If you’re wondering how we come up with our story ideas, well: We don’t.
Almost always, the story comes to us from a reporter somewhere in the world. In this issue, Berlin-based journalist Sean Williams wrote to me saying he was going to go “run around” in Western Sahara and look for a story. I was familiar with his excellent work (“They Almost Killed Dmitriy Bulatov,” Issue 04), and I told him that if he finds a story in the desert, we’ll run it. “In a Forgotten Corner” is the quintessential Latterly story: It’s a story that’s going unnoticed that should not be. As Williams explains, a conflict may be reigniting.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum (but in a similar part of the world), Paris-based photojournalist Simone Perolari, who I’d never heard of before, sent me his pitch with a single word in the email: “submission.” His haunting, black-and-white images in “Unwelcome” explore the intimate lives of refugees, whether they are hiding in an olive tree grove or studying French in an abandoned building. Immigration — and the global inequality of the freedom to move, or flee — is among the most pressing problems of our time. Humanizing pictures such as these can only lead to better policy decisions. What’s most striking is Perolari’s access and vantage; it’s as if they couldn’t see him.
“A Trustworthy Asset” also came to me by unusual means — a friend asked me to write it. Of course, this would have been a conflict of interest, but the story needed to be told. So I commissioned it from journalist Eric Barton and stayed away from the editing process. Latterly’s longtime contributing editor Jackie Valley took the reigns, and they produced a piece that could help inspire a solution to this man’s problem, if not broader reform in the way the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency handles confidential informants.
One thing that’s crucial to me is that we pay these journalists fairly for their important work. Yet we’ve only been paying a few hundred dollars per piece, and (to my great shame) much less for photos. If enabling journalists and storytelling is as important to you as it is to me, I encourage you to subscribe. This is our only source of revenue, and virtually all of it goes to them.
With our semi-anniversary issue now closed (and on Apple Newsstand), I want to say thank you to our subscribers and donors who’ve pushed Latterlythis far. You should feel proud of what you’ve helped create.