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Knight Center

JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

New online magazine in the U.S. focused on longform journalism aims to draw interest from movie studios



Journalistic pieces have often served as the inspiration for film adaptations. One only has to look at the 2013 Academy Award winning film “Argo,” based on journalist Joshuah Bearman’s 2007 in-depth article for Wired magazine. Yet outlets for magazine reporters to showcase longer articles have become rarer, thus limiting the avenues for well-researched journalistic pieces to be published.  

"The Mercenary,” the first new longform article featured by Epic Magazine. Photo: Theverge.com

This is why Bearman teamed up with Wired contributing editor Joshua Davis to create Epic Magazine, an online platform whose goal is to showcase longform journalism that could become the next blockbuster thriller and attract the eyes of movie executives. The two writers are hoping that potential movie deals between an article’s writer and a studio will grow the magazine and help fund opportunities for future in-depth written articles.

“Being journalists who’ve done this before, we set up a system where the deals are very favorable to journalists,” Bearman told news site Deadline Hollywood in an Aug. 19 interview.

Calling their business model “experimental,” Bearman and Davis certainly have the cachet to make it work.  Between them, they have 18 articles whose movie rights have been bought.  Davis penned a series of investigative reports for Wired in 2012 on John McAffee, the eccentric former computer software mogul accused of murdering his neighbor while living in Belize.  That article became an e-book and is now set to become a film.

The new venture was barely a week old when it caught its first break. Epic entered into an agreement with 20th Century Fox, one of the biggest moviemakers in the business.  The studio will get “first-look” at any published articles and decide whether to buy its movie rights. If the rights are bought, the author gets a pre-set fee. If a movie is actually made, then Bearman and Davis get paid as producers.  

Avenues such as Epic could spell new times for writers looking to write longer, non-fiction articles. Where once journalists had to rely on big-time and competitive magazines such as The New Yorker or Rolling Stone, there are new platforms for journalists to publish longform journalism pieces.  Epic is partnering with Medium, a new site that includes longform journalism pieces and even tells how much it takes to read each article.  Another example is The Riveter, an upstart multiplatform magazine that features longform pieces from women.

Reim Reider, editor and senior vice president for the American Journalism Review, wrote in a June 5 op-ed for USA Today says that mobile devices are an ideal conduit for the time for serving more engaging longform journalism articles.  He cites The New York Times’ “Snow Fall”, a groundbreaking article that combined the dramatic storytelling of long-form journalism with photos, maps and video.

“One of the early mistakes of the Internet era was the way traditional news outlets would take their traditional content and simply dump it online…[“Snow Fall”] shows how powerful the results can be when compelling narrative is paired with multimedia embellishments in an organic fashion,” states Reider.

Epic currently has only one new article on its site, although it does include links to some of the two founders' more famous articles.



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