I am very, very excited to share this with you. Honored to have as one of my readers and friends the exceptionally great journalist Stephan Faris, who, by way of introduction in his own words: “Since April 2001, I have written from Africa, the Middle East, China and Europe for publications including Bloomberg Businessweek, Time Magazine, and The Atlantic Magazine. I have written about war in Iraq, refugees in Darfur, and Internet censorship in China, and the Eurozone crisis across the continent.” Currently we are lucky to have him based in Rome as a contributor to a variety of world-class publications.
Seriously, folks, Stephan’s reporting and writing is amazing. Literally the only reason I have a subscription to TIME is because I wanted to finish reading one of his pieces there (they only let you get so far without a subscription, just when you’re hooked). And, trust me when I say that I was totally unbiased at the time, because it was even before he and I met through mutual acquaintances and realized that we appreciated each other’s writing. But hell, don’t take my word for it; check out some of my favorites and judge for yourself:
- Italy’s Beppe Grillo: Meet the Rogue Comedian Turned Kingmaker (Time Magazine)
- Grounds Zero: A Starbucks-Free Italy (Bloomberg Businessweek)
- McMasterpiece (The Atlantic)
And now, drumroll please…
Stephan and eight of his award-winning journalist colleagues have banded together to form Deca, a global writer’s cooperative, as a vehicle for reporting and writing long-form stories. Long-form, sometimes known as creative nonfiction or narrative journalism, brings forth in-depth stories that are longer than a traditional article but shorter than a full-length book.
Check out their introductory video:
The exciting news is that in LESS THAN FOUR DAYS, the group reached their initial Kickstarter goal of raising $15,000 to cover the costs of reporting and producing their monthly stories.
The even more exciting news is that they still have over twenty days to continue gathering contributions to fund their project, bringing us examples of what high caliber writers can do when they’re working at the very top of their game from an innovative, collaborative model.
Just $10 gets you a subscription to their first three stories, while a contribution of $350+ is like purchasing a master class in journalism, where you can edit and work side-by-side with the writers. Aspiring journalists and accomplished writers alike should jump at this chance. The campaign is receiving such a warm reception that some of the incentives to work with the writers have “sold out,” which prompted them to add additional spots.
Understandably, Deca is getting a lot of press:
- Inside the new storytelling collective Deca, from Nieman Storyboard, a project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard
- Deca’s Debut: More Hope for Quality Longform, by Mark Obbie
- Meet Deca, the latest journalism cooperative, in Capital (NY)
Together with Marc Herman, another Deca co-founder, Stephan spoke at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy, last month. You can view their talk here:
The only question I still have is whether or not long-form is hyphenated? (Clearly, my intuitive choice favors the hyphen. But, you see, personally I’d even hyphenate non-fiction if I could get away with it.)
I should just sign up for an editing gig with the Deca team to get the insider’s guide on journalistic style.
Actually, if we want to use most venerable The New York Times as our guide, we can go with Jonathan Mahler’s style in When Long-Form is Bad Form (hyphen!), where he finishes by saying:
What, then, is the function — the purpose — of “long-form”? To allow a writer to delve into the true complexities of a story, and also to bring readers closer to the experience of other people. Whether a long-form story is published in a magazine or on the web, its goal should be to understand and illuminate its subject, and maybe even use that subject to (subtly) explore some larger, more universal truths. Above all, that requires empathy, the real hallmark of great immersive journalism.
So now, please: run—don’t walk—to subscribe. Incredible, mind-blowing, memorable storytelling awaits. And, as Stephan recently noted, “I defy you to find a cuter editorial process than how we do things at Deca.”