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Lupe Anguiano is an environmental and labor rights activist in Oxnard, California. She is awesome. People know about her now because Longform.org posted a Latterly story. (Photo: Elaine Fragosa)

Sometimes the internet cuts indie journalism a break

This morning, a Latterly story was picked by Longform.org.

It’s a small thing, I know. It’s not like we won a prize or something. Still, for me, it’s extremely validating. Thousands of readers count on Longform to tell them which magazine articles are worth their time. A lot of their stuff comes from publications such as GQ, Esquire and The New York Times Magazine. Now on Longform’s website, our story, “Life, Death and Chemicals,” and our publication, Latterly, is right below The Paris Review and right above The New Yorker.

These pubs have big staffs, big budgets, unrivaled talent, decades of tradition, offices, free pens and notepads for their journalists. Naturally, the internet (mainly Apple and Google) — which decides what information is exposed to the public — prefers these publications. Smarter people than me have written about obstacles for independent publishers (“The internet has become increasingly hostile to indie writers”; “venture-backed media companies” churning out longform; “The internet is rigged”).

Latterly’s first issue came out in November. We have no investors (we have crowdfunders). No business experience (just, you know, journalism experience). No full-time staff (except me, and I’m not paid). No marketing budget. Etc. Etc. A lot of days, thinking about this stuff gets me down. Some days we don’t get any subscription sales. Some days, we only get one sale, and it’s from my mom (April 6; love you, mom). Those are tough days.

And then there are days like today. Somebody leaves the door open just a little bit, and I stick my foot in there and holler through the crack with a Medium post. I savor these days, when we catch a break. They keep me going.

The internet is not democratic — but democracy isn’t very democratic, either. What I’m trying to do is rally enough people behind Latterly to throw our weight around a little bit. To see how much good we can do with these stories.

Here’s what I’m most proud of about that Longform.org pickup. Latterly didn’t need any marketing people or investors or an office to make an impact. This was the purest kind of journalistic validation. The reporting was solid. The writing was compelling. That’s it. Somebody just read it and said, “This is a damn good story.”

Ben Wolford is the editor of Latterly magazine. If you liked reading this, please recommend it. If you want to rally the cause for $3 per month, click here.

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