Longreads of the Week—featuring The New York Times Magazine, Washington Monthly, The New Yorker, Spirit Magazine, Stanford Medicine Magazine, plus fiction and a guest pick by TIME’s Kate Pickert.