September 11, 2012 | CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
By Peter Hauck
Noah Rosenberg, a member of the Entrepreneurial Journalism Program Class of 2012, has raised nearly $54,000 on Kickstarter to fund Narratively, his multimedia journalism startup. Narratively is an online-only publication focused on in-depth storytelling about the people of New York.
The site’s mission is to tell stories that fall outside of the city’s rapid news cycle. “We don’t care about the breaking news or the next big headline,” the site notes on its About Us page. “We’re devoted exclusively to sharing New York’s untold stories – the rich, intricate narratives that get at the heart of what this city’s all about.” Narratively’s first week of stories included a piece called “Hang Men” about art handlers who help transport city museums’ precious art objects.
More than 800 backers pledged various amounts to support the project, receiving in return everything from custom smartphone cases to private photo sessions, storytelling workshops, behind-the-scenes parties, and site sponsorships.
Narratively surpassed its Kickstarter goal of $50,000 two days before the deadline, but the celebration was short-lived. “Within a few hours we were right back at it,” said Rosenberg, “editing and laying out our second week of stories. So there’s a sense that we’ve met one goal, but have to keep working hard to meet others. Now that we’ve launched our beta site, we’re committed to producing the best product we can and creating the best experience possible for the user.”
Noah and his team have been encouraged by the feedback they’ve received as a result of the Kickstarter fundraising effort, as well as through their email and social media outreach. “We’ve been overwhelmed, in a positive sense, with excited and encouraging messages from people from all across the world—tweets, emails, blog posts, and news articles from people who see potential for Narratively to have an impact and expand to their city,” he said.
The funds raised through Kickstarter will enable Narratively to continue producing content for the next few months. During that time, Rosenberg said he will begin rolling out the company’s business plan, “which I’m confident will put us on a path toward sustainability.”
The startup is also talking with potential investors and meeting with prospective advertising partners. In addition, they plan to start syndicating some of their stories and are developing a premium membership initiative. “This is just the beginning,” says Rosenberg. “We’re extremely excited for what the future holds.”
Rosenberg also received a $6,500 seed funding award from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the CUNY J-School.