Insights for Readers, Writers and Publishers
Chapter 13: Evan Ratliff, Atavist
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Co-founder, editor and CEO, AtavistInterview: Thursday, December 20, 2012Brooklyn, New York
Atavist, a media and software company, launched in 2011. It produces a monthly narrative nonfiction magazine, based on original digital storytelling software called Creatavist that can be used by anyone.
Ratliff, one of the co-founders, brings a perspective strongly shaped by the new media technologies that emerged in the early years of his career. He worked at Wired magazine,1 where he is still a contributing editor. He holds a multiplicity of job titles, reflecting the shape-shifting nature of the publisher’s role.
The interview throws light on the way in which commercial and editorial concerns become intertwined. Even when ‘good writing’ is an undisputed goal, the question remains, how to make it pay? The search for new models of production, distribution and reward therefore becomes essential. The new arrangements may help in turn to create a new editorial lens through which to view work by the next generation of writers.
The publishing model described here gives a high value to editing, but operates in a wider landscape in which writers experience, and readers expect, less and less editorial intervention. In traditional magazine publishing, commercial pressure comes mainly from advertisers or proprietors. In the case of Atavist, it is more likely to come directly from readers. This raises the question, are the readers always right? It is an experiment that...
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