Snapchat Backs 'Real Life' Tech Magazine


Snapchat is bankrolling a new online magazine called Real Life, which aims to "publish essays, arguments, and narratives about living with technology."

"It will be about how we live today and how our lives are mediated by devices," Snapchat researcher, sociologist, and social media theorist Nathan Jurgenson, who will serve as Real Life editor-in-chief, wrote in a blog post.

Starting June 27, Real Life will publish one piece of writing every weekday—a very un-Snapchat approach. The site may "eventually" expand to other mediums and formats.

"By publishing writers who may not think of themselves as tech writers but are acutely aware of how they use and are used by their devices, we hope to make room for a wider, better understanding of the Web as something neither good nor bad, neither net negative nor net positive, but human in all the weirdness and complexity of that word," Jurgenson explained.

So will Real Life consist largely of posts like "10 Reasons Why Snapchat Is Awesome?" Nope, says Jurgenson. He acknowledges that "this aim is not without conflict" since Snapchat is funding the site, but insists "we have editorial independence as well."

"The support means we can focus on writers and writing rather than clicks and shares. At the same time, there are inherent complexities attached to being funded by a company in the field of what we're publishing about, sometimes critically," he wrote. "When you see the full site, the content will have to speak for itself."

A number of tech companies, particularly those in social media, have hired journalists in the past few years, mostly to surface interesting stories being told across the sites. Those efforts have been met with mixed results. Facebook hired a managing editor in 2012, but he left the post a little over a year later. Twitter hired former NBC and NPR exec Vivian Schiller in late 2013 to serve as the company's "head of news," but she left within a year.

Snapchat, meanwhile, shut down Snap Channel last year, a section within Discover that featured content created and curated by the company.

Jurgenson is joined by a team that he admits is "largely not tech-oriented": senior editors Rob Horning and Sarah Nicole Prickett (contributing editors at The New Inquiry) and Alexandra Molotkow (editor for women's website The Hairpin), as well as managing editor Soraya King.

"We believe in this project, and we're doing this because we think and care about the things you'll see discussed on the site," the blog said. "Together, we think the ideal work on Real Life will be work that happened only because this site exists and wouldn't have happened without it."

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