New York City is the home to millions of eccentric people, each with a unique story. Now a new startup wants to tell a lot more of them.
Narratively is a journalism venture focused on sharing the hidden human interest stories that New York media outlets often miss. Its founder Noah Rosenberg would know—he's written for publications like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and GQ for years. Now he aims to create an outlet for storytelling that takes a deeper look at what it means to be a New Yorker, an experience “bigger and badder, weirder and sadder, and far more uplifting and intoxicating than the news headlines would have you believe,” according to the project's Kickstarter page.
Every week, Narratively will explore a different theme—from sex to death and everything in between—in a variety of different formats. There might be a piece of longform reporting on Monday, a photo essay on Tuesday, and an animated documentary on Wednesday. The structure of the site will give each story the space and attention it deserves, and Fridays will serve as an experimental day to showcase behind-the-scenes sneak peeks or discuss a controversial story from the week. The team is planning a soft launch on September 3.
To raise money to pay contributors, Rosenberg started a Kickstarter with a goal of $50,000 featuring samples of the types of stories we might end up seeing on Narratively, like the elderly woman who collects antique eyeglasses or the crusader who’s been fighting the death penalty since she was six years old. With 11 days to go, nearly 500 people have donated about $35,000, and Rosenberg is confident the fundraising goal will be met. “Just the amount of publicity we’ve generated has been beyond my wildest dreams,” Rosenberg said. "Kickstarter is seed money and it’s the padding we need as we put the business out to work.”
Beyond the website, the project's "goal is to create a discussion around these stories we produce," says Rosenberg. Narratively plans to host readings and panel discussions to bring collaborators and readers together. Last night, he held an event at the Brooklyn Brewery with a standup comedian and live storyteller. About 100 people showed up to enjoy booze and pizza and celebrate storytelling.
Rosenberg says people all over the world love the idea of Narratively because they can picture a project like this coming to their city (he wants to expand eventually), but more so because people everywhere are enthralled by the myth and magic of New York City. He’s been “bombarded in a good way” by messages from supporters.
Rosenberg also wants to help young or early-career journalists succeed. “Part of my inspiration for establishing Narratively is there’s so many talented journalists who haven’t gotten that clip yet but they’re still really talented,” he says. “They have the passion and drive to produce top quality work. There really needs to be a way to give these people a platform to continue doing what they do so well.”